Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Exam Week

It's time for final exams on the Vanderbilt campus.

That's a topic (much like the photo above) that probably still brings back less than pleasant memories for many of us even 35 years later.

So, Class of '73 members, what was the worst test or exam you ever took at VU?

What was your least favorite class?

Do you still have nightmares about showing up for class and finding out you'd forgotten to study for a test that day?

Or have you ever dreamed you just forgot you had signed up for a class, and when you did show up there was an exam being given?

How about that dream of showing up for class naked or in your underwear? (and don't tell I am the only one with unresolved issues here) :)

Let's also look on the positive side:

What was your favorite class and/or teacher while you were at Vanderbilt?

What were the classes you really hated to skip (I really want to hear about those)?

And what former professors would you really like to see again?

You know as a part of our Reunion this fall (October 24-25) there'll be a chance to meet with the faculty at a reception late on Friday afternoon. While a somewhat disturbing number of our instructors have retired or taken emeritus status, if you tell us who you'd like to see, we will do our best to try and see if we can get them to attend the reception.

How that's for trying to get some extra credit for you to come back for our 35th Reunion!

Just please leave your memories and thoughts by clicking on the comments link below.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

Earth Day is another one of those national celebrations that got its start while we were at Vanderbilt (April 22, 1970, our freshman year).

Does anyone remember how Vanderbilt or we as students celebrated the first Earth Day? What, if anything happened on campus? Did we all just have another reason to skip class? Did we plant or hug a tree? Did we help Dr. Don Evans set up another of his "multi-media geodesic experiences" somewhere on campus? See the photo above that I think was taken in one of his classrooms.

Here's another Earth Day-related type news item I found looking through our Senior year annual--THE 1973 CENTENNIAL COMMODORE. Do you remember the recycling center set up on campus that year? If I ever knew it existed, I had sure forgotten about it. But there it is on Page 202, a photograph of someone working at the center and moving around what appears to be glass bottles.

Does anyone remember the recycling center? Where was it? Did you ever bring anything there to be recycled? Did any of us ever know what recycling was in those days or what should be recycled? Please leave your thoughts and memories below.

Now some things Vanderbilt tried to address while we were in school are still issues today. How about this story from the pages of THE HUSTLER:

April 10, 1973


By Zanese Brown

Vice Chancellor for Operations and Fiscal Planning George Kaludis has been selected to serve on a Commission to help solve Nashville's transportation problems. Kaludis said the Metro Mass Transit Committee is "putting things in place in Nashville before the crisis occurs."

Hmmm...well, we are not Los Angeles or Atlanta, but Nashville sure has its moments that can approach gridlock when it comes to traffic and parking. The University has built several high rise parking garages all around campus, but traffic and parking can still be a challenge here too.

Of course, that won't be the case Reunion Weekend. Join us October 24-25 and see if I am right :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Legacy of Change

The time we spent at Vanderbilt (1969-1973) was a period of significant change.

It was when the University first gave permission for women to live off campus, when it first allowed parietals (visits in dorm rooms by the opposite sex) and opened its first co-ed dorms. It was also when semester exams were given for the first time before Christmas and when the Greek rush period for freshmen was moved to second semester.

All these changes, made well over 30 years ago, have endured to become a routine part of University life. That also includes an event happening this weekend (April 18-19) on Alumni Lawn called Rites of Spring.

In fact, Rites of Spring has become a major annual music festival on campus, much larger in scope than the music on the Lawn and the simple displays on Rand Terrace when we were in school (as seen in the photo above from Spring, 1971).

What are your memories of Rites of Spring? Or playing touch football on Alumni Lawn? What about the times you spent out on Rand Terrace, studying, doing homework (if you did those things) :) or just enjoying the sunshine or people watching? How about going to the C Room? Or the Bookstore? Please leave your comments below.

Not a lot has changed around Rand Terrace or Alumni Lawn. Oh sure, there is a nice Student Center nearby, which we never had, but the overall look and feel of the campus in this area is much the same now as it was in our day. You can experience that for yourself when you come back for our 35th Class Reunion the weekend of October 24-25. You have to be there!

Now there are some things have changed from our day. Remember Freaky Fridays? How about Intersession between first and second semester? What about the Free University of Nashville? All gone as far as I know. As I mentioned before, even Rites of Spring has evolved quite a bit.

There's now an admission charge ($15 for students, $35 for campus visitors with weekend passes ranging from $45-$55). Of course the music is different with groups such as Spoon, Lil John, Feist and Old Crow Medicine Band set to perform (don't ask me, ask your kids who these groups are).

Rites of Spring also has official food vendors (Mountain Jim's Ice Cream and Chick-Fil-A) and even official sponsors (F.Y.E., Scion and Apple).

It also has a very strict alcohol policy, mandating that all 21-year-old and older guests can bring no more than six twelve ounce cans of beer with them each day. They strictly check IDs and give out color-coded bracelets to under age students (which I think change each day) to make sure nobody's drinking who shouldn't be. ( I wonder if Dean Potter and Dean Sandlin ever thought about things like this?). I'm sure it would have made our first Rites of Spring a little different, not to mention the 1972 Grateful Dead Concert on Alumni Lawn.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Night We Beat The Bear

Spring Football practice has just ended on campus with diehard Vanderbilt fans (are there any other kind?) once again hoping that this coming fall will bring the school its first winning season in just over a quarter of a century.

Like our Senior Year (1972) Homecoming Queen Lucy Scott Fuqua (seen above with her runnerup in the voting, the Collective Senior Women), we didn't have a lot to applaud on the gridiron during our time in school.

