Throwback Thursday – The Zoo Crew

Zoo Crew 1

Some of my greatest memories from college are wrapped around my fraternity and the great friends I had there. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the founding, so there will be a big celebration in late April that I will be attending – and as a result my times at the fraternity have been in my mind quite a bit lately.

Theta Xi fraternity was founded at my alma mater (RPI), making our chapter the Alpha chapter and making us feel connected to not just the history of our chapter, but also the overall history of the organization.

But that isn’t why we’re here …

I have a bunch of pictures taken through the years, many on my classic Kodak Disc camera. I also accumulated a few from others, and since two of my best friends (Ken and Jeff) were really good photographers – and Ken took a photography class that gave him access to a darkroom and development equipment – I ended up with even more.

The ‘collage’ at the top is a set of those, and was hung on my wall for a while, and has been safely stored since. You might notice at the bottom right a set of evenly-spaced holes on a tear-off strip. If you don’t know what this is, please setop – you’re making me feel old!

Here are the pictures one at a time:

Zoo Crew 3

My caption was ‘The Big McNugget’ … yeah, not a small guy, and really in need of a shave.

Zoo Crew 2

Ken being Ken. We all know those people who CAN actually pose for a nice picture, but has much more fun putting on a bit of a show. I would say that ~75% of my pictures of Ken featuer ‘personality in action’.

Zoo Crew 5

Jeff – or JT as we called him – could grow a major beard back in high school, and sported one throughout college. He also had a green jacket and overall look that earned him the ‘terrorist’ label back before that was something you just wouldn’t say.

Zoo Crew 4

The crew and the Zoo Mobile – this one Ken took of us out shopping in the Albany area. It is JT, myself and Nigel. Nigel transferred in and quickly became one of our best friends, and the group of us – including Pete K and some others – were inseparable. He definitely played up his British accent for the ladies, and so it is too bad that he left owing the house a decent debt and has basically not been heard from since. I had a brief exchange several years ago after I found him online, but that went cold as well.

We are leaning against what we called the Zoo Mobile. It was a little beater that Ken bought, and it really needed some help in terms of appearance, so we decided to really do it up! It was over summer break and … well, you can see the results.

To this day most of us are still in contact, and many of us will be back in Troy in late April. That particular weekend is overflowing with other family things (Proms, music events, etc) which makes leaving more stressful, but I am completely ready and excited to get to hang out with old friends, none of whom I’ve seen in 5 years, and many of whom I haven’t seen in more than 25 years!

So what special college memories do you have? Do you do any reunion things?

Throwback Thursday: Smartfood

My beautiful picture

OK, so how many of you have eaten Smartfood? Y’know, the white cheddar coated air-popped popcorn that has been part of Frito Lay since 1990 according to Wikipedia? Honestly I have no idea how popular it is anymore, how it is viewed by anyone buying snacks, or … well, pretty much anything.

Here is about all I know:
– Smartfood was started almost by accident in 1985 … and was a fast success in the Boston area. I remember it hitting stores in my home area and thinking it was really good.
– A couple of years later we were approached by their marketing team, they were looking for energetic college kids to wear the bags, wave to cars, and hand out samples. Our pay? Smartfood of course!

For more details you can check out the link above or this 1990 article from right after Frito Lay bought Smartfood looking at the boom in bagged popcorn.

I remember a constant stream of boxes full of bags of Smartfood coming into the fraternity house, and then as the campaign tapered, we got our final reward – an entire truck full of boxes that we unloaded and worked through way too quickly.

I love this picture – taken in Albany in the depths of winter, you see the snowbanks and an old car in the background, and we are wearing the big bags, boxer shorts and a couple of us also wore headbands. We kept the shorts and headbands, which I had for a number of years.

I am on the left side of the picture, clapping when I should have been high-stepping. Oh well, I was never going to be a dancer …