ONE DAY LAST WINTER MY DAUGHTER texted me, “Check out this cool website! Is this where Grandpa worked?” I followed the link to pictures of the abandoned rug mill in Amsterdam, N.Y., where my father ran the boiler for more than a quarter century, and scrolled through photo after photo of the ruins. There were the stairs my father climbed on his way to work. Here was the control panel, now rusted, that regulated the mighty boilers. A photo hangs in my living room of my father standing in front of the same dials. My father died seven years before Katie was born, but now she — and I — could share his world in a way never before possible. I recognized the photographer’s name: Rob Yasinsac ’99 was one of our “40 Under 40” alumni from the Summer 2005 issue. The next morning I excitedly showed the website to Associate Editor Shane Liebler. Within moments he found photos of the East Town Theater in Detroit, where his father heard the J. Geils Band and saw Emerson, Lake and Palmer play their U. S. debut for $2 on “new band night.” We knew we had to share Yasinsac’s photos with all 77,000 Oswego alumni through the magazine. Only a handful of the images could be printed in these pages, but you can visit Rob’s website, www.hudsonvalleyruins.org, for a look at the lost factories, churches, theaters and homes of a bygone America. Maybe you’ll see a memory from your own past!
Most days, when I’m pounding the keyboard to write a story or poring over proofs, red pen in hand, I stop to think how fortunate I am. I have been able to build a career around my passion for the written word. So when I looked at this issue’s feature stories, I was naturally struck by the art alumni feature.
Although the magazine comes out in August, I am writing this column in June, right after Reunion Weekend. More than 800 alumni returned to campus for four days packed with good food, great friends and memories galore. The days are long — I’d be fibbing if I said my feet didn’t hurt! But what we — your alumni staff — take away from that weekend is a renewal and re-energizing of our passion for our profession.
When I was in third grade, I started a newspaper at our elementary school, writing and editing and getting someone in the office to run it off on mimeo (photo-copying was still rare!). I drew cartoons featuring two little elephants (who talked, of course!) and drew them, not only in the newspaper but on every chalkboard I could, sometimes getting into more than a bit of trouble. I wrote plays about holidays and historical figures and recruited classmates to act in them. In short, from the age of about 10, I knew I would be a writer, a storyteller. So when Peggy La Tulip Focarino ’77, America’s first female commissioner of patents, told me that in fifth grade, she had asked her parents for a telescope, I knew just what she meant.
It was my first issue as editor of Oswego alumni magazine. Excited to be starting a new adventure, I had scheduled a meeting with my boss to discuss the story list at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 11, 2001. You’ll never read those stories. Because as soon as we heard about the first plane flying into the North Tower of the World Trade Center and turned on the TV in King Alumni Hall to see the second plane crash into the South Tower at 9:03 a.m., we threw that list away and started on a magazine about Oswego alumni and the 9/11 attacks. We called our feature “New American Heroes,” and over the weeks we would work on it, we came to know what courage, fortitude and heroism really meant. We would learn the names of the lost, too — a dozen souls who walked the same campus pathways as we did, sat in the same classrooms and called Oswego their alma mater, before being cut down by terrorists’ hate. In this issue, we revisit many of those we covered in that magazine, and also hear from current students and faculty reflecting on the tragedy. It may be a cliché, but everyone remembers where they were when they heard the news. I just feel honored that I was in King Alumni Hall to be able to tell the story — with pride — of Oswego’s alumni heroes.
Revisit the Fall/Winter 2001 issue at oswego.edu/magazine.
This issue is our love song to Oswego on her 150th birthday. Of course, we know there are far more than 150 things to love about the college Edward Austin Sheldon founded a century and a half ago.
Oswego may be celebrating its 150th birthday this year, but ever since Edward Austin Sheldon pioneered new teaching methods, we try to stay on the cutting edge of things. And the same is true for your Oswego alumni magazine. So in this issue, we are proud to announce two innovations. On page 48, read about our new, enhanced magazine website. You’ll be able to access all our content in a clean, easy-to-read format, or if you prefer the traditional look of the magazine, you’ll be able to virtually “turn the pages” with our interactive pdf. We’ll have added content like multimedia and links for every issue, too. On page 48 and the inside covers of this issue, you will see a square-shaped bar code. This is a QR, or Quick Response, code. If you have a smartphone and the proper app, you can use it to take you directly to Web pages for Reunion, the magazine or giving. As we celebrate our Sesquicentennial, we are proud to honor our heritage, but we are also excited about all the new, interesting ways we can serve our alumni better. We like to think Sheldon would be proud!
Michele A. Reed, Oswego editor