I’m from Claremont. Four years ago, I went back for my 50th high school reunion. I loved every minute of it, including where we stayed – the Goddard Mansion B & B. I’ve written here about the annual Stevens High School Alumni Association Newsletter, which “contains stuff you won’t find anywhere else.” Last spring, the newsletter arrived as usual, reminding us to show up on Pleasant Street on June 11 for the big Alumni Day parade.
I didn’t make it to Claremont this year, but the parade went off as scheduled despite the downpour. I did, however, attend my 50th college reunion. As the Memorial Day reunion weekend approached, I had mixed feeling. Will I recognize people? Will they recognize me? Will we find things to talk about? I considered dropping out at the last-minute.
But I didn’t. So off I went, arriving in Providence along with classmates from near (the owner of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats lives practically on campus) and far (a woman came from Australia). As I registered, two classmates came over, and we recognized each other immediately. Funny how we haven’t changed!
Twenty-five years ago, our college class was headquartered in a dormitory called Arnold House. I would not have remembered that except for a “time capsule” note to be opened on the occasion of our 50th. I wrote, back in 1986, that the Arnold Lounge was “an awful place” and hoped that “maybe we’ll do better next time.” No such luck. This time they assigned us to Goddard House, which made me long for the Arnold Lounge. I thought I even recognized some of the trash piled up in plain sight.
To make matters worse, when I registered to attend months before, I checked the “yes” box to stay in a dormitory free of charge. So, there I was Friday night on the second floor in a room hardly fit for human habitation, much less for a member of the “distinguished” 50-year class. Other than sharing the name “Goddard,” it bore no resemblance to our plushy Claremont lodgings four years earlier. I don’t know what I expected, but my first thought upon entering that room was, “Serves you right. Next time, don’t be such a cheapskate.” Then I went down to the shared bathroom and discovered no hot water. That, combined with an unsleepable mattress and the constant noise outside the window, was all I needed. No Saturday overnight for me. Luckily, I’m in the “near” category, meaning that the decision to drive back to Boston and my own bed (and hot water) was easy to make.
People who attend reunions often think in terms of 25 year intervals. Looking ahead, I’m not hoping to attend my 75th Stevens High School reunion, and I’m not planning on it, but I’ll tell you this – I intend to be there. That’s known as “optimism.”
After my recent reunion experience, I wrote a letter to the president of the university, telling her about the conditions at Goddard House. She quickly replied that she had looked into it, confirmed that things weren’t as they should have been, and promised to make sure they do better in the future. That’s good enough for me. Brown University had a lot to do with shaping my life, I still love the place, and I like seeing old friends. If I do make it back for some future reunion, however, there will be one change. Even with the president’s assurances, I intend to stay at a hotel.