Musings and Mishaps

By Middlebury Campus

Author: Lindsay Whitton

I grew-up a bona fide MiddKid — a product of a graduation weekend wedding, a child of a legacy, the niece of many proud alumni and one of the first babies to be born to two members of a large, close group of Middlebury friends. Basically, I was a permanent fixture at reunions every couple of years.
When it became time for me to visit colleges, I decided that even if I was lucky enough to be accepted, I shouldn’t go to Middlebury. It was too expected, too preordained and, for my family, too unoriginal. So every week I claimed a different “top choice,” school, and I would constantly highlight things at other universities that Middlebury lacks (“Well mom, your alma mater doesn’t have 28 cafeterias.”) Really, it was just to convince myself that I could eventually embrace another college and learn to love it as much as I loved Middlebury.
Of course, the only real advantage to being a legacy is knowing where the Grille is the first day of school — after that the experience became my own. I have since met a lot of students who came to Middlebury with a much more intimate knowledge of the college then I ever had — children of professors, Middlebury Union High school graduates, members of much more extensive Middlebury lineages. And I knew most of these people pretty well before discovering their lifelong connections to the college.
What I have gained from my Middlebury family, however, is a real fascination with the way the College used to be. A friend of mine, who I recently realized is the child of two of my father’s classmates, said that Middlebury isn’t how she pictured it growing up. Often I feel the same way — I love walking past a building and imaging it 20, 30, 60 years ago. Whenever I pass my grandfather’s old fraternity house, now filled with neat administrative offices, I picture it packed with clean-cut, post war college boys. I imagine my mom as a JC in Stuart listening to Hotel California and my dad as an awkward 18 year old on the top floor of Battell, sporting tight plaid pants and long hair. I see McCollough with a swimming pool and Proctor with a mailroom. I think of stories about having to pay someone to type your thesis and how the rundown Alibi (bar/club/pool hall) was the only Friday night scene in town. Often, however, I am struck by how much Middlebury has stayed the same, and I am reassured that my parents are still very close friends with all the people who they danced with those Friday nights. And every so often I am amused to remember that my grandfather’s only college girlfriend apparently lived in the same on-campus house that I currently do. Back then it was where all the Home Economics majors lived.