This past weekend was Homecoming at Furman University. More importantly, though, it was my graduating class’s 30th reunion. Hard to believe that it’s been that long. The weekend was spent reconnecting with classmates and old friends.
In past years I’ve tried to take off Friday so that I can spend the day up at Furman. Of course, that wasn’t a problem this time. I met Jim Davis and his wife Jenny, and we took a quick tour of the newly remodeled student center. Of course, we had to have lunch in The Paddock. Jim was able to have his first [legal] beer on campus.
After lunch we headed up to Cherrydale and registered our presence with the proper Homecoming authorities. Only a couple of others had arrived, and the Alumni house was fairly empty. They were getting set up for a Golden Paladins dinner – those celebrating their 50th class reunion. Since it wasn’t crowded, Theresa Cureton was kind enough to give us a tour of the house.
The home belonged to James C. Furman, a former president of the university and descendent of Richard Furman, its founder. The house had been located on Furman Hall Road, behind the current location of Cherrydale Shopping Center. Construction of the shopping center would have demolished the house. The Stone family, who owned the house along with Stone Manufacturing, donated the house to Furman when they sold the property to the Cherrydale developers. Laura and I watched them move the massive house down Poinsett Highway to its final resting place at the highest point on campus. Once in place, the house was furnished with antiques and other items from the Furman household. It now functions as the Alumni House for the University.
Outside the home Jim and Jenny had to pose with the statue of Richard Furman.
We briefly parted ways to prepare for dinner. The first of our official gatherings was in downtown Greenville at Ford’s Oyster House. I had been wanting to try this place, and figure this was be as good an opportunity as any.
Laura and I had been here several times when it was Latitudes. However, we had only every been in the main restaurant section. We didn’t even know that there was a huge room available upstairs. We headed on up and met with several of my classmates.
I know this sounds uncharitable, but when I saw some of my classmates I thought, “That guy looks old – surely I’m not that old myself!” The truth is, we’re all old. This was the first time I’d really looked at us as a group of 50-something codgers, which is what we are. Oh well, I’m sure it’s better than the alternative.
I’d hate to list everyone I saw for fear of leaving someone out, but it was great seeing friends and renewing acquaintances. Jim and Jenny joined us, as did Dwight. The Cajun cuisine was pricy, but OK. An $18 bowl of jambalaya wasn’t the last sticker shock I’d have this weekend.
The next morning Laura had to be at Furman early to set up. I went on up with her and headed back to the student center, hoping to find something in the book store. More sticker shock. The shirts I wanted were either $60 or $75. For a shirt. I decided I had enough purple stuff for the time being.
In years past there’s been someone hanging out at the radio station, and in some years we have commandeered WPLS ourselves. Even though the DJ booth is now out where everyone can see it, everything seems to be automated. There was no one there. It seemed a bit sad.
I was happy to see that there were still some open balconies that overlook the lake. The views were quite pleasant. If I were a student, I think this is where I’d hang out.
In fact, as a student, this IS where I hung out. Before the multiple renovations, the student center had deep overhangs around the balcony. One of my favorite things to do was to sit on the balcony overlooking the lake during a steady rain. It was somehow quite soothing, and it was one of my favorite places to study.
I decided not to hit the departmental drop-ins. I see most of these professors on a regular basis anyway. I wandered on up to the Chemistry Department to hang out with Laura. However, I did have an ulterior motive. Many of the guys on my hall, including my roommate, were chemistry majors. I was hoping that some of them might drop by. Alas, they did not. I still had a good time talking to some who were there for their 40th reunion.
Alan and Mary had arrived, so I decided to head out to see them. They were skipping the official luncheon, to which I had tickets, but I wanted to touch base with them before the game. I paused to take a few photos out on the mall. The “floats” were not floating as they always haven’t. The now-ubiquitous Greeks were getting set up for their pre-game luncheons.
Having made contact with Alan and Mary, Laura and I headed on up to Cherrydale for our luncheon. I was a bit concerned when I saw only one table designated for classes of the 1980s. Fortunately, there were signs pointing to the back of the building where our reunion class was set up. Laura and I got in our buffet line and headed toward the back.
Back in our own little area we could now official serve with our lunch. More sticker shock – our $15 lunch tickets got us a couple of little pieces of fried chicken tenders and some accompaniment. I think next time we’ll tailgate on our on, then head up this way to socialize a bit.
But, the socializing was excellent. Most of the same folks from last night were there, but there were some newcomers. Even Congressman and former governor Mark Sanford showed up. Yep, the infamous Appalachian Trail hiker was in my graduating class.
We headed on toward the stadium. The new press box isn’t finished yet, but was complete enough for occupancy. We took our usual seats, and our friends were able to join us.
It was quite chilly, and on the verge of raining, but the game was excellent. Furman jumped out ahead and stayed there the whole game. There was one point where things got a bit scary, but eventually we beat Samford 35-17.
We headed home to recoup. Laura and Jenny decided that they’d had enough Homecoming and Reunion activities, so they left me and Jim to head over to the Westin Poinsett for our reunion dinner. We actually spent more time socializing than eating, but it was fun. I got to see some of my great friends who went to Governor’s School as well as Furman, especially Jami Steele Sprankle, Janet Shearin Layne, Roger Casey. Jane Lanford Smith and I had a great conversation, and it was wonderful hearing Karen Parks sing a bit for us. Overall, it was an excellent gathering.
Since there seemed to be more drinking than eating, Jim and I decided to head over to Carolina Ale House. By this time most of our close friends had gone, and I was getting hungry. There we watched a bit of the LSU-Alabama game and wound up the evening reminiscing over munchies. It had been a good day.