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Robert and Seth - two scruffy hippies smile and embrace

Antiochians decades apart, yet so much in common. Seth Kaplan 2015 and Robert Paschell ’70. Photo by Duffy ‘77.

“Next to mom, I love Antioch College best!” by Duffy ’77

Sometime in the mid-seventies, there was an Antioch College tee-shirt sold in the bookstore that said “ Next to mom, I love Antioch College best”. And some Facebook chatter on a larger alumni FB group indicated that, believe it or not, all those decades later some people still had that very tee tucked away somewhere!

More recently, in the first decade of the 2000’s, a rather “mystical” phrase, “TRANSIENT MODE HOME”, appeared in different places:  the overhang on the old student union, some tees, and even as tattoos on some peoples’ fore-arms (a real conversation starter with new people one might meet, eh?).  In a way, these are subliminal messages that many view the College as a home base or some kind of extended family. Even when the College had a fairly large enrollment in the 70’s people related to each other on an informal first-name basis from the President on down, like family. And like a large family (and a very transgenerational one at that) we haven’t always agreed on some issues. In fact, our true sport, discussion or debate, is maybe what we institutionally do rather than football, (at least since 1929).  Discussion or debate has probably honed many peoples’ communicating skills and maybe raised peoples’ consciousness and sometimes their hackles.

Yet there is some almost joyous intangible feeling that many of us have upon being with each other.  When we were doing a ton of Chapter Gatherings while we were organizing to re-open, I received an email from Clinton Owner ‘02, an ex-Olive Kettering Library worker and CM.  (and now newly elected Alumni Board Member). He had gone to an Arizona Chapter Meeting in 2009 and said that even though he was the only person from his decade there, he felt a great feeling of comfort because he was in the presence of people who seemed so similar in mindset.  Although COVID 19 has kept many of us apart in separate bubbles there is still much bonding going on and kindred spirits.  When COVID 19 finally wanes enough I can’t imagine the good energies that will coalesce when we are able safely to pop these bubbles.

Recently I was walking down Xenia Avenue on the way to the YS Credit Union for some “folding money” and bumped into a fairly new student whom I just met last spring.  She worked at the OK Library so you know we immediately bonded. She said that “the College felt just like a second home and was so friendly.” When we saw each other again we were so immediately connected that Xenia Avenue just melted away. She couldn’t wait to tell me that she was just so excited to take her first co-op outside Ohio in New York City (she is from a very small Ohio town). Some students have stayed closer in the area on co-ops during the worst of COVID. Now the world is starting to re-open somewhat. We were outside near the “Emporium and Underdog cafe” and suddenly someone knocked on the window. It was another current student, a third-year. She is well on the way to heading to Veterinary school, already has co-op experiences in places like Puerto Rico (where she spayed and cared for more animals than you can count who were left stranded by Hurricane Maria).

Speaking of Veterinary school, I recently found out that someone who worked the OK Library desk and often held evening Organic Chemistry study groups at that front desk, a 2018 grad, has now been accepted to Veterinary school.  So at least two very recent Antiochians are on their way to winning victories for more than just humanity, but for the Animal Kingdom.

By next year the College will have graduated 270 or so students since reopening.  Some are already in Med School, Divinity School, getting Masters’ degrees in many areas, teaching, writing, and even in Diplomatic service ever so far from “TRANSIENT MODE HOME”, doing what Antiochians have done for decades.  I am grateful to have been a witness to their journeys from their first week’s arrival to their graduations. Libraries are just the best places to witness students evolve! And the OK Library has always been more than OK!

Recently as the Volunteer Work Project came to campus, I again sensed that joy that many people from different decades seem to share. The outside world seems to melt away momentarily for them as well, at least during some conversations… and current students are also most welcome to melt into these conversations!

Our collective thirteen years or so of the Antioch Adventure is a great story of resilience and reconnections while “re-booting” a great College. As we keep those conversations going some have had that same feeling Clinton Owner ‘02 had at that 2009 Arizona Chapter gathering. Even though we can be decades apart there is something there that seems comfortable and familiar before all is said and done.   We are now heading toward the end of the calendar year with what some people say has as many as fourteen different holidays for different religions and cultures: some involve giving thanks and giving or just getting through the darkness.

