Be Mine

January 8th, 2009

We asked for them, and you sent them: your stories of how you fell in love at Brown. Whether by falling off a balcony or marching in the band to form a body part, you somehow managed to come together and, more remarkably, to stay together. What is it about Brown? Even back in the early twentieth century, about twenty-five percent of the marriages in any given class were between a Brunonian and a Pembroker. Could it be the dining-hall aromas? The large number of secluded, hidden areas in the libraries that can serve as make-out spots? Who knows? All we do know is that somehow amid all the studying, emotional turmoil, and fretting about the future, love often prevails.


Joe MacDougald '87 + Lisa Cohen '87

On a dark night in my first full week of freshman year, I, Joe, showed up at field practice as a member of the marching band. Not knowing what to expect, I harbored vague concerns about learning marching drills. Instead the modestly organized chaos of the Brown band exploded in front of me as I drew near the field. The on-field "formations" we practiced consisted of anatomical representations of questionable taste and unlikely proportion—all created while playing Sousa marches, school songs, or show tunes.

I lined up on the field with the other freshmen waiting to charge. Finally, someone shouted, "Go!" Saxophone in hand, I ran full steam toward the middle of the field, but never particularly coordinated, I bumped into and tripped the short, spunky, curly-haired saxophonist in front of me. She hurled forward, tumbling toward the ground. However, instead of the expected thud-crunch, she remarkably tucked herself into a ball and sprung back up from the ground, having performed a flawless judo roll while still playing her alto sax. And that's how I met my wife.


Bill Lukewich '77 + Nancy Lewis '77

My wife and I met in September 1973 while Nancy was playing Ping-Pong in her dorm. When I arrived I heard about this female who was beating everybody. Being the jock I was, I immediately challenged her to a game that eventually became nine games. I think I did get a couple of points in one of the games. I introduced her to some of my hockey teammates—two of whom she later dated—and told her she was more like a "sister" to me and that we could therefore never go out. It was probably not the best pick-up move I ever made, but a few months later we started seeing each other.

On Halloween one year, she and my roommate hid on the stairs, and as I walked up, they grabbed my legs in the darkness. It totally flipped me out and I started kicking, which of course enabled Nancy to do her patented somersaults down the carpeted stairs. (She shows our children that move on occasion now too.)

Later that night we went out to the second-floor balcony for a beer. I faked trying to tackle her over the bannister she was leaning on, but I tripped and the two of us somersaulted down onto the plastic garbage cans with me landing on top of her. People were screaming that we were dead, but what they heard from us instead was wild laughter.

We've known each other for thirty-five years, been married for thirty.


Sam Manhanga '07 + Bridget Stokes '04

I first saw Sam when my roommates and I were staring out the window of our apartment on a lazy senior-year afternoon. Sam, who was on the basketball team, walked by with some of his teammates, and my interest was piqued. As fate would have it I later saw him again at a party and decided to find out more about him. In this day and age, that means I jumped on and typed in his name. I found out that he was from Mozambique and that he spoke six languages.

Well, I happened to see him again a couple of weeks later at a party. I wasn't sure if he remembered me, but I positioned myself in his line of sight. One of his friends came over to say hello, but Sam interrupted our conversation to ask me to dance.

Because he was a freshman and I was a senior, we both just thought we would date casually. We even ended the relationship at some point, thinking it could never work after I graduated and Sam stayed in school. But we ended up back together with the rationale that we were still happy together and we should let nature run its course.

Well, what do you know, we've stayed together ever since.


Howie Wenzel '53 + Anne Barr '54

(as told by Howie) Anne and Howie met at Brown. However, Howard had difficulty arranging a date with Anne, who complained that Howie always called up for a date at the last minute and Anne was already booked. Later in her junior year Anne was going steady with another Brown student. In any event, the best Howie could do was take Anne to church at the Central Congregational Church.

After graduating from Brown, Howie returned one weekend to Providence and saw Anne dancing with a young man who was not the person with whom Anne was previously going steady. Howie saw an opportunity and immediately asked Anne out.

On another date, Anne and Howie bought takeout from the Spaghetti Place restaurant in downtown Providence and went out to the boathouse of the Narragansett Boat Club. As a cocaptain of the rowing team the previous year, Howie still had a key to the boathouse. It was over that informal meal of spaghetti at the Narraganset Boat Club in November 1953 that Howie proposed to Anne. She accepted, and the rest we can say is fifty-five years of successful marriage.


Arthur Perlman '80 + Claire Gutekunst '80

It was holiday time, 1979, and Claire and I were ignoring our studies to "elf" a randomly assigned dorm mate, which meant leaving presents and a few clues as to our identity. For my final gift, I was creating an elf out of chicken wire and papier-mâché. Claire, too, was busy with her elfing, and to pass the time we began working together in my room. My room was peculiarly comfy at the time, with mattresses completely covering the floor; my friends, Claire included, had recently turned it into a bordello. I returned home from a marching-band trip to find my floor transformed into one large bed. Fine with me; I left it that way.

Claire and I chatted and made puns as I layered papier-mâché onto the wire frame of the elf's head. "Fred the Head," I called it. That fall of senior year Claire and I had grown to know and like each other and now we grew to more than like each other. It was Fred the Elf who brought us together.

Fred is now in the attic of Claire's parents' house, his green Brown sweatshirt gathering dust. We simply could not throw him away. After we were married, a friend sewed a Fred ornament for us and every year it takes his place at the top of our Christmas tree. Fred the Elf, our matchmaker.


Rob Angell '78 + Paula Condaxis '78

Though we lived on the same hallway in Wriston Quad during our sophomore year in 1975, separated by only a fire door, we did not meet until October. It happened on the fourth floor of the Rock. The carrels were the usual study spot for Paula. Rob and his roommate, Dick Dresdale, were making a rare appearance, studying for midterms. We three happened to exit the men's and ladies' rooms at the same time. Dick knew Paula from freshman year at West Quad and introduced us at the water fountain.

