Then and Now

UW math student Joshua DeLaura models a 1970s look as well as his own 2001 style. Photos by Kathy Sauber, Costume and makeup by UW School of Drama Costumer Josie Gardner.

by Tom Griffin

It was a chilly September afternoon when Lee and Teddie Gibbon said good-bye to the life they had known for 19 years. Although they saw this coming and were excited about the new adventures ahead, it was still hard to leave their only child on the doorstep of Haggett Hall to start a new life at the University of Washington.

For almost two decades, they had watched their daughter Alex grow into a young woman. During that time, they told her stories about the "U-Dub," where they met, fell in love and got their degrees in the 1970s. And Alex soaked up those tales. Living in Spokane, the heart of "Cougar Country," she wore purple and gold to grade school, despite the teasing by her classmates. "Ever since I was young, I wanted to be a Husky," she will tell anyone who asks why she came to Seattle.

But on the day when she became a Husky, it was tough to say good-bye. "Alex had some tears in her eyes," Lee Gibbon says. "She knew what it meant."

"It was emotional," she recalls. "It was the point where I knew I wasn't going home. I knew that next week that I was going to find my new home for the next four years; that I was on my own."

For Lee and Teddie, it was one of the hardest steps they had to take as parents. That Sunday afternoon, as they swung their Jeep Cherokee onto the I-5 on-ramp, there was silence for a while. Teddie said she was excited for their daughter and Lee was proud that Alex got into the UW, but there was also physical and emotional emptiness. "Now you've lost her," Lee thought to himself. "She's 285 miles away from you."

During that long drive, as Teddie and Lee talked about Alex's future, Lee also thought about the past. Now a Spokane restaurateur, he turned his mind back almost 30 years, to the day he arrived as an 18-year-old UW freshman in September 1972. In some ways, he knew Alex would experience the same things he did. Like her mom and dad, Alex would participate in rush and join the Greek system as a freshman. She would attend football games, study in the library and hang out in the HUB, just like her parents did.

Even her first quarter schedule was similar. Like her dad, she was signed up for freshman entry courses—including the same Psychology 101 course in the same room, Kane 130—that her dad took 28 years before. But while the course title and location were the same, that class—and the entire undergraduate experience that Alex was about to encounter—had changed. The transformation was so great that, in some ways, her dad would hardly know what was going on.

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