As we head into this season of giving, I thought of sharing another Antiochian’s story. As we were starting to begin to raise money for the reopening of Antioch (the Annual Fund) under the Stewardship of Micah Canal ‘08, Micah did what Antiochians do.  He asked people who gave to the Annual Fund for their feedback.  “Why did YOU give?”  And, of course, one Antiochian from the sixties, Ron Winger ‘64  went above and beyond by not only giving but also explaining why he hadn’t for a while (see below).

As we head toward this period of a myriad of holidays, I hope you will find time to think of the collective Antioch family, no matter what decade your decade is or what you celebrate. Perhaps a gift as you can?

There are also all sorts of ways to help the College:  A future volunteer work project? Reunion 2022? Chapter meetings as they happen.

Antioch Gothic: Family At Work: Denwood Parrish ’69 and Libby Arny ’72 during the Volunteer Work Project 2021. Photo by Duffy ‘77

I hope to squeeze a donation in myself. Who needs a night on the town or its equivalent anyway? Please stay in touch with the College and each other! Do you know of someone 18-22 who could benefit from a co-op experience and enjoy the intimacy of a small Campus Community and its Village?   Rare gems these days!  Some still might say “Next to Mom, I love Antioch best!”

Why I Gave

Wow, that’s a good question.  Maybe I should first answer why I haven’t given.

For a long time, it just wasn’t my Antioch, and closing the main campus really meant it wasn’t my Antioch.

I must tell you that I got lots of calls from dear friends asking me to help with reviving the college; I was not a believer. I didn’t believe that it was even remotely possible.  As far as I was concerned my Antioch was toast.

Then I got a call that slowly eased me back into a state of at least paying attention.  I watched the (live streaming) historic handover of the main campus to the Alumnae.  Others, not me, had done the heavy lifting and a lot of people were in attendance. At least I was watching live with about 300 others.  Surprisingly I had tears in my eyes.  It was time for me to pay penance, to pay respect, and even if I didn’t have any money to give at least my time.  So I attended my first ever work party and attended my first ever Antioch reunion.  I had no idea it was the 45th year since I graduated but I hadn’t cared; after all, it hadn’t been my Antioch for the last 40 years.

The work party week was a life-changing phenomenon.  Sure, I got many “Glad you’re (finally) here” and some more blatant “Where were you for the last few years”.  But those comments always seemed to be followed by very deep and very loving “Thank you so much for being here now”.

We worked hard and got a lot accomplished. But we didn’t work so hard that there wasn’t a lot of time at breakfast and lunch (which were provided with alumnae support).  We talked about our lives and loves, and about Antioch’s past, Antioch recently, and what Antioch might become.  We went for great dinners in the area, and we had more fun getting to know each other.  We discovered long-lost friends and made lots of new friends.  All of these became deeply emotional experiences.  When everyone started showing up for reunion the emotions just became overwhelming.  I was home with my friends again.  I was home with people I understood, and who understand me.  I was at Antioch College.

Even though my excuses for not giving were melting away I had protected myself; I purposely didn’t even bring my checkbook. My first excuse to myself was that I couldn’t see how they could ever make this work financially.  So I asked to see the financial plans.  They promised to send them to me but it didn’t happen and I understood, it was an amazingly busy time and there is a very small staff*.  The second reason I had against giving is the economy.  Income is down, expenses are up, dividends and interest rates are anemic. However, I also had to admit to myself some other things were happening.  Buildings were reopening and some of them actually looked nice.  People just like me were doing everything they could.  They were giving their time and/or their money. They were doing what they could. I just had to make a pledge and it was a good thing that it was before they started ringing the bells atop Main Building.  I still didn’t know where the money was coming from. I was afraid to tell Claudia what I had done.  I needn’t have worried. We made adjustments. The money appeared and we were able to pay the pledge right away.  So now we are making another pledge and we will make that happen too.

With love to Antioch and to you,

Ron ’64 and Claudia ’66 Winger

* I do have that financial spreadsheet; it is pages and pages long.  It is professionally done and very impressive.  I think this is a more competent Antioch than ever before. If you want to see it, I am sure they will send it to you.