Letter to the Class of 1978

Dear Class of 1978 Alumnus:

On June 6, 7, and 8, the Class of ‘78 will celebrate its 25th Reunion at Swarthmore College.

Last summer, I was back on campus for a Swarthmore Reunion. Not my own – I was there to meet friends of my late mother, Marie de Kiewiet Hemphill ’52, at their 50th reunion. I spent several very pleasant hours speaking with her friends and looking at pictures of my mother as a mere slip of a lass. I was struck by how important their years at Swarthmore remained to this group, a half-century later.

I also stopped to visit with some friends from the Class of ‘77, back for their 25th Reunion. I had a slightly different thought there. At our last big Reunion (our 20th, in 1998) we were mostly in our early forties. Some of us looked remarkably unchanged. At five years older, the same could not be said for any member of the Class of ’77. All of those guys (who are now, and will remain, older than us guys) looked middle-aged. Some good middle-aged (think Hillary Clinton after plastic surgery), some not-so-good middle-aged (think Hillary pre-surgery, or Dick Cheney on a bad-jowl day).

For members of our class, our relationship with Swarthmore College might be described as “complex”, perhaps especially so for some of us given recent changes in the athletic program. I suspect many of you share my memories of my Swarthmore years as intense and meaningful, an experience that both shaped and changed me (though perhaps not in precisely the way my professors intended).

Swarthmore College is a unique and special place, and it is reliably lovely in early June. The walk up Parrish Walk from the train station is just as we remember it, the top of Clothier Tower remains the highest spot in Delaware County, and Alligator Rock maintains its vigil over the Crum.

I hope you will make every effort to join me on campus on June 6 to 8. We have some fun events planned. We hope to awaken some nostalgia with a Friday night pizza-and-wine tasting (a generation later, the eternal Pinocchio’s vs. Apollo’s debate remains unresolved), one or two interesting panels (we are working on Swarthmore on the Screen: Alums in Television & Film and What Did You Do in the Bubble, Daddy? The Nasdaq at 5,000 Three Years Later). On Saturday night, we’ll have a catered dinner with cocktails, beer, and wine, and either a live band or a recorded dance tape of 70s favorites.

We are perhaps halfway through our post-Swarthmore lives. Let’s take a halftime break together, check the scoreboard, and catch up. I look forward to hoisting a slice of Apollo’s with you soon, and remain

Your obedient servant,

Jim Hemphill ‘78
Reunion Chair