We love when readers tell us that one of the archival photos featured in the magazine has sparked a memory for them. And because some of these photos are perplexing (remember this one?), it’s even cooler when a reader can explain just what’s going on in the shot.
In our latest issue, we printed this photo (above) and invited readers to tell us what the shoeless gentlemen were up to. Milton Critchfield ’63, ’65g did exactly that. And he should know — he’s the one sitting on the table, removing his socks. Over the weekend, he sent us this letter (below):
Thanks for publishing the photo from 1964. I instantly recognized myself sitting on the table taking off my socks and Richard Twark [’67 PhD] sitting to my right on the sofa. Rich and I believe most or all of the others had just completed walking in the so-called “Atlantic Walk” of 50-mile duration. Penn State had been challenged by the University of St. Andrews in Scotland to compete with them on the walk. We began at 8 pm on Saturday night and had until 8 pm Sunday night to complete the 50 miles. The route started at the HUB and took us through Bellefonte, Pleasant Gap, Pine Grove Mills, and back to the HUB.
The photo is one of nine that was published in the Centre Daily Times on April 15, 1964. The spread is entitled “It was a Long, Long, Long, Hike.” I still have the original page from the Times. According to that article, there were 772 starters in the walk. I had the honor of being at the end of the entire column with a walkie talkie. My job was to help anyone who required assistance and to keep an eye out for stragglers. By 2 am, we were spread out over 20 miles and our communications system finally broke down. At that point, they gave me permission to compete at my own pace, so I began walking rapidly trying to make up for lost time. That was a mistake, as I developed a full set of blisters at 34 miles and finally dropped out at 42 miles. I had a lot of encouragement from friends to keep going, but the pain was too unbearable. The Atlantic Walk also occurred the following year in 1965. I entered the walk again and successfully completed it.
Rich Twark called me yesterday to see if I had seen the photo, and we had a great time catching up after nearly 50 years. Thanks again for publishing the photo and making our day.
Do you remember the Atlantic Walk? Has one of our Nostalgia Photos ever jogged your memory? We’d love to hear about it! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.
Mary Murphy, associate editor