Posted in Houghton College, Travel, Uncategorized

Bike ride across America

Today’s post is a short one, about a story I saw on the Houghton College Facebook feed, about four students, recent graduates, who are biking across America.

This blog follows their journey, which started in mid-May. I haven’t had a chance to barely read any of it, since I came across it over the weekend, but the idea of the journey is one that intrigues me. It is something I think I might like to do, in one form or another, something I haven’t yet done, in one form or another.

These four are taking the freedom they have to make that travel journey to remember. Most of the rest of us before, during and after were on the trail of life, career, and advancement, or some such portion thereof. To have the resources and freedom was something we didn’t explore.

Not that I regret my course. I had enough choices and freedom, but the travel portion is something I have always had a greater hankering for than I’ve had the time and treasure to explore.

So, I intend to take some time and follow, even in arrears, their story across the country.

Posted in Education, Houghton College, Writing

A bit of poetry

(Note: it has been awhile since I’ve pulled up my old poetry, so here is another one.  This was during my year as editor of the Houghton Star student newspaper at Houghton College, during the last year that the old Compugraphic machines were used instead of the new Macintosh computers that they got the next year. This poem is about a breakdown and repair of the old machines.)



                                                             From Their Editor


Wendell and Loren

came with tool boxes,

removing three screws

hidden in a tight place.

To loose the screws

they used allen wrenches,

needle‑nose pliers, fingers.

The plate held by the screws removed,

the editor fixed the plate

with crazy glue.

Wendell and Loren

put the plate back in

with its three screws.

Using butter to hold screws

to the plate, the three men

fumbled.  The screws were in,

the machine worked.




“Let the staff rejoice,

let the earth be filled with their singing,

for the compugraphic machine is working”

said the editor.

And the staff said

“Amen and Amen.”

Posted in Education, Family, Houghton College

A Blast of the Past #21: College Reunion


I wrote a blog post about ten years before the reunion that is the subject of today’s post. For this is the 10-year reunion.

At graduation I had no idea where I was headed.

At the five-year reunion I saw many people who were couples, and I was single. Yet my college sweetheart (we did have one date) was also single. So I started courting her.


Now it was five years later, and it was our turn to show up with someone on our arm, and someone running around at our feet.


Much had changed, both for us, and for Houghton College. Fancher Hall was still around, but in a different location. There was the new academic building in its former place.


Friends had also changed. My college roommate and his wife showed up with their two kids. Interesting how many of those kids from back then are now already high school graduates now.


Yes, for now it has been more than 10 years again. Changes have come again. It seemed so long between reunions, and now they seem to come so fast. And social media means the gaps seem even smaller.

So here is to another look back, and the amazing changes, potential and promises that keep us going forward.

Posted in Houghton College

Mullen continues tradition of excellence

Today is going to be a quick promotional for my Alma Mater — Houghton College.

In this story the announcement is made that President Shirley Mullen was elected to another 4-year term as college president. She has already served 9 years.

Now Houghton College has a long history of long terms for presidents. They have a tradition of choosing good people that stay the course and steer the college bravely into the future without sacrificing the eternal mission of the school. In its 132 years, the college has only had six presidents.

I was ready to trust the board when they chose Mullen, but also ready to be skeptical. I am a firm believer that a woman can be just as good of a college president as a man, if not better. But I have also seen women given positions just because they were women, and not because they were qualified — a great detriment to them, the people the work with, and women in general.

When we went to our 20th reunion in 2009, I got to meet Mullen.I was impressed. Well-spoken, with vision, and an obvious team player. Our visit for our 25th reunion merely affirmed the impression.

Posted in Houghton College

A Blast of the Past #8 — College Graduation

For such a big landmark event is life, it is amazing how it seems to be truncated down to these particular 12 photos (okay, probably 13 if we include the official graduation picture we purchased).

Woolsey Hall disappeared soon after we graduated.
Woolsey Hall disappeared soon after we graduated.

The event is called commencement for a reason — it is the beginning of something — though we usually think of it as the end of something — the college experience and education we have spent 4 years of our lives on.

Me and my college roommate for three years.
Me and my college roommate for three years.

As I look at these pictures I am amazed at what I do not remember from that time, and what memories the pictures invoke. I don’t remember anything about the speaker or what he said at the ceremony. I don’t remember how comfortable or uncomfortable it was in the graduation robes.

My friend from high school came.
My friend from high school came.

I do notice in the pictures afterwards that some graduates are unzipped, while I still have my robe zipped up, and tie firmly still in place.

The pictures of the Houghton College Quad are definitely vintage in the after-ceremony milling shots. The one shot shows Wollsey hall, that is no longer there, and every shot probably has something that could easily date it.

