Lori Wangemann January '79

"The Dare Affair" - Part I


The year was 1975 and I had just started at Lakeland in autumn. My agenda was to study as hard as I could toward a degree in journalism. However, I also had the hidden task of finding a boyfriend while pursuing the education of a prospective career. The campus center was always abuzz with students meeting and greeting each other, especially during the lunch period. The desk on first floor - known as the Information Desk stood at one end of the room. Behind it was a student attendant working there to give out pool sticks, make change at the cash register and broadcast announcements over the intercom. At the time, probably not known to most of the students, was a secret shared by the male information desk workers. Because of the mail room being located directly adjacent to the information area, each year the workers would be eager to find out if the girl assigned to work in the mail room was pretty and worth "talking to". Here is where my Lakeland story begins, the story also known to my husband and I as "The Dare Affair".

Lakeland was actually my second home. I was born in Sheboygan and my father, also from Sheboygan, became a professor at the college when I was just a baby. As a teacher's child, and beginning at 7 years of age, maybe even younger, I probably spent more weekends there than at my parent's house in Sheboygan. Dad was also known as Allen Wangemann, Lakeland's professor of biology. My weekend tasks consisted of helping dad clean microscope slides and test tubes. If I wasn't doing that, I assisted by putting the mimeographed syllabi together or walking through Lakeland's woods catching bugs or identifying plants. The marsh marigold and bloodroot plants were my favorites. As a kid I had various campus assignments from my father and I wouldn't be surprised if Dr. Kathleen Rath Marr, now Natural Science Division Chair, Professor of Biology at Lakeland and another professor's daughter had similar duties back in the day to perform for her dad. Since the age of about 3, I was told I would be attending Lakeland College without a doubt. Never really thinking about questioning that fact with my parents, when the time came, I enrolled at Lakeland.

Dad was still a professor there and he had branched out into teaching other areas of studies such as Medical Technology and Anthropology. Starting out as a college student, I also held a part-time cashier's job at a five and dime store in Sheboygan. I must have inherited the workaholic gene from my father so I inquired if he knew of any work I could do in my spare time while on campus. Many a student familiar with my dad knew that he was at Lakeland from dawn to dusk, and since I rode in everyday with him, my spare time was abundant. Regarding a job, Dad said he would ask around. A man by the name of Dick Preuhs was head of the campus center at that time and told my father he was looking for someone to fill the mail room position. So, consequently, I applied for the job. I started working under Mr. Preuhs and took added advice from secretary Hildegarde Strub. Each day I worked diligently at weighing packages, applying postage, sorting the mail and stuffing the envelopes into the appropriate boxes.

One day, a young man working behind the information desk approached me and politely introduced himself to me. Now, what I want you to know is that my taste in boys was quite simple. My requirements were that they had to be intelligent, good-looking, tall and talented. This tall guy said his name was Kurt January. I told him my name was Lori Wangemann and he seemed amused and somewhat surprised that I was the daughter of one of his favorite professors. He proceeded by indulging me in conversation about certain worldly affairs of the day. In fact, his opening "come-on" line was "what do you think of Caroline Kennedy? She speaks very highly of you."

This statement took me aback because up until this moment most boys that I knew from the Sheboygan area wouldn't even have had the slightest notion who Caroline Kennedy was. Hmmmmm, I told myself, this could potentially lead to future in-depth conversation with this particular prospect of the opposite sex. But, at the same time, my mind was racing. He had said his name was Kurt January. I had heard that unique name mentioned before, but where or when? That evening at the dinner table I asked my father if he had heard of a Kurt January. My father gave an interested look and repeated "Kurt January?" It turned out that Kurt was one of his most competent students and was a topic of our dinner conversation before. Prior to this evening I now recalled that Dad once had said "he asks many questions and brings up interesting topics in my classes all the time." "Why do you want to know? he asked of me now. " "Well", I answered, he works at the info desk while I work in the mail room and he introduced himself to me today." "Oh, proclaimed my dad, "he's from inner-city Washington D.C." I took note, and became even more interested in this young man. Washington D.C.? Wow - a city truly impacted by higher knowledge and culture and much larger than Sheboygan. So far this guy had potential!!! He was tall, had the good looks, was intelligent.......but was he talented? I was a professional ballet and flamenco dancer in my spare time so the arts were a big interest of mine. I looked forward to working the mail room just to indulge in small talk with this East Coast individual and try to learn more about him.

Kurt never opened the gate to enter the information desk area. He was too cool for that and would jump over it instead. I could tell he had an interest in me, but what I didn't anticipate, being a commuter student, was that I would get any mail. Kurt, however, started filling my mailbox almost daily with letters of infatuation followed by notebook papers penned in poetry. Strike another point for the guy, he was also a poet!

Fall transitioned into winter and next thing we knew, the holidays were over and the grey, dismal days of January had started. Kurt came up to me one day and mentioned that he would be singing in the upcoming Lakeland talent fair and would like it if I came to hear him sing. Wait a minute. Did I hear him correctly? Did he just say that he sings? This was too many positives for a girl to handle. I would have to definitely check this out. So on January 22, 1976, I dragged my two girlfriends, Ann and Kathy through the snowy night to witness the show and brought my cassette player along to record the event, whether he could sing or not!

I entered into the campus center in nervous excitement. This was the first time I got to introduce him to my girlfriends. I wanted them to meet the guy that I was becoming "infatuated" with.

I had only heard "Stairway to Heaven", the song by Led Zeppelin, once on the radio. This amazing song both in verse and instrumentals had me mesmerized as no other song had during my entire teenage years and Kurt said he would be singing this song. I decided right then and there that he had just created a mighty big challenge. He would have to show a lot of guts to stand up amongst his peers and sing this particular tune. That night, with a band that consisted of Lakeland students called "Brand New" accompanying him, Kurt appeared on stage. He seemed to be a bit nervous, even said so into the microphone, but was very suave in his polyester shirt unbuttoned to mid-chest, gold chain around his neck, bell bottomed jeans, and shoes with platformed heels. The band started playing the wonderful melody and I watched and waited with anticipation as Kurt started to sing. First slowly, and then, as the rhythm changed to a vigorous rock song, faster and louder as he played the tambourine. My god, my intelligent pursuit just became a rock star right before my eyes. I was blown away, experiencing goosebumps like a teeny bopper. Unbeknowst to me at the moment, this guy had stolen my heart completely.

Well, as the story goes, we were married right after my graduation in 1979. The reception was put on by Dick Preuhs, the venue being "The Great Hall" of the campus center. Some were in doubt that the marriage would last. It is now 32 years later, and we are still madly in love. We moved to D.C. and raised two beautiful daughters, both who are college grads and now are employed while pursuing their Masters degrees. The youngest recently became engaged to be married.

We still have the taped recording of that night and listen to it on occasion. Kurt doesn't write me letters or poetry anymore, unless you count what he signs in greeting cards. But he still sings - these days with the church choir, and still leads me into worldly, interesting conversations every day. For us, Lakeland is a special site interwoven with warm recollections. Gone is the original structure as we knew it of the Campus Center's mail room and information desk as noted on a past homecoming reunion visit. But the first floor area of the center still brings back a plethora of memories. It is where "The Dare Affair" all began.

Written by Lori Wangemann January

6127 Montrose Rd., Cheverly, MD 20785

Class of '79



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