Brothers

Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.  It is like the precious ointment upon the head . . . . and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion . . . .”  Psalm 133

I have a hundred brothers.  They are scattered to the four winds.  They are my fraternity brothers from Augustana College.  Members of the Gamma Alpha Beta – GAB – fraternity.  I wasn’t destined for college (see post of October 13, 2013).  My future was to work after high school.  Frankly, it’s a fluke that I even applied (after graduation) and got in to college.  And came to know my brothers. 

Last weekend, we had a reunion of brothers from the GAB fraternity.  Donna and other wives attended.  It started Friday night and went to Sunday afternoon.  What a slice.   I am truly grateful for the opportunity of meeting, knowing and loving the men who are my brothers.  There are amazing memories and stories (many of which are gladly remembered — and a few that won’t be repeated).  I remember one dark night when my entire pledge class was corralled by police and taken off to jail.  One astute pledge escaped by pulling himself up onto a fire escape.  Me.   🙂

The GAB’s won the Homecoming Sing with the ballad I sang to Lauren every night when she was little — “Oh Shenendoah.”   It was that song I picked for the Father-Daughter dance at her wedding (see post of August 14, 2011).  We both had tears in our eyes as the music played.  One brother – my roommate of 3 years – Colonel “Ox” – has been a glue that helped gather up about a hundred GAB’s on our mailing list.  And we chatter like old women in our emails.  Yet we all contribute in our own way.  It’s interesting how when you meet old friends, you kinda pick up where you left off.  It’s as if time stood still and you’re back being 19 years old again.  In my brain, I’m still 19.  Now if only my body would cooperate . . . . .        

College

When I was 16, well into my senior year of high school, I went to see my guidance counselor – Floyd Hillman.  Mr. Hillman told me (the words are etched in my brain) “I think I can get you a job as an assistant plumber.”  I sat.  And wanted to cry.  I didn’t want to be an assistant plumber.  And I left.  Sad about my impending future.  But a few of my friends were talking about “college.”  College sounded pretty good. 

My father never finished high school and my mother never went to college.  So we never talked much about college.  I would finish high school and then go to work.  Even so, I went home and mentioned “college” to my father.  “College?” he said.  “The only guy I know who went to college was Bill Swanson.”  He looked at me.  “You wanna go to college??”  I nodded — having little clue as to what that meant. . . .

We went to see Mr. Swanson.  He said “I went to Augustana College.  Maybe I could get you an interview.”  My dad said “you want that?” and I nodded. . . . not entirely sure what that meant.  My parents and I drove out to Rock Island, Illinois — home of Augustana College — and I had an interview with Mr. Hemming, the Director of Admissions.  It was April or May — around the time of high school graduation.  Mr. Hemming said that the class was full.  And my grades were not great.  But he liked that I was an Eagle Scout so he would find a spot for me.  He said I could be admitted on academic probation.  But if I didn’t have a “C” average first semester, I was out.  So I signed on.  A few months later, I was in college.  My first semester – of 6 courses, I had 5 “C’s” and one “B” (in swimming).  I was in.  The second youngest freshman in my class (I’d skipped 2d grade).

My 45th reunion was this weekend at Augustana.  I went.  First time in 35 years.  I owe Stanley Erickson for a big lesson and Dean Ribbick for things that go unsaid.  And I owe Augustana College for taking a flyer on a just turned 17 year old kid with mediocre grades.  I was given a chance.   It was great to be back.  See old friends.  My fraternity brothers.  And visit. . . my college.