’ 58, whose husband, Jim Short ’ 57, hadn’t
attended a single reunion until, after he’d
missed his 25th, a friend called him.
“He said, ‘Not only did you miss a good
time, but you were missed,’” Short said. “I
haven’t missed one since. Everyone who
doesn’t come is missed.”
‘It Was Where Everyone Met’
After a middle-of-the-night hail storm,
Saturday laid out the clearest Carolina blue
sky imaginable. Alumni entered the recently renovated Campus Y building as sunshine streamed through the double-height
arched windows and puddled on heartpine
floors that had lain hidden under linoleum
tile for years. The visitors nibbled pastries
and sipped cold drinks, socializing as they
did decades before when the Y court was
where everybody gathered.
Bitty Schaeffer Holton ’ 53 recalled a soda
fountain being just inside the entrance.
“Outside was like the Pit is now,” she said.
“It was where everyone met. We’d sit on
the South Building steps. It was the hub of
Her husband, Bill Holton ’ 52, remembered impromptu buck dancing, similar to
square dancing, at the Y. Ken Carter ’ 68
bought his first slide rule there as a freshman, launching his career in pharmacy.
Larry Hartsell ’ 58 recalled stopping by
for a soda when he had the money. He
paid his way through college as one of the
first student waiters at The Carolina Inn,
where he could eat free when he worked.
“I’d meet friends at the Y; it was always
crowded,” he said. “The student union was
more like a library. People would go there
to study. The Y was a place to meet friends.
There was a lot of flirting going on out in
The Y was also the place to plan humanitarian service trips. Religious studies major
Phyllis Krafft-Sherlock ’ 58 of Palo Alto,
Calif., told of many a dinner she and others
shared at the home of longtime Y director
Anne Queen, planning service trips around
the world. Reflecting on her return to
Carolina for the reunion, Sherlock said:
“The beauty of this place still knocks my
socks off. The Y was not this beautiful 50
years ago, but it was very high energy.”
white Navy dress uniforms and silky pale
blue gowns alike waiting their turn for a
photo op. Over at Graham Memorial, nearly
half of the original “Suicide 25” readied for
lunch. The group of 13 N.C. public school
graduates and 12 out-of-staters entering as
freshmen in fall 1954 constituted Carolina’s
first honors program. The men (most women
weren’t then admitted to Carolina until their
junior year) took advanced English, math,
history and philosophy courses taught by
department chairs and senior professors, said
John Raper Jr. ’ 58, one of the select group.
The name came from the academic
pressure on the stellar students, said John
Zollicoffer ’ 58. “We got graded quasi on
the curve,” he said. “People who normally
would have gotten all A’s in regular courses
were not getting all A’s by a long shot in
this group. The competition was wonderful
but intense. You were working with people
who were high contributors, deep thinkers
and deep readers.”
His roommate, Jim Kimzey ’ 58, remembered that as freshmen they roomed with a
senior in Old East who “saw these two
young freshmen come in and thought he
was going to straighten us out,” Kimzey
said. “By the time we got through studying,
we about ran him out. He couldn’t believe
how hard we worked.”
Carl Britt ’ 58 was impressed with their
professors, especially when Professor Ed
Cameron ’ 28, explaining the rate at which
objects fall, did a vertical jump up onto the
table. “His blue eyes were flashing,” Britt
said. “There we were trying to scramble to
get everything in our notes, and I thought,
‘That guy must have been a great high
jumper when he was young.’
“In Dr. [William] Wells’ English class, we
probably wrote more themes than most
guys did their entire college experience.
Another guy and I were both interested in
medicine. We commented that we’d never
have to write a theme again after we left
Dr. Wells’ class. That was pretty much true.
But it was a great experience.”
SARAH MCCART Y ARNESON ’ 96
Margareta Ortenblad Thompson ’ 58, with four Carolina degrees
to her name, finally got to participate in a Commencement procession on Sunday with other members of her class.
‘Deep Thinkers and Deep Readers’
By lunchtime Saturday, soon-to-be grads
congregated near the Old Well, starched,
‘It Really Makes an Impression’
A bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees
and a doctorate of her own, a husband with
two Carolina degrees and a son with another — yet Margareta Ortenblad Thompson
’ 58 never made it to a Commencement.
Life always got in the way. She was either
having a baby (at the student infirmary,
where the total bill was $5 in 1958) or
lived too far away or had a child in a soccer
game to cheer for at the same time.
Marching in the procession for her 50th
class reunion seemed like her last chance.
Then her husband got sick.
She spent the weekend by his bedside at
UNC Hospitals as he recovered. By Sunday
morning, he was no longer in critical condition.
“Here it was, just a stone’s throw away,”
Thompson said of the ceremony in Kenan
Stadium. “The timing was terrible, but I
thought, what the heck. I’ll give it a shot,
and see if I can make it.”
It was just beginning to sprinkle rain
when she and her classmates strode into the
stadium. “We had gowns but no caps,” she
said. “I thought that was on purpose. All of
us have gray hair, or no hair at all. It really
makes an impression.
“We just lined up in a row and marched
around and received the adoration of the
crowd. We waved like the conquering hero.
The stadium was pretty much empty, but
whoever was there was making noise.”
The ceremony was cut short by the rain,
which worked out well for Thompson,
who was able to “sneak out for an hour
and do my thing and run back.”
“I was excited,” she said. Her husband
was home recuperating, pleased that his
wife finally made it to Commencement. ■
— Nancy Oates
ONLINE: For more photos and videos from
reunion weekend, and for information on
upcoming reunions, visit alumni.unc.edu/reunions.