Wednesday, June 03, 2009


Nassau Hall
Nassau Hall. Built in 1754, it is the oldest building at Princeton University, serving as Capitol for the nascent United States of America for a four-month period in 1783.

She Who Must Be Obeyed and I are back from our New Jersey-New York sojourn, a trip with multiple purposes and multiple destinations.

We visited with Eli (hizzownself!), the Poppa d’Elisson; Toni, the Bride d’Eli; The Other Elisson (my kid brother); and the Legendary Zelda.

While in New York, I had a chance to meet up with Steve V., a friend from elementary school whom I had not seen in something on the order of 43 years. My recollections of elementary school are, of course, necessarily vague after all this time, but I remember Steve as having a sense of humor very much like mine. (Poor guy.) And now, unlike me, he can look at our third-grade class photo and identify almost everyone in it.

But first on the agenda was our once-every-five-years trip back to Old Nassau, AKA Princeton University, my Alma Mater, there to attend my thirty-fifth Class Reunion.

Believe it or not, there are a few die-hards who attend every year, having never missed a single reunion since our graduation year. For us, it’s a lot more fun when a good-sized mob of classmates shows up. That puts us on the five-year cycle.

We always enjoy seeing familiar faces - the ones who show up every five years, like we do, as well as some who appear lass frequently. We exchange stories, catch up on what has gone on since our last meeting. Careers, children, parents, travel... it’s all part of the Great Mosaic. And many times, I have a chance to spend time getting to know classmates that I never knew Back in the Day.

The retrospective viewpoint of this reunion business is a little like a stop-motion animated movie. Lives are speeded up, each frame five years later than the last. Newborn children become prepubescents, then teenagers, then college graduates. Wrinkles appear; hair greys... yet we feel the same.

The first time She Who Must Be Obeyed attended one of these foofaraws, it was thirty years ago, and Elder Daughter (then Only Daughter) was a mere three weeks old. After that, both girls attended Reunions with us... until 2004, when Elder Daughter’s work schedule got in the way. And this year, we were sans children, for the first time ever. It was bittersweet, seeing younger alumni with their families, knowing that those days are over for us... at least, until we have grandchildren we can drag along.

Some of the highlights, for us:
  • Friday evening, a fellow caught our eye. Not content to simply wear his outrageously loud class blazer, he had had pants made of the same material. I had to get a picture of this, so I clapped a hand on his sholuder and said, “Excuse me, but I really need to get a picture of you - would you mind?” As he spun around, I realized that it was none other than my old friend Harpo, AKA Urethra Franklin! SWMBO and I had not seen Harpo for some 28 years, and it was an unalloyed pleasure to reconnect with him.

    Urethra Franklin
    Then: Elisson and “Harpo” in 1981. [Click to embiggen.]

    Urethra Franklin
    Now: “Harpo” and Elisson in 2009.

  • As we waited to take our places in the One and Only P-Rade - a parade that encompasses every class, old to young, with living members - another Friend of Long Standing suddenly appeared. Cracker!

    Cracker and SWMBO
    Cracker and SWMBO await their turn in the P-Rade.

    Cracker (not his real name) and I had met each other when I was a humble freshman, he a not-so-humble sophomore. Having several friends in common, we became friends as well, participating in many Useless Endeavors over the years... and, years later, even working for widely divergent parts of the same Great Corporate Salt Mine. Alas, we fell out of touch; the last time SWMBO and I saw him, it was sometime in the late 1970’s.

    And now, here he was, running up and down along the mass of people gathered to march in the P-Rade, showing off an old photograph taken in his room sometime in the spring of 1973. The photo - you can see it above - portrays three obviously Heavily Baked Individuals, one of whom is familiar to my Esteemed Readers. But which one?

  • The last place you’d expect to hold a blogmeet would be at Princeton Reunions (notables like Tigerhawk notwithstanding), but we managed to get together with Sparrow of All Atwitter, who just happens to be a member of the Class of 1976. And late Saturday evening, under the great arch at Blair Hall, we listened to the Katzenjammers - the very first coeducational collegiate a capella singing group - a group founded when I was still a student. Amongst those founding members was one very songbirdlike Sparrow, and after hearing her, I’d say that she has, without question, the best voice of any blogger I have ever met. And no, that is not Damning with Faint Praise.
More to come, when I feel like writing more.

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