Today as I was having breakfast and reading the NY Times on my Kindle, I had a flashback. Back to Cornell in the early 1970s.
“Back in the day”, as the current phrase goes, we had no internet, no smartphones, a text was what the profs called the novel they were discussing, but we did have friends, newspapers, coffee, and crossword puzzles. And several days a week, at about 10 AM, they all converged at a little place called Temple of Zeus in Goldwin Smith Hall at Cornell University. The coffee shop was located at the front of the building: enter the main doors into the lobby, turn, and go down the steps to the left to the sunken Temple.
I would meet several of my friends, and we would bring or buy a couple copies of the Cornell Daily Sun, and would then collaborate on its crossword puzzle. If that was completed in time, we would move on to the NY Times puzzle.
Always on paper, always with coffee, and always with a lot of conversation. Our little group would fluctuate, but generally included myself (a math major), a history major, an economics major, an ILR student, and a couple others whose majors I do not recall. I use these tags loosely, as 40 years ago this month we were beginning the second semester of our freshman year, and the Cornell University College of Arts and Sciences did not require a major to be chosen until the end of your sophomore year. We all had a couple years to be generalists, which I believe was crucial.
Whoever was in the group on any given day was not important. What was important was the camaraderie, the mental stimulation (not just the caffeine kick), the opportunity to share schedules and stories, and I can’t leave out the buns and muffins. Once in a while we would even look at the statuary that lined the area.
The Temple of Zeus was also a place where people came to read and/or recite their poetry. Trust me, that was not a common activity in the peak morning coffee hour. Only the really and truly socially and mentally confident would speak out to a room full of people paying no attention. On the other hand, it was not a place for serious study. On top of the hustle and bustle of people coming and going (the room was very narrow, so there was no such thin as true seclusion), one of the ladies working there had a really hard stare that could get to you of you sat too long without purchasing anything. Coffe and studying could take place in the student unions, but not at the temple.
Having checked the web, as I suspected the Temple has expanded its offerings.
Here is a photo that shows the Temple close to what it was like back in the early 1970s