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Winter 2002
Volume 39, No. 2
Issue Home

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PCMOnline Editor
Sarah Dolinar


Courting Rituals of the (Un)Common Sagehen
(Centrocercus Urophasianus Cecili)

With 3,352 Pomona alumni who are married to other Pomona graduates, there are as many stories to tell as ways in which Sagehens have met.

Smith Russell, Jr. ’49 & Frances St. Clair Russell ’46

I met the love of my life at Pomona College, and last December, I lost her. I feel blessed to have enjoyed so many years with such a lovely and great companion.

In 1946, after being discharged from the Army, I enrolled at Pomona as a sophomore majoring in music and voice. Professor Ralph Lyman asked me to be a tenor soloist in his choir at Claremont Community Church. The first time I went to a rehearsal, I spotted a lovely girl in the alto section. It was love at first sight. When I finally worked up the nerve to ask her name, I found her missing from rehearsal. Professor Lyman assured me that she would return, and that she was in the hospital for an appendectomy. I was so concerned that I found out her home number and talked to her father. He was amused at the concern of a stranger, and he told Frances about the call. That’s how we met. I was love-struck! After a while, she finally agreed to go to a movie with me, and we became steady dates. It took a year to get her to marry me and when she did, I was—and remain—in heaven on earth with her. Our 54 years together centered on music, and I feel eternally grateful to Pomona for providing me the opportunity to meet Frances there.

Tony Gansen ’84 & Wendi Hansen Gansen ’89

Wendi and I didn’t have the chance to know each other at Pomona because of our five-year age difference. In the early 1990s we were both living in L.A., establishing our careers and doing a fairly good job of keeping in touch with our Pomona friends. A chance meeting at a party hosted by my friend Dave Bloom ’85 and Wendi’s friend Stella Thompson ’90, finally brought us together. Doug Frankenfeld ’85 and I arrived before the party was in full swing, and we were both schmoozing with Dave and Stella. About a half hour later, I saw Wendi for the first time when she walked through the door. We all spent the rest of the evening sharing laughs and Pomona anecdotes at a local bowling alley where one of our teams got a score of 47. And the next weekend, on our first date to a Yo-Yo Ma concert at the L.A. Music Center, Wendi sat in seat 47.

Douglas McDermott ’58 & Nelda Hooper McDermott ’58

During the fall of our sophomore year my roommate, Jim Forrest, had been telling me about Nelda Hooper. We were, he said, the only two intelligent Catholics he knew, and he thought we ought to marry and breed more. Easy for him to say, but how was I to meet this paragon? I was a drama major living at the top of the Clark Tower and haunting Holmes Hall. Nelda was a math major commuting from home in San Dimas to classes in Pearsons Hall.

She was not the girl I was thinking about on the afternoon of the last Sunday in October 1955. I was thinking about Lulu Capra, who had stage-managed the play in which I had just made my first appearance on the Holmes Hall stage. She had been encouraging me to attend meetings of the Catholic Newman Club, and had even left a reminder in my mailbox that afternoon. I owed Lulu, so even though I had a hangover from the cast party the night before, I crept onto a bench in the basement of Harwood Hall to join the Newman Club meeting that evening. During the introductions, I heard a clear voice say, “Nelda Hooper.” It came from across the room, directly behind a pillar, and I couldn’t see the speaker. As people were leaving I sidled around the pillar and saw Nelda for the first time. Later she admitted that our friend Jim had been talking to her, too, and that when she heard my name, she decided to stick around. We went to the Sugar Bowl, where the art and drama crowd hung out, and had Russian coffee and cinnamon toast. Jim was there with friends. When he saw us he smiled like a cat who had just discovered a bowl of cream. By New Year’s Eve that year we were goners, so after graduation we did just what Jim had wanted all along.

David Gillingham ’52 & Martha Hendee Gillingham ’53

I met Martha when I was a Pomona sophomore. She sat in front of me in a Music Appreciation class. I began to appreciate her at least as much as the music and finally worked up the nerve to ask her out on a “Coke date” at the old Harvard Grill. We were married after my graduation. I left for Navy OCS in Rhode Island and she had to apply for permission to live in the dorms while married and later (shocking!) pregnant. Dean Jean Walton came to bat for her and it was decided that she didn’t have anything catching, so she was allowed to stay.

