Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Sunday, October 18, 2009

4 out of 5 ain’t bad…

Elizabethtown Homecoming '09

By The PubScout

"The coldest winter I ever spent," Mark Twain is supposed to have said, "was a summer in San Francisco." I've been to Frisco in the summer, and Twain wasn't lying. But he obviously wasn't at Elizabethtown College in PA in the fall of '09.

Elizabethtown, a small (highly rated) private college with a huge and dedicated alumni following, held its annual Homecoming this past weekend, and it was clear that Mother Nature obviously went to Lycoming. The weather couldn't have been worse—rain, driving at times; wind, gusting up to 40 MPH and the temps dropping low enough to cause Al Gore to produce an explanatory sequel to "An Inconvenient Truth" (which, ironically, will be shown at the college next weekend).

I attended and reviewed this event three years ago, due to the beneficence of one Barry Friedly ('69) who is the head alumni honcho at E-town, as the school is affectionately known. My eldest son was entering as a freshman then, and this event would be his last (hopefully) as an E-town student, so I felt obligated to go. Barry was nice enough to extend to me yet another invitation to write up the event—realizing that I am a lot poorer now than I was three years ago, perhaps.

But, if the weather wasn't, other things were very clear. Foremost among them was an indomitable—and ubiquitous—sense of spirit and family that seemed to pervade all of those at the Oktoberfest Alumni event. Not a scowl or frown among them, and the beer tent was packed with alums sampling the fine wares of the Lancaster Brewing Company. There seemed to be more recent grads at this fest than the one I attended three years ago, but that could have been a factor of the weather. We aging boomers are reluctant to venture out in elements that might rust our walkers. Back in the day, the three letters we valued were K-E-G. Now they are E-K-G.

I did spend a delightful fifteen minutes with Blair Walker ('69) who seems to have lived three lifetimes already, and is aiming for a fourth. The Wrestlers were there in force as were a number of young alumnae who I thought should have been carded. There were even young children of alums there who were neither impressed with the beer or the company. To them, body glitter took precedence. Some alums like the Snavelys ('81) were there with their progeny, like Melinda, who were also alums. Doug and Deb met while commuting together to E-town back in the horse-and-buggy days.

Another thing that stood in stark contrast to the miserable weather was the outstanding brew offered by the aforementioned LBC. In addition to their Oktoberfest (formerly called Franklin Fest), Josh Broonell ( an apt name, that) of LBC was pouring Strawberry Wheat, Rare Rooster ( a rye ale) and what I consider to be their flagship beer—Lancaster Milk Stout. He was ably assisted by Sigourney (Weaver) McCleaf, a Millersville senior, and Katie Owen, a U of Tennessee Volunteer!

The beer and the spirit were matched by the wonderful food Barry and his aides put out—a raft of sausages, pork, veggies, kraut, potatoes and a sinfully rich chocolate cake (made with Lancaster Milk Stout).

The fourth area the weather couldn't impact was the friendliness of absolutely everyone on the E-town campus, from those in charge to those in their charge. Smiles abounded despite the gloomy overcast skies, and the visitor got a sense of family everywhere, especially under the heating mushrooms. The school has fewer than 2200 students, so "family" may come naturally, and it may account for the alum attitude that was unanimous in stating that they would feel very happy and comfortable if their own kids came here.

Had the weather not put a damper on the celebration and other activities, this E-Town Homecoming '09 would have been a 5 out of 5.

But, to borrow a phrase from Meat Loaf, 4 out of 5 ain't bad.

And the Milk Stout still gets a 5 out of 5.

© Kurt Epps 2009 All Rights Reserved

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