Arts & Culture / Mosaic / October 27, 2010

On the long, long road to Alma Mater: Homecoming memories

This past Homecoming Week, alumni of Knox College came from all over to have reunions, see old friends and faculty, revisit the campus and relive their memories of their alma mater. These are some of those memories from Knox alumni.

“I just remember all the walks on the campus. How beautiful the campus always is in the fall and in the winter and in the spring. I love all the time I spent in the art building waiting for firings in the kiln to come out. The great times that I had on the Barcelona trip that’s really meant for me and my whole life and for my career. I still go back to see Carmen Petri, the lady I lived with. It’s part of my life.”

—Melissa Wolf ‘83

“Bill Clinton spoke here at one point…He was the commencement speaker and I played in the Jazz Band when I was here. A lot of times during graduation week, I would stay on and play in a little combo that provides the music for the both processional and recessional of the graduation ceremony…After he got done speaking, he had to book—Bill Clinton could not stay for any time beyond what he agreed to but he came up to the band and he shook our hands. Funny thing was, I had been up all night, the night before. So the last thing I remember doing, before falling asleep before he started even talking, was eating a daddy long legs.”

—Eric Ratzel ‘08

“Knox prepared me for anything I want to do in life.”

—Ashley Covington ‘05

“Since we’re in the [Knosher] Bowl, I’ll tell you about the Bowl. Back in my day, we had cheerleaders at Knox and there were about six of us. The Bowl wasn’t as wide as it is now and so the area we were allowed to stand in besides the field was very narrow. Since we were on the field and facing the crowd, we could never tell exactly what was happening behind us—and once upon a time I ended up on the bottom of a pile of football players. And I survived—it really just worked out just fine but it was incredibly frightening as it was happening because there were at least six of them up there [laughs] on top of me. And I’m still really not sure what happened out on the field that resulted in all of them on top of me but it was more of a surprise on the field than I had expected, let’s put it that way.

One of my other really fond memories is the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter used to meet in Alumni Hall. We were one of the last things that actually functioned in Alumni Hall. And it was the west upper room and it was this rickety staircase that we went up to get to it … And whenever we sang, it was like our voices just blended together and we never could get it to happen in any other room except that room. It was just another one of those surprising things that I didn’t expect when I was in college …

I met my husband here and he was supposed to be a spring fling in the spring of ’78. And then he went off to Rush—off to med[ical] school—and he was supposed to disappear from my life but he kept coming back and so this makes 32 springs we’ve been flinging and it’s been a blast.

One of the other things that’s very alumni-ish is the class of ’79 was supposed to graduate on the South Lawn [of Old Main] except it rained. So, Jesse Jackson was our graduation speaker and we ended up having to be in the gym—not in the field house—in the gym. It was one tight fit to get us all in there … And then I got married on campus and we were supposed to be married on the South Lawn, as well, but it was only 52 degrees and I was afraid I’d kill grandpa, if I made him come to the service. And there was a threat of rain and, you know, it just wouldn’t have been a good thing at all. [laughs] So we ended up at Kresge Recital Hall to have the wedding instead.”

—Mary Webber Bartos ‘79

“As an Economics major, I was required, among other courses, to take statistics, which was considered to be one of the hardest courses at Knox. To make a long story short, it was the first failure that I had ever experienced. Somehow, I was sitting at the B.V. bar a few days later with George Melville, my professor for statistics. We struck up a conversation and he told me, [imitating Melville], ‘Mr. England, you have the ability to get an A in statistics.’ I proceeded to take statistics, once again, to get my economics major and to graduate. I studied very hard for Professor Melville and I got an A in statistics. He and I became lifetime friends and he was one of the most influential people in my life even to this day.”

—Donald England ‘60

“I really enjoyed the high-quality education while also getting to be a student-athlete.”

—Stephanie Metevelis ‘03

“Flunk Day was very good. We kind of knew ahead of time because we knew the president of the senior class. [On] Flunk Day, we had very good weather. We went to the movie theatre… I think we saw a Clint Eastwood movie and just had a really good time, a laid back time.”

—Ken Shaw ‘73

“I think the people that I met here when I was a student and an athlete here were what sticks out the most … Just mainly the people that were here. So I was from Galesburg so to end up coming here and becoming a student here is pretty memorable. And I still live here in town.”

—Dave Burns ‘91

[Background: James Wetzel ’09 had just come back from a semester abroad in Berlin and during the senior challenge, donated a nickel because that was all he had. He said, “The only cash I had was five cents. I just returned to the country so I didn’t have checks or a credit card or anything set up so there was no way I could get more money even if I wanted to—which obviously I did—of course, look at what Knox gave me, I wanted to repay that.” This story begins after the time when graduating seniors were invited to have dinner at President Roger Taylor’s house. Wetzel was the first person to be at Taylor’s house and Taylor recognized Wetzel and reprimanded him as ‘the kid who gave a nickel to the senior challenge,’ among other things.]

“I started to get ideas because I know I’m gonna have to approach Roger one more time when I get my diploma at graduation, and so I’m thinking of ways in which to get back at him for his comment to me … I went up on stage, I had a nickel in my hand…I decided to shake his hand. He feels the nickel in my hand, releases his hand. I make sure I had my diploma first. I’m holding my diploma. He sees the nickel drop on the stage and he just looks up at me and gives me the most confused, happy-go-lucky smile that you could produce, coming from Roger. He doesn’t know what to say—he doesn’t say anything. He just chuckles and I just walk off the stage into the sunset and become what I’ve become.”

—James Wetzel ‘09

Sheena Leano

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