Even More Matchbox Love Stories …
The Jester Meets his Queen—Frank ’31 and Martha Wood Christian ’31
I am Anne “Woody” Christian Tedeschi ’56, and although my husband and I didn’t find each other at Swarthmore, my parents did. They were Frank ’31 and Martha Wood Christian’31. I learned from my brother at my father’s deathbed, that he had not managed to get a degree from the College even though he spent the whole four years there. This was a shock! My parents had carefully kept this fact from me for fear I would think it was OK to not finish my degree when I was there, since my father became a very successful businessman. He was president of the Boston Chamber of Commerce when the Boston waterfront redevelopment was beginning in the late ’60s–’70s.
My parents stayed involved with the College and friends from the class of 1931. My mother’s family was Quaker, and many relatives went to Swarthmore, including my first cousin, John Wood ’60, and his father before him, Howard Woods ’29, my mother’s brother. My parents told many stories about their college years: My mother was 1931 May Queen (and I was too, in 1956). My father was a big sportsman (I suspect this contributed to his failing his finals!) in soccer, I think, and football. I still have an ancient, yellowing letter sweater of his. He loved a good joke and claimed that he took part in bringing a cow to the women’s side of the third floor of Parrish and putting a pig in the bathtub of the women’s house mother. Both my parents belonged to fraternities—there were women’s fraternities then—not sororities.
Love in the Mariana Trench—Edward ’46 and Verdi Hoag Johnson '45
Edward and I first looked at each other on the first day of class in a lecture hall in Trotter. I had signed up for an elective on Naval History—very smart—I knew it would be full of V-12ers. Later that day, I was in the Commons and spotted him across the room. I had a question for him about a geographical fact that the professor had mentioned in class. “Do you know where the Mariana Trench is?” A longtime sailor and ocean enthusiast, I, of course, knew exactly where it was, but the question did start a conversation. It only took a few days and a flying visit by my parents (when gas was rationed) for them and us to realize that this was a relationship that would probably last. After our fourth or fifth day together, I had a question for myself in my diary: “I wonder why he hasn’t kissed me yet.” We married June 29, 1946, and have been together ever since.
An Encounter that Struck a Chord— Joseph ’48 and Betty Hummell Bullen
It was 1945! World War II was over. From all over the country, boys who had been sidetracked into the service, in my case the Navy Air Corps, now had the opportunity to attend the college of their choice.
The first night, we assembled around the piano in one of the Managers’ Parlors across the hall from the dining room in Parrish to sing happy songs along with other students. I found the arm of a beautiful girl around my shoulder in the innocent camaraderie of singing.
Betty was a wonderful surprise. We wanted to be together in spite of facing the hard work of earning our degrees. Our acquaintance prospered in frequent walks through Crum Woods.
Soon, we were in love and wanted to be married, but it was against Swarthmore rules for both parties to continue their studies. Fortunately for us, another couple, Bolling Byrd ’49, daughter of Admiral Richard Byrd, and Bill Clarke ’48, son of a manager, had a similar desire. With the consent of President John Nason, the Board made an exception with the condition that one of the to-be-married partners had reached age 21.
We were married at First Presbyterian Church of Swarthmore in June 1947. Professor Frank Pearson and President Nason were honored guests, and Winifred Muir Martinek ’48 and Nancy Burnholz Rawson ’48 were bridesmaids. We lived together in Roberts Hall, expanding our family with a kitten sneaking in and out of our window. Betty and I traveled together for my thesis on Colorado politics in lieu of a seminar.
We graduated in 1948, Betty in economics “with distinction” and I in political science and economics, receiving high honors.
Those three years together were among the greatest adventures of our many years ahead. Our son Scott graduated from Swarthmore in 1973.
They Danced, and Sparks Flew—Edward and Lois Ledwith Frost ’48
The first time I saw Ed was in Commons on the second floor of Parrish, where everyone gathered after dinner to talk, play bridge, dance, and smoke. It was fall 1945, my sophomore year. The war was over, and the veterans were returning. We still had the Navy there, this year the V–5 instead of the V–12, but the returning vets were more interesting to us girls.
