PSU news by
Penn State's student blog



College From A Basement Window View

by Chris Tutolo

Fragments of memories remain with me from my time living in State College. Some of them took place in the basement of the Rathskeller. I thought I’d share one of them with you from the summer of 2013, a month or two after I graduated from the university.

It was one of those sweltering summer evenings in a dead and cleared-out State College, the queer emptiness of which only a school’s-out summer could allow. I had plans to meet with a hometown friend of mine and his father, the man who had first inspired me to pursue writing as a career. It was a full-circle evening, and while on most other occasions I would have happily skipped out on such invitations, I wasn’t missing this one for the world. At the time, I had unkempt curly hair down below my shoulders and a ridiculous beard that still flourished in divergent patches on my face. I divided my time post-college between shifts at the Mix in the Pollock Commons and coaching soccer around town, already glimpsing the veritable fruition of a hopes-on-high writer just a few steps from the starting block.

Still, I continued to celebrate Friday nights as I had the half-year’s worth of Friday nights that came before as an undergrad. No one, no job, no lack of money, could take the illustrious debauching of Friday away. Plus, we were meeting at the Skeller, my friends’ fathers, my friends, and my favorite haunt in town. Simultaneously, I had made plans to meet with a girl whom I’d met in my Stat 200 class in the spring. She was a tall, beautiful 19-year-old with a boyfriend and seemingly no interest in me whatsoever. She also happened to be one of a handful of people I knew who had stayed in town for the summer.

The isolation of State College in summer has a habit of turning at-the-most acquaintances into at-the-least hookups. Anyway, she’d been up to drinking, I believe for her birthday, and wanted to meet me in town. I told her where I was — at the corner of College and Allen instead of at the bar, so as not to deter her from coming. At the time, I had this unfounded swagger that bestowed me the confidence to believe I could get her into the bar, regardless of how old she was. We were turned away at the door when the two of us tried to reenter together, and I looked down to where my friend and his father were, still in the same bench seats in the bar, looking up the stone staircase at the scene unfolding between her and me. I turned to her and and only then discovered a longing in her eyes I’d never seen before. I offered to pick up beer and go back to my place, a sweltering fourth-floor apartment on West Foster Avenue, and she agreed.

I went back down the stairs into the Skeller, joined my friend and his father, and began a barrage of excuses as to why I needed to be going, and I can remember letting down my guard for long enough to say, “I’ve had a crush on this girl all semester and she wants to hang out with me tonight.” They both smiled at this and encouraged me to get on with my evening. I knew that this was the last beer I’d share with my friend in State College with a college student’s state of mind, and that I had elected a night of pleasure over a night of commemoration.

In the years that have followed, what sticks in memory is that, for those moments when we sat together in the Skeller, the same bar where my friend and I, my brother, and my father and friend’s father before us had drank, that we all felt the same way one does when he’s 18 and has the world to explore in his own way. We were all our most fondly remembered selves in those old wooden seats. For a few weeks more, throughout what remained of my final summer in State College, I would continue to be that youthful, naive, and wide-eyed lover of life. With the news of its closing, I can still see the same window view of college from the basement of the Rathskeller.

About the Author

Community Content

Content submitted by members of the community not affiliated with Onward State. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of our staff. To have your work published on Onward State, go to


More by Community

Op-Ed: One Year After Our Son’s Hazing Death

“It is important to talk openly about what has transpired this past year, and over many years, and to remind your children that they are important to you. Tell them to take nothing at face value, be cautious, guard against peer pressure.”

Get To Know Penn State’s Business Fraternities

Save The Skeller: An Open Letter To The Penn State and State College Community


Former Women’s Gymnastics Coach Files Lawsuit Against Penn State Over Handling Of Abuse Allegations

Former Penn State women’s gymnastics head coach Jeff Thompson has filed a lawsuit against the university following the termination of his contract in February 2017. Thompson, alongside his wife and associate head coach Rachelle Thompson, was accused by former gymnasts and an assistant coach of creating a hostile team environment. The Thompsons allegedly pressured athletes to compete […]

Men’s Soccer Trio, Reading United Win PDL Eastern Conference Title, Fall Short Of National Championship

Penn State Hockey’s Evan Barratt, Aarne Talvitie Participate In World Junior Summer Showcase

Ally McHugh Wins 400 Medley National Championship

Penn State Women’s Soccer Adds Swiss Forward Kim Dubs

Student Life

Join Onward State: Fall 2018 Application

Onward State is hiring for the fall semester and we’d love you to join us.

Pennharmonics To Hold 25th Anniversary Reunion Concert

Submit Your Proposal For The 2019 Class Gift

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

Join Onward State: Fall 2018 Application

Onward State is hiring for the fall semester and we’d love you to join us.

Mayor Don Hahn Asks Borough Council To Consider Changes To Proposed Overnight Parking Restrictions

State College Mayor Don Hahn posted on his blog Sunday republishing a letter he sent to Borough Council on August 1 outlining three revisions he’d like them to consider for the proposed overnight parking restrictions.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Madden NFL 19 Ratings For Nittany Lions

For the second consecutive year, Sean Lee is the highest-rated Nittany Lion in the Madden video game.

Send this to a friend