100th Anniversary Issue
The College Pump
The Readers Write
Boom and Bust: 1919-1936
War and Peace: 1937-1953
Baby Boom to Bust: 1953-1971
Century's End: 1971-1998
Excerpts from one in a series of periodical reflections upon the publication of a new edition of the Harvard Alumni Directory, this one in 1970.
On page 1703, careful readers of the directory will find two alumni named Tweedle and two named Twaddle. Other pages yield up Messrs. Topp and Bottum, Major and Minor, Kool, Warm, and Hotte, Quick, Smart, and Sleeper. Further perusal reveals the existence of alumni named Sparrow, Starling, Pigeon, Pheasant, Falcon, Hawk, and Eagle, as well as Turtle and Hare. Then there are Penny, Pound, Shilling, Mark, Franc, Kroner, Ruble, Yen, Dollarhide, and Money. Music lovers will be gratified to discover that in addition to Richard Wagner '54, Gustav Mahler, M.B.A. '55, and Julian Sebastian Bach '36, the Directory includes such familiar names as Berlioz, Brahms, Bruckner, Dvorak, Rossini, Schubert, Schumann, and Verdi. There are also seven Lennons, nine McCartneys, 122 Harrisons, and 45 Starrs....
After certain prolonged immersion in the Directory, some readers may feel a compulsion to bring certain alumni together. Elizabeth Gimbel '69, meet Jonathan Macy '59. Theodore Charlton Egg, M.B.A. '63, meet Wilburt Ham '41 and Francis Bacon '56. And say hello to George Salt '25 and Claude Pepper, LL.B. '24. Richard F. America, M.B.A. '65, have you met Benjamin S. Asia '36?...
Why couldn't Ross W. Winde, M.B.A. '40, and Chester Snow '06 and Wilson H. Rains, B.Arch. '66, and Anthony G. Hail, D '44-'45, get together and help out the Post Office? For good measure, they could even throw in Edward B. Blizzard '41, Lawrence Lee Starlight, Ph.D. '57, and Olive McCoy Rainbow, Ed.M. '33.
~September 21, 1970
Ode to Joy
The log of the Harvard University Police Department, published weekly in the University Gazette, is usually a recital of trespassing incidents, disturbances of the peace, and the dispossession of bicycles, laptop computers, watches, and wallets from overly trusting or distractable members of the Harvard community. This recent entry provided a pleasing change of pace:
Screams were heard at Adams House. Units were dispatched, and upon arrival they found a person screaming for joy. The subject had been accepted to graduate school.
The Sporting Master
During 25th reunion activities in 1988, Leverett House alumni honored John Conway, master of Leverett from 1957 to 1963. Conway was given a bottle of 1963 port and this testimonial from an old oar who rowed on the House's all-but-forgotten second boat of that year....
The collective spirit of any undergraduate House at Harvard reflects, to some significant degree, the personality of its House master. That was certainly true of Leverett House and John Conway in 1963.
One measure of that collective spirit was the degree of participation by House members in the intramural sports program;...Leverett won the...championship in 1963...possibly due to our athletic prowess but more probably to our unmatched ability to muster volunteers for every conceivable sporting contest (the system was such that by mere participation we earned extra points toward the trophy, regardless of how we actually placed in any particular event).
Thus, like heroes in a Greek tragedy, we struggled on for Leverett House, often in the face of certain defeat; I can still remember throwing up after the freestyle relay, and almost hitting Mike Hardesty--a large, slow target--with a javelin.
But surely the ultimate gesture was the eight-man, second-boat crew race in our senior year. Six out of eight of our crew had never rowed before--at least not in circumstances where it was necessary to grip one oar with both hands--and the two members of the crew who did have rowing experience found themselves fallen among madmen.
On race day we somehow managed to get the shell from the boathouse to the far end of the Charles River Basin and to turn her around, half-submerged, ready for the long race back to the College....
The gun went off and the race was on: Cam Baher, our coxswain, called for a "power 10" start--10 quick, powerful strokes designed to put us into an early lead. In the event, our power 10 produced clouds of spray, and plenty of sound and fury, but no forward motion whatsoever. By the time our vision returned the other boats had magically disappeared, not to be seen again that afternoon....
