Our story begins with my parents’ story. And here’s a spoiler: Neville Hall plays a role in each step of the nearly 40-year journey.
My parents, Joe Glymph (Class of 1977) and Dianne Tyler Glymph (Class of 1980), met while students at PC and later dated before becoming engaged near Neville Hall at Homecoming in the fall of 1980. They were both English majors, and they both sang in the choir. My father was a Theta Chi and served on the Honor Council, and my mother became PC’s first Writing Center tutor and then its Homecoming Queen (among many, many of their other commitments and accomplishments). They married in 1981, surrounded by PC family and friends.
Twenty-seven years later, I was looking into colleges. Of course, my parents insisted on taking me to visit PC at least four times while I was in high school (the fact that we lived 600 miles away from Clinton did not deter this mission). As much as I liked hearing about their PC stories and their fond memories, I did not want to attend PC. I had nothing against it; I was just afraid of becoming a repeat of my parents because I thought repeating what they did would be “boring.” I’m sure that you can see where this story is going.
Despite my concern, I happily enrolled at PC in the fall of 2009, and I quickly set about (unintentionally) following in my parents’ footsteps. I declared a major in English and snugly folded myself into the PC Choir family. I became a Writing Center tutor and a Sigma Sigma Sigma. And then, at the start of my junior year, I met Paul.
As we look back on it, Paul thinks he first saw me when I was helping to lead 2011’s freshman orientation flashmob (he was a new, green freshman and I was an enthusiastic junior). However, we didn’t meet officially until the following week when we were sitting on the front steps of Neville before Dr. Thompson’s Survey of American Literature I class. After that meeting, we spent time hanging out together during study sessions and post-class lunches with other students (and constituting two-thirds of Dr. Thompson’s enthusiastic “Amen corner” in the back of the classroom).
For the next eighteen months, we were casual friends. We had another Dr. Thompson class together (the much-beloved Silent Film), and we saw each other frequently at PC Christmas show rehearsals and gatherings of mutual friends. Once he joined the Writing Center staff that semester, I became his senior tutor mentor. Then, just when I only had four more weeks left as a PC student, something changed.
Somehow, despite the fact that Paul was a sophomore and I was a senior, we both ended up in the same section of Dr. Hobbie’s New Testament class that spring (and neither of us was retaking it!). Since Dr. Hobbie’s tests were notoriously challenging, we formed a small study group with some other students for each new test. Eventually, we found ourselves spending more time together outside of those sessions.
Two years later, during our pre-marital counseling sessions, we were asked the question, “When did you know that you were going to marry him/her?” We discovered that both of our moments happened on April 14, 2013, before we had even started dating. He invited me over to the Nest to help him make appetizers for the end-of-year Bluestocking party, and we ended up watching a YouTube performance of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged, laughing until we nearly cried. Somehow, in that calm, spring evening, we suddenly knew. I remember sitting on my bed in my senior apartment, three weeks away from my graduation date, and realizing that if I didn’t tell him how I felt and missed my chance, I would regret it for the rest of my life. I cried happy tears to one of my roommates, Lanier Smith (now Lanier Nevling Smith), telling her that even if I never got to tell Paul how I felt about him, knowing that it was possible to feel this much happiness from being in love with someone might just be all I needed.
I soon found out that he felt the same way. It was that simple, and it still is that simple.
Our entire courtship was long-distance, but that was just a minor detail. I started graduate school at the University of Tennessee in the fall of 2013, and I became very familiar with the drive over the Blue Ridge mountains back to Clinton. On October 26, 2014, Paul proposed in front of Neville Hall, just steps away from the place where we met.
A few minutes later, we walked into Neville – straight into a surprise engagement party that he had orchestrated. Alumni, current students, and some faculty congratulated us, and we feasted on Dr. Thompson’s poppyseed chicken and Bilo’s chocolate cake.
Then, after yet another surprise Paul had planned, we had our engagement pictures done on campus that afternoon. We didn’t know it yet, but the segment of our photos that took place inside Neville Hall would turn into museum pieces once the renovations started.
Then, in June of 2015 (a month before our wedding), I had my bridal portraits taken at PC. I couldn’t exactly get ready in some bridal dressing room on campus, so I ultimately checked off an item on my bucket list I never knew existed: changing into a wedding dress in a Neville Hall bathroom. That’s not an experience I’ll ever forget!
One month later and nearly thirty-four years after my parents wed, Paul and I got married in Greenville, South Carolina. Not only were we surrounded by our own PC family, but we were also surrounded by my parents’ PC family. Our DJ even surprised us by playing the fight song at our reception (To his surprise, everyone joined in with lots of gusto!).
Nearly a year later, after learning about Neville’s restoration plans, I looked back at our engagement and bridal photos, reminiscing about all the milestones in my life that had passed there. Then, when looking at the plans, I realized something. Remember how I mentioned that my parents had gotten engaged at Neville Hall (just as Paul and I later did)? While looking over the Neville plans, I remembered that my father had proposed while they were sitting on a plain, green wooden bench behind the building.
Initially, I was saddened by the prospect of losing my parents’ engagement spot to the renovations. But then, I started wondering about what would become of their bench. Soon, I was able to confirm that the new renovations would build right over the spot where my parents had decided to start their new life together; then, after inquiring if there were plans for that bench once it was removed from the space (there weren’t), I asked Leni Patterson if I could have it. She asked around and then graciously agreed, and with the help of many helping hands over several months, the bench eventually made its way to its new home with my parents in Clearwater, Florida (though a little late for their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary). That piece of their story (and indirectly, my story) gets to keep living, and a new Neville story is added to our family collection.
I am grateful for the opportunity to write this story because it prompted me to consider all of the many characters who played a role in it; I have found, to my surprise, that the most prominent character seems to have been a building.
I think I will always remember Neville the way it was for me, but it comforts and excites me to think of how many more stories might find their beginnings within its walls.
Paul ’15 and Mary Ellis (Glymph) Rice ’13