It is full-blown and “full-bloom” spring in YSOH and campus. As SW Ohio weather can be unpredictable with or without climate change, we seem to have had May in April and are now having April in May. So everything has popped up and out; yet all the flowers and the light green canopy above are staying at their best for quite a while. I am thankful for that! That seemingly long dreary season known as winter is pretty much gone. There is also much hope that that other season, that long season of the pandemic, will also soon be gone. As a fully vaccinated yet-ever-so-prudent cautious elder, I still felt that homing instinct of “Transient-Mode home” kick in.
So, I made a curious and cautious socially distant and doubly masked, doubly vaccinated visit to see what Community Day felt like. Indeed it felt like home yet with some variations. Everyone is still wearing masks and a picnic means carefully purveyed box lunches rather than a cook-out. Probably tasty farm-to-table as there are already many good garden greens and more in the hoop house and The Farm. (I peaked! and the rainbow chard, beets, arugula, and lettuce said hello and taste the rainbow!) Some faculty played mellow jazz at the western facing steps of Main Building while scattered students and staff ate at spread-out picnic tables. It was good to see Scott Sanders and the students again after 15 months. You could feel the warmth of the spring sunshine even though the air remained crisp.
Throughout the last 15 months, thanks to April Wolford, Jessie Herr, and Chapter Leaders, we have actually had various regional, virtual, Zoomish “Community Meetings” of all kinds and sizes! I am thankful to have seen and heard from the faces at those meetings. They were like mini-Reunions and provided some entertainment and intellectual stimulation. Sometimes over my head! And in big cities, I imagine it is awesome not to have to schlep around, especially in LA!
This past week, I made a few visits to campus and talked with some recent grads and current students. One was having their 19th birthday! The fact is, after talking with Antiochians, one starts to feel 19 again too! Recent grads I saw talked about Co-ops with Antioch lawyer alums who fight corporate evils in places like Philadelphia and Chicago. Some first years talked about wanting to get to that first Co-op as the world might begin to open up. These conversations made me feel that this small group of students will soon be great catalysts (and catalysts like the community are small but cause much to happen!). Their joys and hopes are infectious in a good way.
There are even some magical places on campus like the bamboo forest in which the Old Japanese Tea House hides serenely in its zen way, if you did not know. I finished the week by going to my first CAMELOT BIKE RACE ever (A tradition reborn!). As it was mostly on Memorial Day weekend, over the decades, I probably missed it because I was a commuter. Other alums must have homing instincts all the time…suddenly Mike Kent ’84, a former Dayton Chapter Organizer and adjunct faculty before we closed and his lifelong Antiochian friend Bill Schwartz ’78, from Philadelphia, showed up. We were very happy to see each other and watched this 100-lap race around part of the Horseshoe from a distance, hanging out by a white memorial dogwood by South Hall in honor of Rich Abrams, well-loved Co-op advisor, ADCIL member, and food critic!
The students and alums with whom I talked made me feel thankful everyone got us here. Speaking of getting here, there is a rolling recruitment cycle until July, so if you know someone who needs an adventure similar to yours, well, drop a hint or a name or more as you might!
Recently on the Antioch Alumni and Community Facebook page, which has 2,700 alums attached to it, I told my story of how I got here. It was an AP World History teacher who sometimes left the textbook and even showed AEA videos from Cambodia (it was 1966 during the Vietnam war) and about a place in Ohio where you could be there and maybe anywhere. Within 36 hours of posting my “how I got here story,” there were comments from almost 300 Antiochians! All sharing how they got here. Do you remember how you got here? Some comments were funny and almost too rapscallionish to share. But here are a few:
…my high school guidance counselor knew I didn’t listen to authority. So she said if I didn’t go to Antioch, I might as well be a car mechanic.
…college fairs, parents, high school guidance counselors, progressive elders
…the letter A
…tired of traditional ed and my parents didn’t want me on the east coast—I still took Co-ops on the east coast
…my dentist filled a tooth and my future at the same time
…Underground or Fiske Guide to Colleges
…people saw articles in the NY Post, Life, Holiday, or SEVENTEEN!
…read about Antioch in Woodstock Nation by Abbie Hoffman
…no football, frats, sororities. and small community
…heard it was hotbed of Communism and free love; that did it for me
…my guidance counselor said I was too weird for normal schools
…Co-ops taught at my high school
…met Antiochians at anti-war protests
…met a Co-op in Costa Rica at a turtle conservation project
…a place that can build your resume
…growing up in conservative Indiana heard about a legacy oasis
…talked to a Co-op who was playing a guitar on the beach in the Caribbean
…a friend threw the catalog at me
…visited and fell in love with it
…after hearing about how active the students were in the 1973 Financial Aid Strike, I felt Antioch was better for me than Stanford
…being an Ohio native thought that was about the most radical place around
…followed in my parents’ and brothers’ footsteps.
And there was so much more.
By the way, in this year’s reboot of Camelot, two of the six riders had parents who were from the ’80s and ’90’s. If you met them and others, you would feel yourself at 19.
Thankful we are all here and getting there. I heard an unusual word in the breeze to describe this year’s virtual Reunion: Antiochtober! Reminds me of one of the ’80s yearbook titles! Hopefully one can resonate with that. And in 2022, as the world loosens up, the hopes are to get “there” and here! In person.
Photos of the Camelot bike race courtesy of Zoë Ritzhaupt ’20
“A Buffalo Grazing” is a regular feature by alum Steven Duffy ’77, known to many as the Buffalo or simply Duffy.