Dr. Jost, college choir director. Never saw or heard from him again, but he had quite an impact on my music and singing.
Dr. Jost, college choir director. Never saw or heard from him again, but he had quite an impact on my music and singing.

The other main impression I have is the people that are in the shots. My aunt and uncle came on down, and my friend Stephen Westbrook from High School was there. Time drifts us apart so quickly. What amazes me today is how many of these people  still are a significant part of my life — some through the influence they still exert by how they shaped me, and others through the amazing way modern technology has kept us connected, or brought us back together.

Posted in Houghton College

A Blast of the Past #7 — Senior Skip

View of downtown Toronto from the museum house we visited on the north side of the city.
View of downtown Toronto from the museum house we visited on the north side of the city.

In my day, at least, there was a traditional “senior skip” excursion by the seniors before graduation. But as someone noted, we students at Houghton didn’t actually skip any classes. We just took off between the end of finals and the beginning of the graduation weekend. Some complained that if it was senior skip, we should skip something more than just “skipping town” — like maybe some classes.

Senior Skip 1988 skipped no classes — but took a few days up to Toronto. In those days we didn’t have to worry about passports at the border crossing into Canada. Those were “simpler” days.

On the roof of the museum house.
On the roof of the museum house.

I have pictures of some sort of museum house we visited in the north of Toronto, and pictures of the Toronto Zoo.

Globe and gull at Toronto Zoo.
Globe and gull at Toronto Zoo.

I have memories of using the bus system to get around. Toronto had a very good bus system running on a grid: north-sound buses and east-west buses. I remember Terri Chubbuck and I ran around together trying to get downtown to see the top of some tower, and then didn’t want to pay the admission when we got there to go to the top. But if that is the case, where did I take all these pictures looking down for a fairly good height?

Penguins at the Toronto Zoo.
Penguins at the Toronto Zoo.

All that running around meant we were out of position when it came time to rendevue for the evening’s dinner event. I had scheduled to meet Matthew beforehand, and couldn’t make the bus schedule work to do so. This was also in the days before prevalent cell phones, so there was no way to let him know where we were, or that we would be late. I do remember he wasn’t happy with me. It’s amazing that I don’t seem to remember much else.

Where did I take this shot from?
Where did I take this shot from?

One of the surprises in looking through the pictures is who I found in this final picture below.  She is someone very important to my current and future happiness, but back then, she was just a friend I was somewhat oblivious about. I am talking about the girl in the blue blouse.

Why was I taking a picture of all these lovely ladies? I had no ulterior motives on any of them at the time ...
Why was I taking a picture of all these lovely ladies? I had no ulterior motives on any of them at the time …
Posted in Houghton College

A Blast of the Past #6 — Which concert?

Blast #5 mentioned the loss of a lot of film. Which puts the date of this next album into question. This is an album of pictures from a college choir concert at Houghton my senior year. That would make it either the Homecoming concert right after the tour, or the Parent’s concert of graduation weekend.

Dr. Jost addressing the audience.
Dr. Jost addressing the audience.

Something about me wants to put this concert as the homecoming concert, but the loss of film more accurately suggests it is probably the parent’s concert on graduation weekend. I have pictures of student Dan Fortune directing the choir. That might be enough of a clue for someone to know which one of the two concerts this is.

Dan Fortune directing.
Dan Fortune directing.

During my college choir years I had three different directors: Dr. Brown freshman year, Professor Reigles (the most famous and longest-term of the three) sophomore and junior years, and Dr. Jost senior year. Dr. Jost came in as a one-year loan from somewhere in California, I think, while Professor Reigles took a year off to work on her doctorate.

You can see centered in the picture, singing.
You can see centered in the picture, singing.

I enjoyed all three directors, and learned a lot from them. From Dr. Jost I remember during our Messiah Sing rehearsals learning to not be afraid of my falsetto voice, and how to use it much better. I have him to thank for the extension of my useable range upwards.

Dr. Jost directing the choir.
Dr. Jost directing the choir.

During Homecoming Weekend senior year we had George Beverly Shea as a special guest at the Founder’s Day Chapel, and Dr. Jost composed a special arrangement of “I’d Rather Have Jesus” that the college choir sang with Shea. Shea was very impressed with the arrangement. I really wish I could have kept a copy of the arrangement, but it was all done with special licence arrangement for the song, and all the copies had to be accounted for afterwards. I don’t suppose the arrangement still exists anywhere.Singing with Shea under Jost is one of my fondest musical memories from Houghton.

(Left to right) My sister, mother, me, father, Aunt Olive and Uncle Bill after the concert.
(Left to right) My sister, mother, me, father, Aunt Olive and Uncle Bill after the concert.