Now with our 50th wedding anniversary a couple of months away, it’s fun to imagine how I would have reacted if someone in that music class had whispered in my ear: “See that girl in front of you? She is going to give you six children and they will produce 14 grandchildren. Brace yourself, Dave.” It’s the best thing that has every happened to me, no question.

Diane Mayfield Laughney ’78 & John Laughney ’78

On May 22, 1978, the day after I graduated, I was at my folks’ home feeling a little blue. I leafed through my Metate, and there he was—The Coolest Guy in the Yearbook. He’s on page 101, snoozing on the seat of a bitchin’ Triumph motorcycle, leather-jacketed arms folded across his chest, cowboy-booted feet resting on the taillight, cowboy hat pulled over his eyes. “Who is that guy? And how did I miss him during the past four years?” I sighed over my wasted education.

Fast-forward to April 1988—my 10-year reunion. I jump in my aged Mazda and drive all the way down from Napa for the festivities. I haven’t partied that hearty since... well, since Pomona. At one o’clock in the morning, my old roomie, Michele (Matule) Ripoli ’78, insisted that we check out one last party.

Once inside, we checked out the scene. Chris Sullivan ’78 walked over and introduced his friend, John Laughney. I don’t remember the name, so I check out the Metate photo on his nametag and I stared. I gaped. I probably drooled. “You—you’re the guy in the yearbook!” I stuttered unintelligibly. Bob Marley sang something about being together in his single bed, and John wasted no time in talk—he crushed the stub of his unfiltered Pall Mall under his cowboy boot, took me in his arms, and we danced.

Fred Sontag married us, and on October 21, 2002, we celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. And, yes, we played Bob Marley.

Helen Houston Boileau ’39 & E. Burdette Boileau ’34

We met at Pomona although we were not in school together. He had gone on to Boalt Hall after graduation and was practicing law in Pomona. When he attended a Bridges Auditorium concert with his parents, he sat behind me. Later he got up his courage and phoned me to attend a Rotary dance.

I accepted. We danced. We married. We’re still at it.

David Antal ’74 & Ariane Berthoin Antal ’74

Actually, we do not agree about how we met. Ariane has a distinct memory of seeing me for the first time at the mailboxes of Oldenborg in January 1973, after my return from a semester abroad in Germany. Whereas I have a very clear memory of an Oldenborg Council dinner some weeks later. I arrived late after hosting a weekly KSPC radio show of classical music, and Ariane stayed on to keep me company while I finished eating. We did not see much of each other during that semester, but I asked for Ariane’s address in Germany over the summer, then in Leningrad for the following semester. Letters of friendship made their way back and forth across the ocean. Ariane returned in January 1974 for her last semester at Pomona with a definite plan for her future: she would study in Paris to become an interpreter. But things quickly changed. Friendship slipped into romance, and by May it was clear to us that we had decided to marry. Our three children are very disappointed because we have no memory of a specific moment that decision was made—we just knew it was right and have remained convinced ever since.

Christina Mercer McGinley '88 & Todd McGinley ’88

We first "met" in Professor Yamashita’s Asian Traditions course in which he called each student by his or her last name. So we knew each other as "Miss Mercer" and "Mr. McGinley" and our relationship had a similar level of formality and distance. Todd uses words like "escorted" and "accompanied" to describe his impressions of me at that time.

It wasn’t until the following year that Todd decided to ask a Sigma Tau brother for an introduction. I was getting ready for a party (it seemed like getting ready for a party or recovering from a party was a big part of the freshman and sophomore weekend experience) and had my head upside down under a blow dryer when the knock at the door came. So with my partially fluffed eighties hair I answered the door and met a very young, very "squirrelly" sophomore who just happened to be the best looking guy I’d ever seen. I played it as cool as I could considering the status of my hair. We went to the party together (pretty much a "date" in those days) and that was that from that time onward. We would spend hours and hours talking, late at night, at all sorts of unlikely locations on campus. Often, the sprinklers would start up and pretty soon we felt we could tell time by the cycle of Pomona’s irrigation system. We hoped for a Mufti sighting but all we ever saw were various Dana Kogen appearances.

Sometimes we would study up in the little Library in Carnegie or at the few old mainframe computers up there. I remember being together most of the time, and getting razzed for being the "Ken and Barbie" of Pomona. But it was not all smooth sailing. Once, before one of Todd’s major exams, I managed to break my foot on the steps under the Sophomore Arch. He got me to the ER and stayed at my side (with his books open all the while) far into the night.

