My Favorite Place
Dutch Barhydt ’81, M’04, P’08
While the Trinity Chapel will always be a favorite place at Trinity for my wife (Hilary M’04, P’08) and me and so many other Trinity couples, for us, the McCook Auditorium will always be the most meaningful place for us on campus.
As a senior in the fall of 1980, I was nearing the end of four great years at a place that I loved. I had loved the academics, studying abroad in Hong Kong, traveling to Nepal with a Trinity group, joining St. Anthony Hall, playing rugby, and most importantly, making incredible and lifelong friends and being part of a terrific class.
That fall, I enrolled in Jack Chatfield’s History 201 course called “A Survey of American History from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War.” I was attracted to the course primarily because Jack Chatfield’s reputation as an excellent and engaging teacher. The fact that it was a large lecture course with only two graded assignments—a midterm exam and a final exam—fit nicely with my idea of a senior workload. I also thought the content would be easy if not obvious since we all know our country’s history. I did not anticipate what the next three months would hold, to say the least.
First, the reason that the McCook Auditorium holds a special place in my heart: That fall, Hilary Chittenden enrolled at Trinity as a senior participant in the Twelve-College Exchange Program. A student-athlete from Connecticut College, Hilary wanted to experience Trinity. She, too, enrolled in History 201. By the second or third class meeting, we were sitting next to each other. By the third or fourth class meeting, we were sitting in the back row where it was easier to write notes back and forth in each others’ notebook. By then, our attention was on each other, not on U.S. history and its events. But, that was OK because we planned to study together for the midterm.
It turned out studying together was fun but not as productive as we had hoped. Along with more than half the class, we both failed the midterm. Apparently, Jack knew that a majority of the class was loafing and decided to send a message. As seniors who planned to graduate the following May, we now had a predicament. If we failed the course, we would be a credit short and unable to graduate. Hmm.
The solution was obvious. We gave up some time together and studied for the final separately, which resulted in a 96 for Hilary and a 92 for me, which combined with our midterm failing grades, allowed us to pass—to our relief and probably Jack’s as well. The highs and lows and highs again of the fall semester! Less than two years later, Hilary and I were married in the Trinity Chapel. Most of the guests were Trinity friends, and most of the wedding party were Trinity classmates. We were married by Bishop Arthur Walmsley ’48 and Chaplain Alan Tull. As our married life began 41 years ago, we were surrounded and embraced by Trinity.
Years later, I returned to Trinity to work in Development and Alumni Relations, initially invited by Jerry Hansen, whom I later followed as director of alumni relations. When I came back, I dug out my old final exam blue book for that History 201 final and gave it to Jack Chatfield, by then a good friend. He asked if he could keep it overnight. When he returned it to me, he had regraded it, reducing my 92 to a 90, because “You could have done more to explain Shays’s Rebellion.” McCook Auditorium and Jack Chatfield and Trinity College will always have a large place in our hearts.