Wabash Blogs Big Bash '09 Memories


Share Your '09 Big Bash Memories

Wabash College's Big Bash Reunion Weekend just keeps growing. Nearly 400 alums were on campus June 5-6-7 for the sixth reunion weekend. We want to hear you memories or thoughts. Add your comment about Big Bash 2009 below!

The "Alumni Register" that chronicles who returns to campus for Big Bash Reunion Weekend was been closed for 2009, and Alumni Director Tom Runge may need to add some pages after a record 389 alumni signed the ledger.

The record turnout bested the previous record of 356 returning alums in 2007.  We had graduates from 1934 to 2004. Atwood Smith '34  was here to sign the register Saturday morning.

And the young alums were surprised what a great time they had at Big Bash. "I was actually really apprehensive about coming to this weekend because I thought it would be kind of boring and not a very exciting time," Rober Neal '04 said. "But it's totally the opposite. It's just great to see everybody, even people I didn't hang out with a lot in college. It's like we just left each other and now we're here staying in the dorms. It's pretty fun."


I was on my back to Dallas yesterday afternoon thankful that your efforts as well as countless others had allowed me to accomplish all of my "bash goals". I had reconnected with men I had not seen for over four decades.

I got to visit once again with Coach Bob Brock and enjoy his dry wit and twinkle. I walked the length and breadth of the campus and, I am sure, visited places I had never seen as a student. I got a few "stories" off my chest in the Scarlet Yarns room. I revisited Hoodrich Hall and reassured myself that there were indeed only ninety-three elements in the periodic table, just as Professor Haenisch had taught me, and clearly recognized that any element found after 1964 was man-made and fraudulent.

I saw students and alumni and staff all working in a purposeful and dedicated fashion toward the same goals. My greatest surprise, and I am sure you have heard this before, was that although only 5 or 6% of our lives were spent together my core group of college friends did not spend two days and nights talking about the other 95% of our lives since our graduation. Indeed, only a small amount of time was "wasted" on job careers, family, etc. Rather,the compressed amount of time we spent together at Wabash was tilled so that these precious few "nuggets" of collective remembrances were unearthed, and sifted, and revisited, and lied about........ then replanted in the ground for harvesting again and again in the thanksgivings of our lives ... thanks. - Troy Scott '64

Thanks for another great Big Bash. I saw friends that I had not seen for 40 years. I saw friends that I had not seen for 40 days. I saw friends that I had not seen for 40 minutes.

Also congratulations on the record 389 alumni. I hope that we pass that number for Wabash Day this year.

Chapel Sing also makes me think that Tom Runge should be the m.c. on the Price Is Right or Wheel of Fortune.

Only hard work can make such an event seem so easy. I appreciate your efforts and your results. - Jon Pactor '71


The lights have gone dark. Hays 104 no longer resonates with great wisdom and joy for now. Allen Center and Knowling Fieldhouse find only maintenance personnel cleaning up after us. No more echoes and harmonic strains from the ’59 Glee Club rehearsing in the Korb room at the Fine Arts Center. Our beloved Chapel, though never ever empty, if you get my drift, is now vacated, as are the steps outside. And poor ole Room 126 at the Quality Inn will NEVER be the same. Frankly, there is a classic ambience that we left behind on our campus this past weekend, a most special “Cartesian quarter of an hour”, totally and utterly unique to our VERY special class….there, I did it….I used the one “VERY” ole Briggy and Vic Powell would allow us. No more!!!

But as my dear wife, Margie, said, “there won’t be any paper cups or napkins or hot dog wrappers blowin’ around after the game, after you guys are gone. I have never seen a more spiffy and immaculate place in my life”. All of us appreciate the dedicated effort of all those maintenance personnel and volunteers, who saw to our every need. And oh my, the special sacrifices by the Sphinx Club men to come back and help us (and grade us). We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.

I am told that ole Roberto here was chosen to serve as a wrap up scribe since I most duplicated, in girth and demeanor, the illustrious and honored Herr Ludwig Erhardt, Chancellor of Germany, who graced our graduation only fourteen years after the WWII surrender, only eleven years after the Berlin Airlift, and only two years before the Berlin Wall. This decision was ignominiously made by the “five kings from Orient are”; namely Messrs Roger Billings, Wedgy, Craig Green, Sherm Franz, and Hoyt Miller.

You are all daft, and have left your senses off campus somewhere.

I was following Sherm Franz out through Allen Center, and as we passed the entry to Chadwick Court, he kept drifting more and more toward the gymnasium door. I called out, “Sherm, you go get Wedgy…I’ll round up John (Hollett) and Duane (Axel)…it’s time to get it on.”

