Wednesday, 15 Aug 2018

A Toast to Dear Friends

By Rod Haden

I’ve worked at the Erwin Center since 1999, which isn’t quite half of this building’s life, but it’s most of my adult life. We have a long history together. Knowing that someday, this building will give way to the growing Dell Medical School and that something new will be built somewhere else to replace it, I’ve been thinking about the stages of its life.

Abe Lemons, the head basketball coach for the University of Texas at Austin from 1976 to 1982

In the stages of my life, I’ve gone through times when many of my peers were getting married. Later, it seemed like we were all having kids. Eventually, many of us were getting divorced. And now, I look at my parents, and it seems like they’re at a time when many of their peers are passing away. I sit at a desk most of the day in the administrative offices here, so a couple of times a day, I try to remember to get up and get moving. I walk around the concourses. Both the arena and mezzanine concourses are lined with large, framed photos from many of the events that we’ve hosted here over the years, going back decades. You’ve probably seen them. As I walk, it occurs to me that this building, too, is going through a time in its life when many of those people who have lit up the stage here with their skills, their personalities, their artistry, are also passing from the earthly world, though our memories of them live on.

David Bowie at the Frank Erwin Center during his worldwide “Sound + Vision Tour” on June 6, 1990

Maybe it’s a little maudlin, a little sad and sentimental, but I like to think of the passing of time as I pass by all of those photos. I think of this building sometimes as a person I’ve known seemingly forever, my dear old friend. She’s coming now slowly to the end of her life, my Erwin Center, and so many of those she’s known and loved have preceded her into the mystery.

So here’s to them. Here is my glass raised, a toast in remembrance of dear friends no longer with us. Let us tell tales together, with fond smiles and raucous laughter, of the glorious times we shared.

2 thoughts on “A Toast to Dear Friends

  1. My first concert at the Erwin Center was in 1982, I think. It was Neil Diamond. I took my 7 year old daughter and my 47 year old mother with me. I will never forget the first time entering the seating area… i was in total awe. I had never seen so many people gathered in one place and never in such a massive building. We had the time of our lives and Neil didnt let us down, singing every song we loved in the round Over the years, we saw James Taylor with an entirely different stage setting…up close and only about 1/3 of the arena…it was like a private concert in his living room. Poison, David Lee Roth, Bon Jovi, Reba McEntire, Alabama, Heart, Billy Joel, The Monkees, NKOTB, George Strait, and The Eagles…Journey, Foreigner, John Denver, Dolly Parton…just a few of the awesome shows we have traveled an hour to see. Thank you, dear Erwin Center, for being such a huge part of mine and my daughters lives. And the last time we were there to see George Strait for the 4th time at the Erwin Center, we brought my 10 year old granddaughter for her first concert. She had the same awe on her face as we entered the arena. That makes 4 generations of our family who love you! You surely will be missed!!!

  2. A friend and I were just at the Erwin Center for the Smashing Pumpkins concert and were walking around the halls admiring the old photos and talking about the numbered days for the great hall! Great write up, enjoyed many years and great times and memories at this great place!!

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