I was pleased when he asked me to dance, and as we moved around the dance floor, we chatted. He was a sophomore, too, studying electrical engineering. I can't really say it was love at first sight, but there was certainly a spark.
I next became aware of Ed that semester at class officer election time: He was running against me for class treasurer. He probably would have made a much better treasurer than me, but I had it all over him politically—the females and the Navy far outnumbered returning vets like Ed. He did, however, continue to ask me to dance now and then.
We began to date, mostly going to the movies, or out to the local diner, The Doghouse, where we had giant cheeseburgers and potato chips. Students weren’t allowed to have cars, so we went everywhere on the bus.
A month after the Sophomore Picnic in May 1946, we officially became a couple when he gave me his fraternity pin. Funny thing about settling down (we were teased about being “the old married couple”), all of a sudden the studying became easier and seemed to make more sense.
After graduation in 1948, we were ready for marriage, but we waited a year while Ed began his career. Now, after 41 years, I can not only remember the feeling I had when I saw Ed at the train station after our first summer's separation in 1946, but I still get the same feeling when he walks in the door at night after being at work all day. May it never cease.
This piece was written in 1989 by Lois Frost and submitted by her son Edward Frost ’73.
Memory of Poetry, the Poetry of Memory—Richard ’50 and Jane Totah Davis ’50
To quote W.B. Yeats:
“When you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once,”
Of Swarthmore, September 1946,
When a 20-year-old Navy vet
Met an 18-year-old young woman …
Who would imagine in 2014—
Now married 61 years—that they
Still have zest for life
And learning, for children, grandchildren,
For winning sailboat races
On Frenchman Bay, for the handicapped,
And for keeping the Quaker matchbox flame
Alive on the beautiful seacoast of southeast Maine.
Walking into Happiness—Faith Woodward ’51 and Ross Eckler ’50
Ross and I began dating in my sophomore and his junior year. As a member of the Student Christian Association, I had a key to one of the rooms in Clothier, and Ross, as president of the Print Club (two members: he and I), had a key to the basement of Trotter where the Print Shop with its antiquated foot-operated press was located. These were much more pleasant locales for necking (do they still use that term, or is it “making out” nowadays?) than the cold outdoor benches: the observatory bench, the Arthur Hoyt Scott bench, and Prexy’s bench. We promised ourselves that when we made our first million we would endow a somehow steam-heated bench for the campus.
We also took long walks—of up to 10 miles—on the streets of Swarthmore and other nearby towns. One day we walked out to the reservoir and back—13 miles. Ross found that we could anagram our two surnames into “we do record walk.” All this led to our becoming avid hikers throughout most of our married life.
By the end of my junior year we knew that we would get married as soon as I graduated. During my senior year I lived in one of the lodges in Worth, and Ross was in graduate school at Princeton. He would visit Swarthmore every weekend, and I learned to cook by making dinner in the basement kitchen of Lodge 1. Because we wanted a small, intimate wedding with our Swarthmore friends, we were married in the afternoon of my graduation day, June 11, 1951, at Trinity Church in the village. We’ve raised three fine daughters and have five grandchildren, one of whom is Alexa Anne Malishchak ’09.
A Football Field is Good Place for a Match—William ’51 and Jacqueline Mary Smythe Saul ’51
Bill and I were students at Swarthmore 1947–1951. We first noticed each other on the football field. He was a football manager, and I was a red-headed cheerleader. We started dating our sophomore year.
In my freshman year, I studied every hour of every day, determined to make it at Swarthmore. Finally, in my sophomore year, I was able to relax and think about a social life. Bill and I had a Chaucer class together. I remember very clearly how he came up to me after class and said, “Would you like to go to the Druggie in the Ville?” That was the popular spot for dating after the library closed at 10 p.m. We took the short walk on Magill from the College to Main Street in the village. Love at first sight? That was it for me; I knew he was the one.
