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:: By Mary Ruth Yoe

:: Illustration by Richard Thompson

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In Every Issue ::

Love is in the air

It’s also in our pages

If you’ve seen When Harry Met Sally, you know that the couple met cute—and on the Main Quadrangle—as they agreed to share a ride to New York City shortly after graduation. A few wrong turns and a decade later, they married. In real life, of course, Chicago alumni also meet cute and get married.

When we asked readers to share what made their Chicago wedding so Chicago (“Lite of the Mind,” Jan–Feb/08), we got dozens of letters. A representative sampling can be found here, and the complete collection appears here. Although we framed our question in terms of the wedding, many responses began at the beginning.


Some accounts were as terse as telegraphs: “Met at piano, Foster Hall,” wrote Madeline “Peach” Grove, PhB’48. “I played, he sang.” He was A. Keith Williams, AM’50, who died in 1996. Nancy Schulson Brownell, MFA’68, sent this message from her iPhone: “May 1 1968. A love-in called on the quads. Clear blue sky balloons and bikes. 2008—Forty years since I married Bill Brownell [SB’68, PhD’73] in Bond. The best thing to discover at the U of C—a partner for life.”

Many meetings occurred in the classroom. “It seems like such a short time since Jay [Sietsema, SB’48, SM’50] and I met while taking Quantitative Analysis at Kent Laboratory,” wrote Marilyn Lafferty Sietsema, PhB’45, describing their idyll thus: “During the lab portion of the course, we frequently found ourselves together in the quiet of the Weighing Room, carefully selecting and adding brass weights to those quaint balances, now collector’s items, to obtain amounts of samples weighed to the fourth decimal place.”

Fast-forward a quarter-century. “I met my wife in the back of the Quantitative Methods class at the GSB on campus,” Ed Sumner, MBA’70, wrote. “It was an 8 a.m. course: I slipped in late, she followed a little later.” Mary Roberts Sumner, AM’69, was one of “the approximately eight female students” in the class. “Working on FORTRAN programs together—I desperately needed her to type, as one bad keystroke on a punch card could be fatal—led to a Halloween date, and, as they say, the rest is history.”

Jeni Everly Banks, AB’99, first met her husband, Joe Banks, AB’97, when she was a third-year in the College: “Joe had graduated the spring before but was still hanging around Hyde Park, where he worked with my roommate at Bonjour Bakery Cafe while attending culinary school on the North Side. After winter break I enrolled in a swing-dance class and, to my surprise, Joe was teaching it. He was one of the founders of the Chicago Swing Dance Society and taught lessons to help fund his culinary education. Especially early on we tended to emphasize that we met at the bakery and downplay the whole swing-dance part—it’s just too cheesy to say he taught me how to dance.”

Past lives

For at least a decade I’ve been a fan of Harvard Magazine’s “Vita” department, which regularly presents significant figures from Harvard’s history. Sometimes it’s someone I’ve heard of—Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903), billed as “the first landscape psycho-architect”; sometimes it’s not—Ko K’un-hua (1838–82) was Harvard’s first Chinese instructor. Reading about remarkable personages from the past is comforting and instructive, and so with this issue we borrow from Harvard and introduce “Legacy,” which offers a brief life of Carter G. Woodson (1875–1950), the Chicago alumnus known as the father of black history.