Steve Charles—During my favorite moment from this year’s Big Bash Reunion Weekend, five guys from the Class of 2004 were being videotaped in Lilly Library, telling stories from their days at Wabash for our Scarlet Yarns Video Project. Thirty feet away, Bruce Gras ’68, who last spring began, his own story-gathering project, was approached by an older alumnus.
“A friend of mine told me I need to tell you a story,” the alumnus told Bruce, who quietly sat down, pulled out his recorder, and listened.
There in Lilly Library in the 50th year after it was built we had a festival of Wabash stories. A convergence of a video project envisioned and coordinated by my colleague Marilyn Smith, and an online grassroots project coordinated by an alumnus driven to connect Wabash men across the generations.
For anyone who values the history of this place and the relationships it inspires, it was quite a party! For an editor like me who usually has to go on the road to gather stories, it was treasure being brought to our front door.
I’m just going through the DVD Media Center Director Adam Bowen made from the Scarlet Yarns interviews, but the launch of the new Wabash Stories Web site this week brought it all back. There’s such a range in both of these projects: stories about water fights, stories about beloved mentors; about deep friendships and fierce rivalries; learning and losing; family histories contributing to Wabash, Wabash connections casting a new light on family histories. Funny, moving, irreverent, solemn.
To have so many ways now to gather and preserve our history—I couldn’t be more grateful to all those who worked on Scarlet Yarns and the alumni who stopped by.
But to Bruce Gras, Greg Castanias, Mark Dewart, Jim Roper, Phil Coons, Brandon Stewart, and all those contributing to Wabash Stories goes an even deeper  thanks. These are volunteer hours but full-time ideas, all given freely out of concern for a place and people they love and care about. And they’re really just getting started! 
We’ve lost good people these past couple years. Taking a moment to stop, reflect, keep them in our memories, keep the holy and the hilarious flowing through our community bloodstream, makes me hopeful. Maybe we’re learning to save and savor this amazing and singular place.
Byron Trippet once famously said, “The poetry in the life of a college like Wabash is to be found in its history.” Wabash College’s history resides not in buildings, but in her people. The students, alumni, and teachers of this place are its poetry.
Here’s the rest of that Trippet quote, which is found at the beginning of every Academic Bulletin I’ve proofread since I got here 13 years ago:
“It is to be found in the fact that once on this familiar campus and once in these well-known halls, students and teachers as real as ourselves worked and studied, argued and laughed and worshipped together, but are now gone, one generation vanishing after another, as surely as we shall shortly be gone. But if you listen, you can hear their songs and their cheers. As you look, you can see the torch which they handed down to us.”
Thanks to these story projects, you don’t have to imagine “their songs and their cheers.” In Scarlet Yarns or Wabash Stories or the blogs on the Wabash Web site or Wabash Magazine and beyond, you can hear them, read them, and tell them.
I hope you will. As Bruce commented once after Wabash stories was launched, you probably can’t imagine how many people will listen, will hear your story, and, we hope, tell their own.

In photos: Class Agent Mark Shreve ’04 (not pictured) interviewed classmates Patrick Barrett, Todd Vogel, Cody Lawson, Jim Davis Hull, Jacob Pactor, and (not pictured) Roger Neal and showed us all how much fun swapping stories on camera for the Scarlet Yarns Video Project can be. Lower left: Atwood Smith’s mere presence at the Big Bash gave his Class of 1934 50-percent attendance, but his adding a Scarlet Yarns session also brought us a rarely heard first person account from the era of Wabash President Louis Hopkins.

Photos by Steve Charles