As a result of the merger, Rob's GPA went up, and Paula's went down. We've been married for twenty-four years, have two teenagers and a greyhound, and are still going strong.


Adam Mangana '04 + Sophy Hernandez '02, '07 MD

"I have a younger sister about your age," I said to the eager young eyes staring at me. Adam, who had come to Brown for his visit as a senior in high school, was getting his first taste of a dark and loud Arnold Lounge party. My sister also happened to be visiting at the same time. He didn't seem very excited about her, and my sister, as usual, turned her nose up at him. "If only I was younger and single," I thought.

In the fall of 2001, I ran into Adam at a friend's birthday party. Again, my sister was there. This time, I told her I was going to talk to Adam, assuming she wasn't interested. "I've already told you," she said under her breath. "I'm not interested." She looked his way and of course turned up her nose. That afternoon, during a game of Spades and munching on hotdogs and macaroni salad, Adam and I talked. I had no regard for what was going on around us, for who was watching or what they were saying. I also forgot about the age difference. I asked for his phone number. I think I called him a few times, but he was not in his room. I never left a message. The magic of the moment soon was over.

It wasn't until three weeks later that I saw Adam again. His fraternity was hosting a boat cruise on Boston Harbor. We hung out the entire night and the remainder of the summer. At the start of the 2001 academic year, we became official Brown sweethearts.


Dan Wasser '76 + Marcia Zaiac '78

We met in October 1975 at Hillel. I had never been to Hillel since starting at Brown, but at my parents' urging—mandate, really—I went to meet the new Hillel director, who also happened to be the daughter of the beloved rabbi from the synagogue where I grew up in Miami Beach.

A visit to the rabbi was not going to be enough—I also had to participate in a Hillel program. I decided to try the Yiddish class since both my grandmothers spoke Yiddish as their primary language. First class, Dan Wasser was there, and out of the kindness of his heart, he offered to tutor me to bring me up to speed. I think the class fizzled out by Thanksgiving, but we did not. We married in June 1978, and now thirty years later we have three fabulous daughters, our oldest, Maddie '10, a junior at Brown. We keep trying to get her to sign up for a program at Hillel, but alas, she has not. Yet!


Steve Kahn '76 + Jan Pendleton '76

It was September 1972, the second day of Freshman Week when Jan and I first met. I went over to her dorm room to say hello to her roommate, who was a high school friend of mine. Jan and I started out as good friends and discovered we had a lot in common. For the first couple of months, we hung out together, but by mid-fall a real relationship was developing, and by late fall we were a pair.

Upon graduation, I was accepted at Harvard Business School and Jan into the actuarial program at John Hancock. The problem was that we couldn't find an apartment or student housing—except at the brand new Soldiers Field park at the Harvard Business School campus that was exclusively for married students. That is when we did the unthinkable—we decided to get married six weeks later so that we could be accepted into the B-school's housing. We were twenty-two and twenty-one at the time, and family and friends did think we were a little crazy—okay, a lot crazy—to get married so young just to facilitate our housing needs. But thirty-six years after we met, we are still happily married.


Katarzyna Jerzak '90

It was December 2000, the winter after I returned from a year in Rome. In the criptoporticus of the American Academy on the Janiculum, I had typed and retyped his name into various email address searches, finding nothing. But in early December, just before booking my tickets to the MLA in Washington, D.C., I simply googled him and there it was, his work number.

I called, heard his voice on the answering machine, its timbre unchanged as if we had just spoken not years before, but minutes before, and left a message. I don't remember if I cried. He called back the following day --and we talked, talked--talked the way one drinks water after a day of haymaking in the scorching sun. After I hung up, I shut the office door, leaned against it and let myself cry, not knowing why.

We were to meet in the lobby of my hotel and coming down the stairs I saw a crowd, then his profile just as he walked in. I recognized the intent, the intensity. We walked to the Bistrot du Coin and sat down near the window, at a small round table. There we continued to talk, while forks, napkins fell down and guests at the other tables picked them up for us while we thanked them absent-mindedly, as if that's what they were there for. I noticed that behind his right ear there were three grey hairs, his first. Otherwise he was unchanged, the same voice, eyes, lips, the same Andrew I had never known.

We walked to a tea place afterwards never ceasing to talk and I left my gloves there. I remembered and he ran back to get them while I waited in the frosty air outside asking myself where I was, where we were, in what chronotope. I recalled that at Brown I told him one day that I missed the sea, and he called the next day to say he borrowed a car. We drove to Newport, but it was November and the beach was freezing cold. We walked and walked in the biting wind. He said he had blankets in the car, I said I was warm enough.

On the way back there was a long silence. He kept looking at me, as if on the verge of saying something, and then - nothing. At last he spoke. "Could I ask you a question?" I said yes, holding my breath. "What do you think of Ronald Reagan?" In my recollection all I said was that I didn't think of Ronald Reagan. From what he told me in Washington it would seem that I must have said more because he claimed it changed his thinking about politics and changed his life and so on and so forth.

I did not speak to him again after that except to say goodbye. When I was already at Princeton, some three years later, I received a letter from him. My then husband-to-be read it and dictated my reply. He never wrote again.

The third time was not the charm. I arrived to give a lecture at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. He took a day off from work to meet me at the airport. We went out to eat and rudely, I took a short call on my cell phone just before we walked into the restaurant. He said the restaurant was special, the kind of place where people took their girlfriends to propose to them. I clammed up. We ate. He knew the people at the next table and introduced them. Then he worried about a thread that a nail pulled out of his pants. I worried, too. I did not understand why we were there. Who was I to him?

