Carbondale After Dark

H.B. Koplowitz’s infamous account of the (literally) riotous history of the Carbondale, Ill., Strip during the 1960s has been out of print for many years.

My friend Jeffrey and I — who have been thick as thieves since the evening we shared a valiant but largely unsuccessful effort to keep straight faces while watching Lancelot spray saliva all over the stage every time he spoke during a performance of Camelot from the front row at Shryock Auditorium our sophomore year — spent the better end of four years searching for copies of the book. Each of us had vowed to make sure that the other one received a copy, in one form or another, as a gift if we ever found it.

In late 2000, Ron tracked down a copy for $60 on and bought it for me, just because I wanted it.

I promptly began the painstaking process of typing a few pages at a time and e-mailing them to Jeffrey as a sort of serialized Christmas gift.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey, unbeknownst to me, had tracked down a copy of the book at the Carbondale City Library, Xeroxed the entire thing, and tucked it into plastic sheet protectors for me.

We had a wonderfully O. Henryfied moment that December, when he presented me with his gift during his annual Christmas party. Ron and Jeffrey were the only ones in the room who fully understood why I began laughing hysterically as soon as I tore off the paper and saw the cover (which Jeffrey had also Xeroxed and tucked into the clearview pockets on the front of the binder).

It was a priceless moment — utterly typical of us, and somehow a perfect explanation of what our long and hilarious friendship is all about.

Carbondale After Dark is a fun account of a fun university where I made a lot of friends and a lot of great memories. I don’t know if it was worth the lengths Jeffrey and I went to in our quest to find it after it went out of print, but it’s definitely worth the $19.95 cover price for a reprint. You can preorder a copy online (and get a 20 percent discount and a free poster of the cover) here.


P.S.: The garlic is coming up in our back yard, the ice-cream truck came by on Saturday, I saw a mockingbird in the front yard yesterday, and it’s 37 days to P&C camp. Spring is on the way! Can’t wait until the chorus frogs come back to Makanda. I’ll have to head home for a visit when they do….

6 thoughts on “Carbondale After Dark”

  1. I heard frogs here last week. In fact, one night last week when we were coming home around the bend at Ridgway’s, there was a little frog jumping across the road in front of us. It’s been such a mild winter so far that we already have jonquils and naked ladies coming up and my shastas and even the hollyhocks have been green all winter. The geraniums on the porch haven’t quit blooming since last summer. Weird weather. The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicted that we would have a very cold, very dry winter. Instead, it’s been the warmest on record and the yard is an absolute swamp from all the rain we’ve had. Global warming?

  2. We’ve got dandelions in our yard and mosquitoes in our house.

    Amy and I had no idea, when we were 13 and working on our science fair project about the greenhouse effect, that it was going to render winter obsolete before we were 35.

    I don’t like winter, but I always regarded it as a necessary evil. I haven’t had a decent tomato crop in four years, and I’m beginning to suspect climate change might have something to do with it….

  3. The old-timers all claimed that you had to have a cold winter to kill out the insects, which seems plausible to me. I suppose this means the farmers will have to use more awful pesticides now and continue the cycle. Our tomatoes have never done well since we moved out here and it’s been very disappointing to your dad. He prided himself on pound-and-a-half slicers when we used to garden back in the seventies and was looking forward to duplicating the experience when we moved out here. Except for the root crops, our gardening efforts have all been in vain. I thought it was something lacking in the soil, or the “help” we have in harvesting, but you could be right about the climate.

  4. Enjoy reading your blog… and thanks for the tip on Cdale after Dark. I’ve been wanting to get a copy but not at $60-120 that I’ve seen on Ebay. I first experiernced Carbodale as a weekend warrior while attending U of I in Champaign. Fours years later, I quit my job in Chicago and moved there. Built a house. I’ve had an on again, off again relationship with Cdale for 31 years ever since. I still believe it’s a magical place, sitting at the crossroads of time. Now if you could only get a good job there that lasted for more than a few years…
    Best regards and keep writing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s