American Top 40 PastBlast, 11/13/82: Donald Fagen, “I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)”

One of the extra-curricular activities I pursued soon after getting to college was writing for the campus student rag, The Rambler. I hadn’t done journalism of any sort in high school—Walton-Verona was really too small to have a newspaper, and my schedule hadn’t allowed me to work on the yearbook staff. Nonetheless, as someone who liked writing pretty well, I jumped at the chance to take on assignments and talk to folks around campus. Publication during the fall of 1982 was usually weekly, sometimes every other week. Looking through the issues from that November, I see a few nuggets of personal interest and/or curiosity.

11/1/82 (the issue is actually undated, but the contents point to this as the likely publication date)
Headline: Professor writes Lexington history
History professor John D. Wright, Jr., one of the few members of the Transy faculty remaining from my father’s time there 30 years earlier, had recently authored Lexington: Heart of the Bluegrass, covering the city’s 200+ year history. Dad, who’d been a history major, held Dr. Wright in high esteem and they maintained occasional correspondence well into the 21st century (I came across a kind note from Dr. Wright when going through my father’s effects after his passing—it was from just a few years previous). I regret somewhat that I didn’t take one of Dr. Wright’s classes.

Headline: Bacchus coming to Transy’s campus
A chapter of a national student organization working toward responsible alcohol consumption by college students was soon to be established.

Headline: Art Course Offers Students Chance to Travel
Yours truly gets his second byline, about an upcoming May 1983 course that included visits to museums in NYC and DC.

Headlines: Tennis team wins NAIA District and State and Women’s field hockey team wins state championship
It was a good fall for women’s sports on campus. The tennis team had earned a trip to the national tournament the following spring.

11/15/82

Headline: New admissions director takes charge on Jan. 1
William Hanger would be coming to campus from Miami University (OH), reuniting with his former boss and recently-installed Transy president David Brown. He was actually to serve as Vice President for Enrollment, with a charge of increasing the number of students on campus from its then 650-ish to 1000. Both Hanger and Brown would depart Transy several months later, in the summer of 1983, when the powers-that-ultimately-be decided a change in leadership was necessary. An internet search informs me that Hanger returned to Miami and worked in Institutional Relations there until his retirement (he passed away about three years ago).

Headline: A Gown for His Mistresses delightful play; acting sterling
A review of the fall theater production, a farce by Georges Feydeau. By the way, the play’s title is incorrect in the headline—there was only a single mistress involved. Pretty sure I went and saw this.

Announcement: Wind Ensemble plays Dec. 1

That fall we were a very tiny and indeed unconventional group: five flutes, two trumpets, and one each of clarinet, bassoon, horn, trombone (moi), and tuba. Six of the eleven of us were first-year students. The ensemble did grow steadily in size throughout my time there.

11/22/82
Headline: Transy community debates value of May Term
Transy had what we called a 4-4-1 calendar, with two thirteen-week terms, followed by one four-week term in May (the numbers refer to how many classes are taken per term). I honestly have no recollection of this hullaballoo, but my reading between the lines is that President Brown had floated the idea of either moving to a more traditional two-semester model or placing the short term in January. The article outlines arguments, both pro- and con-, about making a change and is accompanied elsewhere in the issue by an editorial, as well as pictures of and quotes from several students and a couple of faculty reacting to the possibility of something new (almost everyone appears to prefer the status quo). In the end, nothing happened, and the calendar today is the same as then.

Headline: Greek sing is a success
Fraternities and sororities tended to dominate the social scene at TU. Greek Sing was an annual rite, sponsored (at least in 1982) by the Chi Omega sorority. The author gives a rave review, finding something award-worthy in each performance (official winners Phi Mu did an American Bandstand send-up, while Delta Sigma Phi sang Broadway tunes).

Headline: BACCHUS urges better behavior
The fledgling organization hosted a cocktail hour in the cafeteria and elected officers. The article mentions that BACCHUS (Boost Alcohol Consciousness Concerning the Health of University Students) is currently “an ad hoc committee of the Student Government Association. But after this school year, it will be on its own.” I don’t recall that this effort got any sort of long-term traction.

Headline: Hall stays busy at Clay-Davis
Your humble blogger had another article, this time a feature on the head resident advisor (whose last name was Hall) for my dorm, named jointly for Henry Clay, and yes, Jefferson Davis—he’d studied at the 1820s incarnation of Transy while in his early teens. It’s been demolished within the last decade.

There’s no mention in any of these issues of The Rambler, but other items in my Bin of College Memories remind me that 11/13/82 was Parents’ Weekend. My folks, who needed only the faintest excuse to come visit me, drove down for the day. We doubtless attended some of the formal functions (I wrote four years ago about President Brown challenging students to a “naming bee” as part of the weekend’s festivities; I participated, and you can read about the outcome here). Afterward, they took me to the mall to shop for a new winter coat, one that lasted me until sometime after I went to Illinois.

During the second quarter of the 70s, my father became quite interested in stamp collecting (I did too, to a lesser extent). On those rare occasions when I happen to think about the International Geophysical Year, an image of the U.S. stamp issued in celebration of it often springs to mind:

I had to have seen this somewhere around 1974.

Donald Fagen is sixteen years older than I am, so he didn’t have to learn about I.G.Y. through philately. His song about the eighteen-month-long endeavor captures both the imagination (space travel, Spandex) and the misplaced optimism (undersea rail, eternal youth) of the era. Nearly twenty-four years after I.G.Y. had ended, I was studying to become a programmer, though whether I ever had the vision or compassion necessary to help create a just decision-making machine is up for debate. That November weekend my parents came to visit me, “I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)” was at #33, moving toward a #26 peak two weeks later. (Side note, expressed with an appropriate amount of shame: while The Nightfly is revered by friends from many phases of my life, somehow it’s never found a spot in my collection. I don’t even know if I’ve ever listened to it in its entirety. Don’t hate on me for this–I’m certain I have a redeeming quality or two.)

My Rambler collection is less complete following the 1982-83 year. Part of that, perhaps, was me getting more involved in other aspects of campus life, but the paper’s student leadership began faltering, too. A re-set was necessary during my junior year (they even ignored the Rambler’s storied 70-year history and—at least for a while—dialed things back to Volume 1). Recent developments include a move to online-only publication in August 2016, a kerfuffle that made the news in the spring of 2019 regarding discontinuation of paying an outside part-time advisor (I’ve not able to determine how the situation was resolved, but it apparently it was in some fashion), and of course much more sporadic publication in these pandemic times.

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