When we walked to the Washington Hotel where I was staying, it was already late. We put my suitcase in my room and he asked if I'd like a drink at the rooftop. I did. For the next hour or longer we talked about my not knowing that I was Jewish until I went to Brown and about Jewishness, period, and about phantom Jewishness, the subject of my lecture.

Then they closed the rooftop café so we moved to my room. He sat on a chair, I sat on another. We were tired but we did not stop talking. At one point he asked, "So if I were Polish, would I get down on my knees now and propose?" Too dumbfounded to say anything intelligent or true, I just laughed: "But you're not Polish." At 4 a.m. he stood up to go, and as I stood in front of him, he took a deep breath, held my face in his two hands and kissed me. Then he left. I did not sleep that night.

The following morning I spoke at the Holocaust Museum about love and death, about memory and loss, about names that remain and time that passes. He wasn't there to hear it, but he drove me to the airport. We were almost late, the corridor road to Dulles seemed unending, he was nervous ("What if I don't get you there on time") and I wasn't. Just before we got there he motioned to the back seat. "Look under my jacket there." There was a book, an expensive album of De Chirico's paintings. "I already have it" I said, blindly.

There were two more meetings, or, as Buber would call them, mismeetings. We always talked and apologized to each other for things gone wrong at Brown, for the past misunderstandings, and then we created new ones. We held hands and recalled how we never did at Brown. It was as if the past was a fate assigned us and we were trying to live our lives again, with a new script, but all we could do was recite the old lines. The bliss of the present, of togetherness, seemed unreal and any future questionable. Knowing full well that here was our chance to change our lot, we fumbled, finding only the same lines and gestures that we had already followed. We could not break the enchantment. Like Eurydice become Orpheus, I went looking for him in the underworld of lost time, but I looked back and lost him again.

At Brown neither of us ever said the word "love", we never admitted to anything, always making believe that our tremendous awkwardness with each other was some random thing, and not the consequence of a feeling that ran deeper than any name we could give it. After meeting me at the airport, he couldn't find the way out. I didn't mind. I think I could have stayed there. Then he couldn't find his car. I asked what make it was, to help him look, but I was just as happy looking. Like the woman who, awakened from deep sleep in her glass coffin, asks "Where am I?" only to hear "You are with me," I did not care if I was in the Black Forest, in Dulles Airport, or at a cold Newport beach in November, as long as I was with him.

When we left the restaurant, he said "Now you've just eaten at Edward Kennedy's favorite place." "That's great," I said. "And who is Edward Kennedy?" At the National Gallery we couldn't find the paintings that interested me because he held the map upside down.

Standing in front of Leonardo Da Vinci's "Ginevra" we overheard the teacher ask her class, "And why do you think she is so sullen?" Blank looks. "Well, she has just found out that she has to marry an older man. Thirty-two years old." (dejected look on the faces of the sixteen-year-olds there while we both smile).

Later, in the gallery cafeteria, I kept looking at his hands, pale, thin, with a cut or two--I could only take in his hands, I couldn't take all of him, it was much too much foreign matter after thirteen years--and before I knew what I was doing, I told him the story of my marriage. He stared at me, for a moment I thought I saw tears swell up in his eyes, his hands became fists, then he just said "I can't imagine"--and we never talked about it again.

I didn't want to see any more paintings after that. We stepped outside. He asked if I liked the West Wing. I said it looked as if the end of the world happened yesterday and not even the only surviving human being on earth who crawled that way would be tempted to go inside. He asked if I didn't care for modern architecture. I delivered a harangue. He asked if I wanted something to drink. I acquiesced. We went on. At last there were three cafes, one next to the other. We walked by them. Then again. And back. Neither of us could decide which one. The third one looked most inviting, but he said it wouldn't do, it smelled like fish. We walked back, very self-consciously by now because the people sitting under the umbrellas were beginning to stare at us, bemusedly.

There is no ending. As soon as you graduate, you begin to forget. Names of people, streets, courses, books, places recede and disappear. There are, however, exceptions. Some faces, encounters, conversations, or mere glances refuse to leave us. On a beautiful day twenty years later you look up and think back to a person you dated in college. And you realize that time, which very real and which takes flesh in our children, occasionally does not exist at all.


Alexander Cavallo '94 + Giovanna Syed '94

We met on the first day of freshman orientation in 1990 in West Andrews Hall, while Alex was helping my next-door neighbor move into his room. It turned out that Alex lived in the room right under mine, on the mezzanine of West Andrews. Over the next few months, we became good friends and began dating one week before Valentine's Day in 1991. I still remember deejaying the Valentine's dance party at the Gate and forgetting to dedicate a song to Alex (who was making pizzas) until the very end, and the song turned out to be James Taylor's "You've Got a Friend."

While not the most romantic choice for a Valentine dedication, it turned out to be perfect, because we have been best friends ever since. We were engaged the summer between junior and senior year (everyone thought we were crazy!), and were married with many Brown friends present at St. Joseph's Church on Hope Street four days after graduation on June 3, 1994.

We moved to Chicago that summer for economics graduate school (Alex) and law school (me), and now live happily just outside of downtown Chicago with our three wonderful kids, Allison (6), Natalie (5), and Nicholas (1). Our girls have already been to Brown several times for Commencements and Alumni Leadership Weekends and we look forward to introducing Nicholas to our friends at our 15th reunion this May, just before celebrating our 15th Anniversary.


David Chioni Moore '85 + Amy Schwartz '85

It was certainly like love at first sight--like a lot, a whole lot--but love took some time. It took our Brown tenth reunion, in point of fact! Amy studied history at Brown and spent great amounts of time in the dance studio. I (David) studied a lot of things--comparative literature, applied math--and wanted to study even more. We had overlapping circles of friends and much fun together.

