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Sunday, September 26, 2021

University alumni discuss Davis of the past

Whether they found the love of their lives or met a rock star idol, UC Davis alumni take a look back at the fond memories that they made as Aggies.

Susanne and Mark Vose are a classic Davis love story.

“We met before freshman year at summer advising,” said Susanne, a 1980 graduate who was then known as Suzy Morrison. “We were in the same group and I remembered him because he had unusual red hair.”

The couple now lives in the Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay with their two children, Ashby and Jackson. But their future wasn’t always so promising.

“We would pass each other in the Quad and I would say hi, but he forgot who I was,” said Susanne, a design major.

Susanne said they both interviewed to be Resident Advisors, although Mark again forgot who Susanne was. It was not until a party their senior year at the Silo when they caught each other’s attention.

“We were talking and dancing but his friends ditched him and I gave him a ride home. We had mutual friends in common, so that’s how we started dating.”

For Scott Tonda, a 1989 graduate in managerial economics, his fondest memory of Davis comes from his fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

“We had Eddie Money play at my fraternity house. He was an 80s rock star. It was the end of his career, so it was majorly on the downslide for him to play at the fraternity house,” Tonda said.

Though he has since moved away, he visits Davis two or three times a year, mostly for football games.

“When Davis played Stanford, there was a big alumni tailgate party. And we beat Stanford!” Tonda said.

For some alumni, the college job is what sticks out.

Lisa Jaffe Hubbell, a 1986 graduate in international relations, with a minor in European history, said that she most remembers her time on the school paper – our very own California Aggie.

“It was after I started writing at the Aggie that my time at Davis came alive to me. I started in the summer of 1984 and haven’t stopped writing for a living since. I was the University beat senior staff writer and I covered swimming for sports. I earned $400 per month stipend plus 55 cents per column inch. It was a great time,” said Hubbell in an e-mail interview.

The Aggie’s staff writers now make $35 a week and are no longer paid on a per-column-inch basis.

Steven Andersen, a 1979 graduate in mechanical engineering, remembers his time at UC Davis for the little things.

“Eight-dollar midweek lift ticket rates at Alpine Meadows, long-gone hangouts [such as] The Club, Antique Bazaar, Larry Blake’s,” said Andersen in an e-mail interview.

All three bars have since been shut down, though memories of them still remain.

“My husband used to go to this disgusting place called The Club,” Susanne said. “It was this really dark disgusting place where they played pool. But we also went to The Grad and we went to Mr. B’s.”

Tonda also remembers the G. St. nightlife, which is still popular today.

“I hung out at Mr. B’s, which is no longer there. That should date me. We just drank and socialized,” Tonda said.

It is the disappearance of these hangouts, as well as further development that many alumni said has changed the town since they left.

“[Davis was] small, quiet, no good places to take a date but several good hangout spots. [But it has become] more expensive, nicer restaurants and places to go,” Andersen said.

Susanne noticed the changes in the city of Davis as well.

“There’s been development, like Borders, that’s all brand new -that used to look pretty junky,” Susanne said. “And that new arena is nice. But my family was really upset about losing the Toomey. It was really quaint, like a scene out of Norman Rockwell’s Americana.”

Tonda said that he preferred the old Davis.

“I’d say that [the new development] is bad. I liked the small town atmosphere of Davis. There were grocery stores and Davis Hardware, but there weren’t big chains,” Tonda said.

Although the city of Davis is growing, the Aggie experience remains the same.

Mei-Ling Bitker, a 2008 graduate in communication, said she too met a significant other during her time at Davis.

“I remember all the great friends I met … and the fun times we had. And of course I also remember meeting my boyfriend at his fraternity party, of all places,” she said in an e-mail interview.

“It is the perfect college town.”

BECKY PETERSON can be reached features@theaggie.org.

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