Well, I just got back from my 45th college reunion at Hampton (Institute) University. It was, in a word – amazing! It was great seeing everyone, giving each other hugs and trying to remember faces as we looked down at the lanyard on their neck to glimpse their freshman face & remember who this is. (I know, grammatically incorrect.) Fortunately, the 1st names were large enough so I could see them and figure it out.
I have only missed, maybe, 1 reunion. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Last reunion we had many first-timers or 40-year-old virgins, as we called them. You see, Hampton was our home by the sea for four years and for many of us who were part of the summer program (SPUR), it truly was our home away from home.
Our Home By the Sea
Our freshmen year, we all sang on Ogden steps until we got tired of that activity and quit before the week was up. We further refused to wear the beanie and take the freshman exam. Of course, Hampton did the usual thing to remind us why we were there. Later, while we were seated in a large auditorium, an administrator said, “Look to your left, look to your right, 4 years from now, one of you or maybe two of you won’t be there”. Yeah, it scared us! 😱
At the reunion, we did the usual celebratory things – a meet and greet upon arrival Friday. This was when we looked at our reunion activities schedule again, talked, laughed and hugged relentlessly.
We are the Original Ogre class! To know us is to love our spirit! We are humbled by the honor of more than 15 classes sharing our name. Here’s the history of our beginning, name and legacy – Ogre Phi Ogre.
Some of our past reunion themes gave a nod to our nativity in college – “I want to thank you for letting me be myself again”, “Who knew” and “If I had known then what I know now”. Yep, that’s who we are!
A Slight, maybe
In the year 2000, Hampton didn’t really want the Ogre name to continue (my thoughts) so they encouraged that year’s class Not to Adopt the Ogre Name. In answer to that slight, we created an Ogre Endowed Scholarship Fund, so it will last forever or as they say “in perpetuity”.
Saturday we had our class meeting, took more pictures, went on campus to “sign THE Official Class Reunion Book” with the other classes and took part in the alumni bazaar and picnic. (If you don’t sign it, you weren’t there.)
While at the picnic, we noticed the class reunion just before ours (1968) since we return in 5 year increments. They were the Golden Class or as their shirts announced, The Centennial Class, those who graduated 50 years ago when Hampton celebrated their 100th year as a University.
Most of these alumni were in great shape while some health challenges could be observed as they moved to the steps of the waterfront cafeteria to take their official class picture. As we watched, we knew this would be us in five years. I wondered what changes time would bring for us individually and collectively?
Maybe because of our reunion activities, I think many of us are planning to attend at least one homecoming before the next reunion. We need to see each other during those years between the reunion years, so we can recapture some of that loving feeling.
Yes, we all are aging. But, don’t get me wrong, we still have much to offer and we continue to be alert and active!
Getting it Together
Maybe because of this the reunion committee asked us to learn 4 new line dances. We had fun practicing and challenging each other even before we arrived at Hampton. We had one warm up practice on Friday that showed we knew what we were doing. (We love a challenge!) Anyway, you know it was on & poppin’ as we performed the line dances at our Saturday night All-White Soul Train Dance Party complete with a Soul Train Scramble Board!🎉💗
Probably the most poignant of our activities was the Sunday morning service. 🙏🏽 It lasted only an hour and the worship team was led by Renee Hill Carter. The sermonettes were led by Pam Palmer Cooper (who has written two books on prayer) and five clergy classmates delivered brief powerful messages!
We had a memorial recognition during that service. Now, I don’t know if we felt a sense of our own mortality or maybe it was the seeing the photos of the 50+ classmates who have passed since we began attending Hampton University or maybe it was remembering how we were during our years at Hampton? We were all about education, energy, enthusiasm and rebellion then and now here we are. And truly, much of that same fervor remains!
The Original O.G.s
I mean, we are the Original Ogres. We are the ones who took over the A-building, demanding among other things that we have an African-Americans on the Board of Trustees. We demanded women have the right to visit the men’s dorm (I still don’t understand why that began on Parent’s Weekend). And, yes, Virginia, we were the ones, like I said, who established the Ogre Phi Ogre Endowed Scholarship to help future Ogres.
I’m not sure I can even convey the bond we feel because we attended Hampton (Institute) University. We closed out our weekend activities Sunday morning, holding hands and singing our Alma Mater. I noticed as we hugged each other that we held each other a little tighter and a little longer than normal – maybe because we don’t know when we’ll see each other again.
All I know is I love my Ogre classmates not only because of who we (naively & bodaciously) were, but who we marvelously became individually and who we miraculously are collectively!
“…Oh Hampton, we never can make thee a song, except as our lives do the singing. In service that will thy great spirit prolong and send it through centuries ringing!” Hampton University Alma Mater.
P.S. We exceeded Hampton’s giving goal of $90,000 for our class. We raised $126,000+. Yep, we continue to exceed the expectations of others.