Though we can't recall the exact moment we met, it was likely in fall 1983 at a friend's hyper-social off-campus house at 382 Brook Street. We began dating in summer 1985, after Amy graduated and I stayed at Brown for a fifth year. Amy was in New York, beginning a twelve-year career in modern dance, and I followed a year later for a shorter foray into corporate finance.

So by the summer of 1986, we were an odd couple--a cool downtown dancer, and a suit-wearing midtown banker. I thought it was great, but Amy was not so convinced, and let me know.

Fast forward to May 1995. We had not seen each other in about seven years, though through mutual friends we had a rough sense of what the other was up to: Amy at the peak of her dance career, and I finishing my PhD and entering the professoriate. The night before our 10th reunion, in North Carolina I wondered whom I would see there.

In New York, Amy was reading old letters, and found one from late 1986 in which I, um, rebuked her for having been mean, or something like that. Amy wondered whether she would see me at the reunion. The next day—I think it was May 27th, 1995—I spied Amy on the lawn behind the athletic center. She came up and said, "Boy do I need to apologize to you!" The apology warmly accepted, we had much to catch up on.

We saw each other several more times in New York that summer but could not quit. Amy moved out to the Twin Cities a year later where I was installed at Macalester College.

One year after that, we were engaged, a year later we were married, and this past June we celebrated our 10th anniversary at a restaurant in Paris, with our two beautiful boys, Peter (7) and Alex (5) asleep a few kilometers away in Amy's sister's apartment. Life is very, very good. If we do not count as poster-children for Brown reunions, then who does?

Bill Shawcross '76 + Jane Baglini '77

I vomited on our first date (think bad pastrami and twisting carnival rides) and I wouldn't get out of the car for the marriage proposal I didn't see coming, but 33 years after the Catholic chaplain at Brown suggested Bill and I spend some time together and 30 years into our marriage (11/18/78), we are still laughing and happy to share our lives with one another.

We grew up about two miles from one another in Providence and lived about a mile apart in the summer in Narragansett, RI, but my husband, Bill, and I did not meet until we were introduced at a Halloween party at Plantations House in October of 1974.

However, there would be no "Brown love story" were it not for Father Ray Kehew. As we walked out of Manning Chapel about 1:30 am one warm May morning in 1975 after the Midnight Mass and coffee, Father Ray reintroduced Bill and me and suggested we spend time together since we lived so near one another in the summer. A few weeks later Bill called me and invited me to attend Mass and a carnival at Father Ray's summer chapel the next Saturday.

I spent way too much time in the sun that day and then had a pastrami sandwich late in the afternoon. Bill and I rode a few spinning rides at the carnival and I was really feeling queasy. Not wanting to be a "poor sport," I did not let on that I didn't feel well. When Bill suggested we leave the carnival and take a walk on the beach, I readily agreed.

In 1975 the road to the beach was a bumpy, two- lane nightmare. I thought I'd feel better out in the air walking the beach, but I soon had to ask Bill to take me home because I was not feeling well. As soon as he learned my stomach was upset he advised me, "Throw up and you'll feel better." We bounced along Route 108 for a few more feet at which point I knew I wouldn't make it home. I asked him to stop the car thinking I might be OK if I just got out in the fresh air again. Gentleman that he is, Bill ran around the car to open the door for me and I was instantly sick. Well, I felt somewhat better physically, but I was sure I would never do more than say a quick embarrassed hello to Bill again as we crossed paths at Brown.

Quick thinker that I am, I insisted upon laundering Bill's soiled jacket to give myself another chance to talk with this nice guy. Nice guy that he is, Bill called me a few more times after I returned his jacket and next thing I knew we were spending all of our free time together once we were back at Brown. Bill stayed on for a master's while I finished up my senior year in 1977 and then I took a job in Providence while he finished his degree in 1978.

March of 1978 was snowy and cold. After a lovely dinner on Thayer Street one star-filled Saturday evening, Bill suggested we drive over to Prospect Park and look at the city. The snow that had fallen that day was slushy and immediately froze my non-boot clad foot that I gamely put on the street as I tried to follow him into the park. Not caring quite so much about being a "poor sport" by this point in our relationship, I refused to get out of the car. After much cajoling and with a pleading look in his eye, Bill convinced me to splash through the slush and follow him into the park. As I rounded the back of the car it suddenly occurred to me that Bill might have something more on his mind than the view of the city. When Bill popped the question I immediately said, "Yes!" A method to his madness, you think, but it was really the sweetness, the intelligence, and the love he had shared with me that convinced me I was making the right decision.

Over the years, we've had many Brown parties with fellow alums in Methuen and Narragansett; we've attended our share of Brown events; we keep in touch with Father Ray and we are 25 years plus members of The 1764 Society. We are grateful that Brown gave us the opportunity to begin our life together as odd as that beginning was.


Paul Rehmet '89 + Naline Lai '89

Paul and I were two ships who almost passed through the night. We loosely shared the same set of friends so there were many situations where we were both in the same place at the same time, but were unaware of the other's presence. Freshman year, I remember dancing to a hip college band and admiring the saxophone player (Paul) but nothing beyond that. We also have a shared memory of our friend Bob climbing up a tree in front of a crowd of people, but neither Paul or I remember each other's presence. In fact, the week before we actually met Junior year, Paul came over to my off campus apartment for a super bowl party.... But I wasn't there. I had gone to a different super bowl party.

Needless to say, we did finally meet and now we've been together 22 years , married 18 of those years, and have three wonderful children. Our 20th reunion is this May—wow.


Robert Ludwig '72 + Joan Ryder '73

My roommate Channing Redford's birthday was on February 15, and her mother had always made a heart-shaped cake for her birthday, as it was the day after Valentine's Day. A group of friends wanted to preserve that tradition for her, so a store-bought cake would not suffice. We searched for a place to bake our surprise heart-shaped cake and found a friend of a friend on the first floor of Olney with a toaster oven large enough for our cake. When party day came, we invited our friends from Emery-Woolley as well as the guys from that floor of Olney.

