Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Party like it's 1949

Yesterday was the 37th Governor's Cup Regatta at the University of Charleston. Over the years it has developed into more than a crew race—even during my undergrad days, the races for some folks were merely an excuse to spend a Saturday afternoon on the campus riverbank (across from the state capitol), often with beautiful weather and blooms on the trees and flowers. GovCup became more a celebration of spring and a last big fling for students before final exams reared their ugly heads in a few weeks. Because of its popularity as a spring event on campus, GovCup became a favorite for alumni, providing a complementary event to Homecoming (Fall Festival) but in the first half of each year.

With the growth people from my generation using Facebook in recent years, lots of us have been reconnecting with our college classmates. Last year's GovCup was a phenomenal experience, with more alumni on campus than probably any event in UC history. This year, Easter (which is governed by the lunar calendar) came later than normal, and unfortunately coincided with GovCup. This conflict was sure to hurt attendance, plus the weather report was pessimistic. In fact, the rains, flooding, and debris on the river caused the regatta to almost get cancelled. A last minute go/no-go decision was made, and they ultimately decided to not cancel the entire event. Fortunately, the sun came out about noon, and it ended up being a beautiful day.

 Although there were fewer alums from my era in attendance this year, those who made it had a great time. The alumni office provided a nice buffet in the rotunda (one of the most beautiful rooms on a beautiful campus). Some of us ventured off to tour the campus. We marveled at the new student fitness center, with its windows overlooking the river. In our day, there was one universal gym weight machine in a windowless basement room in the phys ed building. Except for the new fitness center built onto the front, the rest of the phys ed building/Eddie King Gym complex was pretty much still the same, bringing back lots of memories for us—although it is overdue for an update. Fundraising is now beginning to replace this antiquated building (note to self—send a check).

 We got an official escorted tour to see the fancy suite apartments in the new East Dorm (and parking garage) that replaced Dickinson Hall girls dorm—they were amazing compared to the old-fashioned cramped dorm rooms we had. The only remaining dormitory from our era is Cox Hall, where I spent three of the best years of my life. After seeing the new dorm as part of an official tour, we had to try to relive our memories and get inside the old dorm, even if none of us had a keycard to get us in (hey, that was my home for years, and I still feel like I should be welcome to walk into that place). I found a door ajar that allowed us to get inside and roam around (and one girl invited us to check out her room). Cox Hall is now all single rooms, and the group restrooms now have individual shower stalls. The laundry facilities are no longer in the basement, but instead conveniently located on each floor. Cox Hall is not nearly as palatial as the other new dorms, but I would still be willing to live there today.

What struck me the hardest yesterday was realizing that we were wandering around the campus as alums who had come back although it had been 31 years since I graduated. During my student days, I can remember events that drew “old people” back to campus. It dawned on me that if I were a senior in 1980, our visit yesterday would be the equivalent to us seeing alums from the Class of 1949 roaming around (31 years earlier). Holy Cow! My former student self would have thought that folks who had graduated in 1949 were really old people, yet I don't feel all that far removed from those days (especially while visiting with my friends from that era). How could we now be the equivalent of the Class of 1949?

Later Saturday evening, a group of us gathered at a friend's house to socialize. All of us “old folks” continued to visit and tell stories from the old days, and enjoyed lots of music from that era (plus a special concert by Sue B., who is still as phenomenal on the guitar as she was when we were students). It was a great time that continued long into the night—just like it usually did when we were younger. Prince did a song in the early '80s that talked about partying like its 1999. Well, last night we partied like it was 1949! And I think we had a better time than whatever party those in the actual class of 1949 would have had after being on campus back in 1980. We still rock!

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