A Blast of the Past #109: Houghton Reunion

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Our next look into the past is our 20th reunion at Houghton College.  It took place in our 21st year after graduation.  We almost didn’t have this reunion. Initially we were part of something called “cluster reunions” where adjacent years were grouped together in reunions.

It was a good idea; a chance to meet friends from other nearby classes as well as those of one’s own. And so our 20th year went by, but when our 21th year, our cluster was to occur, the planners had suddenly changed and gone back to the regular type of reunions. If we hadn’t written in and asked, we never would have had a reunion at all.

And without that reunion, we never would have gotten our look at Houghton’s then-new president, Shirley Mullen. She impressed us, and though I have heard mixed reviews from various sources, overall I still find Houghton’s choice of president good.

So here are the reunion photos:

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A Blast of the Past #21: College Reunion

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

A Blast of the Past #7 — Senior Skip

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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 …

A Blast of the Past #3 — Can You Count

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A Blast of the Past — my past this time

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Yesterday I featured photos from a 23-year-old photo album. They were from my wife’s photo album, events I didn’t experience. Today I started on an album from my own life. These pictures come from my original college days about 28 years ago. They were an assortment of events. And though I had experienced them all, deciding which event some of the pictures were wasn’t easy.  I still have some that I have taken guesses on — they could belong to two or more similar events.

Since the album comes from several events, I am going to divide it into multiple posts. This first post is the one event I am most certain of. I can even give it a specific date — because it was also featured in a news story in the student newspaper: The Houghton Star.

I was editor of the newspaper that year, but I wasn’t editor when the story was published. That week’s edition was put out by two editors who were competing as candidates for the next year’s editorship (the position was elected by the student body). The picture at the top of this article is the cover photo taken by Louis Lovestrand. Below, see the news article about the event, along with some of the amateur photos I took that year — and just recently uncovered in this potpourri of a college photo album.

P.S. — If any Houghton Alumni have recollections of this event, I’d especially enjoy hearing your comments.

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The silver-haired woman with the blue umbrella is the Dr. Katherine Lindley referenced in the story. The next issue of The Houghton Star was the spoof issue, and we honored Lindley, who was retiring that year, by doing spoof stories about her taking over the college as Tsarina Katherina (A history professor, her area of expertise was Russian History). I was really proud of the quality of the spoof issue.

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This story appeared in the March 27, 1987 edition of The Houghton Star.

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Houghton College — Founder’s Day 2013

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Quick blog at end of a long first day of Homecoming weekend.

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Day started out with Founder’s Day chapel.  I could say a lot about the excellent chapel speaker (and he was good), but I won’t. As many blogs, I’ll make comments on the minutia of things.

The Houghton College Choir sang at chapel.  As an Alum of both college and choir, I was very interested, and very pleased, to hear them sing.  I have even taped and uploaded the video of them on the class Facebook site. But the part I was also interested in was their robes.  They looked very good in the burgundy/purple robes.  I remember the black  “sack” dresses the ladies wore during my day, and the tuxes  we men wore.  I think robes are a much better option.

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Second thing I’ll mention is roaming the campus, and listening to the Wind Symphonia practicing on the chapel steps.  We heard songs from the national anthem, to game fight type songs, to Vader’s theme from Star Wars, (whatever the official title is).  I have some clips of those, which I may upload, if I get time and if our linkage is fast enough to get them put up.

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While they were playing on the chapel steps, a pickup game of frisbee football (or frisbee something), was going on on the quad. We watched the students playing there as we we listened to the music, until both broke up.

The only people from the class of ’88 we saw besides ourselves were the Schlaegels, who had both their kids in tow. Since more are signed up to attend, we expect to some of them tomorrow.

Accepting Compliments

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Today I sang special music in church again — both services — and received the usual shower of applause and compliments afterwards.  To each compliment I gave a warm smile and a thank you, and to the applause I gave a bow of acknowledgement before moving aside to let the order of the service resume.

I enjoy appreciation of my musical talent, but find myself feeling conflicted when receiving those compliments in the context of a worship service, where the focus is not supposed to be on me, not on the performance, but on the worship. In some respects, there was an especial irony today, if taken a certain way: the song I sang was God and God Alone, with the words “Let everything that lives reserve its truest praise for God and God alone.”

I remember back in my Houghton College days that Lee Schaarschmidt, a music ed instrument major, seemed to deflect all praise for his musical performance from himself with an almost signature gesture heavenward (with my usual lack of visual memory, I cannot be certain, but I think it was the forefinger pointed upwards. Others who remember that specific better, feel free to correct me).

I have often contemplated that reaction, and while it may have been the right thing for him, were I to try it, I would only feel that I was bringing more attention to myself by trying to avoid it.

My father encouraged me, and taught me, to accept the praise gracefully, without making any more emphasis. I have found that works well for me.

And since then, I have learned that, just maybe, I didn’t fully understand what is going on when people appreciate a performance in church. Not that I claim to now.

As a performer I give to God as I give to and lead the congregation. The congregation joins in this, and returns by giving in return. They give praise to God, but as God’s love overflows, they also give back to me.  Just as they receive from me, I need to learn to receive from them, to let the giving be a continuous flowing, and not stop it, either by my own aggrandizement, or attempt to avoid the same.