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Published on September 03, 2020

Back in the Day

Join alumni Bunny (Nowakowski) Lescoe '64 and Deborah Delamater McCrackan '78 as they remember their days on campus, from a broken foot and scrambles up the hill to make curfew, to being an introvert and finding refuge in the library.

Bunny (Nowakowski) Lescoe ‘64


Working in the Guidance Office while a student at Maloney High School in Meriden, Bunny Nowakowski helped her peers fill out college admissions applications.  One day the guidance counselor asked her “why aren’t you filling out applications for yourself?  I bet you can get into college too.” 

Thinking she’d prove him wrong, she applied to all four of the Connecticut state teacher colleges . . . and was accepted!  Her arrival at Willimantic State Teachers’ College in the fall of 1960 got off to a rocky start.  “I got to Willimantic on a Wednesday, but was back home in Meriden two days later after breaking my foot in a soccer game!”  But she was back on campus a few days later with a walking heel. 

One Saturday in October, she and a friend ventured down the hill for Bunny’s first visit to Main Street, but lost track of the time.  “We had to be in Burr Hall by 6 p.m. to have dinner in the dining room, and we were required to wear skirts.”  They realized they weren’t going to make it back up the hill, so they decided to drop into the Italian Gardens (site of Hotshots Café) to eat.  There was a group of “townies” there hanging out and watching football on television, including Johnny Lescoe. 

Johnny and his friend joined the girls, and he asked Bunny to go out to dance at the Bolton Lake House.  “That was our first date.”  Burr Hall had a nightly curfew (10 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends), and Johnny made her late that night.  “We returned early and Johnny parked down by Shafer Hall ‘to talk’”.  All of a sudden the clock was striking and I flew out of the car and tried to hobble up the hill to Burr.  I was walking up the steps when Dr. Burstermann came to the door and locked it!  I still have the slip that summoned me to explain to the Burr Hall Council why I missed curfew.  As my punishment, I had to spend the next two weeks working at the front desk!”

Bunny remembers when guys would come to Burr Hall looking for dates. “They’d come to the door and ask if anyone wanted to go out.  Whoever was on the desk would use the intercom to announce their presence.  Girls would look over the banister and decide if they would go.”  Bunny spent her first two years in Burr Hall, and then moved to North Campus (Winthrop Hall) for her junior and senior years. “Six senior girls were denied off campus housing in 1963, but the following fall seniors were asked to move off campus because too many first-year students requested dorms.  I guess we were disappointed forward–thinking women!”

Bunny dated Johnny all through college, meeting him for morning coffee at the Campus Shoppe (now Blarney’s Café) on his way home from his third shift job at Pratt & Whitney and before she went up the hill to class.  Bunny graduated in 1964, and took a position teaching a combined third/fourth-grade class in Plantsville.  “I then taught first grade in Eastford until 1972, when I was fired for being pregnant with my son.”  She went on to teach in Eastern’s preschool when it was in Keelor Hall, until leaving in 1978 to have her daughter.  In 1980 she purchased a private day care center, where she managed and taught for 20 years.

“What I remember most is that every single teacher cared about every single student.  We had lots of restrictions as students, but we knew that everyone cared about us.  We could go to anyone with any type of problem, because everyone was nurturing.  And most importantly, we were expected to rise and grow with the challenges we were given.  We were expected to be examples of what good teachers needed to be, because our professors were modeling the professionalism they expected from us.  We were expected to succeed, and to learn how to help our students succeed.”

And what happened to Bunny and Johnny?  Well, they married in 1965, and with her encouragement, he quit his job at P&W in 1966, enrolled at Eastern, graduated in 1970 and went on to a career as a teacher, Windham politician and Connecticut State Representative.  Bunny and Johnny were married for 50 years!

Deborah (Delamater) McCrackan ‘78



Deb (Delamater) McCrackan grew up in Jewett City, CT, and graduated from Griswold High School.  When she was looking at colleges, Eastern seemed like a perfect fit.  “The class sizes were relatively small, it was close enough to home, just in case I got homesick, and yet far enough to give me the full college experience including living on campus for a time.”

She lived in Crandall her first-year student year. “I was elated to be there as it was all brand new!  The building was co-ed by floor which was novel at the time.  I had one roommate and our room was located right next to the lounge. The location of our room turned out to be perfect because as an introvert, it was easier for me to make small talk and stop to chat with other students as we had to walk by the lounge to come and go.”  It was at Crandall that she met her two best friends.  A year later she moved with them to the first floor of High Rise, and they had to plan their own meals. “There were four of us in the apartment. We went grocery shopping together as we had to carry the groceries from Stop N Shop back to High Rise.” They also took turns cooking. “My roommates didn’t complain, so I guess my cooking skills weren’t as bad as I thought. In hindsight, I think they were just being kind.” 

When Deb came to Eastern she planned on living on campus for two years as she was engaged.  They were to marry once Roger completed his two-year degree in electrical technology at Thames Valley State Technical College. She moved home one semester early to help her parents plan the wedding. “You could say that I was a commuter my last two years at Eastern but the truth was I ended up walking not driving to campus most days from our apartment on Ash Street, Willimantic. Transportation turned out to be my biggest challenge as my 1967 Rambler was very temperamental and did not start for me on so many occasions.”  After Deb’s graduation, they bought a house in Willimantic so when Roger (class of 86) was looking to return to school for his Accounting degree he too attended Eastern as a non-traditional student.

Academics and grades were very important to Deb, and she spent a lot of her time in the library (now the Wood Support Services Building).  “I had my very own study spot on the main floor, along the side windows.  I got to know a few students that had the same study habits as I did and we took breaks together snacking on what we could find to eat from vending machines. The library was my “hang out spot” and in the long run it paid off for me.”  Deb was inducted into the Economics honor society, Omicron Delta Epsilon, and remembers how very special the candlelight induction ceremony and the formal dinner in Hurley Hall was that she and Roger attended.  She also graduated Magna Cum Laude, which she tells us made her family very proud. 

Deb has especially fond memories of two professors, John Lombard and Ken Parzych.  While at Eastern, she took an Econ class as an elective with Dr. Lombard.  After that one class, she knew that she wanted to become an Economics major.  “Both of these professors were passionate about their subject matter and each had a unique way of teaching.  Dr. Lombard had the ability to inject humor into his lectures, and while Dr. Parzych rarely used any kind of notes, I was in awe as to how his lectures just flowed naturally.  Dr. Lombard inspired me to become an Econ major and Dr. Parzych inspired me to seek banking as my career.  Both of these professors, as well as my parents, were my role models.  They instilled in me the importance of always being the best you can be.

“Upon graduation, I applied for banking positions.  Little did I know, that within the first year, I would find my true passion, and as a result, enjoyed an amazing 42-year banking career; 29 of those years as a local branch manager.

Looking back, Deb sees how her time at Eastern really changed her life.  “I started my academic life as an introvert, but my experiences at Eastern helped me to become more outgoing and comfortable with people, which made a huge impact on my career as a banker.  I am  ever so thankful to Eastern for that.”