Houghton College Retrospective #4: College Choir, Freshman Year

Looking up at the World Trade Center

(Clip of the choir’s featured piece during the 1984-85 season, under the direction of Dr. Brown. Go ahead and play while you read the rest. It will probably still be playing after you get done reading.)

It may be surprising to many that I, born and raised in New York State, had never been to New York City before the college choir toured NYC and the surrounding areas while I was a member my Freshman year.

WTC view 01
Seeing Statue of Liberty from World Trade Center

That surprise is to be expected of those who only think of “The City” when talking about New York, and are unaware of the upstate/downstate pull of the New York identity and politics. Nevertheless, it was to New York City, Connecticut, West Point, etc., that we toured that year.

WTC viem 02
Brian Lewis Taking picture from World Trade Center of the Empire State Building

It was year that I also went to the top of the World Trade Center — unaware that it wouldn’t be there in another couple of decades. I remember having that weird sense, looking down through the windows, of falling, that feeling of throwing myself off.

My photo album of the tour is full of pictures of each couple we stayed with. I have fond memories of one of the couples, when I asked to take their picture, of hiding behind her husband, except for her face, because she was in her house robe and was bashful about having her picture taken in it.

I remember part of the tour preparation was finding a roommate that we would usually be paired up with when the hosting church found someone to put us up for the night. There were several other freshman in the choir, but they already had people planned to pair up with.  I was a loner, and so senior Tim Deeks, a double major (psych/music), became my tour roommate. I have memories of being the loner, combined with memories of being greatly befriended.

Street Musicians
NYC street band

I was struck by a sidewalk band I saw, and took a picture of it.  I became more acquainted with such groups this past summer while traveling on my whirlwind tour of Mediterranean Europe.

Macy Barbershop
Barbershop group in Macy’s, NYC

I also took a picture of a Barbershop Quartet singing in Macy’s.

Central Park 01
Me and Samantha sitting in Central Park

And got my first exposure to Central Park.

West Point
View of West Point from the Cadet Chapel

That year we sang at West Point — in the Post Chapel.  Our chief school Rival, Roberts Wesleyan College, was singing in the Cadet Chapel.  The Cadet Chapel was larger.  But we did get to go to the Cadet Chapel afterwards, and see inside.  Dan Fortune, the organ major among us, even got to sit at the chapel organ.  That organ was a marvel. It had more stops that it would seem any organist would know what to do with. Seems that one of the more popular class gifts for graduating classes to donate to West Point was a rank of pipes for the organ.

Radio City - Ruhl
Mark Ruhl sitting in front of Radio City

This was the year of the three ties — purple, gold and flourescent orange. There was a small tie shop, in a very narrow slit of a shop, just across from the World Trade Center (It too is probably not there any more.  You could get 3 narrow ties for $10, and I got a violet-type purple, synthetic almost rubbery-fabric  fluorescent orange and a metallic gold weave. I still have them.

Freshman Room
My side of my Freshman dorm room. I had space left in the choir tour album, and put in a couple of pictures of my dorm room as well.

One response to “Houghton College Retrospective #4: College Choir, Freshman Year”

  1. Appreciate your picture of Statue of Liberty, I was looking for that pictures, Have a picture taken in Jan 1986 from the top of the World Trade Centre, but it is not clear.


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