Tommy Four

April 4th, 2011

The snow began falling on the Lawn in the hours before dawn of Sunday, March 27. The voices of the students, strolling in twos and threes down the arcades, drifted up to my bedroom in the pavilion and then they grew faint. The snow fell all morning over the Grounds and through the afternoon. It fell silently on the trees that had been planted when the University was founded and in the years that have followed. I watched the snowflakes drifting through the branches of trees already in bloom—cherries, plums, Bradford pears, and star magnolias—and those about to flower. I saw it falling on the daffodils, hyacinths, periwinkles, and Virginia bluebells, and all the brilliant forsythias. When the snow finally stopped, the day suddenly turned dark and cold, with a wind that bites hard into the flesh and into the bone. I remember hearing that with a cold snap like this, flowers may not produce fruit. I was vaguely troubled by what might happen to the white flowering quinces and apricots in the back, whether they might have been damaged. That night, Thomas West Gilliam IV, fondly referred to as “Tommy Four” by family and friends, scaled the roof of the Physics Building with friends. They wanted to take in the night view of the Grounds. Slipping on ice, Tommy fell forty feet to the ground. Read the rest of this entry »