‘Tis the season of college reunions! Today’s post is a short essay on the occasion of a fiftieth college reunion the author attended a few weeks ago. (Some of you may remember that I posted a few thoughts on my twentieth reunion last month.) I thought his observations about college then and now, and his concluding thoughts on the importance of the college years and college mentors might be of interest to many of you.
In 1960 my college in the pines in northern New Hampshire was all-male and isolated. Interstate highways were just a dream. Road trips to women’s colleges were a way of life. This common bond fostered very close alumni and frat brothers – who for years after graduation would often hold mini-reunions and vacation together. This back-to-the future time warp sometimes seemed odd. Alcohol abuse was a problem; weed and street drugs were non-existant. Every few years, prior to major reunions, a professional scrapbook MUSINGS would contain the thoughts of most of our class of 800. The reading was fascinating, funny, and often weird.
One outstanding event at the college in the late 1950s was the Freshman “Great Issues” (a.k.a. “Grey Tissues”) course – every Monday night a prominent person was invited to speak. In 1956 the list included Adelaide Stephenson, Clement Attlee, and Robert Frost. Our silent generation was unaware of the explosive change that civil unrest, war, coeducation, and sexual liberation would bring only a decade later. But two events come to mind: our college chapter, along with some California and Wisconsin chapters, were unable to delete a discriminatory clause from the bylaws of our national fraternity. Blocked by a southern vote, we were forced to go local. On another occasion I watched as members of a Jewish fraternity, sitting in the balcony of the college auditorium, tomatoed a neo-Nazi visiting professor off the stage and into his car. Wow. In 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy stopped by during his Presidential campaign to talk and answer questions. Continue Reading »