Before long, Bill invited me to the Delta Upsilon fraternity formal. We had dinner with Anne Megonigal ’51 and Jo Rosenthal ’51. Anne and I cooked dinner for Bill and Jo before the dance.
After that, we saw each other every day, ate meals together, danced in the Commons—jitterbugging was the dance in those days. At the fraternity house, there was a ping-pong table and music for dancing. We had to be back in the dorm by 11 p.m.
Between our sophomore and junior year, Bill asked me to wear his fraternity pin, and I agreed without hesitation. We knew that wearing the Delta Upsilon pin was a promise to marry eventually. We married six weeks after graduating.
We took the train from the Swarthmore station into Philadelphia to see a baseball game and to introduce Bill to my parents in Elkins Park. Memories fade after all these years, but we remember our years at Swarthmore as some of the happiest times in our lives. And 63 years and four children later, we know we made the right choice.
An Unlikely Match—Dick ’56 and Judy Risk Gammon ’56
Judy Risk caught my eye when we entered Swarthmore in 1952, but I still had a flame for a high school student, which gradually died as the year progressed. Free again as a sophomore, I gathered enough courage to ask Judy, a popular date, for a movie outing in Philadelphia. My recollection is a gentle rebuff as I attempted to hold her hand during the movie. An interfraternity dance in Philadelphia also didn’t add to my advantage. Still enchanted, I made several additional unsuccessful attempts that fall to secure a date and finally gave up.
Judy spent her junior year abroad at the University of Geneva. To my surprise and delight, I received her Christmas card from Switzerland (little did I know that most of her Swarthmore acquaintances also received the same greeting). So encouraged, when she returned to Swarthmore as a senior, I tried and tried again in the fall to get a date, but she was always “busy.” Finally, I called and stated emphatically that it was her “last chance.” I was successful at last, and a lovely courtship began—with many dates, spring walks among the daffodils in Crum Meadow, and many visits among the flowering trees on the semicircular bench near the president’s residence. My proposal that spring at another bench near the Friends Meeting House led to our marriage in Manhattan in 1957, and 57 years later we are still in love.
Love is All Around: In Parrish Hall, on the Baseball field, and even on the Trestle—John ’62 and Sherry Kibbee Weinberg ’61
The first time I laid eyes on my future husband was in the lounge in Parrish Hall in March 1960. I was with a classmate, Susan Kreps (now Panthea Redwood), and she approached a handsome young man in a chair to ask for change for a vending machine. He unfolded his tall self from the chair, but his pockets were empty. As Susan and I left the room, I asked, breathlessly, “Who’s that?” Susan had met John Weinberg in a class on philosophy of science.
I remember managing to be in the café in Somerville many evenings to casually join John and his friends relaxing there. I don’t remember any formal dating, or even telephone calls, but by the end of the semester, we were a pair. We took long walks together, especially over the Crum train trestle.
The next year, my senior and John’s junior, we studied together, often using one of the lodges next to Worth dormitory. John began to teach me how to play bridge—a hobby we still both share—and to take an interest in baseball. After I graduated, I came back to visit John several times for the weekend, staying with Prof. Carl Barus and his wife, Bunty, who were very supportive.
We worked to blend our lives while each pursued different academic goals, ending up at the University of Chicago, where John went to law school and I did graduate work in biochemistry. We were married in July 1963 and have celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary! Typical of young women 50 years ago, I didn’t pursue medical school right away, but after we moved to Seattle and our kids were in school, I attended the University of Washington School of Medicine and was a resident in pediatrics there.
I think we have managed, so far, to have it all: excellent educations in top-notch schools, wonderful children and grandchildren, two challenging careers, and now fun together in retirement.
It’s Never Too Late—Richard ’65 and Gail Sise Grossman ’65
Senior year, my roommate, Charles Lewis, suggested that we get an off-campus apartment rather than spending another year in the dorms. He landed a seven-room apartment on the third floor of a wonderful Victorian home a few blocks from the train station on Park Avenue. During spring break we had an “eating club” for classmates who were studying for exams or working at the College. We provided the facilities, and classmates (read: girls) cooked.
