All Photos credit:
Buffalo (Steve Duffy ) ’77
Hello extended Antioch family! After three years we are all endeavoring to reunite with each other and maybe meet new friends while including a good dose of prudence and care as we gather during these uncertain times. And perhaps wearing a mask at times provides some fun elements of mystery.
Who are you? Oh, now I know! Or I remember! We don’t have our name badges yet as Reunion starts later this week!
The weather in SW Ohio this summer has been quite unusual even by Ohio Standards. We just had a fortnight of 90 degree weather with 20% humidity followed by a week of torrential tropical rains. But just in time for the Volunteer Work Project and Reunion, a five day stretch of somewhat normal and probably picture-perfect weather is setting the stage for everyone to gather for the work project followed by Reunion 2022. Hopefully everyone will have what they perceive to be a wonderful time. Driving into Yellow Springs the corn and soybeans may look thirsty and late in the afternoons the corn seems pointy and distressed, almost looking like yucca plants. Perhaps a recent or future grad will help work on some of these environmental issues; the environmental clock just like some of our own clocks seems to be ticking faster now. The corn tassel rains which are critical to making corn happy are due and will come in a couple of weeks, we do hope. Campus, however, is still a green oasis with lots of summer flowers.
Dozens of folks have come early for the work project and the range of years is from 1949 to 2006. For many loyal and inveterate returnees on the VWP it is just like a “family” reunion. People check in and catch up with each other. There is ever so much conversation and laughter. The Volunteer “cooks” Peggy Erskine ’60, Helen Welford ‘69 Lee Inman ’70, Charlotte Hallam ’60, and Louise Meller ’67 also make some wonderful rustic comfort food and appetizers. They might even get a thumbs up from John Ronsheim, the ultimate faculty farm to table expert. There is also a happy hour after the volunteer work day at the Coretta Scott King Center, whose patio and picnic tables have a perfect early evening view of Main Building and the Reunion Tent.
People have come from all over, some from Florida like Penny Storm ‘65, Marc Snyder ‘92, Denwood Parrish ‘69, and Californian’s like Peter Labermeier ‘74, David Vincent ‘65, Tanya Mink ‘65. The Californians are happy to be in a place that is half way green and the Floridians are glad for a reprieve from their oppressive summer weather. Antioch College in the summer has always been Camp Antioch as old bookstore tee-shirt used to say. This week we will get a great boost from some great weather..in spite of that angry corn just outside the village.
I have been “grazing” the campus this week as “snack patrol” for the volunteers. So with a red wagon and a giant cooler, Gatorade, Fizzy waters, Water water, different kinds of fresh fruit and popsicles, and even an exotic Midwestern beverage, Vernor’s Ginger Ale, this “Buffalo” is making the rounds. People are caulking West Hall, pulling weeds all over, painting here and there and on the top floor of Weston (formerly the Horace Mann Building where we had some intense AB meetings the year before we closed) Beth Richards ‘06 and Ralph Overton ‘61 were re-laying some tile floors. Marc Snyder ‘92 has been all over campus on the giant “Horace Mann-lift” to clear gutters of leaves. Others were helping give Birch Hall some prep for deep cleaning before Fall Term. Yunus Brevik ‘03, Mary Bieri Bowman ‘49, Rebecca Mark ‘77, and Tanya Mink ‘65 were out on the farm working on a giant garlic bed and more.
If you were to wander campus you might not think a lot was happening. But in fact there IS much happening here and there! You just have to look for it or bump into it. On the way to the farm between the Science Building and Amphitheater there is a verdant forest of bamboo where the old Japanese Tea House still is. In the shade of that forest were two students on a picnic blanket. The summer breeze was delicious. One of the students was working on a “hand”-made clay pot. It seemed like they were truly in their own oasis. As they are future Antiochians I offered some snacks and they took a few Washington Cherries, then I was off to the next place.
Of course in between chores Antiochians are always wanting to catch up and maybe stay ahead of the rest of the world. So a number of VWP folks went to the Olive Kettering Library to watch the latest of the January 6th Commission hearings. Of course that had to be an extra stop for the snack wagon. Decades ago in the late sixties people would go over to an after hours study in North Hall where there was a pretty fair sized Black and White TV that, if you were lucky, got two channels. So a good number of folks would go to watch Walter Cronkite at 6:30. It sometimes was almost an interactive sport as people had much to say about the horrors of the Vietnam War, and would hoot or holler at Walter while sitting on some comfy sofas. Those of us who were in our twenties in the seventies are now just about in our seventies in the twenties. So this present Olive Kettering moment was an echo of the past but, in the present. A lap-top was rigged up to a giant flat screen TV and there was the January 6th hearing streaming at the front desk in living color. There were some rows of chairs (spaced apart because of COVID prudence and also there were current students before the desk and on distant sofas). So eight decades of the extended Antioch family were mesmerized and absolutely stone silent. Maybe the most quiet moment I have “heard” at the Olive Kettering Library. It was a serendipitous moment that included like minded Antiochians from 1957 to 2024 from what I could gauge. Even though we sometimes think the decades are all radically different there are times when we just are one, then the age differences and other perceptions just melt away. On one of my final laps in the horseshoe I saw a familiar face that I hadn’t seen in seasons. Cory Slavitt ‘79 and also a former villager and WYSO person was standing by McGregor. Of course we knew each other from her being a constant library user and back then I was a villager myself. She was here early to see village friends, an amazing amount we both knew. Ah, that village/college connection!
If you take an in-depth walk around the campus it really is like what President Jane Fernandes said last year. “It is good and can be better”. There may be a couple of unweeded patches here and there, some loose bricks and some scuff marks on stairs and a closed building but much love is being given to many of these things. Antioch College is as perfect and imperfect a place as it ever was. As I arrived today for the snack patrol I heard music wafting across the library parking lot. To many it may remind you of times people might put speakers outside on a nice day. I heard my first Janice Joplin music drifting across campus from Birch. This music, however, was not from a random Antiochian. It was from the roofers who were putting a new roof on the OKLibrary!
This week should be a great time for many and hopefully people will even take a moment to enjoy the evening fireflies…they come free.
Love, health and safety to you all wherever you are. If you miss things this year…well perhaps down the road. And maybe the corn on the road into town will be happier. That is maybe something newer Antiochians will help fix.