Senior year meant that I searched for graduate programs in English Literature while Todd searched for a job – any job—in Finance. We had no idea what coast we would be on – we hoped it would be the same one. I was accepted to Columbia but seeing it in the dead of winter was a tremendous deterrent for this California girl. Adding to that was the fact that the job market was tough and New York jobs not forthcoming. We chose California and each other. We were married a year after we graduated from Pomona, and after having lived in Riverside, and the West side, respectively. It was crazy to get married so young, but the best decision we’ve made. Our wedding was the first one among all of our peers, and it was quite a party. The wedding party and the reception were laden with Sagehens. Our best man was Sean Morley and my longtime friends and roommates Patty Van Vranken Kullnigg and Darby Scholl were bridesmaids. At the time we married, we had been together almost four years, so although the fact that we were getting married was rather dazzling and novel, nobody was surprised.

Gina Alongi '00 & David Herman '99

My husband and I met at Pomona in November, 1996 (my first year, his second), while I was wandering around the halls of Mudd-Blaisdell. Our paths crossed a number of times during that year, but it wasn't until May that we spoke again. He developed a liking for my roommate, and began stopping by our room. He was too nervous to talk to her, so I was usually the one he spoke to during those visits. It turned out that our hometowns were only minutes from each other, and that our paths had even crossed in previous years.

On the very last night of the semester before we both were set to leave, I decided to stay up all night, packing and visiting with my night owl friends. Unfortunately, my night owl friends all decided to go to bed early for once, and I couldn't do much packing without disturbing my roommate. I remembered that he said he was going to be up late as well, so I wandered by his room and left a note to come find me. We met up around 3:30 am. We spent the next few hours together, talking, packing, laughing. We went out to the Greek Theatre to watch the sunrise. It wasn't a very impressive sunrise - it was one of those hazy Claremont days - but memorable: the thin white light, the cool concrete seats, the rogue blue balloon that watched the sun rise with us.
Soon afterwards, we lost each other in Frank dining hall. (I'm not sure how we managed that, since there were only a handful of other people in the building, but it was probably due to lack of sleep.) We saw each other once more: later that morning he and his dad stopped by my room to say goodbye as my dad and I were packing my things.

We spent that summer 20 minutes apart, but never once did we contact each other. (I still like to tease him about this, because he had a copy of "Hens at Home," the student address book, and I did not.) But, I think it was just as well. It meant that by time we met up again the following fall, we were ready to fully appreciate each other.
I stumbled upon his room by chance during the first few days of the semester (fall 1997); he happened to be living just across the hall from a friend of mine (a mutual friend, as it turns out). We began dropping by each other's rooms more and more frequently - we had so much fun sitting and talking together. We were in the midst of a serious relationship almost before we realized it had begun.

Two and a half years later, we were married. Last May we celebrated our first anniversary. For obvious reasons, we are both glad we decided to attend Pomona!

Sally James '77 & Richard Apfel, '77

She was wearing red yarn in her hair, or instead of her hair. She was part of a costume party (Raggedy Ann) in Harwood Court in January of 1974. It was loud and raucous in the front hall. She was behind the front desk, handling the switchboard for a resident assistant who needed a short break. He was a transfer student from New York trying to check in to his new dormitory, and none too happy about the whole thing. He had hoped to live off campus but that fell through. Sally James looked up from her chair into the big brown eyes of Richard Apfel. He was carrying a guitar, and somehow that became the beginning of a friendship, romance, marriage and parenthood. (Their eldest daughter, Amelia, is almost old enough to come to Pomona.) Pomona's administration figured heavily into the building friendship because of a crisis the following September. A dorm remodeling was not finished on time, and the college begged students with rooms to let others temporarily share them. Sally and her junior friend, Suzanne Terada, allowed Richard and a friend, Salvador R. Perez, to share their Clark I double.

Pomona memories include taking the cheapest vacations possible by renting Pitt Ranch, the botany-zoology preserve, for $2 per night, and sleeping through the sound of wood rats frolicking in the ceiling; Playing in a folk band at the Smudge Pot and around Claremont; Driving the Glendora Ridge Road for miles; Hiking around on Mt. Baldy; and driving around Baja in a Fiat 128 and waking to visits from wild pigs.

Antoinette Picon Hewitt ’92 & Paul Hewitt ’94 (Pitzer)

Does a Pomona-Pitzer pairing count?

