A Perspective from the Old Breed

John Pittman ’16

The fall trimester is rapidly coming to an end. With its conclusion, students start preparing for exams, the lists for buses go up, and the nostalgia of The Game and Bonfire become omnipresent. The entire fall seems to be building up to the one weekend that defines us and our relationship with those poor unfortunates up the road in Alexandria. By means of this weekend, we clearly distinguish ourselves as Woodberry boys and we recall those who came before us that helped make the events what they are today.

Vee Pittman '80 in traditional Woodberry apparel common amongst students at the time

Vee Pittman ’80 in traditional Woodberry apparel common amongst students at the time

I recently spoke with my father, Vee Pittman ’80, and inquired about certain aspects of Woodberry, including pep-rallies, The Bonfire, and The Game. “First of all,” Vee began, “the pep rallies we had were very different from the ones now. There were no adults. No parents, no teachers. We’d go do our thing, and it was no big deal.” When I asked about the location and the content of the pep rallies, he said that they took place in Tiger Square, and the content was more or less the same. “You know, dumb boy stuff. One bit of the pep rallies that has sort of died out though is the skits,” he said, searching through memories for an example. “We had this guy–Chris Wideman—and he’d get up there [on stage] and imitate James Maubry. He’d slick his hair back, have a stogie, and it’d be like he was driving a bus. Now I think he [James Maubry] has sorta faded into the sunset, but he used to be fiery!”           

Though 35 years apart, it is easy to see that Woodberry boys have always been doing foolish stuff at pep rallies. Walker’s ‘Not Top-5’ is not a far cry from Chris Wideman’s James Maubry. As the times have changed however, teachers and parents have become more of the commonplace attendants. As best as my father could remember, The Bonfire took place at roughly the same spot.

The Bonfire as it burned in 1979

The Bonfire as it burned in 1979

I asked my father about hierarchy and his response epitomized why we should hold on to it. “I mean, it was never really an issue. We were all at the bottom at some point, but we worked our way up. The younger guys looked up to the older guys. That’s why I think you remember the guys ahead of you more than you do the guys behind you.” When I asked about hazing, he responded with, “It’s more like rites of passage. Hell, my new boy year, my prefect was some big football player, and he made me go in [the bathroom] and warm up the toilet seat for him.  [Stuff] like that gets you ready for the world. New boy year, you’re scum of the earth. But you deal with it and you work your way up. And then at graduation, you’re on top of the world. The next morning though, you wake up and you’re a freshman at college, and again scum of the earth. But you work your way up, and at graduation you’re again on top of the world. And again you wake up the next morning and you have to enter the working world, and again right back at the bottom. That’s life.”

Woodberry boys are tough. Getting through Woodberry is not some leisurely trip through high school. The guys who have been here a while, have been through an ordeal. They survived. They have encountered conflict and adversity in nearly every aspect of life here. Conflict and adversity are good for us. They help us to become better men, and nowadays, humility and self-improvement are lacking in the world. Woodberry is still around because the system that is in place is a system that works; work hard, play hard. If one of us is out of line, it is the responsibility of the community to help him correct himself.

John '16 (back) and Scott '18 (front) Pittman with their grandparents on Grandparent's Day

John ’16 (back) and Scott ’18 (front) Pittman with their grandparents on Grandparent’s Day

Categories: Today

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