Robert Ludwig and I met at that party on February 15, 1970. We were married on August 23, 1975, and are still happily married 33 years later. In a real twist of fate, our son, Daniel Ludwig '09, was randomly assigned sophomore year to the same room in Olney (now part of Delta Tau) that his father lived in when we met.


David Ray '84 + Katherine Melchior '85

Poetry brought us together. Not love poetry, but random samples about Superheroes I had pieced together for a job opening at Issues Magazine. My future wife, then the editor, interviewed me over a large Styrofoam cup of coffee in the Blue Room. I stuck to the script—English Major, Mary Oliver fan, recitation of Keats's Ode on a Grecian Urn. She talked about her favorite foods--oysters from Blue Point, apple brown betty, and champagne (we argued if this was a food). After the interview, she wrote to her girlfriend that I was The Man, not for the job, but for the father of her children. I was completely oblivious thinking I had nailed the interview. Love was blind. Married 20 years, two kids, live in Tokyo.


David W. Nelson '77 + Leslie Goldwater '77

Compressed files, compressed schedules. Instant messages, speed dating. What haven't we managed to miniaturize or speed up over the past four decades? Even freshman orientation week has been reduced to a haze of activities squeezed into a few days between move-in and first classes.

Back in 1973, Brown's freshman orientation offered a leisurely week to make the transition into college life. It seemed pretty effortless by the third or fourth night, when my group of new female friends from Morriss Hall made our way over to the chicken barbecue on Pembroke Field. I spotted someone I knew, so our group headed over to sit with him and some of his hallmates from East Andrews.

It didn't take me long to notice one of the other guys in the group. He was stretched out on the grass: light blue Henley shirt, jeans, wire-rimmed glasses, looking perfect. And it didn't take us long become inseparable, sharing lively dinners in the Ivy Room, Comp Lit courses, and visits to the Cape. A little less than four years later, we proudly marched down College Hill together, and two years after that, down the aisle as husband and wife.

The next 29 years simply hurtled by, a compressed jumble of life's joys and losses, but we are still together. And then, some 35 years from the day we met, time slowed again--for a moment. On a misty Labor Day weekend 2008 in Providence, we watched nostalgically as our oldest son ducked into Morriss Hall to pick up his ID and key, ready to write his own Brown story. So many thoughts raced through my mind as I mused about what lies ahead for his next four years at Brown. Mostly I just wondered if freshman orientation had to cut out the chicken barbecue on Pembroke Field.


Jerome Vascellaro '74 + Mary Aguiar '74

I met Jerome the Sunday night before our freshman week in 1970. I still remember opening the door of my room in West Andrews and seeing four guys pushing and shoving each other for prime position of first to enter. Carol Brown lived down the hall from my roommate Marge Neifeld and me, and had bravely ventured over to the Ratty for dinner.

Carol had volunteered to serve as 'scout" and, I must now admit, was successful in bringing back the right guys. Opening the door, I was pleased to see four Brown men and a shoebox of brownies, a care package from someone's mother. These guys, Tom Bannon, Tom O'Brien, Pete Pickens and Jerome remained some of our closest friends throughout our years at Brown, but it is Jerome's smiling face that I remember most.

Soon, I learned to listen for the "Woody Woodpecker" laugh outside my window announcing Jerome's arrival. I would have to run down and open the door to let him in.

We did not officially become a couple until after winter break but from that moment on, he and I have never really been apart.


George Garcia '83 + Maureen O'Brien '83

My husband, Dr. George Garcia and I met freshman week of freshman year in September of 1979. Our first introduction was under a tree in front of Sayles Hall; a hallmate of mine at West Quad had been a high school classmate of his and they ran into each other. (In fact, I think his original crush was on her).

He's a first generation Cuban-American and I'm Boston-Irish, so we had little in common at first. My husband, a shy man, has often said he was initially attracted to me because "he didn't have to do much talking."

Many of the other milestones in our relationship are Bruno-centric, including my husband's marriage proposal at Rosecliff, the night of the Senior Dance. (He'd told all our friends that he would be proposing that night--probably so he wouldn't lose his nerve!) He surprised me that time, so I would love to reverse the surprise and have him see this story in BAM.

Well, here we are 25 years later, parents of twin teenaged sons who we hope might follow us to Brown someday. When we went to our 25th class reunion in 2008, we brought the kids and showed them where we shared our first kiss. We stopped the tour there, much to their relief.


William Ryan '62 + Susanna Opper '62

Friday night of Spring weekend sophomore year, I walked back to the Pembroke Campus alone. My date (who shall remain nameless though I do remember his name) had passed out. It was 1960. He was contrite when he called the next day, and I agreed to party with him Saturday night if he promised to behave. But you must know, I wasn't feeling very loyal.

So I didn't mind flirting with the bartender at the Phi Gam Fiji Island party that night. But nothing came of it.

Actually, we don't know if we really met that night. It seems likely, but neither of us remembers for sure.

But we both vividly remember an October night 30 years later in New York City. The class of '62 was turning fifty and we were celebrating the occasion together with a mini-reunion. Will Ryan was the first person to arrive at the upper West Side venue. Susanna Opper was the second. It was only a few seconds after we turned to face each other that we each knew—this is the one. We were deep in conversation when Susanna's freshman year housemate Ann Leven interrupted. "I'm sorry to bother you," she said, "but I have some really important news to tell you." At that moment we each looked around and realized the room had filled with people. We literally had been in our own world.


Steven M. Soares '75 + Doris Helene White '78

August 1974. It was a very good year, especially if you were a rather homesick teenaged girl from Texas, reclining on a musty sofa in Hope College as part of Brown's Transitional Summer Program (TSP), a special pre-college session for minority freshmen.

