A Periodic Column by Steve Duffy ’77, Library Circulation Specialist
It certainly seems like life with Antioch College and its extended community certainly stays interesting and busy. For many of us who work here and the generations of YOU out there who are helping with our regeneration, there are seemingly endless marathon-like committee discussions, meetings, and at times conference calls of varying sizes and durations. If you study or teach at the College there are also plenty of committees, small-group discussions, meetings, homework, presentations and events.
A group of twenty-one students even added a super fast sojourn to a President’s Day weekend demonstration in Washington, D.C., about climate change, complete with a pizza party at the home of Karen Mulhauser ’65 and the D.C. alumni chapter!
At a recent Community Meeting small breakout discussion group where we talked about the best uses of social media. Jennifer Berman ’83 brought up how there seemed to be so many events at the same time for such a small community that it was like “an embarrassment of riches.” Indeed all our lives are full all the time.
All we need is a 25-hour day and an eight-day week and some vitamins!
This late February week during Black History Month certainly has had its complement of Community Meeting, committee meetings, and conference calls! Last night I travelled the 25-mile ride home to my neighborhood in Dayton at warp speed after closing the library to join a monthly evening Alumni Chapter Leaders conference call. On the call to talk with each other were alums from both coasts and the Midwest, and also Maureen Devine-Ahl and Rebecca Fensler from Alumni Relations. The New York chapter has recently had a “social” event with alums and four students from the class of 2015 who are on their first co-ops in the New York City area. A whopping 80 people attended and it is reported that more than just a little fun and networking were occurring, and along with that maybe some new co-op job possibilities.
The Bay Area chapter will have a whole Div Day by the Bay on March 23 with all sorts of festivities. Two co-oping students will be involved in their festivities. Not to be totally outdone, the Philadelphia chapter will be having some sort of “House Party” coincidentally on March 23.
As one who happens to live in the hood in Dayton, there are usually more bars on windows there than on cell phones, so conference calls and cell phones can often be problematic.
One learns experientially that to stay on an hour-long conference call and not have your call drop, one best stay plugged into the wall and relatively near a window which, on this occasion, meant standing in the kitchen and not too far from a window.
At 9:15 p.m., my significant other rushed in, also coming from Yellow Springs and his first practice with the Coretta Scott King Center’s new World House Choir. He came in with great excitement and I had to say, “Shhh, I’ll talk to you in a bit!” Folks on the call said, “Did you hear some commotion?” (Oops, didn’t have time to press that mute button!) After the call I just had to ask my other half a jillion questions! It seems like the first practice had around 40 people and that some had travelled as far as Cincinnati, as well as locals and folks who have sung in Central State and Wilberforce choirs. It will be quite a diverse bunch in many ways. What a great way to build community and honor Coretta’s love of music! The choir’s first performance will be a birthday celebration on Coretta’s birthday, April 27.
So it feels like the “Antioch community” is continuing to write the next chapter in its long history by some “community building” in Yellow Springs, as well as in its far-flung Alumni chapters. And when it comes to studying or making new history, February and March are two months when Antiochians traditionally do a little extra research or celebration. February is Black History Month and March is Women’s History Month. Some years we have had March 8 festivities for International Women’s Day. As I write this, I am talking to one of the students who is working the library desk. She just asked, “What? We have a history month too?” I said, “If you doubt me, just start with Google!” This brings me to some fun Antiochian connections to those history months.
Several weeks ago, Scott Sanders, the College archivist, made some seasonal changes to one of the glass display cases in the Olive Kettering Library. The new display is simply titled: Black History Month. Underneath is a sea of some village and Antiochian pictures from the 19th (one of Scott’s favorites) and 20th centuries. I was surprised to see at least a dozen faces whom I remembered and some I still see virtually through Facebook or when they come to visit, like Angelica Benton-Molina ’97, whose parents Ron Benton ’76 and Mercedes ’76 met and married at Antioch and whose grandmother also worked in the dining halls, lovingly known as “Mary B.” In that sea of faces also were Granville Lee ’89, Christian Totty ’05, Ingrid Fulton ’96, Bradley Wilburn ’84, Allyson Moore ’85, Yvette Munroe ’98, Leslie Wilburn ’85, David House ’81, Randy Alan Fisher ’95, and Jacqui Whitley ’80.
