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Christina Clark-Rohde - Interview

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    Christina Clark-Rohde '68
December 12, 2012
In the spring of 2012 I interviewed the first Sophie Kerr Winner - Christina Clark-Rohde ‘68

What was it like to be the first SK winner? 

Totally heartburstingly EXCITING!  Apart from myself and the English department, only the news reporters understood what it was (and asked hard questions, btw).

But there were so many great awards and honors and medals that the entire 1968 class was triumphant. Just getting through WC was a triumph!  The Comprehensives were murder!

What is you favorite memory from your time at Washington College?

Wait - have you looked through the 1968 Pegasus? One favorite memory? Each day was more interesting than the last, and the class of ‘68 was without a doubt the most gorgeous, lively crowd anywhere! 

Here’s a random selection of a few good personal memories: 

 -Riding at Quaker Neck Stables, where I got ribbons for commands (blue) and equitation (white) Look it up in Chronicle of the Horse!

 -Teasing Norman James about his tam o’shanter hat, and then laughing when a very tall classmate fell stone asleep in the front row during James’ class, his pen clattering to the floor.

 - Russian seminars in Bill Smith basement, the whole Russian class drinking tea-with-rum and trying to understand what anyone wrote on the blackboard, while Prof     Meyer read the WSJ and smoked cheap European cigarettes. Back then, EVERYBODY smoked and drank, students and faculty alike.

 -Nick Newlin’s face when, at a registration, I told him I wanted to take Business Law. Which I did. BTW, Dr. Newlin was mortally afraid of getting stung by a bee and, if a bee came in through the open windows, the whole class was mobilized until the bee was no more. 

-Running the streets of CTown after dark with my fellow West Hall top floor denizens…escapades, which required disabling the door alarm at the fire escape. Running the streets may have been more exciting before the new Toll bldg existed. We once ran through backyards there to get away from a Jaguar XKE THAT WAS FOLLOWING US (according to my hyper imaginative friends).

 -Walking into Nancy Tatum’s class (Shakespeare) ONE HOUR LATE just as everyone was leaving, I forget why I didn’t know the time was changed.  

 -Flying out of Bio lab and back to the dorm to watch DARK SHADOWS, a daily soap opera which I thereafter held responsible for the total disaster of my fruit fly experiment.

-Watching the Thetas play Lacrosse with oranges from the dining hall after a frat party until their house was a shambles, and Dr. Brown had to come over and restore order, but not before the Thetas heaved a water cooler out the window

-  Piling into cars and racing as a group to see each movie in the drive-in and the Chestertown movie theatre, a.k.a. the bat palace, one Saturday night. Dates were soldiers from the Nike base. Back then it was not uncommon to date boys from town or from the military bases.  

What did you do after graduation?

On Dr. Newlin’s advice after the commencement ceremony: ran around Europe squandering Sophie’s money and getting a life, then worked in radio, edited for NY office of Little, Brown and a bit later for Dial Press, joined the Women’s Liberation Movement and the municipal union movement, studied graphic arts at NY School of Visual Arts, also admitted to Master’s program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Studies classical guitar performance at Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. So I got a life, thanks to Nicky Newlin’s advice! I did not seriously go back to the novel writer/publisher game until the late 1980s, but meanwhile I wrote constantly and that included writing for two NYC mayors, one NYS governor, the NYC Emergency Financial Control Board/Municipal Assistance Corporation. I was a features writer for The Unionist, the Public Employee Press, the Irish American News Review, and in later years reporter and features for Straus Communications of NY & NJ (syndicate of 7 newspapers). I’m sure I left out a ton of jobs and references.   

What is the best job you have ever had? 

Maybe it was NYS Supreme Court, Senior Court Officer, Warden of the Grand Jury.  Or self-defense instructor at NYS Courts Academy. Or Assistant Publisher of the Dial Press under the illustrious publisher Al Hart. Or maybe it was teaching my two daughters how to read and write. Or maybe it was my 2-year term of office as Vice President of SSEU Local 371, largest and most militant local union of DC 37 AFSCME AFL-CIO.   Or maybe my best job is web publisher and owner of Vernon Web. I am now 65 years old. A Baby Boomer. I get social security and state pension money. All my jobs have been the best because my generation made it so. Later generations wouldn’t, and still won’t, fight for their rights the way we did.  And they don’t pursue happiness the way we did.

What is your favorite word?

DEFENESTRATION 

Any words of encouragement for your daughter’s graduation next week?

Pay attention, remember who you are, take a chance, try new things, and don’t take yourself too seriously.

 


Last modified on Dec. 12th, 2012 at 2:39pm by Owen Bailey.