When the break was over, I remember telling Charlie, “Boy, I wish that I had gotten to know Gay Sise better. Now it’s too late.”
Gay and I had been friends from the beginning of our freshman year. We played Frisbee together and sometimes chatted but only dated once. Fortunately the opportunity came at an after-exams party in the Crum. We’ve been together since and have two sons and three granddaughters.
Don’t bother looking for that apartment. As we were moving out, our landlady said that, as much as she enjoyed us, she wouldn’t rent to students again.
“We Owe it to the Beatles”—Rick ’65 and Catherine Hagerty Garnett ’66
I met Rick dancing to the Beatles’ “She’s a Woman” at a W.A.P. (Weekend Anticipation Party) on Thursday, Feb. 11, 1965. (Actually I was dancing with someone else and he “cut in”—very exciting!) After dancing to a few songs we sat down and talked until the party ended and Rick borrowed a motor scooter to take me to Stackey’s in Chester for a Philly steak sandwich and more conversation. We had missed the midweek curfew when he drove me back to Parrish Hall, so I had to ring the doorbell and wake up a very irritated, curler-wearing matron.
Soon we were “closing down” Sharples dining hall—still talking while the kitchen staff stacked the chairs on the tables around us. I stood for hours in the hallway outside my Parrish dorm room talking on the one telephone for the entire third floor. More romantic conversations in the beautiful, secluded Scott Amphitheater and on scooter trips to Philly followed. With the Vietnam War in progress, Rick opted for law school at the University of Virginia after his graduation in 1965. (He had been accepted to go to Tunisia with the Peace Corp, but our romance interfered.) Rick hitchhiked back and forth to visit me at Swarthmore while I finished my senior year. One time, as I waited with him to catch a ride, I impulsively jumped in the car with him and rode as far as Washington, D.C., until we realized we had just enough money for a bus ticket back to Philly. I graduated on June 6, 1966, and we married the next day. We have lived in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alaska, and Arizona. Four children and 10 grandchildren later we still haven’t stopped talking.
A Good Sense of Orientation—Rod ’67 and Dorothy Woods Chronister ’66
I met Rod during his first week of orientation at Swarthmore. I was a sophomore, and my friend, Mona, made an effort to sit with different freshmen at every meal to try and meet them all. We had a disastrous triple date and did not date again for more than two years. However, we ate many meals together with a group of mutual Delta Upsilon friends and became casual friends.
By the time I graduated, in 1966, we were dating seriously but not exclusively. I got a job in Connecticut and drove five hours to Swarthmore about every other weekend to visit him. That was dedication! We were married the summer after Rod graduated, in 1967, and found a little apartment in Philly, where we both attended Temple University. Rod was a medical student, and I was a graduate student in psychology, and we were as poor as church mice but learned to get along on very little.
During the years we lived in Philly, then New Jersey, we loved to visit the campus whenever we could; it evoked so many pleasant memories. We loved the lilacs, the roses, Crum Woods. We might have been among the last students to crawl through the underground access to explore Book & Key before it was torn down.
We will celebrate our 47th anniversary this year. Rod has retired from a career in rehabilitation medicine, and we anticipate spending more time with our two children and seven grandchildren. Our daughter is now in New Jersey, so we hope to return to the campus more often. Our last visit there was for my 45th reunion, when this picture of us enjoying the Adirondack chairs was taken.
