Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Michaela Daly
Irma Conrad and Reva Cougill have checked an item off their bucket list.
They have revisited their old stomping grounds, Eastern Illinois University, almost 61 years after they last left.
Conrad and Cougill were accompanied by long-time friend Betty Woodring, 84, to reminisce about their days as students at EIU.
The ladies’ plan to come back together on campus began when Conrad received an offer by mail.
“One day, I got something in the mail asking if I wanted to buy a brick to commemorate my time at EIU,” said Conrad, 83.
Conrad’s brick is located in the Commemorative Courtyard on Eastern’s campus.
She decided to support EIU in part because of her great-nephew and great-niece whom have also graduated from the college.
“Every year, Eastern asks me if I want to make a donation to the school,” Conrad said.
“And every year she does!” Cougill said.
Cougill decided against buying a memorial brick for the campus, but memories of her college experience are still fresh.
“When we were here, we stayed in a house right across from campus because Pemberton was the only dorm you could stay in,” Conrad said. “We used to have to walk a mile downtown to see a movie.”
Since graduating in 1952, Cougill noticed that the campus had expanded significantly.
Nearly all of the current dorm halls had been added since 1952 as well as university apartments and Greek Court.
“[When we were here] Booth Library was the end of campus,” Cougill said.
Both women reflected on the fact that instead of driving, they traveled by a more primitive way of transportation.
“We walked everywhere. To class, church, and town,” said Cougill.
All three ladies spent the warm afternoon studying the other bricks and stones commemorating other EIU alumni.
“It’s been a long time,” said Conrad. “A very long time.”