The next Alumnae Reunion Weekend will be held May 13-15, 2016. All alumnae are invited to attend, but classes ending in a one or a six will be celebrating a special class reunion.
The following essay was written by alumna Janet Morris Belvin, ’70, as a reflection of her time on campus during Reunion Weekend this year. We hope that like Janet, you are able to join us at Alumnae Reunion Weekend to renew old friendships and to be reminded of why Meredith alums are Forever Strong.
The Class of 1970 – Forever Strong
By Janet Morris Belvin
When I left Meredith College in 1970 as a brand new college graduate, I was 21 with a teaching job already lined up. I weighed 125 pounds and didn’t have a wrinkle on my face, an extra pound on my torso, or a serious thought in my head. All I knew was that I was now free to be a grown-up.
Fast forward 45 years and things are slightly different. I’m now 66 and retired from a teaching job that put between two and three thousand middle and high schoolers in my classrooms over the years. I like to think I made a difference in their lives, but truthfully, I know there were some I couldn’t reach, some I could never help. My weight is…well, let’s just say it’s considerably more than 125 pounds and I have quite a few wrinkles and grey hair (if I don’t make my every-four-week appointment at the salon.) Those are all pretty negative things but the silver lining is that none of that mattered this weekend as I met with several dozen of my former classmates from the Class of ’70 for our 45th reunion.
This was one of many times I have gathered with the Meredith girls (it is a women’s college) but for the first time, it felt different. There was a spirit of joyfulness among all of us, a real feeling of gratitude that we had survived so much and were together again on that beautiful campus. I would venture to bet that at some point during the weekend, every one of us had a fleeting moment of desire to go back in time to when we were college girls again. Of course that time is lost (“temps perdu” as Marcel Proust called it in Remembrance of Things Past,) but the memories of those heady days in the late sixties were all around us this weekend. We might have wrinkles and grey hair, we might be battling cancer or Parkinson’s disease, we might have been dealing with aging parents or grieving lost loved ones, but for two precious days, we regained all those lost hours.
We were living again with suitemates and roommates in Vann or Stringfield or Faircloth or Heilman dorms. We wore Pappagallo shoes and Villager sweaters over our McMullen blouses. We listened to the Temptations and read To Kill a Mockingbird. We worked in chemistry labs or solved math problems. We went to fraternity parties at NC State or drove to Chapel Hill for our dates at UNC. Frantically, we typed our term papers on portable Royal typewriters provided by our parents who were still living and paying all our bills.
On campus, we sunned on the roofs of the breezeways (Skin cancer? Not us!) We attended our early morning classes in pajamas covered with our London Fog raincoats. No need to worry – there were no men in our classes. And in our sophomore year, a new tradition was born out of our rebellious and crazy natures – an original singing group called “The Bathtub Ring.” Forty five years later, there is still a Bathtub Ring on campus, but now you have to audition for it. The members of the original Bathtub Ring were on campus this weekend and serenaded all of the classes with their signature song, “Cigarettes and Whiskey and Wild, Wild Women – (They’ll drive you crazy, they’ll drive you insane.)” Needless to say the crowd went wild.
The last precious hours of our reunion were spent in hugging and laughing and promising to get together for our fiftieth, though I’d be willing to bet we won’t wait that long. Life has given us many lessons in the forty-five years since our graduation. We’ve married, divorced, given birth, buried parents and children, had careers, made homes, had spectacular successes and spectacular failures. But for the few hours when the Class of 1970 was together again on that magnificent Raleigh, NC campus, none of that mattered. We were ageless and time no longer mattered. All we knew for that wonderful weekend was that we were together and we had friends for life. Like the motto for our wonderful Alma Mater, we are “Forever Strong.”