Sunbeams, Snowfall, Song, and Still Going Strong—David Schroeder ’77 and Amy Guildroy ’78
She was beautiful, sitting in an oversized armchair in Parrish Parlor on a bright Saturday afternoon in January 1975, drying her waist-length brown hair in a sunbeam and reading Quo Vadis. I worked up the courage to ask her for a date to “served meal” at Sharples, and she agreed. We courted on campus, studied together, danced together, and sang together. In December 1976, right after finals, we were married in Bond Chapel as snow was falling. Peter Gram Swing played the harpsichord. The rehearsal dinner was at the Ingleneuk restaurant in the Ville. The Ingleneuk isn’t there anymore, but we’re still going strong after 37 years, five graduate schools, six states, 12 moves, and one amazing daughter. Thank you, Swarthmore, for helping the two of us find each other and getting us off to such a great start.
A Nice Date for a Walk—Pat ’83 and Mary Woolson Cronin ’83
We met as sophomores during orientation week in Willets in 1980. I was a chemistry major from Dallas, and Mary was an art history major from Springfield, Pa. When Mary offered to lead a walking tour of Philadelphia one Saturday, I was the only one who showed up. We had a wonderful day in the city, and that became our first date. Who would have guessed that first date would lead, exactly 30 years later, to moving our son Jon ’14 into Willets to start his freshman year. Everything looked (and smelled) the same! We live on Garnet Lane (!) and still enjoy our dates in Philadelphia and beyond.
She Fell into His Lap—Gregory Davidson ’83 and Tamah Kushner ’83
There were three Swarthmore students curious enough to meet with Mormon missionaries in Parrish Parlors—she came the first night; I came the second. She sat in my lap one night, by mistake, in the middle of Monty Python and the Holy Grail in Clothier—and then ran away (we had no idea who the other person was for 10 years).
When another friend returned to Swarthmore my senior year after an absence, he asked for a reminder about people, and I provided written summaries on about 50 of our classmates. He asked me if there was anyone I was serious about. I replied, in typical Swarthmore fashion, that there was no one in particular, but there were maybe three women for whom there was a 1/50 chance that we would wind up together. One of them was definitely unavailable; Tamah lived on my hall, but was also in a long-term relationship. During “Disorientation” after finals, she and I were the only ones on Dana third, so we twice walked to a movie and got dinner. Still, she was in another relationship.
That summer, I stayed at the house (Professor Ray Hopkins’ house) in Swarthmore, where she and six other alumni were living for the summer. She was gone that weekend.
After returning to grad school after Thanksgiving, I used Cygnet to get her hometown, called information, and got her parents’ phone number. I planned to write her in Israel, but she was in Philly. We made plans to meet on Dec. 25—she was driving back from JFK and would drop me to meet friends at Mary Lyon.
We always swore we would never marry someone from Swarthmore. We were married that September—30 years ago.
Tamah responds: “All true. Looking back, I made an excellent decision, but … Greg was a five-year cancer survivor when we married, at a time when that was rare. Naively, I thought, “Whatever time we get is enough.” Luckily we are 30 years in, three children, mostly joyful times with some life bumps. I couldn’t have chosen better.”
From “More Than Friends” to Happy End—Stefan ’85 and Marya Verhave Gabriel ’85
We met during freshman orientation (at a party in Worth Quad) and realized that we lived right across the “hump” from each another in Parrish. Our wonderful group of friends gave us a safe environment in which to get to know each another without any other expectations.
Sophomore year, we began to think that we might want to be “more than friends.” A snowstorm delayed our first try at a first date (a trip into Philly for dinner and a movie). The next opportunity was unintentionally, but appropriately, Valentine’s Day, and it ended with our first kiss outside Lodge 1 (no excuses for not remembering the date ever since then!).
We fondly remember jogging together past the athletic fields, “served meal” dates in Sharples, weekend movies in Clothier, walking in the Crum, and study breaks in Wharton.
Junior and senior years convinced us that we wanted our relationship to last beyond graduation.
Although we ended up at different grad schools for a few years, we survived the time apart and became engaged. We agreed that Swarthmore was the best place to celebrate our wedding with friends and family, and our special day in August 1988 at Ashton House was everything we had hoped for (albeit it was quite hot and muggy!).
