Alumni renew connections at Reunion 2006

An Oswego Reunion is all about connections—with friends from years ago, with favorite faculty members and with new acquaintances made during the weekend.

Among the many connections made at Reunion 2006, which ran June 9 to 11:

A Cup of Kindness

When Barbara St. Michel, associate director of campus life, cleaned out a storeroom in Hewitt Union several years ago, she found a fraternity mug inscribed only with a first name—Jim—and a date—1956. She kept it in her office for years until on Thursday of Reunion this year, when she was inspired to seek its owner.

“I held onto it for so many years. I’m a packrat,” laughed St. Michel. “But something told me to bring it” to the Class of 1956 reception.

There she reunited the mug with its owner, Jim Goldstine ‘56, in a moving moment that was pure Oswego.

“Two ladies walked up and said, ‘Are you Jim?’” Goldstine said. “It was a bit scary to have something show up after that long, completely unknown to me.”

Goldstine recalls that the mug was kept behind the bar at the old Sigma Tau house on West Fifth Street. When the fraternity moved, somehow the mugs got carried to Hewitt Union. Goldstine’s mug was the only one that ended up in that storeroom, however, to be found by St. Michel and returned to its original owner—50 years later.

Ladies in Purple

Fashions come and go, but one staple has remained in the closets of two loyal alumnae for half a century. Nancy Johnson Allen ‘56 and Elaine Jacobsen Hartley ‘56 brought their purple AD blazers to Reunion and sported them throughout the weekend.

The two were roommates at Oswego, were in each other’s weddings and kept in contact throughout the years, returning to campus for official reunions one year and 10 years post graduation.

Allen lives near Princeton University, where Hartley would get together with her while bringing her children from their home in Maine to the university. Over the years the women kept in touch with other friends, including Marilou Breh Fraser ‘56, as well as the late Frank ‘56 and Justine Renner Saylor ‘56 and Gladys Pavlovic Bonnadonna ‘56, who were remembered at the Golden Anniversary Class memorial service at Shady Shore Saturday of Reunion weekend.

Queens of King

For 11 women who graduated from Oswego in 1966, Reunion was a homecoming—literally. They lived in King Alumni Hall as students, when there was not enough room in their sorority house to fit them all.

The women reminisced about sunbathing on the roof at the back of King Hall and the shower that would “always run out of water.” The girls staying in the former home’s living room at the front of the building always had to be dressed in case someone came to the door. And they exhibited true Oswego pluck when an unexpected visitor arrived. When a man broke into King hall, Ruth Mackinder Babikian ‘66 grabbed her tennis racket, complete with wooden stretcher frame, and Ann Williamson Lachenauer ‘66 flew down from the third floor to help, and the two chased the intruder out of the house. They never did find out if it was a burglar or a prank from a fraternity, but they can still laugh about it, 40 years later.

Forever Friends

For a group of alumnae from the Class of 1981, Oswego has become a real family affair. The women reunite every year, bringing their children, who have formed a bond as well. The 16 kids, ranging in age from 7 to 20, enjoy hanging out together as their moms catch up on current events and share Oswego memories.

“Lifetime buddies” Hollie Elleman Calderon ‘81, Betsy Laird Ruff ‘81, Jan Johnson Salteri ‘81, Karyn McCormack Zanetti ‘81 drive from areas throughout the state to get together at the home of Mary Walsh Snyder ‘81 in Albany at least once a year.

The women all met when they were freshmen together in Johnson Hall. When they came to register for Reunion 2006, they found that Jan and Mary were both assigned the very rooms they had occupied nearly 30 years ago.

School Days Remembered

A chance encounter at the Come Back BBQ reunited some folks who hadn’t seen each other for more than 15 years. Jerry Klafter ‘56 was principal in Smithtown back in 1990, when Ruth Ann Williams Silliman ‘66 was a teacher there and Carol Claps ‘68 was a parent, active in the PTA. They paused during the festivities for a group photo with Jerry’s wife, Phyllis Bank Klafter ‘58. Despite not having seen each other for a decade and a half, they all readily recognized each other when they met at the barbecue. “Except that I had hair the last time you saw me,” Klafter joked to Silliman and Claps.

More such stories are expected when Reunion 2007 unfolds June 8 to 10.

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(Posted: Jul 09, 2006)

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