Two weeks ago was my 40th (that’s right kids) reunion from college. It is in an idyllic town whose motto is “Home of cows, colleges, and contentment.” At the edge of the prairie sits this small, Lutheran-oriented institute of higher learning. I was not the greatest student, but I muddled through. The military draft was still in place, but ended during my senior year, so I didn’t have to go off to Southeast Asia to kill people for some political reason or other.
From "The Hill" to the Prairie.
It was fun to see that many of my class had good and productive lives and some happiness. Unbelievably, 37% (about 255) made it back to “The Hill” forty years after we graduated. There were doctors, lawyers, preachers (I did mention the Lutheran thing), data processors, housepersons, salespeople, artists, musicians, writers, and just about anything you can imagine. Marriages, divorces, children, out of the closet, cancers, aches, pains, surgeries, and a couple of dozen didn’t live this long. Several had achieved great humanitarian things, but overall someone thought we blew it. There was a great opportunity to make this world much better. We had the world by the short hairs, it seemed, but the entrenched culture and human condition was more than we could move. Sure, we made some advancements and eased some of humanity’s suffering, but we thought we could do so much more for the improvement of the species. Maybe we were just young idealists whose bubble was burst by the harsh realities of the world.
On the other hand we still could party pretty well for a bunch of people approaching geezerhood. Even I, who usually conks out by 9 or 10 in the evening, managed to stay out and up past midnight for two nights in a row! Downtown and Bridge Square were rocking all weekend and they even did a reenactment of the Great Jesse James Bank Robbery. The music was good and the beer was expensive and some of us regained that spring in our step. The next morning that was followed by the proverbial hitch in the get-along.
Our friend Ellen came with her father who was there for his 70th year class reunion. Unfortunately, only about 6 or 7 were able to make it to that one. He was a great guy with more hair than I have.
The campus was even more spectacular with the addition of a few things. Here is a chime tower, the timber framing coming from my own local Folk School.