I was the statistician/scorekeeper for the Pomona-Pitzer men's basketball team during all four years at Pomona from 1988 to 1992. In the fall of 1990, I spied a cute freshman recruit from Pitzer named Paul Hewitt. The details are embarrassing, even 12 years later, but let's just say I enlisted my roommates to help meet him. We hit it off and didn't leave each other's side during my remaining two years. Luckily, I got to travel with the team to all the games so we had that extra connection. Later, I went away to law school but we made it work even long distance and I would never miss the big PP/CMS games.

Paul graduated from Pitzer in 1994. We were married in 1998 in Little Bridges and will celebrate our 5 year anniversary in January. Paul and I still go back for the alumni game every December.

Robert W. (Bill) Maule '52 & Sue Merrick Maule ’54

Was it dedication? Or just serendipity? Whatever it was, it led to a relationship of a lifetime.

For my first three years at Pomona I had taken Band as a credit course. As a Senior, however, I thought I had better things to do. I decided just to audit Band, so I could come and go as I wished. But I wanted to show up whenever possible. After all, Band had all of 20 or so stalwart musicians who had to stretch even to spell a simple "P" on the football field. Thus, it was dedication that led me to attend the second Band rehearsal in October 1951.

In the meantime, Freshman Sue Merrick by chance met one of my fellow clarinetists - Glen Sauls, I think. He urged Sue to join the Band. Sue turned up her pretty nose, saying that she was a serious musician who played in orchestras, not lowly bands. But Glen persisted, stressing how badly the Band needed flautists like her. So, Sue reluctantly signed up, and family history was about to be made.

When I straggled into my seat on Little Bridges' stage a few minutes late on that fateful day, I turned to a neighbor and asked, "Any cute new Freshmen girls?" My attention was directed to the trombone section and the flute section. The blond flautist seemed a worthy candidate. I pretended great difficulty with a key on my clarinet, walked over to Sue, and asked to borrow the tiny screwdriver that is a part of flute cleaning rods. She complied and I faked minute adjustments to the clarinet, returning the screwdriver with thanks.

Sue always insisted that she did not remember that fateful incident, but she does recall being my "date" on the Band bus to a football game at Redlands. Soon we were a "twosome." After we survived together that infamous 1952 Botany camping/field trip with Dr. Ed "Jonsie" Phillips to Michigan and back, Sue decided we could cope with anything together and agreed to become my wife, which she did in December of 1954.
Last year, thanks to the assistance of the Registrar's Office, I determined the exact date of that second rehearsal in 1951. I surprised Sue with a cake to honor those 50 years, and presented one item -- a gift-wrapped flute-cleaning rod!

I had the great pleasure of knowing Sue as fellow student, fiancee, wife, Foreign Service helpmate, and best friend for over 50 years. And what a marvelous half-century it was with many adventures during nine foreign postings! It ended only this past August 4 with Sue's surrender to pancreatic cancer. But I shall always be thankful that the stage of Little Bridges presented Sue to me, that new director Bill Russell did not object to my walk to the flute section, and especially for the 50 years that Sue and I shared.

John Tarr '73 & Kathy Morrill Tarr '73

The details of our initial meeting are lost in the mist of history, but Kathy is sure we met at the beginning--the Orientation Square Dance. Frequent encounters in Chem 1 lab and elsewhere cemented a friendship that led to our decision to be physics lab partners as sophomores. Somehow, friendship grew into love during that ordeal (which included a harrowing incident with a 1,100-volt hydrogen lamp); compared to physics lab, it seemed, marriage would be a snap! As John and Kathy pursued studies in biochemistry and zoology, respectively, we shared more classes, study time, botany and zoology field trips, and long walks and bicycle rides. We also shared a passion for music; Kathy introduced choral music into John's life, and we are still busy choristers today. Our engagement began near the end of sophomore year and we were married in Little Bridges on June 8, 1973, two days before graduation.



What was your favorite spot for a weekend get-away when you were a Pomona student?

Each generation of Pomona student had their own weekend haunts. Some found their way into Los Angeles on the trolley, others trekked up to Mt. San Antonio (Mt. Baldy, to some), and today, students find the time in one day to hit the waves and the slopes for “Ski-Beach Day” each year. Where did you go, and what happened there?

Send submissions by Jan. 31, 2003, to: Sarah Dolinar; ATTN: Parlor Talk; Pomona College; 550 N. College Ave.; Claremont, CA 91711, or by e-mail to: sarah.dolinar@pomona.edu. Please include your name, class, address and phone number. Responses will be selected based on content and will be edited as necessary for publication.