Richard Paige – We talk often of connections at Wabash, and I’m still caught off guard at times at how the shared experience of being a Wabash man makes for seemingly instant friendships.
I had lunch with Larry Haugh ’66 and Jeff Callane ‘94 while spending New Year’s in Burlington, Vt., and enjoyed an easygoing conversation that lasted more than 90 minutes over pizza not too far from the shores of Lake Champlain.
Math majors each and Indiana natives, Haugh and Callane took slightly different routes to Burlington.
Haugh, a Kappa Sig, is professor emeritus of statistics at the University of Vermont, having retired as department head in 2006. As he said, “I loved every part of my job, but it had too many parts between the teaching, administration, and research. There were times when I needed more sleep.”
Callane, a Sigma Chi, followed his other brother, James ’92, to Crawfordsville to play tennis for George Davis (“Holy cow, there is a Callane who can volley,” is what Davis is reported to have said upon seeing the younger Callane play for the first time). He’s now an account executive for Aon, the global insurance and risk management provider.
Separated by 28 years at Wabash, these two had never met, but you wouldn’t know it by the warmth of the conversation. They talked over the top of each other, finished thoughts, cajoled, and laughed…all the things that friends do when talking.
Having two guys at the table gave me the opportunity to present the Wabash Q&A to multiple people for the first time. Their conversation is below. I hope their conversation reads as engagingly as it came off in real time.
Me: What’s your favorite Wabash tradition?
JC: Oh man, I’d have to say…
LH: Definitely not the singing.
JC: You mean Chapel Sing? It is the most ingrained.
LH: That’s emphasized at Big Bash. Do you ever go back? They recreate the Chapel Sing, so that’s funny. Did they have the greased pole climb when you where there? Some of the traditions die out. Pan-Hel was a big tradition and party, so I assume that’s still going strong. Fraternities and living units used to put a lot of work into that with decorations and inviting your dates to campus. It was a big weekend. Otherwise, it’s just going back to the fraternity where I lived and seeing how that’s changed.
JC: Homecoming was always interesting, too.
Me: Life is full of successes and failures. To this point, what is your favorite mistake?
LH: I hate these kinds of questions. I’m a math major.
JC: (laughs) Maybe I should have gone to class a bit more often.
Me: If you could cook one meal, what would it be?
LH: Any breakfast for me.
JC: Hands down, it has to be Elsie Burgers. Elsie was our cook at the Sig house. Oh, the Elsie Burgers.
Me: If you could give your 10-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?
LH: I do have an almost 10-year-old grandson and I would tell him to try a lot of different things and enjoy the trying of them. He’s doing that pretty well now.
JC: I would have to say, in the entire life sense, to be polite. Say “please and thank you”. “Please” and “thank you” go a long way. Do your best.
LH: That’s something we’ve worked on quite a bit with our grandson.
Me: Do either of you have a personal credo, and if so, what is it?
LH: Closest to that would be a saying that’s been passed down in my family, “Be yourself.” It was on a big log that used to hang in my grandfather’s cabin.
JC: I remember one thing – this isn’t mine – my first boss always said, “Hurry up and get it done, but take your time and do it right.” The M.O. that I’ve tried to live by my entire life works out like this: If you come in early, you’re going to stay late. If you come in late, you are going to leave early.
Me: If in your dreams you could have created one great piece of art, what would it be?
LH: I can only say what I like because I’m not an artist. I’ve always liked metal sculptures…
JC: Having the opportunity to study in Salzburg my junior year and getting a chance to go through museums in Germany, Paris, and Amsterdam, I can’t say there is any one that stuck with me. You know, Bob Ross, the old landscape painter – a little tree likes to live here – I’ve kind of tried a little oil on canvas. I’m not very good. It would be a personal landscape.
Me: If a picture is worth a thousand words, what are you doing in that picture?
JC: Oh man, I’ve got a huge grin, standing at the top of one of these mountains getting ready to ski down with my kids.
LH: That’s appropriate for me, too. I just love doing things with the family. Anything with the family is enjoyable.
JC: A big smile. When you see a smile like that, it’s infectious.
Me: If you could wish for one thing in your future, what would it be?
LH: I’ve been lucky to be healthy for this long, so I’d like to see that continue…to be able to actively travel.
JC: With an almost 13-year-old and a 10-year-old, I really just want to see them happy and successful with whatever they choose to do. Maybe there is a Wabash future for my son, Jack.
Speaking of connections, here is one more.
Callane and his family first moved to Burlington about three years ago. He was wearing a Wabash sweatshirt to one of his son’s tee-ball games when the coach approached him and asked about the sweatshirt. Callane wondered how the coach knew of Wabash. “I work with a Wabash grad,” was the reply.
Sometime later, Callane was with his daughter, Neeve, at her sixth-grade open house at Colchester Middle School when someone shouted, “Hey, Wabash,” as he passed by.
That’s when he met John Upchurch ’97, a teacher at the school.
“I stopped cold in my tracks,” Callane explained. “I meet John and realize that we were on campus the same time, and got to talking about the Phi Delts and the Sigs. It really took us back to campus. I got chills just talking about it.”
Callane and Upchurch since have gotten together frequently for Monon Bell viewings and such.
“Had I not been wearing that sweatshirt, it might have taken a lot longer to make the connection,” said Callane.
To bring this connection full circle, Neeve is now a student in Upchurch’s class.