Amongst those pictures is one of former (from 1959 to 1993) village Police Chief James McKee who was really a well-loved village icon. In hunting for some additional class notes for The Antiochian, I have had many conversations with some of these faces whose old black and white photos smile through that glass case at the new faces that pass through the lobby. I imagine many of these photos were developed the “old-fashioned way,” in the old CG darkroom. Even so, I guess they will stay young in those pictures and in my memory!
These photos and the manner in which they were developed while possibly considered “historic “are in many cases still people who are becoming part of our history and legacy even as you read these electrons. Whether they are now massage therapists, tango dancers, city planners, disk jockeys, or teachers, they helped weave some of our collective fabric and legacy. I wrote to some of them to tell them that they were old enough to be a considered a piece of history! No one has yet responded, so I assume that they are digesting the idea of remotely being “history.” I have to admit that there are occasions where I have said to some new students “Your mom used to work with me” or “I remember your Dad.” It makes me laugh to be able to say that! Ha! Almost historical, but not quite hysterical.
As February turns into March, Black History Month ends and Women’s History Month begins. Many an Antiochian has celebrated both months by reading up on those histories. There have even been years on campus where we have actually celebrated March 8, International Women’s Day in fine fashion.
Winter term also finds Kevin McGruder teaching a history course called Ohio Stories HIST 105. In that course there are readings about from a book about feminism in the heartland by Judith Ezekiel, which, according to the liner notes:
“Tells the story of second-wave feminism. Set in a “typical” American city, Dayton, Ohio, it traces the history of a dynamic, utopian movement that transformed the lives of thousands of women, who fought to make their city and country responsive to women’s needs.”
Needless to say, I remember a feminist history presentation Barbara Winslow ’68 had given a couple of years ago at the Coretta Scott King Center, so I was already aware of the Dayton trailblazing prominence in the feminist movement and some local College’s (hint) involvement in that trailblazing. As I got Judith Ezekiel’s book ready to go on reserve, I immediately “grazed” the index for the keyword, Antioch College, but in grazing, also saw some references to Julia Reichert ’70. I, of course, immediately turned to those pages and read them with some great glee. I got the same feeling I had looking at some of the pictures in the Antiochiana display case.
There is always something more to know about history especially when folks write about an era through which you lived and maybe some folks that have been in your parts of life. I smiled to read a paragraph about Julia.
“Reichert came from a small New Jersey town. Her father was a butcher in a grocery store and her mother was a nurse. Julia wrote, ‘Where I grew up everyone seemed to be Republican. There were no Jews, and blacks all lived in one little part of town.’ In 1964, Reichert became first in her family to go to college, and although she was a Republican like her parents, she chose progressive Antioch. ‘I really had no idea that Antioch was radical or that I was a conservative.’ She applied to colleges in alphabetical order and liked the sound of the work-study and travel abroad programs. In late 1968 or early 1969, Reichert started a feminist radio program on WYSO that may have been the first on-going program of its kind in the country. In 1970, she and her partner Jim Klein ’70 , made Growing Up Female, one of the first feminist films to come out of the ‘Second Wave’ movement.”
Well perhaps Scott Sanders will replace this month’s sea of Black History faces with a second wave of faces including some from the ‘Second Wave’ of feminism, many of whom are also Antiochian.
Don’t forget March, Women’s History Month is coming quickly as is the next Volunteer Work Project, and not soon after Coretta’s birthday and Reunion 2013. Maybe at some point you will find a reason to visit!
Hopefully many of you will consider becoming involved in this Antioch history project…that of making some new history. Maybe a few years down the road some of your faces will make a fine Antiochiana collage as well as a fine Antioch College.