PULLMAN, Wash. — Golden and diamond graduates of the Washington State University College of Liberal Arts are meeting on the Pullman campus this week to relive memories of their college days.
“Golden and diamond grads have a wonderful energizing effect on this campus when they return,” said Barbara Couture, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “It is an event we look forward to all year. They leave us a first-hand sense of WSU’s history.”
Golden graduates are those who graduated from WSU (then Washington State College) in 1954. Diamond graduates received their diplomas in 1944.
“It’s apparent in corresponding with the golden and diamond grads these past couple of years that history created differences in the memories of their time on campus,” said Kay Glaser, development coordinator for the college. “Alumni who were students in the early ‘40s generally share memories of war. Our letters to the alumni have a sentence which begins with ‘I remember when…,’ and the individuals complete the thought. Many in the Diamond group mention the war.”
Elwood Shemwell is a case in point. “I remember when a touch football game at Phi Sigma Kappa house was interrupted with a radio report of the attack on Pearl Harbor,” Shemwell wrote on his diamond grad response form.
Shemwell spent 30 years of active duty as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, including service in France and Germany in World War II.
“I remember when I was on the Cougar special train returning after the football game with Texas A&M at the Stadium Bowl in Tacoma,” said John Carver in his letter to the reunion organizers. “Early December 7th someone came through the train announcing the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.”
Many other memories are shared at the golden and diamond grad reunions.
Jennie Thomas (now Harold) recalls taking a place in WSC history. “I remember a very exciting event that took place 1943-44 when I was elected the first woman president of the student body with the very capable help of friends in the Independent Party,” she said.
Joan Littell (Strafford) also remembers an historical event at WSC. “I remember,” said Strafford, “my first snowfall in 1952 – after living all my life in southern California. I had to run out in it even though I was told I wouldn’t be so excited in April when it was still snowing!”
Virginia Kostenbader (Wagner) also recalls the weather. “It was very cold when we returned to school in January, way below zero for a couple of weeks. There were strict dress codes. We girls didn’t wear slacks to class,” she said. “Dean Holmes took pity on us and let us wear ski pants with stirrups for warmth. How times have changed!”
Patricia Krause (McGlashan) also remembers not being allowed to wear slacks unless there was a snowstorm. “… or shorts,” she said, “unless we carried a tennis racket. But most of all, I remember the great instructors!”
“I remember when the students all arrived on campus via the train…nobody had cars,” said Ruth Hillier (Tylczak).
Milt Schwenk has a distinctly competitive memory. “I remember when we beat the Huskies 2 of 3 times while I was playing in 1951 and 1953,” he said.
David Lowery’s memory brings history full circle for the group and reminds people that a sense of humor is timeless. “I remember when I was in college,” Lowery said, “the Golden Grads who visited from the classes of 1901-1904 were ‘really old’ folks. I‘m sure glad that has changed.”
More than 150 golden and diamond graduates universitywide have registered for reunion events, including college luncheons tomorrow (April 21) and a reception at the Lewis Alumni Centre that evening. A bus tour of the campus and a veteran’s memorial presentation are planned Thursday (April 22).