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Walking Memory Lane

Posted on: Oct 29, 2015

Concordia’s Class of ‘55-63 shares a unique bond that has stood the test of time

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”
-Nelson Mandela

You don’t have to hold an advanced degree in physics to contemplate the mysteries of time and space. For Concordia’s class of 1955-63, all it takes is an occasional refresher course. Being able to connect over a good meal or a strong cup of coffee provides the spark that brings those memories flooding back. 

As 48 Concordia alumni discovered when they met up on campus for a reunion this summer, the past is easily in reach. The spirit of friendship and fellowship runs deep as any river, carving out memory banks that stand the ebbs and flows of years and decades. Held August 7-9, 2015 at Concordia, alumni retraced their roots as they walked the halls and grounds, marvelling at just how much has changed and just how much has stayed the same.

“It’s just incredible to hear the stories, you listen to these voices and you can hear them going back through the years. The connections are incredible. This is the generation that really saw Concordia come into it’s own and to have them back on campus is both an inspiration and a privilege,” says Concordia’s Alumni Relations Director Jennifer Klarenbach.

Coming together every five years or so, this diverse group of alumni share a common history, even if many of them never actually crossed paths during their student days. Some of these Concordians missed each other by a few months or years the first time around, but they’ve been making up for it ever since. Students who never studied or dined together have formed strong bonds through past alumni events, connecting outside reunions, even travelling together.

Knowing the era, one might expect to hear stories about innocent, hard-working students getting a good night’s sleep so they could study by day. One might imagine crowds of students in bonnets and crinolines, playing that game where you hit the wheel down the road with a stick. Not necessarily so. Based on some of the memories shared this summer, we thought it best not to use any last names (you know who you are).

“I loved the dorms – that was some of the best couple years of my life. With four guys in each room it was amazing we could study at all,” Ernie shares. “We played a lot of pranks on each other, but nothing I can say out loud. I heard about whipped cream on doorknobs and buckets of water over the door.”

Bob concurs: “We had four in our room and were always trying to get a couple of guys. While one was sleeping, we raised the bed on hooks. When he tried to get up he just rolled out of bed onto the floor. A bit of mischief kept us from going nuts with all that studying.”

But the ladies weren’t left out of the fun either. Marilyn recalls “The girls were locked in the dorms at night, but some of the windows opened. On ‘Shower Day’ the dorms were open to the public – that was the only time we could visit the boys dorm. I remember the locals would come and shower us with food and gifts.”

Marilyn says “For a lot of us, this became our family. You had no choice. We all came from small towns and had to get along.” That thought brings agreement from Bryan, who adds “After living with four or five guys, we learned to get along. After that, for the rest of my life I was always comfortable joining a group of people.”

And it’s clear that memory comes from all our senses, especially after listening to vivid recollections about the campus cuisine.

“On weekends they’d get these cheap wieners and boil the dickens out of them,” recalls Gloria. “I remember them being all cracked and grey. People complained about the food. One fellow slapped 29 cents on the table and said This is what your dinner cost, so take it and be quiet!”

Pauline can still taste the dreaded liver sausage. “It was the only food I ever put ketchup on in my life.” And speaking of ketchup, Linden recalls having to feel his way through the Hall of Horrors at Halloween. “We set up this blacked out tunnel you had to pass through to get to the main event in the gym. There were people covered in ketchup trying to scare you.”

Ethelwyn remembers those on campus parties and how grown-up it felt to plan events. “We held a spring carnival and I was in charge of decorating. One year the theme was Hawaiian so I went to Woodward’s and asked to borrow their window displays with palm trees and blue water. I borrowed the coach’s car to take it all back.”

For the students who attended high school or college courses at Concordia in the 50s and 60s, time may be slipping by too quickly these days. Making the journey back to campus get’s a little harder each year. The spirit is willing, but some days the body isn’t so up to the challenge. We hope there will be more reunions to come, but if not, having the opportunity to connect with old friends this summer won’t soon be forgotten. 

Thanks for the memories.

(Article by Chris Rechner)