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Winter Recollections

February 8, 2011

From Kirkland College 1974-1975 Calendar

Do you remember when it snowed in May in Clinton?

A few weeks ago, Archives, Media and Publications sent out an email hoping to spark alumni recollections of the long, long, long winter season on the Hill.

Pour yourself a steaming mug of herbal tea, toss another log on the fire, and join the conversation! Send us your own winter memories—and take a look at some of our classmates’ Winter Study reminiscences here and at

Here are some of the creative, inspiring, thoughtful, responses we have received thus far:

Cathy Fahey '78

Snow on the quad, 1978

There was plenty of snow in the winter of my senior year at Kirkland, 1977-78.

January term found me finishing paintings for an independent study with Bill Salzillo and obsessing over my senior project with Esther Barrazone. It was a quiet, peaceful time and always beautiful. A visit from my boyfriend—now husband of 30 years—Ed Watkins H’74 helped break up the time.

Check out my photo of Ed and friend, Dick Usher, H’75, “riding a bike” in front of Milbank.

Men on wheels

Hamiltonians "riding" a bike, winter '78

I lived in a Milbank suite with four wonderful women from the Class of 1982. Beth Baker and Lisa Master are pictured here with me in our suite.

Kirkland women through and through, they had to make the difficult decision of whether to stay and graduate from Hamilton or continue their education elsewhere.

Cathy Fahey, K’78





Suitemates Beth Baker '82, Cathy Fahey '78, Lisa Master '82

Catherine Fahey '78

Entrance sign with Cathy Fahey '78

The wonderful photo image [from the Kirkland calendar; see above] I remember inspired a long hike then, this poem now.

Thanks for the chance to reflect.


John Heyl, H ’76

Dancing Sticks Reflection

A boy alone

Leaves shelter on legacy snowshoes,

Heads west,

Into the storm:  drifting and breeze.

The glen sighs and sifts

Rill by hill.

Dead leaves rattle prattle on woods’ sticks clicking.

Snow down through the trees.

Keep walking.

Piles deepen, swishing gait and swirls in the wake.

Breath and wind and fleeting memory.

Endless woods: to tramp a trail.

Up and over rises and pastures. Trudging on, and on.

The storm subsides.

A solo winter walk to mull the mental cider–thoughts and feelings

Unadorned with campus antics.

Simple dancing sticks.

Enough light to define a shadow.

Enough stillness to hold a sleeve of powder.

Enough time to reflect.

Luxuries of winter and a quiet walk alone along.

Winter in 1978

Winter in 1978

Winter in Clinton was both beautiful and beguiling. It also seemed to last forever. The long walk from the far dorms at Kirkland (Major, Minor) to the Hamilton Science Building stretched along footpaths edged by growing walls of snow that had yellow poles poking out, and the sheer height often seemed overwhelming. We joked that we lived in the great tundra and would be snowed in atop College Hill until May. It also meant we had excellent conditions for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing across the pristine expanse of the land behind Kirkland College.

Some of my other memories include checking out gear rom the Outing Club, madcap traying excursions down College Hill. playing platform tennis behind Milbank (and what is now Babbitt Dorm) on a sunny, but icy day, working on the potter’s wheel in List while it snowed all afternoon, hot chocolate at Stan’s Luncheonette in the village, sitting by the fireplace in McEwen warming our hands and gloves, having the ice rink almost completely to ourselves on Friday mornings, making toffee bars and Rice Krispy treats for the Coffee House, wearing layers and boots all the time, stir fry cooking  on a hot plate in our dorm, the squishy sound of gators and boots on unplowed snow, the fiery red poinsettia bushes outside McEwen and the freedom of skiing through the silvery silence of Kirkland Glen.

Judy Silverstein Gray, K’78

I had cross country skied occasionally in Kirkland Glen during my first three years at Hamilton, but only in my senior year did I discover the magic of skiing Kirkland Glen at night in the snow.  The wide flat trail allowed easy navigating by the light diffusing through the clouds, into the woods and onto the snow covered path.  Having just read the Lord of the Rings trilogy (at the urging of my roommate, the late Richard Koelle (H’78) made the seeming magic more palpable.  It was easy to image Gandalf or some elf hiding behind trees in the silent wood.  The only sound, when I stopped, would be my breathing, and the occasional clump of snow falling from a branch.

Having gained confidence on cross country skis on the flat trail, and having some downhill skiing experience, I decided one day to try skiing Root Glen.  Bad idea.  Very narrow steep paths with hairpin turns.  I quickly evolved an inelegant, but survivable, technique of grabbing a branch when I was going too fast, and allowing it to fling me face first into the snow bank.  Wipe myself off, and try again.  I do not remember how I got back up from the bottom of Root Glen, but the trip down is deeply planted in my memory.

