Westminster College is a liberal arts university located smack dab in the middle of my neighborhood. Founded in 1857, the college moved in 1913 to the current-day campus, in the heart of a new neighborhood called Sugar House, and opened its doors to students. 1913 was also a pivotal year in my novel ROOT, PETAL, THORN. The little bungalow, the common ground of the story, was built in 1913. Though Westminster is not my alma mater, the gorgeous campus has played a large role in my life.
1) This is not my proudest memory, but as a foolish high school student I was with several people who had been drinking vodka mixed with Mountain Dew in Big Gulp cups (don't judge). I won't say if I was a participant, but I will say I was glad the driver in our party had not been drinking and had the wherewithal to pull over so a person (who shall not be named) could barf. Right in the flower beds of the Westminster Loop.
2) As a University of Utah student who commuted forty minutes each day to campus, I would drive by Westminster about half-way into my journey and wish I went to school there, because it would mean I wouldn't be late to my first class. During those days, the gorgeous brick building was painted a dismal Pepto-Bismol pink to combat the ivy threatening to topple the awe-inspiring towers.
3) When I moved back to Salt Lake City, I was determined to live in the Sugar House neighborhood. I am so happy I can hear the Westminster chimes peal a seasonal tune at noon and five each day. If I'm gardening, I track my hourly progress with the resonant tone which heralds the hour. I know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for me.
4) Westminster College also figures prominently into the lives of three women in ROOT, PETAL, THORN. Emmeline graduates from the nursing program in 1916, a member of the first class taught on the new Sugar House campus. In 1969, Lainey works on campus and one part of her prescribed therapy for manic-depressive disorder is to walk to and from her job. And Ivy, we must not forget Ivy. Her beloved husband, Adam, is killed in an auto-pedestrian accident near the main building, Converse Hall. His death is the catalyst in the novel, the event that leads Ivy to the stories of the other women who shared her common ground. Over the course of a century, like Ivy, these women lived and loved in the little brick bungalow.