Over the years we’ve enjoyed getting back to campus for reunions, and in August, we enjoyed the nostalgia of staying at Ashton house 25 years after getting married there. It’s also wonderful for us to see our oldest daughter, Sofia Maria Gabruel ’15, making her own friends and memories now as a student at Swarthmore.
Trial by Fire and Kisses—Jane Mitchell ’86 and Matthew Eppley ’86
We were sophomores in 1983, serving on the orientation committee. We were both wearing the “Get De-Railed” garnet T-shirts and helping freshmen move into Dana/Hallowell. It started raining, and we ducked under the overhang on the dorm entrance steps and started chatting. The next day, a bunch of us blew off our orientation duties and crammed into Jeff Giles ’85’s monster of a convertible and spent the day at the beach.
That’s how we met!
We dated other people throughout that next year but always ended up lingering at lunch together, or goofing off at 8:30 a.m. tennis in front of Wharton. It was at a small gathering in front of the fire at the Phi Psi house in fall of junior year when we had our first kiss. Did the earth move? Well, something definitely shifted in our lives, and we’ve been together ever since.
We got married in 1991. We have three children, and the oldest, Luke Matthew Eppley ’17 just completed his freshman year at Swarthmore. Will there be more Matchboxers in our family? Maybe.
It’s easy to tell people that we were “college sweethearts,” but it feels like more than that.
Our shared intellectual “trial by fire” at Swarthmore helped us forge a special respect for each other’s thoughts and points of view. And we do use the word “consensus” more than any other couple we know.
Question Everything, and Write Your Own Rules—Catherine Maule ’96 and Dave McKechnie ’97
The photo was taken at graduation, 1997, outside the Scott Amphitheater. A few months later, on a warm and blindingly bright fall day, we returned to the amphitheater to speak our commitment to each other before family and friends. To many of our guests, our relationship was the glue that had brought friends together for late nights of philosophical wonderings and card playing. Ours was the rock they could stand on. To others, we were hopelessly young and naïve, Game-of-Thrones babes entering the unknowns of marriage and adulthood. But our time at Swarthmore entwined us irrevocably. Swarthmore had given us the space, the tools, and the compulsion to question everything, including the institution of marriage itself. We entered with our eyes—and our lines of communication—wide open. We wrote our own rules, knowing that they, and we, would change and evolve.
We have never for a moment regretted that leap. Seventeen years on—another country, four homes, many jobs, two postgraduate degrees, and two children later—we still find strength in those promises, those early years of challenging the assumptions of the world, of finding common ground, and of giving back to our community. We take nothing for granted and are grateful every day for what we have together.
And we still stay up late (later than we should, as parents!) for what we call our “state of the union” talks, ruminating on everything from literature to the environment, from national politics to our own careers, from poverty and welfare to our children’s achievements, idiosyncrasies, and futures. And not infrequently, we turn to each other and reflect: We could not be what we are as a couple, as parents, or as citizens without Swarthmore.
Opposites Attract—Eric Shang ’04 and Krista Gigone ’04
Eric Shang met Krista Gigone at the Swarthmore swim team’s preseason meeting just after they arrived on campus for the first time in fall 2000. He thought she was a goody-goody. She dismissed him as a foul-mouthed complainer. After he toned down the swearing and softened her up with chocolate, she discovered that most of their teammates recognized the entertainment value of his colorful commentary and that his slacker attitude was a front. They started dating just before the Valentine’s dance in 2001 and contributed to an epidemic of “swim-cest”; at one point, more than half of the men’s team was dating someone on the women’s team. Perhaps there was something in the Ware Pool water?
We got engaged before graduation in 2004. With many alumni friends in attendance, we married on June 4, 2005, despite living in different cities: Krista in Rochester for graduate school, Eric in Baltimore for medical school. She eventually joined him in Baltimore, then they moved to Philadelphia in 2008 for Eric’s general surgery residency at the University of Pennsylvania. We live in West Philly with our two children, Theodore, 3, and Frederick, 6 months, and a black-and-white cat, Penguin. The photo is from September 2013 (just before Frederick was born).