“It’s funny,” Larry Ingrassia says. “When I try to think of the places, most of them blur together. ‘Where did that happen again?’ I ask myself?
"I more remember the people. Especially people at The Daily Illini, where I spent more and more of my time as the years went on.
“I was fortunate to get to know some U of I alums who were a bit older than I am, through my brother, Paul, who is two years older. People who went on to have distinguished careers, like Dan Balz, now of the Washington Post; Roger Simon, of the Sun-Times, Baltimore Sun and Politico, and his wife Marcia Kramer of the Washington Post; and Bob Hillman, of the Sun-Times, Dallas Morning News and now Politico."
There's also "Carl and Barbara Schwartz, both of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. And Ed Epstein, who was in the same class as I was and worked in Chicago before spending much of career in San Francisco.
“The basement of Illini Hall, where the DI was located when I was there, was a dump — probably a fire trap, with all the papers and litter lying around. But most of us were often there four to five hours a day, sometimes longer if we had a night shift putting out the paper. We wrote stories, but it’s mostly a haze in my mind now, with all the smoking and drinking and partying, to be honest.
“But, with all that, two places do stand out.
“I met Vicki Johnson in a news writing class in our junior year at Gregory Hall. Our manual typewriters were next to each other. I was immediately smitten, got the nerve after a month or so to ask her out, we started dating and got married Aug. 31, 1974, a few months after we graduated. And here we are, 43 years later.
“I think the classroom was on the first floor, south side of the building. But where that class was, Greg Hall, will always be a special place for me because that’s where I met the one.
“And then there is the Quadrangle. Who can attend the U of I and not feel a bit moved, even awed by the scale and history of the Quad? So many buildings have been torn down and new ones erected around campus, so many bars and stores opened and closed. The campus has sprawled in every direction over the decades, with new dorms, new arts centers new sports arenas.
“But parameters of the Quad remain the same, generation after generation. The students and what they do there may change a bit — my era, the early 1970s, were the years both of anti-war protests and streaking madness — but the rhythms of the 2010s would be familiar to students from the 1980s and 1950s and 1930s, I bet.”
In September 2017, Ingrassia ('74) retired from the Los Angeles Times after “a great run in the newspaper game.” Next up on his bucket list? “May do some writing, may do some consulting, may do some lecturing, but definitely will do a bit more traveling and relaxing with Vicki.”