Be careful when you open your voice mail. A lot of people might be loudly razzing the idea of a 1970s University of Cincinnati reunion.
A column about plans for the Oct. 19 reunion and my memories of UC life in the '70s - no place to park, food worse than swill, surly employees and closed-out classes - didn't touch a nerve. It poked a gland. In five days, I received 109 expressions of school diss-spirit.
Many calls started with: I'll never go back to UC because . . .
''It's where I spent the worst four years of my life.'' - Robert West, Oakley, class of '72.
''When I was there, idiots treated me like pond scum.'' - Annie Plant, White Oak, class of '74.
''My stomach turns when I see 'UC' and 'reunion' in the same sentence.'' - Alfred Schroeder, Lebanon, class of '75.
Barbara Pinzka, class of '74, had powerful explosives in mind for the reunion. Faxing from Mount Lookout, she wrote that UC was ''a feudal state'' in the '70s. One way she'll come back is if they ''blow up Crosley Tower, a la (the imploded) Sander Hall.''
''Who wants to remember the '70s?'' asked class of '74 member Connie Menefee of College Hill. ''It was the decade of dreck, disco and the Vietnam War.''
UC's ''don't give a care attitude'' peeved Denny Riedmiller, class of '78.
''I came from a blue-collar background and worked my way through school,'' he said from University Heights. On the first day of classes, a history professor told him: ''The only reason I'm here today to teach you is because it's in my contract.''
Greg Malone of Mount Carmel ''went to UC in the '60s. It was no better then. Today, the place is an absolute dump. If I had kids, I'd eat out of garbage cans before I'd send them to that school.''
Bill Giglio - class of '77 and co-owner and vice president of BC Engineering Co. in Batavia - shared several ''fondest memories'' of his UC days. One was of a nurturing professor telling Giglio and his classmates they were the ''dumbest group of engineering students he had ever taught.''
B. Addington, classes of '74 and '79, sent these ''suggested activities'' from Mount Healthy for the '70s reunion: ''Arrive on campus by 5:30 a.m. to find parking. Play 'Find the Bookstore.' ''
And, from a member of the class of '81: ''For the last 15 years, I've had the thoughts that you put into words,'' said John Weiss of Fairfield. ''UC was a terrible place to go to school. I hope things have improved.''
Of my 109 faxers, callers and writers, only two plan to attend the reunion.
''I'm going to take a half-day of vacation to go,'' said Ron Hart, classes of '69, '71 and '74. The Bond Hill man remembered ''exciting and trying times at UC. But I came out with a good education.''
Sally Kippins, class of '76, plans on leaving her Terrace Park home Oct. 19 and ''running into many people at the reunion. All in all, my memories of UC were a lot of fun. (Except for that guy I dated in my sophomore year.)''
Odds are, he won't show.
By the way
Updates on other recent columns:
Jill Lamkin, the 19-year-old Riverbend vendor handcuffed by liquor agents and found guilty by Judge Elizabeth Mattingly of selling beer to an underage drinker, will have her legal bills paid by the amphitheater's concessionaire. Coney Island President Vic Nolting said that in a year, ''when Jill's conviction can be expunged from her record, we will pay the lawyer's bill and court costs for that, too.''
Peter Batsakes has a new 10-minute parking sign in front of his 89-year-old downtown business, J & G Batsakes Dry Cleaners on Walnut Street. This happened nine days after a column noted that the new Aronoff Center has a drop-off zone near its front door, but long-suffering merchants across the street did not. ''This,'' Mr. Batsakes said, ''is a great country.''
You may have missed the brief announcement late last week: City Manager John Shirey has withdrawn plans - opposed in these parts - to turn Cincinnati's City Council chambers into a throne room. The $500,000 project - part of a $2.3 million City Hall remodeling spree - was withdrawn without being debated or coming to a vote. And, no one objected.
Cliff Radel's column appears in The Enquirer on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Available to speak to groups. Tips and comments most welcome. Call 768-8379 or fax at 768-8340.