• Best Buddies and Long Lines: Diary of a Reunion Chair

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006
    News Type

Four years at Dartmouth, four years of medical school, eight years of surgical training, and a practice that has included a lot of trauma have prepared me to be Reunion chair. Here's the inside story of the Class of 1981 Reunion, June 14 - 18, 2006.

Rick Silverman ‘81

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

2:30 pm
Arrived in Hanover. Driving out from Boston, I reflected that chairing a college Reunion must be like having a baby: the challenges and struggles and screaming are forgotten, and only the joy afterward is remembered, such that one might consider chairing a future Reunion. Such was the case for me. Having chaired the 15th Reunion of the Class of 1981 in 1996, I again rose to the occasion to chair our 25th.

What was I thinking?

Planning began nearly two years ago. We hoped for big numbers, maybe even enough people to show up the Class of 1980, who seem to do everything bigger and better than everyone else. But attendance might be a problem. Twenty-five years out, many of us are in the thick of our professional and personal lives, and the lives of our children. Or maybe we're in the throes of a midlife crisis. After all, who wants to show up in Hanover, balding with a belly, and no wedding band in sight, driving an '87 Chevy Impala with 200,000 miles on it?

But my hopes were high.

3 pm
First stop was Blunt Alumni Center, where David Orr, Reunion director in the Dartmouth Office of Alumni Relations, set up Reunion HQ in Zimmerman Lounge. Met George Alexakos '81, our Reunion treasurer, and we headed down to the storage room in the basement to see what we had to do to get our class souvenirs organized before registration.

There they were: boxes on top of boxes of “swag” for our returning classmates—backpacks, blankets, bears, balls, t-shirts, and other stuff.

After a moment's reflection on the enormity of the task, George and I decided it was time to meet our student Reunion workers. We headed over to Brace Commons, our class headquarters, to meet the five students we'd hired to help make the Class of 1981 Reunion a success.

We divvied up the tasks: George and a few student workers would start bringing the boxes to Brace in George's vehicle, while Fernando Ausin '06, our head student worker, and I went to get a rental van.

After sending Fernando back to campus with the van, I went out to Systems Plus Computers on Centerra Parkway to pick up my laptop, which I'd dropped off in the morning. At 5 am, while I was answering a few dozen Reunion-related emails, the hinge had popped out, potentially crippling my ability to handle the continued onslaught of requests from classmates making last-minute plans to attend.

5:48 pm
We began sorting and packing of Reunion souvenir backpacks and registration materials in Brace Commons. Lynne Gaudet '81 arrived to help, thank goodness! She's a classmate who works in Alumni Relations and planned the food and much of the entertainment for our Reunion.

7:26 pm
Still sorting and packing.

9:04 pm
Pizza break! Did you know you can order pizza online from EBAs? Very cool.

11:16 pm
Still sorting and packing.

12:22 am
Let me tell you about the organization of the name tags. Or should I say the lack thereof. I'm not sure if the tags were printed in rows and collated in columns, or printed in columns and collated in rows. We may never know, but needless to say, this disorganization created hours of extra work for our diligent student workers. Imagine, they reordered 600 nametags to put husbands with wives, boyfriends with girlfriends, children with parents. This is no easy task in our modern era of spouses with different surnames, children with surnames different from their parents', etc. Complete madness. Well, live and learn. And tell the '82s.

We finished stuffing the last of 300 backpacks with Reunion books, blankets, and other swag, and piled them in our designated storage room off Brace Commons. George suggested that we also move all the t-shirts and other “valuables” that weren't put into the backpacks into the tiny storeroom, for fear items would go missing before morning if we left them in the lounge. I was skeptical, this being Hanover and all, but I did as told, and somehow we managed to squeeze more stuff and all of our now packed, labeled, and alphabetized registration materials into the tiny storeroom and close the door. A few things we hoarded into one spot in the large common area and covered with tablecloths.

1:30 am
Lynne said goodnight and headed out, promising to help in the morning.

2:37 am
The student workers left. George and I had a few moments of sharing fond remembrance of the events of the day, which had started before 6:30 am. The day had been remarkable, we agreed.

But never again!