It’s All Coming Back to Me Now: Rutgers Memories
This spring's Reunion events provided Rutgers alumni the perfect occasion to reminisce. Who doesn’t love getting together with friends to talk about the good ol’ days? “Remember that time…” is a phrase that usually leads off a series of exchanges about the funny, scary, sneaky, happy, significant, and emotional happenings from your glory days at Rutgers.
Below, alumni from decades past share tales of their own Rutgers moments. To honor our alumni who celebrated their milestone 50th and 25th reunions this year, writers from the Class of 1962 and the Class of 1987 open up even more. Share your own Rutgers memories in the comments section below or at Facebook.com/rutgersalumni.
Rutgers gave me some unique experiences. The Civil Pilot Training Program’s final exam—the cross-country solo flight—had me fly from nearby Hadley Field to Trenton to Red Bank and back to Hadley. I found Trenton, but a great sea fog rolled in and Red Bank eluded me. I landed at Hadley just as the engine sputtered for lack of fuel. Rutgers also gave me an ROTC Second Lieutenant commission just in time for WWII.
– Tom Kindre RC’42
A Diverse College Experience
My favorite memories of student days are: developing journalistic skills that served me well over a long career; participating in serious theater (Home of the Brave, Richard III, Summer and Smoke, The Inspector General); discovering classical music, a lifelong source of pleasure and emotional support; striving to follow acclaimed professors’ enthusiasms, ranging from plankton to Tourette syndrome; and improving interpersonal skills, sometimes under duress, as a member of a self-governing fraternity chapter. Sharing such memories with classmates is a highlight of Reunion, along with catching up with much more recent events in each other's lives.
– Bob Comstock RC’52
50th Anniversary: Our Years on the Banks
The Class of 1962 remembers wearing dinks and building floats for the Homecoming parade, as well as enjoying talks by Eleanor Roosevelt and Milton Friedman.
By Geoffrey Gould RC’62, GSE’66, ’74 and classmates
We came as young men fresh from high school or the military: freshmen, heads topped with “dinks,” marking us ready targets for upperclassmen. Four years later we emerged ready to pursue careers or graduate studies, armed with critical thinking skills learned at Rutgers. Fifty years later, we return to reminisce and to compare future plans.
We remember the cries of “sandwiches, cake, milk, and ice cream” that launched late-night snack time and “bull sessions” in our dorms. Weekends, we hiked across town, dodging cotton fluff drifting from J&J’s ancient factory to date Douglass women, enjoying “Passion Puddle,” pep rallies, or serious time in the library. Before the internet, we lived in labs and the library.
We enjoyed talks by Eleanor Roosevelt, Robert Oppenheimer, Milton Friedman RC’32, and raconteur Jean Shepherd, plus Eugene Ormandy’s Philadelphia Orchestra and the RU Chorus under conductor Soup Walter performing Carmina Burana.
Building floats for the homecoming parade from chicken wire and crepe paper and sharing the excitement of our undefeated football season thanks to Messrs. Kroll, Mudie, Speranza, and others were special, as were the national and Cherry Blossom festival victories of the Queens Guard drill team.
We remember President Mason Gross in a motor launch following crews racing on the Raritan. He attended countless student activity meetings, football and lacrosse games, and more, while managing our state university. Among talented faculty were historian Richard Patrick McCormick RC’38, GSNB’40, an engaging, savvy teacher who later graced our reunions with his wit and wisdom; journalism professor Richard Hixson, who assigned students local election-night polling coverage before JFK’s victory; and Remigio Pane RC’38, GSNB’39, who took his students to the Metropolitan Opera to meet its head. Smart men, great mentors, they exemplified a fine faculty.
More highlights exist than space, but that’s why reunions provide time to recall, to enjoy, and to look forward.
Being a student at Livingston College during its early years and at a time of major changes throughout our society in the 1970s was a learning experience on all levels, not just in the classroom but for life itself. The opportunities to see politics, culture, and sports unfold up close were eye-openers—from using the first-ever handheld video cameras in journalism and urban communications classes to Ted Kennedy making a campaign appearance on Voorhees Mall, from the 1976–77 Rutgers Cinderella basketball season to Bruce Springsteen's concert at "the Barn." As a Rutgers and Livingston alumni volunteer, I've enjoyed maintaining my connection to my college years, and my wife, Fran, and I have made so many new friends in the process!
– Marty Siederer LC’77
25th Anniversary: Sports, Protests, Tunes & More
The ties that bind the Class of 1987 are diverse, yet strong.
By Louis Matino ENG’87, RBS’91
As a fan of Rutgers football (season-ticket holder since we graduated), I have always been a little jealous of the stranglehold the pro-sports market has on our state. A common belief is that it would be difficult for Rutgers to have a fan-following like Alabama or even Virginia Tech because there is simply too much competition for entertainment dollars in the tristate area. Well, for one year at least, it wasn’t so bad to live in a pro-sports town. Because during our senior year, not only did the Mets win the World Series, but the Giants won the Super Bowl! I can still remember all the cheers of joy emanating from the windows of the Silvers apartment complex. Those cheers were coming out of all the RU dorms on those nights.
Thinking back over our entire four years, who will forget the anti-Apartheid rally that lasted for weeks during our sophomore year? At the time, I lived in Demarest and had my room to myself for a while as my roommate camped in front of the Rutgers Student Center. It was a great example of how Americans can not only call out their government, but also their university when their actions don’t belie their principles.
While I was a big fan of the Clash, the Police, the Pretenders, and other early new-wave bands in high school, college opened the door to U2, the Smiths, REM, the Cure, and other bands that to this day have music that endures and shapes our lives. These bands were integral to a social life that included Olde Queens on Thursday nights, dorm/apartment parties on Fridays, and the Roxy/Melody on Saturday nights.
Four years of hard work but also a lot of special memories.
Something for Everyone at Reunion
I try to come to reunion every year, and I wish more people would, too! I guess it started out that I didn't ever feel associated with just one class year, since I began at Rutgers as a member one graduating year, but finished slightly later than originally planned. But honestly, with the many activities I was involved with (council, leadership, clubs, on-campus jobs), I met people from every year close to mine. I love seeing all of them at Reunion. I love hearing about their personal and professional accomplishments, meeting their families, and reliving our best times together.
– Margaret O’Donnell CC’93
That Rutgers Feeling
Every day I walked down College Avenue to class from my awesome apartment. But I distinctly remember one sunny day, wearing my favorite Rutgers T-shirt, feeling like all was how it should be. Rutgers was for me. I was meant for Rutgers. A visit to Rutgers refreshes my spirits, and the lift reminds me why I give back to this institution. I wouldn’t be the same without my Rutgers experience, and most of all, without the people I met here. Reunion is an opportunity to thank the university, but also the men and women who changed my life for the better.
– Amy DeRobertis RC’02, SCILS’02