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Meet: the man behind the Fridays with Fred

A look at archivist and creator of Fridays with Fred, Fred Burwell ’86.

Name: Fred Burwell’86.

Occupation: College archivist.

Hometown/residence: Born in Portland, Maine; grew up in Norwalk, Conn. and Philadelphia, Penn.; in Beloit since 1983.

You may have seen me:
Taking lunchtime walks along the river or through Horace White Park.

What was your favorite class and why? I am an alumnus, class of 1986. I particularly enjoyed my English and art history classes, but my favorite activity was helping found and edit the Beloit Fiction Journal.

What are a few of your favorite things? Raspberries, Maine coast, Philadelphia Phillies baseball, a stack of old 45s, a rabbit warren-style used bookstore, paintings by Pieter Bruegel, Casablanca and City Lights, Hawthorne’s American Notebooks, the 19th century.

What three items go in your desert island backpack? Diary, a copy of David Copperfield, family photographs.

What’s on your desert island jukebox? I am a music fanatic! Here goes: Beatles, Byrds, Carl Perkins, Amos Milburn, Swan Silvertones, Bobby Fuller, Buddy Holly, Sir Douglas Quintet, Lonnie Johnson, Searchers, Stanley Brothers, Hank Williams Sr., Creedence Clearwater Revival, Los Shakers, Sprague Brothers, Soul Stirrers, Mozart and many, many more.

Any do-over requests to lodge with the universe? Explain. Drum lessons would have been nice. I wouldn’t mind the ability to time travel. I’d like to sit on the bluff overlooking the Rock River, circa 1836 and I can think of many other times and places I’d love to visit.

Favorite meal? Authentic Philadelphia cheese steak and homemade buttermilk pancakes with pure maple syrup, but not in the same meal!

What can’t you live without? Family and friends, music, books, paper and pen, nature.

What do you do in your free time? Read, write, listen to music, take nature walks and bike rides, watch movies with my family, research family history.

If you could be reincarnated, what person/thing would you like to be? An ancient spruce tree at the tip of Moose Point State Park near Belfast, Maine.

Who are your top-three fantasy dinner party guests? Charles Dickens, John Fogerty, Edward Robb Ellis (author of A Diary of the Century).

What gets you up in the morning? Breakfast and a good book.

Who are your heroes? My parents, Basil and Nancy Burwell, and the many authors, musicians and artists who reach across time and place to bring joy and better understanding to the world.

Which talent would you most like to have/name a talent you have? I wish I could sing well/whistling with an acorn cap.

Beatles or Stones? Beatles, although I enjoyed seeing the Rolling Stones in concert in Philadelphia in 1978!

What’s your favorite hidden gem here in the area? The Apple Hut, a warm, friendly and sweet-scented jewel.

What’s the number one thing on your bucket list? Finish writing my second novel and write the next one (Shameless plug: the first, Prairie Hill, is available as an e-book on

Proudest/ most memorable life changing moment? Marrying Christine Nelson and the birth of my son, Ben.

If you were auditioning for American Idol, what song would you sing? “Here Comes the Sun” or, if feeling frisky, “Louie, Louie.”

What are you most looking forward to? Family time, writing time.

Fred Burwell ’86
September 24, 2012

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