PC has been “home” for us from the first days of our time on campus till now as we live one block from the college in the Manse of First Presbyterian Church where I serve as pastor. We have lived and worked in Clinton – then been called away and called back again – four times since arriving as freshmen at PC! We also live right next door to Dr. Ann Stidham to whom we give credit for helping us realize we belonged together 37 years ago!
Phil and I met the summer of 1980 while serving as counselors at Fellowship, a Presbyterian Church camp on Lake Greenwood. We had a bit of an “oil and water” relationship that summer but at least I began warming up to him at the end of the summer. In the fall we had two classes together both held in Neville Hall. I was so happy when Phil started passing notes back to me in Dale Raines’ Religious Drama class – until Dr. Raines intercepted one and threatened to read it to the class – I was mortified – Phil thought it was great, of course! The second class we had together was the Psychology of Personality with Dr. Stidham up in the original “Bean Bag” Room at the top of Neville. Phil and I sat on bean bags on opposite sides of the room and were still too dumb to realize the spark that had clearly been kindled between us. Thankfully, Dr. Stidham was not! About halfway through the semester, she suggested we study together – so we settled into a study room on the second floor of the Library and worked on his “personality problems!”
Little by little that quirky personality stole my heart so much so that as we were preparing to go on our first real date I called home (on the phone in the hall of First Floor Clinton) and told my Mother I had just met the man I was going to marry. My best memory of that study room was the night my suite-mates and I came back from a Valentine weekend trip to Beth Speed’s house in Marietta, Georgia. I think Phil must have had binoculars trained on the Clinton Hall parking lot because as soon as we walked in – the hall phone started ringing and he told me to come to the Library for a surprise. When I arrived he handed me a brown paper grocery bag and told me to close my eyes and put my hand down in the bag. I told him, “NO!” because I was sure there was a snake in there. When I finally got up the nerve to put my hand in I found a pillow in the shape of a heart that he had made himself over the weekend from material left over in the theater where he worked as Dr. Raines’ assistant. The pillow opened like a greeting card and inside he had written, “Thanks for the new song I can sing…” I floated back to the dorm and when I walked in and my crew took one look at my face they began to sing, “Another One Bites the Dust” and they were right!
As we look back, we see that through the gift of the PC Spirit and the love of so many PC friends, faculty and staff members we were perfectly pre-paired for the rich, wonderful and wacky life we share with each other and with this beautiful next generation of Blue Hose!
Phil ’82 and Jeri (Parris) Perkins ’81