A periodic column
by Steve Duffy ‘77
September 10, 2011 – Jim Croce once sang about wanting to keep time in a bottle. I know how he feels. It has been rumored that time seems to go faster as one gets older. It seems very true; the past four years of the revival effort also seem to have flown by! So I guess this summer will soon be filed away with about forty or so other Yellow Springs’ summers in this Buffalo’s memory bank.
It doesn’t even seem so long ago that I attended my first summer evening performance in 1967, at what is now named the Miles “Budd” Goodman Amphitheater. Back then, Budd was just my roommate in Birch, and the theater then was simply called the Antioch Area Amphitheatre. The Antioch Area Theatre, I hope we all know, was about the first and most widely known area theater in southwest Ohio. Budd loved writing and the performing arts, and eventually became famous as he worked on movies such as La Bamba and Little Shop of Horrors. Unfortunately, Budd died way too young. It was hard to see someone I had also thought of as always 18 pass away.
My first experience at that Antioch Amphitheater, however, was a most unsettling for a prudish Irish Catholic New Yorker like myself. The play was Moliere’s Tartuffe. Now, lest you think I was an uncultured Buffalo, I had gone frequently during my high school years to Broadway matinees and Central Park’s New York Shakespeare Festival, so seeing that amphitheater made it feel like a piece of New York City had dropped onto the corn-covered, rolling hills of southwest Ohio. I settled in. Suddenly in front of me was a woman started breast feeding while she was sitting and watching the play. I was terribly mortified and thusly missed many of the lines of that play. I could not believe what I was seeing—in the audience , not on the stage. Oh the wonders of college! What would one be exposed to next?
The next thing that surprised me were the Friday night parties. They were, shockingly, given the title of “ASS” parties. It was soon revealed to be only a playful acronym for “Antioch Soul Sounds.” Since it was the Sixties, it was full of the music of James Brown, Otis Redding, the Temptations, plus lots of cigarettes and people imbibing “Tab” (the newest of 0-zero calories soda-pop in glass bottles). The radio station WYSO was upstairs in the Student Union, and in WYSO’s glass production booth sat the DJ, Odell Owens ’71. Odell always wore his trademark cranberry-crimson beret and played the best and the latest 45s. I believe it was also a midnight simulcast. The sounds and the room were as hot as July. Odell went on to be a famous doctor who worked with women’s fertility problems; he then was the coroner for Hamilton County. So he covered everything from cradle to grave. He is now the President of Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.
I guess about thirty some summers later, thanks to Antioch College and getting older, some of my Irish Catholic prudery has seen a slight moderation. During the late nineties, when the College had the summer block program, we would we have a short break between academic sessions and the Olive Kettering Library's hours would revert to closing at 4:00 p.m. instead of the normal 11:00 p.m. On a particular late summer day, a sudden summer thunderstorm furiously rolled in just as the library was closing at 4:00 p.m. You could hardly see South Hall, or even the tall pines from the library porch, through the torrent of rain. We all waited under the awning impatiently as the rain came down in sheets. Suddenly, a young woman who was sans umbrella told the rest of us, “Well, I have things to do and I am wearing my favorite shirt and don’t want to get it wet.” Before we knew it, she made a mad dash in the rain with her shirt safely tucked in her jeans. She went running topless through that curtain of rain and quickly disappeared into the pines between South and McGregor. So you see, thirty years later, my mortification had mellowed to amusement.
Now, of course, with students on their way, there are indeed wonders happening. A ladder here, an HVAC truck there. A new farm on the golf course. In the library today, people with tape-measures. Ah….seems like the Olive Kettering Library will get some love soon and some new “young” faces will walk in the doors. Even now, people from every decade have stopped by during their summer travels. This week saw the appearances of Evan Hall ’05, Phillip Brigham ’97 and Will Roberts ’74. I hope the new faces will find a good “comfort” zone and get exposed to all the wonders in life, just as we all did.
Steve Duffy ‘77 is a library circulation specialist and special assistant to alumni relations at Antioch College.