The Tragic Story of Paul and Virginia

In A Saluki  Marooned, Peter Federson and his roommate, Harry Smykus are walking across the SIU campus on a late Saturday afternoon in the spring of 1971:

 

The statue of Paul and Virginia was donated by the class of 1887.

Within twenty minutes, Harry and I were opposite the girls gym on the old campus.

"Hey Hare, wait up, look at this," I said, gesturing toward the fountain.

"Yeah, so what? A fountain. Yah want me to piss in it?"

"Yeah, go ahead. Do it right now. I'll watch out for ya."

"Bite me, Federson."

I had called his bluff, and now back to the topic.  "These two children are called Paul and Virginia, and this fountain was given to the school as a gift from the class of 1887. It‘s been here ever since, and will be here forty years into the future."

"Neat, mannnnn."

"You know, Hare, before I started reading about this stuff, I didn‘t have the slightest idea of what the fountain or the university was all about. I think all students should go through an orientation course about this school, and come away with some school spirit."

"Oh, they got school spirit alright. They riot, get drunk, smoke dope."

More "school spirit" awaited Peter and Harry that afternoon at 1910 American Tap, Jim's, the Club, the Golden Gauntlet, Shads...and the Carbondale City Jail.

Now a word about the statue.

It was donated to Southern Illinois Normal University by the class of 1887.

 

 

Friends from childhood who became lovers.

"The Storm" painted in 1880 by by French artist Pierre Auguste Cot. Some of Cot's contemporaries speculated that this painting was based on the novel Paul et Virginie, written by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre in 1787.

 

 

 

The novel Paul and Virginia was written by Bernardin de St. Pierre in 1787.  It's about two children who knew each from birth, and later become lovers.   Sadly the couple came to a tragic end.  CLICK the painting for details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Between the Paul and Virginia Statue and Shryock Auditorium stands the bust of former SIU President Delyte Morris.

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Delyte Morris created a major university...that shouldn't have been.

In less than twenty years, Morris transformed a small teachers college into a major university.

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The bust rests on bricks salvaged from the wreckage of Old Main, and is located where the main halls used to cross.

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The centerpiece of the campus gone forever.

In the summer of 1969, Old Main burned within a few  feet of Paul and Virginia. Fortunately they did not see it, because being made out of bronze, they couldn't turn around. 

 

 

The Old Main Tragedy, and SIU students heroic efforts to save the burning building, is another example of Saluki Spirit.  It is  thought that the fire was deliberately set,  but no suspects were ever apprehended.

 

 

 

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Check out the story of one Peter Federson: A saluki marooned in time.