The Old U(VA) And I: 1961-1965

By Frank Briggs
Regular price $27.00

The decade of the 1960s saw sweeping changes at UVA as old barriers fell and students of new backgrounds came. Litigation that lasted from the late 1940s through the end of the 1960s eliminated historic barriers to African American and women students. No detailed UVA-specific narrative has existed until former graduates from two ends of the decade, Joel Gardner, BA 1970, Rebel Yell to Revolution, in 2018 and now Frank Briggs, BA 1965, recognized that the University had changed in the most profound ways and used their own experiences to document what happened. This book will attract anyone who lived through that heady period. It will appeal also to others, to women and men who grew up later, and who may have wondered why and how the good old days ended and America stepped beyond them. Some might say grew up.

—John T. Casteen III, President Emeritus, University of Virginia, 1990–2010

Frank Briggs’s memoir is a highly entertaining trip in time to an era in UVA history that predated the social upheavals of the late 1960s. We accompany the author through his four years in a cloistered culture of tradition that had not changed over many decades. In a series of revealing and amusing anecdotes, we relive the road trips, party weekends, and collegiate shenanigans that dominated the student experience during that period. This is a must read for every Wahoo who lived through that era or anyone who has an interest in the social history of college life prior to the cultural revolution that swept across the country after Briggs’s graduation.

—Joel B. Gardner, Author, From Rebel Yell to Revolution: My Four Years at UVA, 1966–1970

As an old Beta and in many other respects as one of the older observers of the University still more or less vertical, I salute Frank Briggs for his most successful undertaking. I have encouraged alumni to write memoirs of their student days, and Frank has done this splendidly.

—Alexander G. “Sandy” Gilliam, Professor and University Historian Emeritus, University of Virginia

About the Author

The author lays the foundation in his account of his own life as a student during the last years of the “Old U”—a period that came to a natural end. His telling is rich in details – in the names, dates, and places that will be familiar to anyone who was a student in those days, and he is strikingly candid. His stories of party weekends and road trips and life in the Beta house ring true because they are so convincingly his stories, even as they are also our own stories. His tales of coming of age, of the courses almost (and not quite) failed, friendships that endured, successes and failures that tied him to the place, and of the love affair that defines his entry into adult life come in powerfully honest forms. Frank tells what every reader who was there will remember about the Old U but tells without arguing the past was better than what came after. That’s a rare quality in a tale of growing up, and a good reason to read and follow Frank through the process.

Frank Briggs was born in New Jersey and raised in Rhode Island, Montreal, Virginia, Houston, and Pittsburgh. He graduated from Blair Academy in 1961 and the University of Virginia in 1965 with a BA in English. After graduation, he moved to Atlanta, became a financial planner, and never left. Frank’s wife and three children are all Virginia graduates. He has been involved in numerous professional, civic, and Christian organizations. As a couple, the Briggs were instrumental in the establishment of the Atlanta Youth Academy to provide an academically superior education to underserved children in a Christian environment. A former commodore of the Atlanta Yacht Club, the Briggs have been avid supporters of sailing since their marriage in 1966. They enjoy their lake cabin whenever possible, often with some of their ten grandchildren.

“Exceptionally well written, impressively organized, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in presentation, "The Old U(VA) and I: 1961-1965" is both a timely and timeless account of a life lived out in an interesting place during an interesting era. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college and university library Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Old U(VA) and I: 1961-1965" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).” (The Midwest Book Review)



Reviewed in the United States on May 16, 2021

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In the fall of 1959 I entered the Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI) in Blacksburg, VA, as a freshman and member of the Corps of Cadets. My goal was to become a commissioned officer in the U. S. Army. I quickly learned that our most disliked rival was the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA, around 150 miles away. Charlottesville however had movie theaters, restaurants, liquor stores and fun things to do while Blacksburg offered only a single movie theater and a snack bar at the Trailways bus station. So it did occur to me that the reason VPI didn't like UVA was jealousy But, as I reached page 224 in the book I learned that the real reason for the VPI/UVA mutual dislike was the competition between these two institutions to increase the size of their student populations to tens of thousands. Today VPI is better known as Virginia Tech and both universities did grow their student populations to tens of thousands. With regard to the book, I wanted to read it out of curiosity. Although I might not have liked the UVA Wahoos back then I am a life long resident of Virginia and when out of town relatives came to visit, a trip to Charlottesville to visit Thomas Jefferson's house was always on the agenda. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Frank Briggs has a wicked sense of humor and the ability to bring characters and events to life with his vivid descriptions. An excellent and fast moving read.

Published: 2021
Page Count: 332

Customer Reviews

Based on 1 review
Tommy Zieman
Frank Briggs, The Old U(VA) AND i

Well put together - excellent and entertaining read