Permit me some musings from this fantasia of ours …Saturday noon, I finally ran into Del Gregory. We are sitting in Knowling, which in our day was varsity left field…classmate Bob Charles just outside the windows there, me over in center field, Bob Nelson at 2nd base etc. Now, Delbert was a sidearm pitcher, but I only knew one pitcher we could trust, and that was Bruce Swanson. All other pitchers blended into a sea of mediocrity, like my batting average. We had the Del
Gregory shift on, back to the fence at all times. I have unanimously voted the two most handsome members of our class, bar none, and they hadn’t changed since our days on campus — Don Nordlund and Gary Johnson. Neither went on to Woody Harrelson success in movies, but they can take home my laurels as best preserved. Dave Bechtold, thank God, sang in my ear the whole way in Glee Club rehearsals, but you must know he is no longer an “angry man”, one of such twelve in a great performance of 12 Angry Men in the Scarlet Masque.

On the other hand, there are a number of our classmates who, if they turn sideways, disappear, and particularly, some who had flesh on bones years ago….My goodness, Pip, where has the other half of you gone? “Admiral” Walt Inman, I had to hear your name attached to that frame to believe it! Nah…Duane Axel was always that size. But then, you see, there were many others like yours truly, John Hollett, Rich Freeman, Mike Plumber and Bob Wild who could barely fit into the seats for the meals, which we devoured voraciously.

Valerie Powell, on behalf of our entire class, we are so joyful for your return to be with us, share with us, and I know that you won the award for most participation in all events this weekend. We all love you and your spunk dearly.

I know why Sherm Franz was so successful…he would just peer out from under those huge, John L. Lewis type bushy gray eyebrows, lean in with intent and say, “As you were saying…if I understand you correctly.” Talk about professional smooozing.

Arturo Fontanas and Hoyt Miller, golden voiced castrates… God Bless You both for enriching our whole experience. But I must admit, as we stood on the chapel steps to sing Old Wabash, and all our spices and wives and concubines were left out there on the grass, I did not see one woman uglier than any of us, and that is really saying a whole bunch. Way to go, disstaffers. You certainly are a gorgeous herd of hussies, again according to my unilateral judgment, the privilege of the scribe.

Continuing….as you know, baseball players lose their hair from wearing those hats so much. Well, The Rt. Rev. Gary Gloster, Bishop of Blowing Rock NC, lost his mane by wearing the mitre so much! By the way, Gary, you have attained that mirage of Moses. Max Riedlesperger, we can only hope your golf at some point approaches the excellence of your tennis prowess, which by the way, was earned right there in the middle of Knowling Fieldhouse…I even thought perhaps I smelled an odor of smelly socks, but then, Chick would never have allowed that.

You all don’t know that Ray Riddle and I stood 12’ from none other than an unknown 17 year old girl from L.A when I had asked he and wife to act as chaparones at the Fiji House at the University of Oklahoma…none other than Tina Turner, the new wife of Ike Turner. She gyrated even then, and smoked like a chimney during breaks. Holy Cow, have we aged!

As a class, we hug both Nancy Smith and Sophie Carr. In our small, perhaps inadequate way, we join with you and other widows as we sensed the presence of your hubbies with us. You are some classy ladies, and much elevated by our Wabash Cavemen ways….in other words, on pedestals with no flaws or shortcomings. In these coming years, many of your classmate spouses will join you. Since you ladies live so much longer, perhaps all of you can come back five or ten years hence for a femalia reunion.

Permit me to close with one final musing, that hit me so hard while singing Old Wabash on the steps. I looked up past the flagpole down the mall. Pure blue sky, nary a cloud, gentle breeze…but the trees were so full and tall…50 yrs fuller and taller. By this time, Bill Dyer was literally “dying from fright”, for although he had been given amnesty for the sing, his lovely wife Dennie had not been so protected, so wild Bill had much on his mind!!!

I thought about the Hungarian Revolution of ’56, the Sputnik launch in ’57…lines of us strewn across the mall passing books from Yandes to the new Lilly Library… then my mind wandered to all those men who were not with us this day…then I got a bit choked, because I realized that a transcendant aura of a certain spirituality tone in this campus life has always been there for us….an integrated aura of spiritual respect a connection and presence in all those professional and secular things we went on to do…an overwhelming influence of Harry Cotton, Ed Haenisch, Lew Salter, Steve Kurtz, Ted Bedrick, Ben Rogge; later Eric Dean, Jim Barnes, Ray Williams, Wendell Calkins and so many more…all believers and totally integrated in their disciplines…and there we were again, once more, belting out our beloved anthem for the world to hear…all of us, in unison…loyal sons who ever love thee, our Scarlet Flag still proudly flashing….our hearts indeed bearing the sweetest memories. Long have we sung thy praises, you ole Wabash!!!!

To Tom Runge…you are a oner, a gem at what you do, and our entire class is so grateful for your coordination, humor, quick wit, and insistent schedules. To President Pat White….each of us was quite moved, not only by your words, for we are all Briggy/Powell taught, but your entire spirit, élan vital, and personal sharing you and your wife gave us to cherish. We are indeed to good hands.

Quite humbly, your servant and scribe.

The Rev. Robert J. Webb aka “Webby” ‘59

All of the events were super! This had to be one of the best weekends I have spent in a long time. Looking forward to my son, Reuben's reunion in 2 years and to the next Glee Club Reunion in 3 yrs.
Burt Ofsaiof '59