MEMORIES OF EVERGREEN
The Olympian invited alumni to share their fondest memories of The Evergreen State College. Here’s a sampling of the responses.
Just thinking of my time at Evergreen makes me smile. One of the fondest memories I have is being on the rowing team. We woke up every morning at 5 a.m. to do grueling workouts for an hour. The experience pushed me further than I thought I could ever go.
It taught me that no matter how high I set the bar, I can actually reach it. Coach always told us to dig deep and “answer that question” of why we were there and if the answer was good enough it could get us through anything. I still apply that in my life today and it’s helped me to understand what my goals are and how to reach them even when the path to get there is all uphill. My fondest memory of Evergreen was my commencement ceremony in June 2008. We had just been led into the seating area by the delightful March Fourth Marching Band. While the group features traditional marching band percussion and brass, they also have stilt walkers, beautiful women, crazy band costumes, and a truly joyful musical repartee. The band continued to play and as we all sat down I turned to some of my classmates and said, “This is why we came to Evergreen. If we were at a UW graduation right now we would be bored to tears.”
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For me, March Fourth captured the exciting and unique quality of my Evergreen experience. Omniaextares! It was my first year at Evergreen as well as being the first year of Evergreen. I was walking across the plaza when I noticed a couple of students rappelling down the clock tower.
I was familiar with students rappelling down the Campaneli at UC Berkeley and I thought neat, get the tradition started early. I wandered over to the tower to see if I knew who it was, thinking “ I hope they don’t get into any trouble over this.” When I got there, I recognized the climbers alright. It was Willi Unsoeld and Gov. Dan Evans. My first day at Evergreen as I walked toward Red Square, a beautiful blonde girl in a gauzy white dress stood up, twirled around and asked me if I could see her underwear through the sheer fabric? I knew I was home. In the last scene of the film “Another Country,” an elderly British man was asked about his college days.
He stated that he didn’t want to go back and he didn’t want to see anyone again. When asked, “Isn’t there anything you miss at all?” he thought for a moment and then replied: “I miss the cricket.” Well, that’s how I feel about The Evergreen State College and Ultimate Frisbee.
I miss the ultimate. Soft, green grass under a canopy of blue sky and puffy white clouds. Orange cones marking off the huge expanse. A steady parade of people from here and there. Some dressed practically; others sporting the bright colors of their hearts. All so happy to be there, flinging a plastic disc with creativity, athleticism, and teamwork. We played three times a week — Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Tuesday was excruciating — two days in a row without Ultimate! And Wednesday was so wonderful to be back! All the faces and the laughter. I miss the ultimate. My fondest memory of Evergreen is hearing rock stories from Jim Stroh out in the deserts of Death Valley. Along with alluvial fans, slot canyons, mima mounds, and breccias, we learned to name the rabbit brush blooming and canyon wrens calling. It was a program called Landscapes and Biogeography, and our field trips to Death Valley, the Hoh River Valley and haunts closer to Olympia were such a treat.
Amongst other field natural history delights, Jim taught us to distinguish between limestone and dolomite in the field. I’ll never forget the class motto: “When in doubt, drop acid.” (Hydrochloric acid, that was). Although I also spent time as an Evergreen student, my fondest memories of Evergreen are of an earlier time, as a faculty brat in the 1970s: Riding bikes to the college to swim in the pool and helping my dad move his office each summer, from the Lab Building to the Library Building, and back again the next year, by pushing a library cart full of books and papers across the bricks of Red Square. I would say “Freedom”. Freedom to explore, choose, sort, abandon, create, meet new ideas, ways, professions and alternatives without the pressure of what media and society thought I should choose for “Success”. There was open mindfulness and the excitement of finding ways to lead my life and earn my money that are outside the stupid little box most young people are presented. I remember the excitement of knowing I could do and be anything I wanted if I were to really get after it and if the gods were to throw in just a little bit of luck. In order to study “The Effects of Hypoxia and Acclimatization at Altitude,” a group of us climbed Mount Rainier with our 60 lb. backpacks and a huge block of dry ice (in order to freeze arterial blood that we had a paramedic draw for us while we were encamped!). After climbing for over 12 hours we reached Camp Muir (10,000 ft.), where we conducted research for six amazing days. As we made our way back down the mountain, we got caught in a white-out, lost the trail, found it and lost it again.
Seeing Paradise Lodge was like seeing an oasis in a desert! The first thing that came to mind and definitely the most memorable moment that I had at Evergreen was during the 2009-2010 school year when the student body voted in favor of divestment from companies that directly benefit from the human rights abuses committed by the state of Israel.
As a Palestinian student, my heart was warmed by the overwhelming student support for this initiative. My first quarter at Evergreen, I went on a retreat with my literature program, The Presence of Place, where I met some fascinating, stunningly talented (often strange) people. We read the journals of Lewis and Clark and hiked along part of their route near Cape Disappointment. We read William Stafford and explored some beautiful, tiny towns along the Washington coast, where we saw more dogs than humans, more boats than cars, and signs encouraging residents to “Vote Yes for an Ambulance.” We read Sam Hamill and walked on shores so foggy we couldn’t see the water. Bill Ransom read Raymond Carver after dinner, and late at night the students built bonfires where the musicians among us played. My friend and I would huddle on a log together and then run back to our cabin through the dark. It was Evergreen at its best: lovely and wild, weird and inspired. My fondest memory was the 1981 Rowdy Ball on June 6, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. in the CAB. ...Admission was $3. Free beer and cider were served. The band was The Dynamic Logs. They were fabulous.
It was one great party. On the way home, I swiped one of the posters announcing The Ball off a bulletin board, or some wall in the CAB. I still have that poster today, framed in my office at home. I loved the trail through the woods that took you down to the beach. It was so great to be able to have this little nature experience right on campus. There was also this great little student-run natural foods restaurant in the dorms called “The Corner.” They had huge portions of good food and it was really inexpensive. – Dale Thompson, Salt Lake City – Khadija Anderson Altadena, Calif. – Harry James, Juneau, Alaska – Patty Kinney, Lacey — Mark Koch, Chico, Calif. — Nancy Cook, Astoria, Ore. — Barbara Cellarius, Copper Center, Alaska – Sarah (Jones) Krall, Lander, Wyo. – Cindy Brodner, Portland, Ore. – Lamise N. Shawahin, Lafayette, Ind. – Elizabeth Greeniaus, Oakland, Calif. – Leonard A. Brennan, Corpus Christi, Texas – Jonathon Turlove, Olympia