The Former Hippie
A theater professor’s office promises to be intriguing, and David Burke’s doesn’t disappoint. Everything from a sizable collection of badges which he collected during his time working for a touring company to ancient Greek masks is featured in his conglomeration of ancient and modern regalia. Play props make up the bulk of the room’s décor.
“We make so many props,” Burke said. “We don’t know where to put them.”
The most striking piece of adornment, however, is not a play prop but an old mossy wooden street sign that hangs on the wall and reads “Ellwood.”
“This is the most interesting thing in my office,” Burke said, explaining that the moldering slab was a road sign from Northern Idaho and that it was representative of his spiritual journey. He was helping a man build a barn on Ellwood Street. He went on to recount how the man was a military deserter and a grower and dealer of marijuana. When the cops discovered his location, they burst in on him and Burke to find them in a room with three trash bags full of marijuana. Burke explained how only a week prior he had been gifted a New Testament by a random man on the road, and the guard let him keep it during the three nights he spent in jail.
“I was the only person in there,” Burke said. “I was so scared, and I had nothing to do but to read and read. I read the New Testament twice while I was in jail. It sounds strange to say but at night Jesus would come to me in the room and it was like he would lay his hand on me and just say ‘I got you.’”
Burke explained how he was miraculously released from jail free of charge and how he had left that part of the country never to look back. Only recently did he visit the site of the old barn where he was arrested.
“They had just put up brand new street signs,” Burke said. “This was on the ground, so I kept it.”
Burke pulled out a faded 1972 license from his wallet featuring a young hippie renegade with hair down to his waist. All these years he has kept it as a reminder of God’s grace, he said.
Ted Kluck, assistant professor of communication arts, has an impeccably neat office space that reveals he is not only a prolific author, a David Foster Wallace enthusiast and a collector of antiques, but also an accomplished athlete. A college and professional football player, Kluck has kept and collected meaningful football paraphernalia which he proudly displays.
“This football was the one my dad played with,” Kluck said as he fondly picked up an aged ball. “This one beside it is a childhood football of mine, and this one I played arena football with and my teammates signed it.”
The shelf also contains two refurbished helmets, one of which Kluck hopes to use in an upcoming screen production he is writing. A poster signed by Walter Payton uniquely contains a piece of turf from Soldier Field and is framed on the wall next to a poster of James Dean. Kluck has kept ticket stubs from games he has played in and games he has covered and keeps them in a Cuban cigar box next to a boxing glove signed by Mike Tyson and an old-timey microphone that Kluck describes as “boxingesque” which he used to record his book Facing Tyson.
In addition to football, Kluck also spent a year wrestling professionally for a book project.
“This is the song I walked out to, wearing a tweed jacket over a cut off shirt,” Kluck said as he placed a record on his antique record player. “It’s super cheesy.”
Kluck went on to reveal an entire collection of records including everything from Scandal to Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time.” Kluck avowedly doesn’t listen to “modern folksy music” but the steady crackle of the recorder lends a sort of dignified quality to any genre.
“’One Moment in Time’ is an incredibly crappy song that I’m ashamed to say I like,” Kluck said.