I have been a subtle interloper at my husband’s Middlebury College reunions for 45 years.
I did some bouncing around within my own college experience, gathering scraps of education while amassing memories and experiences from four different institutions of higher learning, each of which contributed in its unique way, to my finally growing up.
But my husband’s school has been alma mater to six family members spanning three generations. Thanks mostly to the generation preceding him, plentiful evidence of close ties to the college remain in various households among us.
There is a Middlebury captain’s chair, a set of dinner plates (featuring various buildings on the oldest part of the campus), and a large, framed photograph of Mead Chapel. There are baseball caps, T-shirts, baby bibs, and key chains that have dotted the landscapes of family closets for years.
The third generation, though, has pretty much eschewed sentimentality, gotten on with the business of busy lives, assigning a somewhat “ho, hum” attitude to the relevance of such memorabilia. Still, though, sometimes the Vermont splendor in autumn draws our daughter, her Middlebury husband and their kids back to “homecoming.”
As for the fourth generation, there’s no spark yet of an interest to follow the tradition — or be saddled with the hefty price tag of a private college.
When, late last fall, my husband received sign-up information for “Reunion Weekend” in the first week in June, he wasn’t enthusiastic. It was expensive; it was a long drive; and anyway, he was in frequent touch with his two best Middlebury friends pretty regularly. No, we wouldn’t go.
But I wanted to go. It felt like my college even though I’d never been a student there, I felt the pull of the Vermont countryside, knowing it had shed its winter coat, and that wet springtime had probably melted into summer. I often heard: “Middlebury – 9 months of hard winter and 3 months of bad skiing.”