A Blue Violin: Homecoming

UMR‘s homecoming ends today, October 21. The weather has been cool, clear, and windy. Nearly perfect, depending on what one thinks of the wind.
My experience of the wind and of homecoming came on Friday afternoon at the departmental open house. Among the homecoming events were the departmental open house on the patio outside the Havener Center. Under a green and white tent, at the curve of University Drive, a beer and soda garden offered burgers, brats, barbecue, beers, soda — all the necessities for such a pleasant afternoon.
With the green grass of the Havener lawn, the crowds moving from place to place, the scene reminded me of William Langland‘s "fair field full of folk": an apt description of the scene Friday afternoon.
Not having anticipated a blog entry on this event, I didn’t take my camera or notes, so I’m reaching back a day and a half. My primary impression is wind and sun and glimpses of a woman with a blue violin.
Dr. Ed Malone and I carted the department’s display over to the patio along the front of the Havener Center. The departmental displays vary some, but basically, it is a panel about 3′ x 6’ that folds so there’s a large central panel with two smaller panels on each side. The side panels fold to provide stability and depth to the display. The main ingredient in the departmental open houses was the wind. The displays would not stay on the tables provided; some departments put theirs on the ground in front of the tables; some, like us, packed up their display. We did have some books authored by faculty members, copies of last spring’s departmental newsletter, and some brochures. These didn’t blow away (mostly).
A bluegrass band played around the curve of the Havener from us. I couldn’t see them well because of the pillars, but I did see a woman playing a blue violin.
The best part for me was a long conversation with one of our English alumna. She and her husband stopped at the table, and we caught up on a lot of things, mostly what’s happening with the department and with some of the older and retired faculty. Another alumnus, a friend of the couple I was speaking with, walked up. He got his B.S. here in 1967, the year I arrived. He and I have to be among the few people who remember John Brewer, who taught speech and who, we agreed, was the last gentleman.
There really wasn’t a lot of traffic at the department displays, but my time was well-spent. Despite my somewhat peripheral relation to homecoming, spending Friday afternoon in the wind and sun, talking with a former student, was good.