Fall 2009: From Our Readers
December 15, 2009
The Prize of Their Lives
The back cover of WM Summer 2009, the photo and the quotation, inspire a mental book of many pages. I would love to hear what Malcolm Gladwell would have to say about these outlier.
The quotation from Clay Robbins ’79 made me suddenly aware of my good
“I have found that, throughout my life, when I needed to be fortified, if I could drive to Crawfordsville and just walk around on the campus and look for those comfortable faces and sights, I could have my spirits lifted.”—Clay Robbins ’79, from “The Fellowship of Learning,” WM Summer 2009
fortune of living a dozen miles southwest of Crawfordsville. I get to “town” at least once a week.
No matter which road I take past Wabash, my spirits will be lifted as I am transported back to a magic time and as
I relish the thought that 850 young men are being awarded the prize of their lives.
—Jim Spence ’61, Alamo, IN
A Wabash Mom
I am a Wabash mom, and I look forward to each issue of WM.
I was very moved by the summer issue, perhaps because my son will be in that cap and gown in May, God willing. I have walked that campus for the past three years and taken it all in. I cherish the
fact that Wabash is a College for men, but I went to Purdue-Calumet campus, so I imagine myself on the Wabash campus as if I were a character in an old movie about college life in the 40s and 50s.
I will miss the architecture, the beautiful trees, the gentlemen who hold the doors for me, and the squirrels-a-plenty! I remember the tears rolling down my face as the Class of 2010 was rung in and the Wabash anthem sung. My son is more of a man since that day and is a better man than the one I left in Wabash’s care.
These young men, and clearly “old men” who call Wabash home, have such a brotherhood. It calls them all “home” to Wabash to celebrate, help, nurture, mentor and mourn the Little Giants.
Please keep in mind that what goes on there not only sends out a ripple on the campus, but reaches the hearts of moms, dads, and siblings. I will feel a part of Wabash as long as I live. I am grateful
for its existence and for what my son has learned there, both in and out of the classrooms. Our family has taken its own lessons, as well, and we are the better for it.
—Lana Zajac, Knoxville, TN
One Final Salute
Professor of English Tobey Herzog responded online to our tribute to Campus Services’
electrician Gary Livengood on the Wabash Web site. An excerpt:
Up until about seven years ago, Gary Livengood and I were just acquaintances, saying hello as we worked together on Commencement activities or other campus events.
But one day, we started a conversation and realized that we had two very important things in common: a shared bond as Vietnam Veterans and a shared interest in England.
Quickly, we became friends. Gary, because of his background [his mother was a British citizen and a World War II “war bride,” and Gary was born in Wales] and regular trips to the U.K., was always very interested in hearing about my class immersion trips and the frequent visits my wife and I made there.
We shared stories about British beer, great pubs, and interesting places to see. Of course, our strongest bond was the fact we both had spent time in Vietnam, about three years apart in approximately the same area. With very few veterans on the Wabash campus, we enjoyed talking with each other about our experiences—basic training, our MOS’s, time in country,
our time as enlisted men, etc.
And then about three years ago, it happened: Gary saluted me as we passed in the Allen Center, and I returned the salute. For whatever reason, our bond suddenly became even more meaningful. And from that day onward, each time we saw each other we saluted each other. We joked that it was a way to bring some “military discipline” to a campus that, at times, needed it.
But more important, it was a sign of a brotherhood and friendship. At Gary’s memorial service, I walked up to his displayed picture and gave one final salute. I will miss my friend and fellow veteran. His presence brought joy into my life.
—Spc 5/US Army, Tobey C. Herzog,
Remembering “Papa Dick”
We asked Karen Ristine, wife of Dick Ristine, Jr., for a few memories of her father-in-law, Richard O. Ristine ’41:
I knew Papa Dick for 39 years, but you didn’t have to spend a long time with him to create fond memories.
He loved to go fishing, despite the fact that, by his own admission, he was not a good fisherman. Mostly he liked being on the lake early in the morning. But he also liked it when someone wanted to
go with him.
We went out together now and then, and he would always bait my hook and, with great care, remove the usually teeny tiny fish on the line. Once the hapless creature was extricated he would toss it back with great gusto, along with instructions to “go down and visit
ol’ Doc Pickerel.”
Like a child that believes everything can be fixed, I was comforted by the knowledge that our captive was released with a future and additional wisdom as the result of his or her experience. I just hope the good doctor wasn’t depending on our referrals for his livelihood, since we rarely caught a fish!
I will never forget Papa Dick’s booming voice singing “Bringing in the Sheaves,” the way he personally greeted the trees in the woods as he walked among them, and the fact that he called all of us, his daughters-in-law, “darlin.’”
—Karen Ristine, Indianapolis, IN