JMU is a cultural kaleidoscope. With the student body completely rotating every few years, traditions and practices change so frequently that the school must be almost unrecognizable to some former Dukes. I recently had the great opportunity to correspond with such an alumni – Linda Hevener, UPB’s Film Chairman in the mid-1980’s.
She shared some stories about how different the atmosphere was when she went to school:
“I have even heard JMU is cancelling classes because of snow now. Being snowed IN was fun back then. My senior year, we had back to back storms and got 3 feet of snow accumulated on the ground, and a driving wind made very deep drifts. My car is in the yearbook that year, parked in X-lot, at the edge of a row of cars, with snow blown until it completely covered one side, and a lot of snow left on the other side. We were basically snowed in for about 5 days. Some of the professors couldn’t make it in. That was a shame, but we made the most of our time. ; )”
While Linda may be disheartened over some of the changes at JMU, such as how “they closed the Hill, and took away toilet paper, streamers and shaking newspapers at basketball games” she was glad to hear that at least the film spirit still lives on at Grafton-Stovall theatre. She described one of her many great experiences at school:
“When I first got to JMU, we would show Gone With The Wind on a cold Sunday afternoon, since it’s a 4 hour movie. On Thursday nights, we showed old classics and musicals, the kind everybody could sing along to. One night, while I was working a showing of Singin’ In The Rain, it snowed, one of those Harrisonburg snows that creeps up on you and dumps a few inches while you are in a building and don’t see it happening. People came out of G-S Theater and got excited by the weather and started singing “Singing In the Snow” and kicking it up in the air, like Gene Kelly does in the rain in the movie. It was the coolest thing because such a diverse crowd was singing the same song, enjoying the snow together, showing that “little kid” that will come out when it snows. I had the best feeling from that, and still get a great feeling from remembering it. “
I personally find it incredibly beneficial to hear from those who were at one point in the exact same place as I am now. If there are any more alumni readers I would love to hear about any of your JMU experiences or memories this post may have envoked. I hope you all enjoy the upcoming winter season and (hopefully) many films like Singin’ In The Rain that are truly deserving of being deemed classics.