In Your Words

Photo of creek by Beiron Andersson

Last fall, Chico Statements readers were asked to submit creative writing about Chico State. The entries spanned nine decades and many hallmarks of the Chico Experience— and we thoroughly enjoyed them all. While we had promised to print the three winning entries, we couldn’t resist sharing more below.

Big Chico Creek

by John Burge

Autumn, 1968—
I ambled around campus
a fresh-faced junior accounting major,
learning my debits and my credits
grooving on CCR (“Stuck in Lodi Again”),
Ayn Rand’s objectivism and anarchy
all swirling in my brain.
As I crossed the shaded bridge
over Big Chico Creek
heading home after classes,
a large, moving presence
caught my eye in the pool below:
Spreadsheets, political theory, and rock ’n’ roll 
all evaporated at the reality 
of several surreally large fish
in the middle of my college campus,
in the middle of my small city,
in the middle of my enormous young life.

John Burge (BA, Accounting, ’70; BA, Anthropology, ’99; MA, Anthropology, ’03) was born in Redding and has lived in Chico since 1972. He has practiced accounting as a CPA since 1975 and has been a professional archaeologist since 2000. He has two grown children.

Chico State: She Called to My Family

by Wendy Trafton Ropes

She called to my family, to four generations, starting in 1911. A lineage of women being called to study in the unlikely architecture nestled among the orchards.

She called us to become transcendent thinkers, admirable teachers, and compassionate mothers and daughters. She called us to become adventurous, to be brave, to imagine grand possibilities.

We studied in the mansion. We skipped through Sherwood Forest. We danced with Janis Joplin. We swam and we fished.

We find solace and grace in her guidance, and we hold her memories close.

Wendy Trafton Ropes (BA, Sociology, ’97) is the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) program manager for the California STEM Learning Network in San Francisco. In 2010, she earned a Master of Public Administration from California State University, Northridge.

Purple Spots 

by Lorraine (Bass) Campbell

All over Northern California, the many high school classes of 1936 were graduating. They were youths of the Depression years, and Chico State College welcomed them with open arms. Their parents had managed to scrounge up the necessary admission fees. The boys arrived wearing blue jeans, and the girls wore skirts, sweaters, and saddle shoes. Top enrollment was around 998 students. Within two months, you knew everyone.

My English teacher, Miss Hagen, was one of my favorites. I can still picture that lady wearing a black cape that billowed out behind her as she ran toward class. She carried a stack of corrected essays. Hopefully they included some “purple spots,” Miss Hagen’s words for “memorable happenings.”

The years 1936–1940 supplied me with a lifetime of purple spots.

Lorraine (Bass) Campbell (BA, Education, ’40) was born and raised in Chico. She taught in Oroville, San Jose, and Riverside. She and her husband Al have three children, three grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

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...more entries

‘Free-Form’ Memories of Chico State College

by John McCuen

Found CSC through serendipity. Love at first sight. Small school (1,200 students), ivy-covered buildings and its own creek! Lived on campus in married veterans housing, now gone. Saw creek leave its banks in ’55 flood. Salmon still came up to spawn. Friends and I once grabbed one (illegally) in volleyball net—at night! Entire campus was a backyard for our kids to play. Campus life was one big family. Outstanding staff and faculty; some entertained us in their homes, and some now have their names on buildings.

Love requited!

John McCuen (BA, Psychology, ’58; MA, Counseling, ’59) served in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service from 1950 to 1954. He earned an EdD from University of California, Berkeley in 1967 and retired as president of Long Beach Community College in 1986. McCuen now lives in Auburn.

Big Chico Creek

by Christine Howard Nagy

Summer scorching
The canyon calls—
Cool water ripples and falls.
The dusty road—
The sweltering hike to our destination.
Bracing relief!
Inhibitions run amok!
The rope swing calls for those who dare! 
Solace found.
Friendships formed and bound.
The day fades—
The sense of responsibility beckons.
Summer wanes
Yet, the memories drifting through the mind remain.

Christine L. (Howard) Nagy (BA, Journalism, ’75) lives in Wichita, Kansas, and is the continuing legal education director at the Wichita Bar Association. After graduating from Chico State, she worked for 27 years at the Redding Record Searchlight.

Life in the Valley

by Melissa Nicholaw

The mountain folk laugh when I tell them we have snow too
But it needn’t be cold nor the sky miserable and gray.
Our snow waits until the sun melts winter’s chill from our bones.
It begins with a most gentle breeze and its tender scent excites the air.
Our blizzard does not leave the trees naked and barren.
Instead, it brings freshness and hope and our world is green again.

Melissa Nicholaw (BS, Home Economics, ’79) currently teaches in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at CSU, Chico. After completing a master’s degree in public health nutrition at UC Berkeley, she returned to Chico and worked as a dietitian at Enloe Medical Center and counseled in several clinics throughout the North Valley. Her interests include cooking, writing music and lyrics, and sharing time with friends and family.

This I Remember
Chico State, 1953

by Anne Roseman

Little did I realize that my first glimpse of Chico through 
shimmering haze and brown landscape would turn into a 
love affair for Chico State.
Chico State, an oasis with its brick bell tower covered in 
ivy, paths winding around a rose garden, huge trees
shading me from the hot sun.
the bridge over the creek, the water so cool and clear that
reflections popped out and stared back at me.
the stone benches built right into the earth of the outdoor
theatre where (sometime later) I had my first kiss.
All this I remember.

Anne Roseman moved from Wisconsin to Chico in 1953 when her father, George Roseman, was hired by Glenn Kendall to be Chico State’s AV director. She attended Chico State for a year and a half and lived in Chico until 1961. She then spent years in Europe, taught school, and retired as a school librarian. She now lives in Newport News, Virginia.

First Day

by Chenoa Woods

Awkward smiles and hellos,
so different, yet the same.
She was from the valley;
I was from the redwoods.
She stayed up all night, 
click, click, click on her computer.
I slept with earplugs.
I was neat, she was messy.
We had different friends,
but took care of each other. 
She called me Captain 
and I called her First Mate.
Esken Hall brought us together,
and friends we remain. 
Marriage, children, faraway places;
we are connected by that first year at Chico.

Chenoa (Anderson) Woods (BA, English, ’00) lives in Salem, Oregon, with her husband, Tyler, and her two children, Caitlin and Zachary. In 2003, she received a master’s degree in education from Oregon State University and worked in college student services administration before taking time off to be a stay-at-home mom.

A Sense of Harmony

by Kathy Redmond 

My memories of the campus are filled with the beauty of the trees and plants, the rose garden, tubing from Bidwell Park to the dorms, and becoming aware of the seasons of the natural world. Since the campus land belonged at one time to John Bidwell, who planted numerous trees on the land, CSU, Chico is an arboretum. As one walks through the campus, there is a sense of harmony between the old and the new, between the ivy-covered brick buildings and the more modern ones, which creates a feeling of unity between the structures on campus and the natural world. 

Kathy Redmond (BS, Nursing, ’77) lives in Pleasanton and works in education for a hospital in Fremont. In 2007, she earned a master’s degree in English from California State University, East Bay. Redmond also taught English at the community college level for five years. She is married and has eight children.

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Alum Notes

Mark Ulriksen

Mark Ulriksen

(BA, Information and Communication Studies, ’80) illustrated the New Yorker’s 2012 election cover.

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Istvan Kadar

(BA, Chemistry, ’71) is helping design Disney’s newest theme park in Shanghai.

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Laurel Miller

Laurel Miller

(BA, Communication Design, ’92) runs The Sustainable Kitchen, a cooking school/farm tour program.

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