A Yellow Springs’ spring’s springs!

By Steve Duffy ‘77

The latter half of April 2013 is bringing all kinds of new life to Yellow Springs and Antioch College.  After finally having a cold and old-fashioned “normal” winter, it is like the calendar page has quickly flipped.  Southwest Ohio suddenly is rather warm. The grass is thick, lush, and verdant. The campus lawns and Glen Helen are starting to be studded with spring beauties, Dutchman’s breeches, trillium, violets, Virginia blue bells, and countless other flowers. A couple of these April Sundays also bring new life in the form of Admitted Student Days, when folks come to get a taste of our brand of town-and-gown and decide whether we are a good fit.

Late last Sunday morning, Yellow Springs was its current quintessential self. Downtown near the market a local musician from Central State University (a current regular) played contemporary music and jazz on steel drums with some electronic amplification. If you add some sunny weather, folks sitting outside on benches near The Emporium while drinking coffee and reading The New York Times and also add some meandering tourists then Yellow Springs takes on a slightly Key West-of-the-North feeling.  

Soon the crab apple by Ye Olde Trail Tavern will be in full bloom adding its sweet notes to the air along with those of the steel drums. Waiting in the wings downtown in the village is sometimes a whole queue of musicians. Some play guitar, some sing (I swear one sounds like Deanna Durbin!) and there is even some occasional klezmer-like accordion playing.  Yellow Springs, maybe because of its location and college legacy, has become a locally cherished bedroom community known for more than its share of artists, writers, and Dayton-area professionals. I wonder what parents and prospective students thought of the village if they meandered downtown during any free time. The village certainly seems to have become more animated in recent decades.

Meanwhile at the Olive Kettering Library, students from both 2015 and some local co-op students from 2016 were hanging out, studying, talking and, yes, curiously waiting for the tour groups to appear. Around 3:45 p.m., I looked up from my computer and found a surprise smiling at me—Abby Lybrook ’16 who is on co-op and living in the Dayton area popped up and said, “I don’t want to miss this. I’ll even help give a tour of one of the best places in the world.” 

While we all were waiting for folks to visit and as a break from studying, we examined and had fun with old bound issues of the Antioch Record that I had asked College archivist Scott Sanders to bring down from Antiochiana. Some of this week’s archival ‘toys’ were bound volumes of the 1992/93 and 1994/95 student newspaper The Record. These volumes cover most of the birth years of the current and prospective students so it was a way of seeing what issues the local College community seemed to cover during the years current folks were born. Someone had just returned some old Antioch yearbooks from the ‘80s and ‘90s as well. Always fun to look at old black and white photos!  

As the library Sunday hours drew to a close and the tours had passed through, a sibling of one of the prospective students remained in the library around a corner with headphones and laptop. I guess the day’s program had kept the rest of her family pretty busy. Or maybe her laptop had kept her pretty busy.

I said, “Well at 5:30 there is a dinner celebration under the big white tent; I am sure you will find each other there!” and so she went on her way.

Finally, a little after 5:30 p.m., my significant other appeared at the library after having been in an all-afternoon community sing and vocal workshop at the Yellow Springs Central Chapel AME Church.

Yasaye Barnwell from the well-known group, Sweet Honey and the Rock, came to Yellow Springs to give a special day-long workshop with some focus on gospel, spiritual music, and vocal exercises.  It had been arranged through Cathy Roma, who is the director of Cincinnati’s award-winning women’s (MUSE) choir and the director of the Coretta Scott King Center’s new World House Choir. Coretta’s birthday, April 27, is rapidly approaching and Cathy is certainly polishing a promising new multicultural regional choir for her birthday celebration!  After that, the choir has already booked several area engagements!

Although Cathy is bringing new life to campus by polishing a fairly huge and diverse group of singers, she also taught here decades ago as a visiting faculty member. That makes the World House Choir concerts both homecoming and housewarming.

Finally, new life springs forth in the form of new stories.  As the class of 2015 students returned from their first nationwide co-op, they chatted with the community in McGregor 113.  Stories were told of what jobs and living were like in San Francisco, New York, Philadelphia, New Mexico, New Orleans, Mexico, and more. (In this case, the intimacy of a still smallish community provides a great setting for intimate and shared communication. Please add liberal touches of laughter!)

Our generations’ old notorious co-op fleabag resident hotel horror stories from New York (ah, the Chelsea was legendary amongst many of us!) have been replaced with some Craigslist cautionary tales. Overall if YOU had been in McGregor 113, these new stories would have seemed just like some of your old stories. One just must fast forward some decades and include some new job chores such as “search engine optimization” or “digitizing a jillion files!”

As spring turns into summer, ever longer and wonderful Yellow Springs’ evenings have arrived. By Reunion 2013, only a few fortnights away now, the daylight lingers until well past 9:00 p.m. Perhaps YOU will come to tour campus in more retrospective mode than prospective. Maybe you’ll share your old co-op story or help us look to the future and celebrate some of the campus’ and Yellow Springs’ new life. Or perhaps YOU will bring some new life to the party (Reunion 2013). Another white tent will be there where you can celebrate with the coolest of decades; and that may mean all of them—including yours.