Much, much later, after what seemed like hours, and after several frank exchanges among the members of our crew, we approached the finish line opposite Dunster House. We were cold and wet, battered, and utterly beaten. The skies had darkened and the rain was falling. The crowds--if there ever were any--had gone home, leaving only one person on the bank, clapping for all the world as if we had won: John Conway.
Somehow that made it all worthwhile.
The Scientific Mind
Inscrutable are the ways of scientists. On the floor of the Cambridge Electron Accelerator's experimental area are upwards of 40 magnets, used for building and focusing electron beams. All but six are named after some god or hero from Greek or Irish mythology. The other six bear the names of the wives of Henry VIII.
~April 6, 1963
"Luck's a Fool, the Door to Success Is Always Marked 'Push'"
Cleaning out a desk that had not been thoroughly cleaned out in at least 60 years, Primus found a little black book, about three inches wide by six deep, with a leatherette cover on which "harvard" was stamped in gold. It was the Hand-Book of Harvard University, 1908-09, running to 146 pages and published by the Phillips Brooks House Association.
The Hand-Book combined the functions of appointment book, vade mecum to Harvard (including the Regulations for Students, a directory of student teams and organizations, all the words of Harvard songs, including verses two and three of "Fair Harvard"), and a forum where 60 local advertisers could tout their wares....
In the back of the Hand-Book..., running in six-point type above many of the advertisements, is a series of one-liners--the sort of precepts and maxims so cherished by the Age of Elbert Hubbard:
As so often happens, the owner of this particular Hand-Book had started off with determination, filling up the space for September 30 (the day before courses began) with notations: "Freshman meeting 9 a.m. Sever 11," "Register before 1 p.m.," "Crimson." But his entries quickly thin out, and after "No chem lect at twelve" on October 7, he writes no more. Still, he persists in memory, or in imagination: the eternal freshman of an earlier day, learning wise use of freedom, preparing to push at the door of success, cultivating a neat appearance, touching his hat to professors as a mark of respect.
~September 15, 1969
Department of Great Men
It could have happened anywhere, and doubtless does. It certainly happened at the Faculty Club one recent noon, when a friend of Primus's...was about to take a seat at the Long Table.
At the same moment, a tutor approached it from the other side, and asked cheerfully, "How's the great man today?"
Two senior members of the Faculty broke off their conversations and turned expectantly.
~July 3, 1965
Arthur Drinkwater, Alumnus
One of the grandest, straggliest, most touching sights of Harvard's year is the Commencement parade of alumni. Led by the senior graduate present, with classes more or less in chronological order (and in recent years including Radcliffe alumnae), the long line wends its way from the Old Yard into the Tercentenary Theatre for the annual meeting of the Associated Harvard Alumni, held by longstanding custom on the afternoon of Commencement Day.
The venerable old guard, with its canes and an occasional wheelchair, sets the tempo for the procession: a stately andante alla marcia. Its members amble past ivied brick walls shaded by great overarching elms, proffer the traditional tip of the hat to impassive John Harvard, and file by Weld and Widener, exchanging salutes with top-hatted Overseers assembled on the steps of the Library. Then the column turns leftward, to join the applauding thousands in row on row of folding wooden chairs. The Band plays. A newly certified graduate gives a joyful whoop. An infant gurgles. Even the cynic is moved, for here--in reverse order and bewildering variety--the stages of life are passing in review.
Arthur Drinkwater '00, A.M. '01, LL.B. '03, waited more than 90 years to lead the alumni procession, and then, in the last half-dozen years of his long life, became famous as its indomitable standard-bearer. Anyone could see that he reveled in it, this delightful elfin gentleman; his virtually unlined face saintly with age and good will, always beaming at the crowd's applause, posing patiently with the University's young president for ritual pictures, and ever raising the small sign with the numerals that meant so much to him: "1900."
Arthur--he was known by no other name, at least in his last two decades--died at 98 in Boston on May 23, 1978, missing this year's parade by just two weeks and two days.
A successful lawyer, he had served as class secretary for 58 years. He undoubtedly ran more reunions and published more class anniversary reports than any alumnus in history. His 75th Anniversary Report, a collector's item, was issued in 1975, when only seven classmates still lived. Arthur, then 95, wrote a modest introduction: "It seems proper to repeat here the statement of the famous journalist Arthur Krock that the Class of 1900 was the most remarkable class ever graduated from Harvard."
