Ingredients for Homecoming Success

By Howard Zien, Class Treasurer


The homecoming weekend is typically about 4 things:

  • Reuniting
  • Receptions
  • Weather
  • Football

The first two are totally reliable.  

It is so pleasant to reconnect with classmates, even though we did so a mere  4 or 5 months ago.  The conversations continue.  They resume where they left off in late May.

Henry Barkhorn shared information about a Princeton “inside baseball”website that enables Princeton students and alums to rally around Princetoniana wherever in the country it occurs.

The site is called “You know you went Princeton if…” and it is accessible at this Facebook link.

I encourage you to visit this site and nurture your sense of belonging.



On homecoming weekend one is forced to ask how many receptions are too many receptions .  The day “kicked-off” at 11am with a University-wide reception at Fine Plaza created by Food Services.  There was a wide variety of sandwiches, salads, soup, cookies and the ever essential universal elixir, beer.

The food services team gets extra credit for setting up during a drizzle and the threat of continuing rain.  There are numerous corners of Fine Plaza strategically fitted with overhead shelter.  One has to ask if the architects and planners asked themselves when they built the plaza and surrounding buildings, “we need to provide strategic shelter on these plaza so that we can provide shelter in the event that it might rain on homecoming weekend."

My wife Marj and I found ourselves in an engaging conversation with two PHD professors in the physics department.  Apparently it is not enough for them to deal with quantum mechanics and the expanding universe.  They were also concerned about football and were trying to calculate if the Princeton team is genuinely outstanding or if they were beneficiaries of shortcomings in the capabilities of their early season opponents.

We all agreed that over the next few weeks, we will find out as we play Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth.  Apparently it is just a matter of physics.

But we had to cut our time short at the University tailgate.  The class of 71 Tailgate was starting 45 minutes later in the Cap and Gown parking lot.  Podie Lynch and Jack Hittson parked their cars in proximity with their auto tailgates open (I guess that is where the name comes from).  In so doing they revealed all manner of refreshments, wine and Bloody Mary’s redolent with horse radish.  Within easy earshot of the stadium, we could hear the announcers and fans beckoning.  But the overwhelming quantity and quantity of food, drink  and camaraderie made it difficult to leave for the stadium.  Eventually, we did and we were well rewarded.

Need we say that after Princeton had summarily dispatched Brown, the classmates from the Fine plaza reception and the '71 reception gathered at Tiger Inn for (you guessed it) a reception.

Homecoming weekend was October 13.  During our undergraduate years and the decades since, we grew accustomed to summer ending and  autumnal weather emerging by Sept 20 or so.  But this year, all the way up to October 11, the weather was well into the upper 70’s.  Even the 80’s.  It was spooky.  What’s more, all the beautiful Princeton trees were steadfastly green.  There was nary a bit of red or yellow to portend the coming autumn.

I have learned over the years that a major rain storm frequently portends a change from summer to fall.  But this year we have experienced many such storms.  In the aftermath, as the skies cleared, the temperature would return to its unseasonable highs.

My wife Marj said to me mid-week that if it does not rain, she would love to join me at Princeton for the day.  Well, early in the morning, here in New York and in Princeton, the rain came down in sheets and buckets.  She was confident that the precipitation would dissipate and the skies would clear.  But as the morning wore on, and the rain persisted, we were both coming to grips with the vulnerabilities of weather forecasting.

However, just before 11am, the rain stopped.  For both the Fine Plaza reception and the class tailgate, the skies were dry and progressively clearing.   And the temperature began to settle to a more typical cool and  autumnal place.  

By games end, the skies were a brilliant blue and the clouds appeared in compelling white fluffs as if placed by a renaissance artist.



Did I mention that there was also a football game.  The Tigers manifested domination on both offense and defense.  The final score 48-10 would suggest that this is one of the finest Princeton football teams in years.  The wide margin of victory made the Tiger Inn reception that much more festive.  The prevailing conversation centered around “are the Tigers really this good?”.   Stand by.  We will find out over the next few weeks.  

But the camaraderie, the spirit, the sense of participation and belonging of this weekend will stay with those of us who attended for the foreseeable future.

Try to make it next year.


Spotted at one or more of the Homecoming events were: Barkhorn, DiFedele, Empkie, Fitzgerald, Wally Hess, Hittson, Huard, Lynch, Perel, Pike, Pitney, Rickerson, Trieshmann, and Zien.

Upcoming Events

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Conversation With President Eisgruber

December 5, 2023
Hong Kong, China

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January 10, 2024
Los Angeles, CA

San Diego Mini-Reunion

February 3-4, 2024

Alumni Day

February 24, 2024

Conversation With President Eisgruber

February 12, 2024
West Palm Beach, FL

Conversation With President Eisgruber

February 14, 2024
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53rd Reunion

May 23-26, 2024

Future Class Reunions

54th Reunion, May 22-25, 2025

55th Reunion, May 21-24, 2026

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