The Colgate Scene ON-LINE


by Abby Henrich ’98

If I could have my way, I would like this summer not to fade into fall and winter and spring. I would like the peaceful days in the endlessly green Chenango Valley to continue as they are. But even if this summer never ended, there still would be more things to do, more places to explore, more people to sit and talk with, and more calm afternoons to breathe in through all of my senses. That is the amazement of this place, the beauty.

Colgate would be nothing with-out its students. Well, I would agree if I hadn’t spent my summer working on campus with the dean’s staff. Sure, I wouldn’t have a job, nor would anyone at Colgate for that matter, if the students did not return in late August, but Colgate isn’t a dismal place while waiting for them. Rather, summer is a restful time when campus life continues, regains its strength and enjoys some needed time away from the active days and long nights of students.

More importantly, there is a friendliness and openness that emerges without the crush of numbers and the immediacy of semester work.

B&G friends

My first week back I moved into an apartment on campus by myself, hauling boxes filled with things that only I would find necessary, up two flights of stairs. My large and cherished couch, which looks like something from the set of Rose-anne, still remained in my old apartment as I plotted just how to finagle a stout male friend into moving it.

A few workers from Buildings and Grounds stopped to ask if I had moved the couch yet and I began to feel uneasy. Was my week’s delay causing a problem? When I returned to my apartment one noon there were two B&G men moving my couch up the flights of stairs.

No problem. They were just being friendly. Helping was the neigh-borly thing to do, and in return I baked the guys cookies and knew I was lucky to be one of the few students on campus.

During dinner one night at Director of Summer Programs Matt Leone’s house, his daughter Ann asked me if I would come to watch her in a play. To my surprise, she explained that the production would be in a professor’s home. Later that week I sat on a couch balanced on crates for height in a converted living room and watched as the professor and his wife drew back the blankets hung on clothesline to reveal a scene that seemed from another world in which a handful of high school students gave life to a seventeenth century French play.

On the way home I thought of the secure atmosphere that gave rise to such curiosity and exploration.

Dinner invitations

How could someone be lonely when they rarely ever eat by themselves? It seems that everyone in town believes it is their duty during the summer to feed a college student. My advisor Georgia Frank left for vacation with her family and I offered to mow her lawn while she was gone as a way to thank her for continued support of my academic endeavors. When she returned from her trip she immediately invited me to dinner. Later that week I sat with Georgia and her husband Jeff McArn. Their four-year old daughter slept on the couch and their baby took turns sitting on our laps as we ate.

My advisor had cooked me a salmon dinner to thank me and then she gave me one of her favorite books. After the baby fell asleep I sat in the kitchen chatting with my professor about my plans as she washed dishes. When I realized that it was almost nine o’clock and I had to leave she beckoned me to stay until she finished cleaning up. I realized that she enjoyed my company.

In our conversation we discussed so much of what was central to the person Colgate has helped me to become. So, lonely? Never.

Besides, I’m convinced in the summer everyone knows your name. I can’t seem to go to the Grand Union without running into someone I know. Or Hamilton Whole Foods, Gillian’s or even a pig roast.

On a midsummer’s night I arrived at custodian supervisor John Grossman’s lovely old farmhouse and was immediately inundated not only with pig, three types of homemade barbeque sauce, homemade root beer and beer, but greetings.

Even people I didn’t know called out my name and asked about my weekend. I talked with others I knew from work about all the odds and ends we missed during the busy week. People knew me and were willing to take the time to know me better.

And bored? Impossible, with a lake to sail on and woods to walk through. On Saturday mornings there is the farmers’ market, where summer’s progress can be judged by the changing assortment of produce. Why, Cooperstown, the seat of the New York State historical society and the Baseball Hall of Fame, is only an hour away.

And there are so many people to meet and talk with, not nodding acknowledgments but real conversations about last Sunday’s service or Mike Tyson’s bite.

As a summer ends

The hammering at renovation jobs all over continues until late August before the construction gives way to cleaners, and then, for about two days, the campus looks perhaps as close to perfect as possible.

We rush through these days, though, preparing ourselves for the next class that will carry on the tradition we call Colgate.

This summer I learned of another Colgate, a peaceful place where kids put on plays, professors listen with soapy hands and when people shout your name it sounds like singing.

I think before all the cars pull up, loaded with tan and revived students ready to start, I will take one last aimless drive searching for new green valleys and cornfields that I have not yet seen. Maybe then I will be ready for my wonderful summer to end.