Class reports are a literary genre unto themselves. Arthur's are a legacy to alumni of any age. For example,
All of us in 1900 turn our thoughts once in a while to the years when we were at Harvard. We remember the friends we made there who brought us deeper happiness and satisfaction than anything else we did in college. They were shining youths in our Class of 1900. Would any of us have exchanged our days at Harvard for anything else?
Many, many old friends in the Class have said farewell to us. But we carry on with spirit and cheer. I wish that I might shake the hand of every member of the Class and give you warm greetings face to face. Lacking that, I thank you for all your kindness during these many years and wish for you good health, comfort, and good cheer. May all be well with you.
And with you, old friend.
Primus is indebted to Richard W. Kimball '50, a correspondent in London, for the following intelligence. Milletts (Western) Ltd., Outfitters and Suppliers of Canoeing and Sports Equipment at 89 Oxford Street, London, sells track-suit tops (English for sweatshirts) emblazoned with college names and insignias. The Yale version is red with white letters. The Harvard version, complete with Veritas shield, comes in blue and gold.
~December 2, 1968
The streaking phenomenon has called forth so voluminous a literature that perhaps no more need be said about it. Still, for the benefit of those who spent the winter on Saturn or Uranus, Primus offers the following perspectives, culled from a variety of sources....
Streaking in American history. Early instances of streaking occurred in Cambridge in the summer of 1775. The streakers were Continental Army troops in George Washington's command. An orderly book in the National Archives records that Washington dealt with them in characteristically firm fashion.
The genl does not mean to Discourage the Practice of Bathing while the Wether is warm enough to Continue it, but he Expressly forbids any Person doing it, at or near the Bridge in Cambridge where it has been Observed and Complained of, that many Men, lost to all sense of Decency and common modesty are Running Naked upon the Bridge, while passingers & even Ladies of the first Fasion in the Neighborhood are passing over it, as if they meant to glory in their Shame. The Guards and Centrys at the Bridge are to put a Stop to this Practice for the Future. August 22, 1775
Streaking at Harvard College. In a published interview, John B. White '34 has revealed that even in 1933 Harvard had its nude dealers. On a bet, White ran naked from Soldiers Field to Eliot House, vaulting the hood of a car to get past a traffic jam. In later years, Pi Eta Club initiates were required to streak from Mount Auburn Street to Lamont Library .
Streaking at Yale. Elis planning a mass midnight streak invited Elliot Richardson, Harvard '41, to participate. Richardson, in New Haven as a visiting Chubb Fellow, said "It was very thoughtful of them to arrange it for the night I was here," but did not take part....
Humiliation of the Harvard football team. In streaking, as in political blackmail, the only real sin is in getting caught. At 2:30 a.m. on March 11, Cambridge patrolman Robert Ahern, with an impost of 10 pounds of police equipment, pursued a streaking sophomore through Harvard Square and captured him after a 125-yard chase. The sophomore turned out to be the football team's kickoff-return specialist. "Harvard needs faster backs," huffed Judge Lawrence F. Feloney '43, dismissing charges of indecent exposure.
Dean LeBaron Russell Briggs
From the final paragraph of an appreciation by H. Robinson Shepherd '08
His humor was the most thoroughly delightful and precious that many of us have ever known. It was easy, instinctive, casual--never labored. He loved the Stadium games, and attended them whenever possible. One day, as he was walking over with Edward Everett Hale, a friend asked him where he was going. "To yell with Hale"--quietly, with only a twinkle.
~October 9, 1954
Exams and Excuses
From the Harvard College Fund's newsletter,
The Yard Line:
A celebrated Harvard tale about exams begins with four young scholars who, following a semester of riotous living, retired to a lodge in Maine owned by one of their families for some intensive study. Amid the cold air and clean living they found that reading period was insufficient to fill the gap in their collective knowledge. They purposely missed their first exam and used the extra time to prepare, then presented themselves to the professor one day later with an excuse they thought was airtight.
"Professor," their designated spokesman intoned, "we were on the way back from a remote part of Maine and had a flat tire. The spare was also flat, and in the time it took to get it fixed we were delayed a whole day."
