By Duffy ’77
Last week marked the 171st or 169th “birthday” (Founder’s Day) for Antioch College depending on whether you count utopian brainstorms in upstate New York or the actual laying of the first bricks on campus. If you want that full story Antiochiana might be your next stop. (or, gulp, fast and dirty – Wikipedia; our article there is longer than many other colleges, especially the list of
notable alums; we do have quite the history!). The technical founding date is October 5th but there have been many years when Antioch College becomes so busy or preoccupied that it forgets to celebrate the equivalent of its “birthday” …and, well, we DO stay busy! One Founder’s Day in 1955 was celebrated with David Riesman as the keynote speaker at the ribbon-cutting for the Olive Kettering Library.
This year a virtual reunion is happening again, in case you missed the first event. It is called ANTIOCHTOBER! (register here) with the hopes that next year the world will be in good enough shape that we all can come together in larger numbers and in safety.
A nice “Founder’s Day” present or presents was the presence of four dozen or so Volunteer Work Project people who came to campus from all over, to weed, and also fix, repair and paint all sorts of things. Everyone was vaccinated and tested! The work crew has been at this for decades now and I have seen it for at least the last twelve and I know that they not only love the College but also each other. It is Community in an almost utopian form. They represent many decades. This time, volunteers spanned from 1954 to 2004 and if you include the students who also picked up giant piles of brush let’s include some “20-twenties”. Transgenerational Community at work! So much was done you really can’t list it all. So, if a name is omitted it is a problem of space rather than place and this place looks swell thanks to all that collective sweat equity!
The Foundry Theater has beautiful new Red Doors and Handrails. The President’s house (Folkmanis House) inside has been painted a light blue that makes you think you are at a soothing ocean resort. Glass work and painting were done in West Hall, the OKLibrary roof received some repairs, just about every flower bed on campus got lots of love by some sixties and other decades’ flower children, but mums the word. So now there is much more yellow in Yellow Springs and Campus. Many sidewalks were weeded by weed surgeons like Denwood Parrish ’69 who plucked the most stubborn weeds’ long roots between the sidewalks with pliers (ouch!). He also lived on the edge by using a giant power-edger on some sidewalks.
Yunus Breivik ’03 was a consummate brushmaster and found trees (“trees of heaven” or “stink weed” trees!) growing deep down in a moat on the SW side of the McGregor Building. Janice Campbell ’61 worked on the “Chef’s Herb garden” outside North by pruning some fennel that had become a forest of its own. Others braided farm garlic. Marc Ulrich Snyder ’92 had provided uplifting moments as he rode “The Horace Mann Lift” to the top of every building to clear old leaves from gutters. John Sarkees worked “tirelessly”on the Physical Plant’s most important truck, working on it from top to bottom..from the windshield to the brakes. Tiles were laid by Evelyn LaMers ’69 in Weston (formerly the Horace Mann Bldg). Evelyn also did plant flowers in places! Roger Huff ’69 and Tom LaMers ’68 worked on some mysterious structures behind Birch Hall. and Joan Stockton ’65 and Rosalie Moore ’68 organized blueprints from decades in a little house called “Facilities” behind the Old Fels Building. Actually, I saw Rosalie in so many places I wondered how many Rosalies were here! and some other people did move around a lot!
Meanwhile, the cooks, Helen Welford ’69, Peggy Erskine ’60, Louise Meller ’67, and Penny Storm ’65 (who also can cook up a storm) made wonderfully rustic food in the Coretta Scott King Center kitchen and kept everyone going strong. Everyday at lunch, campus notables, among them Louise Smith ‘77, Interim Dean of Students, and Shane Creepingbear ‘08, new Dean of Admissions, came to lunch and briefed everyone on what was going on. Much laughter and many questions at every lunch and lots of good carbs!
The week also had a concurrent Community Day with a Candlelight dinner organized by current CM Coco Gagnet ’18 under an outside tent one night and the next night a Volunteer Work Project Bar B Q and chat with the New President. However, some “hongree” students were probably lured into the tent by the smoky smell of burgers (meat and meatless), hot dogs, salmon burgers, and veggie burgers. Something for everyone!
This Buffalo did their own Campus Grazing by rolling around every afternoon with a snack wagon with a variety of healthy and some decadent snacks. The volunteers got treats and this Buffalo was treated to some great stories! Good to know that 60’s folks were also occasional rapscallions! Homemade cookies by Lin Wood ’81 (and a villager) were oh so perfect as were the lunchtime lemon squares made by Evelyn LaMers with Meyer lemons shipped from the Bay Area by David Vincent ‘65 using David’s mom’s secret lemon bar recipe. (It’s always about that perfect crust under that sweet lemon!) Everyone worked hard, ate a lot and so enjoyed each other and at intervals met some newer students who walked by some of the weeders and brushmasters. Some instant friendships just happened. Antiochians from many eras are more similar than different. In our own ways we Antiochians are in varying ways left-leaning flower children and the world so needs Antiochians more than it ever has!
The weather of course was absolutely perfect by October or Antiochtober standards. For some reason (hope it is not that climate change thing slowly creeping in) it was perfectly warm with slight humidity and some giant passing puffy clouds. It mostly seemed to rain at night. Although one afternoon it did rain briefly and hard around 3pm. The sun, however, soon came out and some of us went out looking for rainbows. I think Marc Ulrich Snyder ’92 “caught” one and may have snapped a picture of it over Main Building. Unfortunately, I do not think there was a pot of gold nearby. Maybe the next rainbow!
The College Campus is getting to be in good shape and much of that deserves some BIG THANKS to those four-dozen left leaning flower children although the Physical Plant people do a wonderful job. I am always impressed by diagonal stripes on the lawns!
There was also an ice-cream social with the first-year students one evening; but some of the intellectual conversation was so deep I could have used a dictionary for some terms even used by some first years. Amazing what intellect and language skills they have! One has to work to keep up with them!
Enrollment is increasing by some smidges and yet still has some ways to go. Even with ups and downs during this crazy time we are holding on! Imagine a first year going to the big island in Hawaii and working at a holistic cancer retreat. That Antioch Adventure during a pandemic provides a moment in paradise and a study in wellness for a first year from Columbus.
Maybe some of us will get to see each other during some ANTIOCHTOBER (Virtual Reunion) zoom moments. There will even be a DIV DANCE, decade gatherings, a State of the College moment with the new president and much more. If the world holds together, there will hopefully be a moment for the masses in real time in 2022. I can tell you that the first toe in the water, the visiting presence of the work project people, was rather joyous and like a partial family reunion!
Peace and Much Love to you all.
From a fellow flower child who leans left at times! Well, maybe most of the time!