It was also a very good month if you were a rising senior guy from New Bedford, Massachusetts who just happened to be practicing jazz piano in the antique lounge at Hope. Neither knew that sultry summer rendezvous would lead to a 34-year relationship, a trip to the altar in December 1983, parenthood in 1988 and 1993, several mortgages, assorted cars and a family trip to North Carolina to deposit the first-born at Duke in 2006.

My husband and I met in that dusty, sweltering lounge days before my 17th birthday. Steven had a terrific last year, performing in small area jazz clubs, protesting with others during the April 1975 sit-in at University Hall, and eventually leaving the hill to globetrot with Capitol Records mega-stars (and Fox Point homies) Tavares as a keyboardist. On the other hand, I left Providence that same spring for the rolling hills of Ohio and my historically Black alma mater (Central State University '78).

Over the miles and the passing years, we remained friends and frequent correspondents. By the early 1980's, Steven had replaced spotlights for chalk dust as a suburban middle school social studies teacher.

As soon as I graduated from law school (Boston University '82), I jetted 2,000 miles back home to south central Texas with no thoughts of ever seeing New England again. But just like that earlier hot August day, Fate intervened. Steven and I rekindled our relationship in late spring 1983 and, by July 3rd, I was accepting his marriage proposal (the delivery of my engagement ring across half a continent is a story for another day).

On a typically mild December morning in San Antonio, Texas, my first college boyfriend and I exchanged vows in the church where my late grandfather had pastored and where my parents had wed my grandfather pastored. The officiating minister had also baptized me as a baby.

For twenty-five years, the young piano player and the homesick Texan have treasured connections with their old Brown classmates. Brownies make great godparents for kids and terrific friends for life. Steven convinces us to even return for homecoming, where he even helped carry the class banner in 1995 in honor of his youthful protest.

Our children groan with embarrassment when we pull out the fading photo albums from our year together at Brown. There is the trim and handsome guy with the huge 'fro; there is the twiggy girl with the green corduroy platform shoes and the micro-mini. There are the snapshots of a life-long love.


Larry Rifkin '86 MD '89 + Elisa Stark '83

She was the most beautiful woman to attend Brown, ever. Yes, I learned all about objectivity and epistemology as a student, but that's a fact. And I don't believe in miracles either, but something extraordinary happened on campus 24 years ago.

We met in Professor Morgan's course Possibilities for Social Reconstruction in Wilson Hall. Not the classic Hollywood romance setting perhaps, but for us, the stuff of dreams. We first spoke on the stairwell while leaving class one day. I can't even count how many laps we completed around the College Green laughing and sharing storing. I felt, for the first time, I was completely tuned in to the exact same wavelength with another person. No static at all. Unfortunately, the same could not be said of her. She still needed to adjust the dial. Her love was not easily won.

If I learned one thing at Brown, it was perseverance, because it took me an entire year to win her heart. Here we were, just after the promiscuous seventies, yet the one woman I desired forced me to become a troubadour. (I still have not forgiven her for that year of unrequited longing, but she claims that after twenty-one years of marriage and carrying my children for nine months each, she has more than made up for it.) But, finally, I won her over.

Our romance was born at Brown and blossomed at Brown. Walking around the Green became holding hands on Prospect Street. This became a first kiss on a moonlit night in front of the Marcus Aurelius statue. This became getting married on campus in 1987 at the Brown Faculty Club. This became two wonderful children—one of whom will be applying to college himself soon. And all of this became a lifetime together of love and meaning.

Our love, which started with a meeting of the eyes at Brown, has grown as an enduring, profoundly joyous journey through life together. For us, the city of Providence could not be better named. Brown gave us an education, three degrees, and many friends. But most of all it gave us each other.


Joshua Harris '01 + Shelby Freedman '00

I met my husband on freshman move-in day, September of 1997, first floor Emery. I was the RC for the unit and he was my freshman. I lived directly next door to him and I shared a private bathroom with him and his roommate Tim for the entire year. We remained very close friends all throughout Brown until I graduated since I was 1 year ahead. We had a great friendship throughout school--especially filled with many practical jokes.

Just after I left Brown, I moved off campus and worked at the medical school. Josh stayed on campus the summer before his senior year and all of our mutual friends kept giving us hints that we should start dating.

Throughout school, I always had the silly RC rule "don't date your freshman" stuck in my head (I could almost see Dean Takasue saying it to me). We finally started to date that summer and during Josh's senior year as I remained near campus just after graduation. We later moved to NYC to attend our respective grad school programs, got engaged in front of Emery dorm where we met, and married in Providence in 2004. Our 5th anniversary is coming up this January!


Günter Zoeller + Marlena Corcoran PhD '84

My husband and I met in the romantic city of Paris; but our love grew at Brown. We had been foreign students at the Ecole normale superieure, and each returned to our own country--he to Bonn, I to Brown--to finish our doctoral degrees.

Günter finished first. My thesis advisor, Robert Scholes, suggested that Brown might welcome Günter as a special student, so that Günter could make the shift from German to American ways of doing and teaching philosophy. "Special student status is no big deal, " said Professor Scholes. "If nothing becomes of him, who cares; and if Günter makes good, he's one of ours." So I marched myself into the office of Professor Rod Chisholm, whose brilliance was matched by his kindness. Professor Chisholm personally kept Günter's records in his desk drawer and would photocopy the confidential data every time Günter applied for a job.

Years later, when our Parisian teacher, Jacques Derrida, visited the Pembroke Center, I told him that Günter and I had gotten married. Professor Derrida turned on his heels on the stairs to the John Hay Library and exclaimed, "Mes enfants!"

