Sunday, June 13, 2010

I Remember …

Ripples on the water are funny. Sometimes you throw a big stone in the pond … KERPLOP! … and there is very little ripple. (Competitive divers are judged on how little splash and ripple they make.) And sometimes a small pebble hits the water just right and it sends out a crescendo of wavelets. So it is with life.

In the book and movie Animal House, many of the brothers of the late 1950’s Alpha Delta Phi (AD) fraternity at Dartmouth were given nicknames: Bluto (after a character in Popeye), the Pinto (for the piebald coloring on his nether region), and Flounder (for his pale complexion and close-set eyes). The perpetual success of the Animal House movie has consequently engraved the representations of these characters on the American psyche.

This past weekend I attended my 50th reunion at Dartmouth and, among the many festivities designed by the college to encourage future generous donations was a moving Memorial Service for our 124 classmates who had “passed on” (out of a graduating class of around 650). This interdenominational service was very well attended and filled with prayers for the deceased and a few old Dartmouth songs. But one of the traditions that was herein continued was to read aloud the names of all our deceased class members and, as each name was recited, we who knew him would stand (or keep standing) and say “I remember [the deceased classmate’s name].”

Going through 124 names was a moving experience. Some got a plethora of responses … and a few got none save the minister's reading of their name. I stood and testified for Ned “Pat” Patrick (dorm-mate and our Freshman class President), Ned Nabers (a classics scholar in my freshman and sophomore dorm), Dick Reynolds (a fraternity brother and cool saxophone player in the Barbary Coast band), Mike Menaker (who snaked my date from Colby Junior College), Jim Sniderman (a fraternity brother), Robert Postel (a frequent seat-mate in class and aide in getting me married to my current wife), Jay Emery (a fraternity brother and all-around good guy), and Bruce Thorton (a fraternity brother). But it was the deceased (and unknown to me) Jessee "Nick" Fate who then made a indelible impression on me. After his name was read and his friends said in a cacophony, “I remember Nick Fate,” someone shouted from the back of the chapel, “FLOUNDER!"

Nick Fate has obviously left a very big ripple.

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