Sometimes a small fragment can conjure a whole world. Like Proust’s madeleine, this photo of a 1969 Denison parking sticker expands in memory from the chrome bumper and space-age taillights into the full majesty of a 1961 jewel-blue Chevy Impala convertible. the feel of sun-warmed vinyl upholstery; the mono AM radio playing otis Redding, tommy James & the Shondells, and the Beach Boys; driving two-lane highways to college; parking behind Slayter; the hair, the clothes, the cigarettes; the war, the draft cards, the black-and-white images of a predigital decade.
Late last spring, Chris Campbell ’69 excavated this fine ride from his college days, after first replacing the tires so it could be pushed out into the sunlight from his mother’s garage. His father had bought the car new in ’61, adding options like windshield wipers ($17.05), a heater ($74.25), and seat belts ($15.00).
Campbell remembers his father driving him to his first day of high school in it and touring colleges in 1964. He first drove it to Denison from Bay City, Mich., in the spring of 1967, at a time when it was prohibited for sophomores to have cars on campus—he kept it on a farm outside town. That trip through northern Ohio was the first time he’d ever traveled by himself so far from home.
While Campbell worked on rebuilding the carbure- tor this summer, he couldn’t help wondering how many people from the Class of 1969 still have the cars they drove to college. Where are Dave Sydnor’s ’62 Buick Special convertible, Doug Reid’s gorgeous ’64 Lincoln Continental convertible, Tom Wick’s pris- tine blue ’64 Corvette, or Mike “Blanche” Harman’s ’61 Plymouth?