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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Medical Alumni Association

Reflections from Alumni Weekend 2017 - Hampton T. Gaskins, '77 MD

Linda & Hampton T. Gaskins, '77 MDDAY 1 — ARRIVAL, Wednesday, April 26, 2017  
My wife Linda and I arrived in Chicago in late April with two goals; (1) to attend my 40th year Feinberg School of Medicine reunion (Class of 1977), and (2) to participate in the Marriott Hotel Platinum Challenge, which required us to stay in four different Marriott Hotels over five days. 

Our journey began in Upland, Calif., at 4:00 a.m. and after flying into Atlanta and transferring to a connecting flight, we arrived at O’Hare at 4:00 pm. We checked into the Fairfield Inn and after a reinvigorating shower we ventured out for a walk through the Gold Coast District.  

DAY 2 — Thursday, April 27, 2017  
We began day two with a complimentary breakfast at the hotel.  Afterwards, we walked the Magnificent Mile and while on Michigan Avenue we pre-checked in at the Magnificent Mile Marriott. Upon arrival at the Marriott, we met some magnificent staffers. Tiera confirmed our arrangements with a big Chicagoan smile and assured us that we would love the room. 

After a walk to the Chicago River, we returned to the Fairfield Inn and checked out. At this point, we discussed using Lyft or just rolling our luggage down the street for three blocks and to enjoy the walk. We made the healthy choice. 

Our suite at the Magnificent Mile Marriott was on the top floor, which had a panoramic west view of the city, a Milky Way view of lights. The accommodations were great! We decided to eat an early lunch at Gino’s East Pizzeria. The pizza was very good, but lighter than when I was in medical school.

DAY 3 — Friday, April 28, 2017  
We registered at the Method Atrium and received our events schedule. We refreshed old relationships with fellow alumni and visited the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, then toured the campus. Afterwards, we checked out of the Marriott Magnificent Mile and we were transported by Lyft speed to the Ritz Carlton Marriot Hotel.  After we settled in, we visited the Museum of Contemporary Art that was a city block away. 

That evening we attended the All Alumni Reunion Class Dinner. There was an awkward moment when we began to take our seats and found that my class of 1977 was assigned two round tables and each table seated 10. However, out of 31 registered class attendees, only 14 of us attended this event. The first table filled rapidly and that left four of us to sit at a table alone. We noticed that a table for the class of 1987 had only six alumni. I asked them if we could join them at their table, and they happily accepted. We had a jovial time with them. At the dinner, a photo booth was available and I saw all six classmates of the class of 1987 cram themselves into a photo booth the size of a closet.

DAY 4 — Saturday, April 29, 2017  
After the Saturday CME, we took the morning walking tour led by class of 1972 alum, Dr. Joseph Gugenheim. On this tour, I learned that the Northwestern Medical campus is situated on the Streeterville sector of Chicago. In the afternoon we took the City Architectural tour and saw the amazing 150 North River skyscraper that was built on a 200’ by 40’ plot. It looks like an upside-down bottle. Moreover, I learned the names of the two bronze Indian statues in Grant Park: Bowman and Spearman. We belong to the Nathan Smith Davis Society, but we skipped its evening reception due to fatigue and the rain. 

Later that evening we prepared ourselves for the big event — the Class of 1977 Dinner that was held at our current hotel, the Ritz Carlton. Preparation for the reunion required a swim in the pool and proper use of the sauna and steam room. We returned to the hotel room to dress for the reunion dinner and of course we were faced with the decision of how to dress. “Do clothes make the person or does the person make the clothes?” This saying is attributed to various authors. I chose to dress casually, Linda, chose to dress formally. After 43 years of marriage, this is our M.O. 

The dinner began with cocktails. At dinner, the emcee was Dr. Mark Hill. He began the dinner with slides of various alumni, followed by an open discussion about the state of medicine.  After dinner, there was a brouhaha about whether to have the class photo with or without spouses. The spouses won, so the first photo was taken with them. Afterwards, Dr. Hill, graciously distributed a Memory Book, which consisted of a compilation of personal data and comments about our lives. We mixed and mingled and talked about retirement or grandchildren. Imperceptibly, we said goodbye and left. All of us left with the promise to “see you the next time.” Due to infirmities, many of the class of 1977 will not return to the next reunion. The moon came and was followed by the sun. 

DAY 5 — Sunday, April 30, 2017  
It was raining. The climate of Chicago is classified as humid continental (Koppen Dfa), with all four distinct seasons.  The first agenda item today was to attend the Diversity and Inclusion brunch. There, we met the department’s key persons. After the enjoyable brunch, we were on the move again. We returned to the Magnificent Mile Marriott, had an unevent evening, and retired early in preparation for an early Monday morning departure. Linda and I accomplished our visit goals. We completed an important part of the Marriott Platinum Challenge and we enjoyed the reunion.