Günter made good. He is now a well-known professor of classical German philosophy at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich. I am the director of an advising service that helps international students apply to universities in the United States. As the co-president of the Brown Club of Munich, I organized the first Brown at Oktoberfest event. For years, I served BASC, retiring as regional director for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. I served on the BAA board of governors, representing the graduate community and international students.

Because you never know where love will take you.


Brad Middlekauff '83 + Nancy Goldin '84

Our Brown love story begins on Valentine's Day, 1983. I was a senior, living with two graduate students in an off-campus apartment on Waterman Street. Our apartment was on the third floor, two stories directly above the entryway. I went to sleep on the evening of February 13, 1983 and, a few hours later—it was now Valentine's Day—I heard sirens. This was not unusual, as the apartment building was located right next to the tunnel that connects College Hill to downtown Providence and I often heard the distant sound of sirens. Typically, the blare of the siren would get louder and louder and then, after a brief peak in volume, quieter again as the emergency vehicle reached the top of the tunnel and proceeded to its destination.

In this case, however, the sirens did not get quieter and, at some point through the fog of sleep, I realized they were right outside my apartment building. As I returned to consciousness, my sense of smell kicked in and I noticed the strong scent of burning wood. Our apartment building was on fire! (It was later determined that the cause of the fire was arson. Someone had poured gasoline all over the entryway, two floors below our apartment, and then struck a match.)

I roused one of my apartment mates quickly and the other with some considerable effort. We then did what fire safety instructors always tell you not to do: we opened the door to our apartment, which was at the top of the stairs. Smoke came rushing in, and flames could be seen below. We immediately shut the door (as Brown students, we did have a modicum of intelligence) and realized we would have to descend by way of the fire escape. This was a scary prospect. The fire escape was made of metal and was rather rusted. Furthermore, where the fire escape was attached to the wooden building, there was evidence of rotting wood (I don't know why we had never noticed this before). It occurred to us that, once somebody put significant weight on it, the entire fire escape could go plummeting to the ground. After brief discussion, it was decided that I should get onto the fire escape first. This was a function of two factors: I was the lightest and, as an undergraduate, I was deemed to have less value than the graduate students, who were pursuing PhD's in economics.

I stepped onto the fire escape and I guess the fates were smiling on undergraduates that night, because the fire escape did not collapse. I quickly made my way down, but when I looked up, the flames had enveloped the fire escape, stranding my two friends up on the third floor. After assessing the situation, the firefighters quickly trained their hoses on the fire escape and the two graduate students made it down as well, although with minor burns on their hands. (I suspect the fates wanted to mete out a minor punishment to the graduate students for making the undergraduate go first!)

After collecting myself, I went over and spent the night on the sofa of some friends who were living at the Young Orchard Apartments. The next morning (still Valentine's Day!), I went to the Brown housing office and explained my situation. The housing administrator was incredibly kind and sympathetic and gave me several options for on-campus housing where I could hang my hat until my graduation, in approximately three-and-a-half months.

The option that seemed most attractive was a single on the first floor of Hegeman Hall, located at the corner of George Street and Thayer Street. So I took it. A short while later, after retrieving what I could from the site of the fire, I was moving into my new room in Hegeman. I had a number of existing friends who lived in that dorm and one of them, Nancy Spencer '84, told me that she had a vacuum cleaner that I could use if I wanted to vacuum the floor in my new room. The floor did, in fact, have a number of dust balls and a fine coating of grit, so I went up to Nancy's room to borrow the vacuum cleaner. Nancy lived in a triple, with two other Brown juniors. When I entered the common room of the triple, sitting on the couch was one of Nancy's suitemates, a very attractive woman whom I did not know. After inquiring about the vacuum, I quickly realized that I was interested in more than just a clean room. (It was, after all, still Valentine's Day!)

The woman on the couch was Nancy Goldin. She and I flirted a bit that night and got to know each other over the ensuing months. It took me a while to summon up the courage to ask her out. Finally, as my graduation approached, I figured now was the time to take action. If she said "yes," it would be a great finale to my four years at Brown. If she said "no," I would soon be leaving campus and would never have to see her again.

She said yes! We borrowed a friend's car and drove to Cape Cod for a day. On the way back we went to our first, and only, drive-in movie (it was Tootsie). From that point forward we were a couple. Six years later we were married in Manning Chapel; the reception was at the Brown Faculty Club. We are still happily married and we recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the day we met: Valentine's Day, 1983.

I guess some clouds of smoke do have a silver lining.


Kevin Geyer Harrison '86 + BethAnn Zambella '84

I met Kevin, a chemistry major, in the hallway of Hegeman, where he and his roommate were building loft beds at the beginning of my senior year. I started out dating his roommate, not Kevin, but when his roommate decided to pair off with my roommate, we were flung together. The clincher was my attendance at one of his water polo games in the Smith Swim Center, where I was introduced as "Beth, the girl upstairs," to many knowing, nodding polo players.

I also discovered that his team number was 22, which, I informed him, was the atomic weight of titanium. He was astonished that a creative writing major knew this, and titanium became our element.

While our respective roommates broke up before the semester was through, we celebrated our 25th year together this fall, just slightly ahead of my 25th reunion.


Allan Rosenberg '46 + Barbara Maskel '49

We were both from Worcester, Massachusetts, but did not know each other there. We first met at a Brown football game in the fall of 1946 where I had just returned as a junior after two years in the Navy during WWII. Barbara Maskell was a sophomore.

I started bumming rides home to Worcester with her father for Thanksgiving and Christmas and took her on our first date to see Walt Disney's "Song of the South" but we left in the middle for cocktails at the Old France. By the new year of 1947 we were inseparable. As an engineer, I took courses in contemporary novel and contemporary drama to be with my girl, By January 1948 we were "pinned". "Pin schmin", said my father, "give the girl an engagement ring", which I did shortly after my graduation in 1948.

