Furnishings were sparse outside administration offices. ▲ Tales of encounters with patients being treated at the VA are legendary, and invariably are told any time there is a gathering of veteran MCC faculty and staff. Science Professor Jessie Klein remembers walking in a hallway, wearing her white lab coat, and having a patient approach her, asking her to dispense medication. Ray Shea, one of the original faculty members, frequently and affectionately recounted his favorite tale of a patient who had discovered his classroom. “It wasn’t uncommon for the patients to come through the tunnels we shared and wander in and out of our classrooms. Once, while I was teaching Irish literature, one of the gentlemen wandered in and sat in the back of my class. He didn’t say a word, he just listened to me, but after 10 minutes, he got up, walked out, and said, ‘You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.’ I turned to the class and said, ‘Now there’s a man who was paying attention. The rest of you were just taking notes.’ ” Yet tolerance was high for the VA patients, some of whom would wander through the cafeteria, looking for a spare cigarette or occasionally pillaging something from a student’s plate of food. “Through all of this, there was such a great respect of these people because of what they went through on our behalf,” Shea recalled. “We’d share a cigarette and listen to their stories. It was the least we could do for them.” Staff who endured those years recall that period of time as a hard-fought rite of passage. Yet, behind the nostalgic fondness with which the cramped facilities 15