Local Commentary

Our Man in Arlington

 

Jean and I spent last weekend in Williamsburg attending the 50th reunion of William and Mary’s Class of 1958. It was Jean’s class, not mine, but it was a great weekend nonetheless.

 

Central to the experience was the reunion with Jean’s Chi Omega sorority sisters. In her senior year, there were fifteen women living in the Chi O house, thirteen of whom, including Jean, showed up for the reunion. They have remained close, though they are spread all over the United States from Washington State to Savannah, Georgia. They never stopped talking, even about politics. Jean was pleased and surprised at the many who are voting Democratic this year.

The first official event was the Friday evening reception in the Alumni Center (which didn’t exist in ’58), where we had many drinks and genuine Virginia ham biscuits. Thus we began almost non-stop eating and drinking from early in the morning to late in the evening from Friday afternoon to Monday lunch. William and Mary people know how to entertain!

After a Saturday breakfast, we boarded buses for a tour of the campus, a revelation to many of the Class of 1958, when the campus was much smaller. Jean’s last two years of studies were spent in the then new Phi Beta Kappa Hall, which housed the Theatre Arts Department, and was at the outer edge of the campus. It’s now in the middle. One of the most beautiful campuses in the country, it was at its most exquisite in its spring glory.

Next was a gala luncheon with the interim president of William and Mary and the presentation of the Class Gift to the University. The room broke into cheers and applause when a check in excess of $11.4 million was unveiled on the stage. In addition, a large new building is under construction for business majors and conventions, donated by a ’58 alum. These folks love their college.

The evening ended with a reception at the historic Sir Christopher Wren Building and dinner at the University Center, where we dined and danced until the wee hours. For us, that was about ten o’clock.

On Sunday, breakfast again, followed by a very impressive ceremony inducting the Class of 1958 into the Olde Guarde, an organization of graduates of fifty or more years. The class was dressed in university regalia and each member walked up to the stage to receive a beautiful gold medallion on a green and gold ribbon. The William and Mary choir sang “Shenandoah” and the William and Mary Alma Mater. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. The program was opened and closed with the presentation of the colors by the Queen’s Honor Guard, dressed in smashing kilts. William and Mary also knows how to honor tradition.

Sunday evening the class of ’58 met for the first time with the other members of the Olde Guard for dinner under a tent behind the Alumni House. There were representatives of the classes of 1953, 1948, and 1944, all introduced. Representatives of the class of 1938 sent regrets.

We ended our visit with a trip to the original Jamestowne Village, an experience in itself, and lunch with my cousin who lives there. I recommend a similar weekend, even if you are not a William and Mary Alum.

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