We were married after her graduation in 1949 and had over 54 years of a wonderful, loving marriage before her death in 2003. Together we had four children---all Brown graduates--and they in turn had nine children, eight of whom, so far, went to wonderful colleges including two at Indiana, one at Michigan, another at Sarah Lawrence, one at Franklin & Marshall, a sixth at NYU (one a grad student at NYU) and seven and eight due to graduate from Brown in 2009. Poor Rachel--she is a junior in high school at this time.


Barry Friedman '85 + Valerie Gates '88

Barry and I met at Brown at a holiday party for my dad's lab in the bio med building--he was working there as part of his work-study program and I was still in high school, age 17. I gave him my number on a piece of napkin and he called me the next day for a date.

We dated while he was at Brown and then while I was a Brown he had already graduated but came back to live in Providence, working at the Brown sport center to be near me until I graduated. We have been together ever since and just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.


Gary Harris '72 + Sandra L. Patterson '73

I was crossing the Green in the fall of 1969 after an interview for a part-time job. As a result, I was wearing a blue suit, a bright blue suit, an iridescent blue suit (remember, this was 1969). An individual wearing a suit and tie on the green at that time was an unusual sight, especially such a colorful suit, and, similar to a male peacock, my colors attracted the attention of a beautiful young Pembroker, Sandra Patterson.

We engaged in a conversation that ultimately led to marriage on June 2, 1973, two days before her graduation. That marriage has resulted in Allison P. Harris, class of 2002, and Ashley W. Harris, class of 2009. We look forward to celebrating our 36th anniversary and Ashley's graduation this spring.


Ed Sweet '87 + Kim Sweet

I was bartending late at a party at Sigma Chi Fraternity when she walked into the room. Right at that moment I knew we'd be married. It was a cosmic experience and I felt like I was hit by a truck. It kind of freaked me out.

She came up with a friend to get a beer, and I had to explain that we were out. But we started talking and had a pleasant conversation. Her name was Kim and I found out that she went to RISD and was studying painting. I asked her for her last name, thinking I had a better chance of remembering that than a phone number. The next day, when I tried to call RISD to get her phone number, I was informed of their policy to refuse to give out student phone numbers. They were willing to give me her P.O. Box number, so I wrote her a letter. A few days later she called me back, and we arranged to meet again over spring weekend.

I'm proud to say that we just celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary. We live in Phoenix, Arizona with our beautiful six-year-old daughter, Penelope. Kim is still a painter, and I write letters, among other things, for a living.


James Perry '00 + Abby Owen '01

I first met Abigail Owen at the Ratty. I was a sophomore and Abby was a freshman. It took a lot to get my attention off the grilled cheese I was dunking in tomato soup but she managed to do it with her stunning beauty and quick wit. Little would come of that initial meeting, but by a stroke of great fortune, through the wonders of the Brown Housing Lottery we both ended up in Chapin House the following year. All it took was an invitation to watch the season premier of the Simpsons and the rest is history. Ironically, for the last 10 years I don't think she has watched anything animated with me since.

Today both Abby and I work at Brown. Abby works as an admission officer and I work in the football office. We live about one-and-a-half miles away in Providence. We can take the bus in to work together and even meet for lunch occasionally on the Main Green or at the public garden on the new walk. We are very excited because Abby is pregnant with our first child who I believe will be a class of 2031.


Gordon Thomas '65 + Deborah Allen '65

We met as first-year students at the start of our spring semester in 1962, became engaged at campus dance in 1965, married in 1966, recently celebrated our forty-second wedding anniversary, and hope to celebrate many more. Our first meeting was at a Brown Outing Club trip to the Diamond Hill ski area in Cumberland, Rhode Island. We became tangled together in the rope-tow ski lift and have been together ever since.


Kenneth Sloan '69 + Christine Curcio '72

That era was a fertile time for inventing Brown Band traditions.

We started the Hockey Band (have you heard the story about the flight through the blizzard to Cornell?), then extended it to the Skating Band, built "The Drum", and oh yes, incorporated (gasp!) women (horrors!) onto the field at halftime of football games (and then later, on the ice).

I first met my wife when she showed up at a meeting to discuss precisely WHY Pembrokers were not marching and what we intended to do about it. Those were the days when women were women, and the men were nervous.


David Chiang ‘97 + Vannita Simma, ’98

Most love stories begin with the couple realizing that they share something special in common--it could be a favorite karaoke song, a love of the outdoors, a shared love of eating. Our special something we shared in common was a room. No, wait…it’s not what you think! Since this is a story for the BAM, you can imagine it was a college dorm room. Wait, wait again! It’s not what you think!

Jameson 217 in the Keeney Quadrangle. That was my freshman dorm room in the fall of 1994. The year prior to that, my husband, Dave, had the same freshman dorm room. Who knew that the Office of Residential Life would be the office to grant us the assignment that would change our lives. Okay, they are probably second to the Admissions Office in the whole changing our lives forever bit. Shout out to the ORL! One fateful day Dave wanted to visit his old freshman room and knocked on my door. I opened the door and saw this nice looking guy standing there. He quickly introduced himself and explained that this used to be his room last year and he just wanted to visit and meet the new occupant.

Since that day, Dave and I found that we had much more in common than Jameson 217. We have been together for fourteen years, happily married for six years and now have a wonderful two-year-old son named Justin. He proudly sports a Brown t-shirt that one of my college buddies gave him. One day we plan on taking him to see the Van Wickle Gates, to take a stroll down Thayer Street, and to give that Brown Bear statue on the Green a high-five. And of course our trip would not be complete without visiting Jameson 217, Keeney Quad, that corner room in the dormitory where his parents began their love story.

What do you think?
See what other readers are saying about this article and add your voice. 
Related Issue
January/February 2009