Michael Margolin, H’78

I remember my first Winter Study at Kirkland, as being quite gray.  Even the red, orange and yellow blinds could not warm the gray of the skies and the buildings.  And it was always snowing.  You stopped thinking to yourself, oh it’s snowing, because it was not ever not snowing.  My parka had failed me, it was not nearly warm enough for the Clinton winters. Yet as I would walk home from a basketball game or the pub late at night, there was a strange serenity to the chill of the night and the sound of the squeaking crunch my boots would make on the snowy paths.

List Breezeway

Campus in winter

I don’t remember what I studied that January, but I do remember that, despite the grayness, it was during Winter Study that I found my place at Kirkland.  I was timid and nervous that first semester, and did not venture far from my room.  But during Winter Study, I made friends and had adventures that made me sure I was where I should be.  My fondness of those people and the memories of our escapades has not diminished. Kirkland was about growth, and that month I became a college student.

Margaret Babbitt, K’78

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Matt Schaefer permalink
    February 8, 2011 12:30 pm

    Most of the postings refer to the serenity of the snow and the amazing silence it brought to the walkabouts each of us made to class and else where. My freshman year was not always so serene as the snow was deep enough to lure the cabin-fevered freshmen then occupying Dunham Hall (the all male Hamilton freshman dorm in those days) into jumping out of second and third floor windows into the piles of the white stuff on one eventful night. Many of the participants just missed concrete abutments bordering the stairwells into the Dorm. Oh, the rashness of youth!

  2. Alyssa Ross Eppich H'81 permalink
    February 8, 2011 1:18 pm

    In my freshman year, 77-78, I remember so much snow that the first floor rooms of all the Kirkland dorms were completely covered by it.. Anyone living in those rooms did not see the light of day until it all melted sometime in March. I spent time every day cross country skiing, not only on the hiking paths that threaded through each campus, but back and forth to classes, too. It was a blast, and I was probably in the best physical shape of my life either before or since that time. It was fun to make a positive out of it!

    • Bea Trostorff Radtke permalink
      February 8, 2011 11:20 pm

      I remember that snow too. We never had classes cancelled for “snow days” either. We’ve had a few lately in Denver (actually, more like “sub zero” days).
      Not to mention what those of you living in the NE have had this winter.
      Regardless, the snow and cold was peaceful in Clinton.

  3. Kirkie 74 permalink
    February 13, 2011 8:37 pm

    Winter at Kirkland brought a certain kind of madness with the snow fall. I cross country skied alone at night, telling friends “if I’m not back in an hour, let someone know”. I took my wooden skis to the Outdoors Club and used saw horses and a blow torch to remove my very thick wax. ( called klister for those who remember old wooden skis). I remember Sam riding across campus on his snowmobile and yelling at him for polluting the atmosphere.
    Looking back it seems somewhat insane, but then it felt perfectly normal.
    BTW: I, too, recall my Hamilton friends jumping out of Dunham windows and wondering why some of them did it head first.

  4. Steven Brooks permalink
    February 21, 2011 9:36 pm

    As a high school senior I was deciding between Hamilton and Brown, and since I thought Hamilton was more attractive and because I wanted to go to school somewhere that had lots of snow, it was an easy decision. Hamilton never let me down on either score. After traveling to almost every small northeastern liberal arts college with our three children, I still think that Hamilton is the most beautiful campus I have seen. And I loved every minute of every snowstorm in the years I spent on the Hill. I vividly recall walking up from the DKE House into the teeth of howling snowstorms and the temperatures in the single digits and wondering, “Why do I enjoy this?” But I did. I loved the way the snow would squeak underfoot when the temperature was below zero. So too on those amazingly cold and brittle yet lovely weekend mornings with their bright blue skies and blindingly white snow drifts, with no one around given the early hour. Or sitting in the window of our room in Carnegie watching as a heavy snow squall moved across campus and blotted out North and Kirkland dorms. Not to mention leaving the Pub at last call only to see that another 6″ of snow had fallen while I was enjoying the camaraderie of that now long-forgotten institution! As a responsible adult I have come to dislike the aggravations and difficulties that snowstorms bring, but a part of me will always remember how the endless winters and deep snows of Clinton shaped my experience there.

    • Alyssa Ross Eppich H'81 permalink
      February 22, 2011 3:23 pm

      You illustrated the feeling I had too, Steven about all the snowstorms at the time I was at Hamilton. I might growl about the all the snow we get here in Maine, but I adore it. And like you, the warm feeling and the wonder of the snow my freshman year in 1977-1978 will always stay with me. What year did you graduate from Hamilton?

  5. Kate Connell K'76 permalink
    March 3, 2011 10:05 am

    I remember running in the snow, before I discovered the little indoor track around the ice rink. I wore Keds, and then later got some Adidas, and sweatpants, sweatshirt. No jacket. Terrible running conditions. I have this memory–like a few frames from a movie–of jogging along a packed-down path through the snow, gulping in freezing air, trying not to slip, heading up College Hill Road past the college. That’s all — just a clip from an old seventies movie.

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