Such are my memories of College Choir senior year.

Posted in Houghton College

A Blast of the Past #5 — the truncated album

These pictures should be in a binder album all their own, with a numbered table of contents in the front describing each of the pictures and naming everyone in them.  But they aren’t.

Loading the bus in Houghton.
Loading the bus in Houghton.

These pictures are from the College Choir tour my senior year.  All three previous yeas I had taken pictures just as described above, and created albums.  But this year, when I came back from tour, full of pictures, and shipped them off to the same mail-order photo developer, only one roll came back.  They said they only received the one roll — though they were all in the same mailer. The rest got lost either in the mail or at the developer. I will never know.

Coming into Corning. You can see the spire of the thermometer tower.
Coming into Corning. You can see the spire of the thermometer tower.

Disappointed, I put them away and never looked at them again, never finished an album, since there wasn’t enough to finish. Somewhere along the line they got stuffed in this huge album along with all the other stray pictures from that time period. And so now I am looking at what remnants I have.

In sight of the church.
In sight of the church.

Senior year tour started by touring what was then my home church, Caton Bible Chapel, and this roll apparently was the first roll of film shot.  I have pictures of packing the bus at Houghton, of driving into Corning, of driving up to the church, and of our group in the church.  I also have pictures of all the guys that my parents hosted at our place from the choir.


I remember being a little worried about how people would view our church. In particular, since we didn’t have a pipe organ, I wondered how Dan Fortune, the organ major, would view our electronic organ.  I remember he had made some very telling remarks about Hammond organs (the one’s that are better suited to roller rinks than churches). But I needn’t have worried. He rather approved of it for an electronic organ.

The guys who stayed at my house posing in the game room around the pool table.
The guys who stayed at my house posing in the game room around the pool table.

That is my truncated tour. I’ll never have the pictures to remind me of the rest of the tour.Maybe some day I’ll find the notebook where I took my notes of the tour, to go with the pictures, to remind me of what pictures I took.

But it does make me ponder where many of these friends are today. I know Rob Wuethrich (the guy with the pool ball in his mouth) is pastoring a church sort of “over the hill” from Caton. He is a lot closer to Caton than I am these days.

Posted in Houghton College

A Blast of the Past #4 — Renaissance Man

Okay, Here’s another blast of past photos. It shows an interesting start to a certain pastime of mine. These are pictures of Homecoming from my senior year at Houghton College. The theme that year was obviously some sort of Renaissance Theme.


Now, I noticed in the pictures that the college madrigal singers had been brought in for homecoming because of the theme, and I can see myself — there in blue and silver.


As a non-music major it took me until senior year to try out for the madrigal singers (who sang at the annual Madrigal Dinners at Christmas-time). I made it in the try-outs. Only problem — the rehearsal period overlapped senior writing seminar, which I needed to graduate with my major of writing. So I went to Professor Leax, and he helped me draft a proposal for a special writing class to replace the writing seminar — and included attending as much of it as possible.


So college was where I first got interested in Renaissance madrigals. But it took another 11 years before I got invited by Lee Fenwick  to join Madrigalia Bar Nonne in Kansas City while I was singing with him in the Fine Arts Chorale of Kansas City. And from there began my now 16-year run with MBN and the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.


So now, from that digression back to Homecoming. Naomi Woodmansee was elected homecoming queen, escorted by homecoming king Stephen Beun.


The one “odd” thing in the pictures was the balloon fish. It was Floyd the inflatable flying flounder of Yorkwood House. And apparently it got away, or was let go, some time at the end.


So it just goes to show, you can have fun with something, and never know, years later, what you might be able to do because of it.

Posted in Education, Houghton College

A Blast of the Past #3 — Can You Count

More photos from my college days. Birthday photos. The question is which birthday? Do these photos come from the same birthday or different birthdays?


You see, my birthday always fell right around the end of the second semester, usually in the break between the end of semester and finals week. So according to these pictures, I came home one year for my birthday. And my college roommate came with me.


But I also have a picture in the same set of a birthday party taken at Houghton College in my dorm room, during open house. I know this one was junior year. That is me in the middle, getting kisses on both cheeks by the other editors of The Houghton Star. It doesn’t show up in the pictures, but there were balloons in the room — very curious-looking balloons.


So these pictures from the other party, were they Sophomore, Junior or Senior year? It couldn’t be Freshman, because Matthew wasn’t my roommate Freshman year. I don’t think it was Sophomore year, so was it Junior or Senior. Below you can see a picture of the cake with candles — and we were always accurate about number of candles.  So if anyone can correctly count the candles, they can solve this mystery for me.