Now and Then: A 30th Reunion
Article and photos by Evans Jacobs, Jr. ’73
I SIT AT MY DESK, MUSING, TRYING TO
REMEMBER THE WORK THAT I HAVE TO DO.
In comes my roommate, Lance Simmons,
with a face book. “Who is this guy?” he asks. I don’t remember . . .
remember! . . . wait a minute, this is 30 years later, I am not in
my dorm room, but in my home and Lance is here only for the weekend.
Major déjà vu. This comes with the terrain when you live in
Middletown and classmates come searching for nostalgia. They want to
go immediately to Alpha Pizza on Route 66, or to O’Rourkes on Main
This time, May 22–25, 2003, it is the 30th Reunion of the Class of
’73. The last class of guys who came in the year following the
takeover of Fisk Hall, only to be sent home without freshman year
exams because of the shootings at Kent State. The ones from the era
of Vietnam, Jimi Hendrix, Malcolm X, Colin Campbell, Martin
Luther King Jr., Janis Joplin, those Beatles, Motown, and the
establishment of the African American Institute, now called CAAS.
We arrived on campus in the summer of ’69 for a two-week orientation
called “Me, My Goals & Wesleyan.” There we formed a bond which for
many of us, still holds like glue . . . then and now. We are so
happy to see each other we stay up late on Friday night swapping
stories and hanging out with our former class dean, Stephen Butler,
who has come from Indiana to be with us again.
Who was there? Dr. Jim Greene and Atty. Gary Cook
(with son Malcolm) from Cleveland, Dr. Rudy Foy from Illinois
(whose daughter Nyasha ’06 is a current student at Wesleyan),
psychologist James (Diego) Howard from the California Bay
Area, and Zane Bailey and Granderson Hale, both from
Philadelphia. These guys gathered at my home Friday night as we
laughed and reminisced with Dean Butler, who is now a professor at
Earlham College. We were joined the next day by Atty. Lance
Simmons of Philadelphia, Atty. Richard Jasper, and
architect Albert Smith. Jim Greene now has a dental practice
in Cleveland. Gary, who married Jackie Peyton ’76, practices
law there while Jackie is an ob-gyn doctor. Rudy is the director for
a Neo-Natal Clinic, and Diego is a psychologist for the Veterans
Administration. Zane works for UPS and does investigative work, and
Granny is a principal in a financial management firm. Lance works
for a development loan firm, Rich has a thriving law practice in
NYC, and Al is the principal in his architectural firm, also in New
Not just our 30th, but also the 20th anniversary of the
Black Alumni Council. The Office of Alumni Relations worked hard to
signify this anniversary, including a couple of Friday seminars. One
on diversity was led by former Dean of the College Edgar F.
Beckham ’58, and another,
“Music for the Hip-Hop Generation,” was led by Smokey Fontaine
’93 and Sean Sharp ’92.
||The highlight came on Saturday during the Wesleyan Annual Assembly
when President Doug Bennet recognized the work of the BAC during the
award ceremony. Former BAC chairs Joyce Hall ’78 and I were
invited to share the stage to accept this recognition.
Early mornings at O’Rourkes. No campus food this morning, this
meal will include blueberry pancakes, fat muffins, and heavenly
potatoes and fruit juices. That was then. On Saturday, when we
arrived, the line was so long we would have missed the annual parade
of classes and the annual assembly . . . so no breakfast at
O’Rourke’s . . . this was now. I will hear about this from
Granny and Zane forever, or at least until 2008.
highlight was the “Back in the Day” panel discussion held on
Saturday afternoon. This wasn’t your usual panel discussion. All of
the aforementioned brothers from the Class of ’73 were called to sit
in the front row by Granderson Hale, who was the moderator par
excellence for panelists Edgar Beckham ’58, Hope Hill ’74, and Al
The preacher in Granny came out as he thanked God, Martin Luther
King Jr., and the Universe for making it through Wesleyan and being
rejected by the Marines after being drafted out of school for a day.
Thereafter, interspersed with the comments of each panelist, Granny
called on each person from our class to take the podium and render a
favorite story from “back in the day.” Space will not allow me to
elaborate on all that was said, but suffice it to say that the
stories ranged from the sublime to the serious, and the discussion
ended with Granny calling the audience down to mix and mingle and
amplify the warmth that was generated from the occasion.
The 20th anniversary of the BAC represents more than just a
benchmark. It means that Wesleyan, through us, has made a
significant improvement to the social fabric of this country. In the
process, many of us have improved not just our own lives but the
lives of the families that we were born into, and the immediate
families that we have started. We have won cases, built buildings,
created artwork, saved lives, delivered babies, reported news,
raised money, improved government, written books, designed
infrastructure, made music, educated others, and just about
everything else. We do these things now because Wesleyan, in its own
way, was there for us then. Now and then . . . it truly is an ethos.
A videotape of the “Back in the Day” panel presentation is
available. If you would like to obtain a copy, please contact Pat
St. Germain, director of regional clubs and councils, at email@example.com
or (860) 685-2543.