Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Homecoming Weekend: It's Not Just a Football Game

From the messy desk of Paul Levine...

I'm getting personal today.

Autumn is in the air.  I'm taking my son Mike, his wife Aja, and my lady Marcia to Penn State this weekend for homecoming. 

Stroll with me, if you will, down memory lane.  Here I am with my son on campus...28 years ago.
Then a few years later at a Penn State football game.
How do the years go so quickly?  Five minutes after that picture was taken, Mike was a student in the College of Communications at Penn State, just as I had been.  Here we are during his student days.
And here, too.

The similarities don't end there.  I covered the football team as sports editor, then editor-in-chief of The Daily Collegian.  Mike did play-by-play of the games 32 years later for the student radio station.  I became a newspaper reporter; he became a sports broadcaster.  Now Mike and Aja have an almost-three year-old and are expecting a second child.  Herewith Violet:
Mike, Aja, and Violet:
Marcia and Violet:
My daughter Wendy also has two children, Jonah and Lexi, meaning I will shortly be the grandfather of four!  Where, I ask again, have the years gone?  Herewith, Wendy, Jonah and Lexi: 
Back to homecoming.  Odds are, Penn State will lose to Michigan.  But this isn't just about football...though sitting in a crowd of 107,000 partisans as the Blue Band takes the field for a big night game is an experience to savor. 
It is a different era now.  The beloved Joe Paterno is gone.  Eventually, his legacy of success with honor and integrity will outlast the scandal that has tainted his name.  "We can lick the world with liberal arts," he was fond of saying, an unusual statement for a football coach.  Then there is this, from his 1973 Commencement Address:
"We work hard to achieve our goals and when Saturday comes and we walk on the grass in this stadium, we stand as a team. We tighten up our belts. We look across at our opponents. We say, come on, let’s go, let’s see how good you are, let’s play. We are ready. We play with enthusiasm and recklessness. We aren’t afraid to lose. If we win, great, wonderful – and the alumni are happy for another week. But win or lose, it is the competition which gives us pleasure.

"It is being involved in a common cause which brings us joy and memories which endure in teammates. It is making our very best effort, that we have stretched to the very limit of our ability, which makes us bigger men and more able to stretch again: to reach even high as we undertake new challenges."

Joe was not just talking about football.  Here he is, delivering that address:

So what will I do this weekend?
I will admire the leaves, eat grilled stickies at Ye Olde College Diner, peer at Mount Nittany, see classmates, visit the  Communications College Dean, eat mint-chocolate chip ice cream at the Creamery, watch the homecoming parade, attend the President's tailgate, speak about "Strategic Communications" for an on-line course, and root-root-root for the home team.  I will amble along the same sidewalks I did as a 17-year-old freshman...when Lyndon Johnson was President.  I will look at the students, who will appear impossibly young.  Was I ever that young?  Oh, to be 17 and know what I know now.  Or even 45!
I will take a time machine to an earlier, simpler time of pep rallies and pop quizzes, of crisp autumn air and all-nighters.  A time when the future was without limits and possibilities were endless.  It is homecoming, and I am going home. 



  1. from Jacqueline

    Paul, this is a really lovely, thoughtful post - thank you. And where did the years go, I wonder? Ah, but look at what those years brought you - great kids and grandkids, and Jake Lassiter ... this list goes on, doesn't it?

  2. I agree with Our J (when do I NOT agree with Our J?). These are lovely memories, beautifully penned. Sounds like you'll have a great time with friends and family. What more can we ask for? Oh, yeah...the game.

  3. Beautiful family! Years time passes quickly. Too bad one doesn't realize that when they're young. Wondering if you knew Rick Lamb at Penn State. He's probably about your age. He was from Lawncrest in Philadelphia. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Such a beautifully written post reminiscing about your close relationship with your alma mater. And thank you for sharing pictures of your lovely family with your readers.

    As usual, the clarity of your writing shows your feelings and emotions.

    And here's hoping Penn State wins with another weekend of memories.

    I understand your nostalgia since this coming weekend is a critical number for our high school class reunion. I've been asking myself the same thing you said, where did all the years go? A life lived.

  5. James O. Born10/08/2013 3:21 PM

    Quite the weekend. I will root for PSU.


  6. Fight on State!
    From another PSU alumn--
    Linda O. Johnston

  7. Thanks all for the nice comments. Gippy, the name Rick Lamb is familiar to me, but lost in the fog of time! Onward, all of us! Paul Levine

  8. We are!! Spot #2373-2376 in the red lot...stop on by.

  9. A wonderful then. A wonderful now.

  10. Enjoy your weekend.
    Afterward please watch Malcolm Gladwell's talk to U of Penn students, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWaPXzTDEDw
    watch the recent PBS doc: League of Denial
    and if your next grandchild is male, please don't give him a football.

    Our students' brains are worth more than alumni/ae dollars