But for one night, during our freshman year in the fall of 1969, things were very different. In fact, the contest played at Dudley Field that evening still ranks as one of the greatest games (and upsets) in Vanderbilt history.

It was October 1, 1969. VU came into its first Southeastern Conference home game against Alabama having lost its first three contests against Michigan, Army and North Carolina. The Crimson Tide, under its already legendary Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, came in undefeated and nationally ranked.

But behind the leadership of quarterbacks Watson Brown and (West End) Denny Painter, Vanderbilt rolled up 473 yards in total offense while the defense harressed Alabama quarterback Scott Hunter into completing just four passes in 25 attempts for a paultry 91 yards.

But the final outcome was still in doubt well into the 4th quarter as Alabama led 10-7. That's when Vanderbilt linebacker Christie Hauck (now more famous for his cookies than his football prowess) intercepted an Alabama pass in the end zone and returned it to the Commodore 8.

Let's let Ira Deitsch of THE VANDERBILT HUSTLER tell the story as he did in article two years later in October, 1971. "At that point Painter took over the reins of the offense and cooly directed the team to the Tide 21-yard line by way of four passes--three to Curt Chesley of 18, 6 and 17 yards and one to David Strong for 19 yards."

"Brown then returned to the field and on third down from the 21, he handed the ball to Doug Mathews (now more famous for his years as a UT assistant football coach and local radio talk show host) who galloped ten yards (for a first down) to the 11. Brown then flipped the ball to Jim Cunningham in the end zone for the winning points."

When the game ended, many fans (and students) stormed the field in victory. Suddenly things looked bright. Vandy had had a winning season the year before (5-4-1 in 1968) so who knew what was possible. Unfortunately while we were there over the next four years Vanderbilt would win but 4 other SEC games and post an overall record of 15-27, 5-18 in the SEC.

But, even so, a revival was being built. With Coach Bill Pace dismissed after our senior season, a former Alambama quarterback, Steve Sloan, was selected to lead the Commodores and within two seasons (1974) he took many of the players recruited by Pace and had a team that won 8 games and garnered a berth in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.

So what our your memories of Vanderbilt football? As I remember it was a big place to go on a date and get dressed up. What about the parties, both pre and post-game? Did you go for the game itself or to be seen (or what we call networking today)?

Well, be sure and make your plans to come to our 35th Class Reunion October 24-25. One of the highlights of th weekend is our football game against Duke. And who knows, if things go right, Vanderbilt could be playing for its first winning season since 1982. Beating the Blue Devils...now wouldn't that be some kind of Homecoming treat just a few days before Halloween!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Play Ball!

As the Major Leagues begin another season, I am reminded how big a sport baseball has become again at Vanderbilt. That's much like it was when our Centennial class was on campus.

As Tim Corbin has done with his Commodores since he came to Nashville in 2003 (going to the NCAA Tournament almost every year and winning the SEC Regular Season and Tournament Championships last year), so Larry "Smokey" Schmittou (he's in the center of the photo above) did for the Black and Gold starting in the late 1960s.

While we were in school, Coach Schmittou built a program that set new records each year for most wins (33, 35,36 and 37 from 1971-1974) and won back to back SEC championships in 1973 and 1974 (our first baseball championships in school history).

Under Schmittou's guidance the team won the SEC Eastern Division three years in a row from 1972-1974 (yes, even before the league expanded and went to divisions in almost all sports in the early 1990s). Vandy then won back to back league crowns by sweeping Western Division champs Alabama in the SEC playoffs two years in a row (no 8-team, double elimination post season tournament in those days).

I had the great fortune to broadcast the championship series my senior year and was at the mic when the final batter struck out and we won the pennant. It rates as one of my fondest memories while I was at Vanderbilt and the deciding pitch was thrown by a member of our Class, John McLean, who was one of several great hurlers on that squad (including fireballer Doug Wessel and All-American Jeff Peeples).

My other great Vanderbilt baseball memory comes from a mid-season weekday game during the 1973 championship season against the University of Tennessee. Early on, our guys got cuffed around pretty good and fell way behind. But then came a furious ninth inning rally which climaxed with the bases loaded, the Commodores behind three runs, and centerfielder Tommy Powell (another Class of '73 member) up to the plate.

Tommy crushed a pitch from the UT relief hurler over the fence (I actually belive it wound up on top of the swimming pool in Memorial Gym), plating four runs and giving Vandy a very sweet 9-8 victory!

I think I still remind Tommy about that home run almost every time I see him....and he never seems to get tired of it :) Tommy is on the left in the picture above. The other player (with the catcher's glove on the right in photo) is catcher Greg "Radar" Collins, who led the 1973 team in homers with nine.

So what are your memories of Vanderbilt baseball? Remember sitting down the right field or left field lines and heckling the opposing players (especially whatever poor persons were playing first base or left or rightfield)? How about just enjoying the warm sunshine and maybe some smuggled-in "refreshments" while watching the game? Please leave your thoughts below.

For those of you not in Nashville, you'll be happy to know Vanderbilt still plays baseball in the same part of campus, right next to the football stadium, where they were 35-plus years ago. But now it is a wonderful little stadium, called Hawkins Field, where you can actually find a nice chair-back seat down the first or third base lines, and the left field wall looks a like the Green Monster in Fenway Park in Boston (hey, our coach is from New England and he loves the Sox). Be sure and check it out when you come to Reunion October 24-25.