The Learned One...said they would be allowed to take a make-up exam. Our four heroes could scarcely contain their glee. "In fact," he went on, "I'll give it to you right now." This cooled their spirits a bit, but, after all, they were by now well-versed on the subject, so they agreed.
The professor wrote one question on four separate pieces of paper and then walked each member of the quartet to a vacant classroom. On opening the paper, each man found the killer question: "Which tire was it?"
As quick as you can say "Littauer Center" the buds on local bushes in the Yard uncurled last week, and a man with a spading-fork got himself into difficult areas behind the shrubbery and set to work on the good earth. Cambridge spring is a fleeting and only half-expected miracle. A day of comforting warmth, a touch of the south wind, and there it is, whether we deserve it or not. This year it has come earlier than in the memory of living man--so we may speak of it. The little band of English sparrows that behaved to us so pleasantly all winter, reporting daily to the unofficial feeding station under a secluded Wadsworth House window, have taken themselves off in search of new eaves and cornices. Their manner as yet is noisy but not arrogant. Squirrels have an uncombed, late-rising, but independent look. Only the pigeons still ask openly for bread.
Now there is a lace of atomic green buds hung high in the branches of the soaring elms. Clinton Scollard, the New Brunswick poet, said something about that quality of the Yard which is already forgotten--On lofty looms the elms have made. Overnight the forsythia turned yellow and flowered; and tomorrow it will shed. The Japanese crabapple has issued its ultimatum. The leaves of the lilacs are an inch long. Only the five major beeches and several smaller ones (some near the old Dana House in the southeast corner) still show restraint. Beeches are always the most doubtful of April's coming.
At the moment a large bee doing figure eights has steered his way to our quarter of the Yard, and his little music--if we could hear it--would be enough to make us put the period here where we shall drop a colon: Do you remember Cambridge spring? The young gentleman across the way at his window in Grays, his white shirt very laundered in the sun, is reading. He is probably reading sociology, oblivious of the bee, the forsythia, the Japanese crabapple, and the fact that he will soon be older and remembering in turn. Sociology? It is doubtful if he knows that three black-crowned night herons flew over Cambridge last evening heading north.
~April 26, 1941
Dancing for Joy
"Listening to music, I keep hearing Woody's voice interrupting, warning me to be alert for an inverted theme or exulting over the tonal glories of the orchestration," writes a correspondent who signs himself Euphonius, in a letter that mourns the death of Professor G. Wallace Woodworth '24 last July. The letter ends,
Serious music means a great deal to me, but I was almost unaware of it until my junior year at Harvard when I started auditing Music 1 because a certain Radcliffe girl was taking it. Last April I came back for "Return to Harvard" Day, and at eleven o'clock I climbed to the Paine Hall balcony and took my old seat. Things hadn't changed at all. Same Woody, same grand piano, same blackboard, same disc jockey sitting at that little table, ready to play the recorded illustrations....Woody still played brief illustrations at the piano, standing up. He lectured on Stravinsky that day. Playing recorded sections of the Sacre du printemps, he kept interrupting to explain the ballet phraseology, the counterpoint, the polyharmony. "Listen to those driving monotonous rhythms! Accented! Irregular! What discipline there is in Stravinsky's music!" Pausing a moment for an aside: "Now that's the gospel for today." Some of the students hissed (it was the day before the occupation of University Hall). "Discipline," Woody went on, nodding amiably. "You'll get further with it than you ever will without it!" This brought scattered applause. Stravinsky honked, in fifths. "Now that's the beauty of vulgarity," Woody cackled. He moved on to Petrouchka. Transported by the fourth tableau, he stomped across the stage, impersonating a dancing bear with a ring through its nose. What joy he took in his work! What brio he brought to it. When I picture him now, I see that performing bear. I'm not at all sure they make them like Woody any more.
For years, Professor Woodworth's "rehearsal" of the coming Boston Symphony broadcast was a staple of Station WGBH-FM's programming. It seemed fitting that his last radio lecture should be devoted to Erich Leinsdorf's farewell concert, which included the Beethoven Ninth. Woody's commentary ended--also fittingly--with a loving, excited appreciation of the choral movement that concludes the symphony. "Millions of people, in Elysium," were his final words: "Dancing! Dancing for joy!"
~September 15, 1969
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