1921 Class Annalist’s Letter
Four Years to Remember
Allen E. Throop, Class of 1921
Delivered: June 1971
Fraitres in classi millesima nongentesima vicesima prima, salvete. Credite mihi, vero cum genibus tremulis hic sto. Sed Deus id vult, et fortes Fortuna iuvat; ideo incipio.
With these words began the address that I was privileged to make at our 50 years ago. I am repeating them, not only because of the fact that you of 1921 were, and presumably still are, a vanishing breed of classical scholars who will readily comprehend my message, but because the words which I have spoken are as true now as then.
For now, as then, believe me, I stand here with knees that tremble, their shaky state I trust being now more attributable to old age than to the apprehension which caused the tremors of 1921. Now, as then, has God willed that I appear before you. And so now, as then, I shall begin.
There may, however, be a further reason for today’s apprehension. We are here in what to us oldsters is likely to be a strange and maybe even a somewhat hostile atmosphere, for to the student of today, as I sensed his attitude at Hamilton a few weeks ago and as I see it in Washington at rather frequent intervals, we of 1921 and our contemporaries are a part of the “establishment.” We are therefore not merely septuagenarians who may be losing our minds — although in all probably not missing them — but we are deemed, probably unwittingly but possibly through sinister design or stupid negligence, to have been active parties in bringing about the present discouraging state of the world.
I shall occasionally reflect with you on some of the contrasts, which, for better or for worse, exist between the Hamilton of our day and the Hamilton of today. But meanwhile let us share together for a few moments some recollections of our days here on the Hill. You will bear with me, for these recollections, with you as with me, have been blanketed by the layers of intervening years. However, in going back to our earlier years I have had the help of many of you who responded generously to my invitation for reminders of episodes, which enlivened our time together.
As we well recall, we came to this Hilltop in a troubled time. With the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915, Prexy Stryker, on his own initiative, had ordered that the flag on the College flagpole be not raised until the country entered the war; but his order had been rescinded six months before our arrival, when America had joined forces with Great Britain and France and their allies in the struggle to save the world for democracy. We also came at a time of the College's own rebirth, with the new regime of President Frederick Carlos Ferry, whose first years of administration were fraught with the problems inherent in combining higher education with indoctrination in the art of war.
As freshmen we escaped Prexy Stryker’s famous course in Bible, but this was not true as to some of those from earlier classes who, because of military service, joined us later on. Roc Lopardo, who was such a student, has reminded me of Stryker's legendary unpredictable demands, such as calling upon an unsuspecting freshman for the recital backward of the alphabet or the books of the Bible.
Despite the dark war clouds which hung over us as underclassmen, most of us, even though young, had a sense of humor — difficult at times for us to discern in the student of today — which enabled us to find fun in the daily routine of college life.
Our freshman year was a mixture of tradition and change. We were 78 in number; and although the sophomore class had entered with 88 a year earlier, the call to military service had reduced sharply the number of upperclassmen. Thus, we found that we represented about one-third of a student body of nearly 200.
In the tradition of the College, we “slimers” assembled at the foot of the Hill in the early evening before the Thursday when classes were to begin. Despite the confusion created by numerous applications to our own classmates, as the result of many cases of mistaken identity, of the red paint intended for our adversaries, we charged through the sophomore firehose defenses at the arbor and the Chapel, and ultimately took possession of the high baseball backstop, where we left visible and brilliant evidence our success. Satch Hart, aided by Paul Whitbeck, on that night provided just retribution to Sid Rosenthal and other sophomores who had maltreated him upon his arrival on the Hill a few days earlier and recalls this victorious assault as the event which “set him up” for the four years that lay ahead.
The ravages of Wednesday evening had left our clothing and bodies in such a damaged state that chapel row and its subsequent festivities were deferred until Friday morning. Although I do not recall the details, the chapel row was described by Life as a “roaring success,” for whom I am not sure. It was followed by a string of events in which our own wrestling and racing failures were crowned by a tug-of-war in which we easily pulled the outnumbered sophomores through the fountain. What was described as a “good, clean row” accompanied our ensuing parade, whereupon classes began at 10:30 a.m. We had thus been indoctrinated as underclassmen, and in due course our green caps were a noticeable part of the scenery.
Despite the war, there were other respects also in which the College took up its normal life. Although Albert Prettyman was yet to be chosen as athletic director, Captain Mark Lowell led his initially coachless squad, nine of whose 27 members were from our class, to four victories, and held Union to a scoreless tie on Steuben Field. Our team yielded in defeat only to Williams, perhaps in deference to our new Prexy’s former deanship of our adversary.
The musical clubs and the Charlatans continued their activities but avoided long trips, and the baseball and track teams, with somewhat abbreviated schedules, performed creditably. Basketball was still an intramural sport. As the winter season came on, our new Coach Prettyman, on a rink made by flooding the tennis courts and erecting wooden sideboards, initiated hockey as an intramural sport. Our two scheduled intercollegiate games that winter, with Williams and RPI, were cancelled — the Williams game because that institution had suspended operations for lack of coal and water, and the RPI game because an unexpected thaw destroyed the skating surface of our primitive rink.
The winter of our freshman year surpassed all records for bitter temperatures and astronomical snow drifts. The heavy snows, which lasted until after Easter vacation, to a large extent merely augmented our “slimer” duties of sled hauling and shoveling —including the shoveling of the hockey rink. However, the continuing sub-zero temperatures created critical fuel problems for the College, which resulted in the closing between mid-January and Easter vacation of the Hall of Languages, North College and Silliman Hall, and some of the fraternity houses, and in the curtailment of library hours. Bob Fisk recalls that on occasion as thick white flakes were blotting out the landscape, “Supe” would interrupt the Spanish recitation of Ruel Daniels, one of his favorite whipping boys, by demanding: “Speak up, Daniels, so we can hear you! Remember it's snowing outside.”
The war joined the weather in restricting numerous traditional activities. Although, after the serenade of various faculty members, we and the sophomores had joined forces on Halloween in enticing a farmer’s calf to “Rip” Hastings rostrum, with resulting retribution for us in an assignment the next day of three chapters of Livy. The underclassmen did not hold their normal competitively secret class banquets. Although modest Spring and Fall houseparties were held by some of the fraternities, the festivities of a three-day Junior Prom were bypassed; and although Life and Lit continued publication, the juniors substituted the final issue of Lit for their normally ambitious Hamiltonian.
Perhaps the most significant change in our freshman year — an omen of things to come upon our return as sophomores — was the transition of the College to a Reserve Officers’ Training Camp, a status obtained by the inclusion in the art curriculum, for credit, of a three-hour weekly course in Military Art and Science. Hamilton's 135-man “battalion,” half of whose strength was contributed by our class, was divided into two companies under the respective commands of “Flatfoot” Carruth and Professor Clarke. Although wooden guns were already available in limited supply, we lived throughout most of the year in the unfulfilled hope that 100 promised real-life rifles would arrive.
June of our freshman year saw the graduation of 24 seniors, who enjoyed the full gamut of Commencement exercises. Our own class participated in McKinney Prize speaking, with the honors going to Walt Parker and Frank Fry. Shortly before Commencement the upperclassmen, by unanimously abolishing Paint Night, had seemed to deprive us of our birthright. The action was labeled as strictly a war measure, on the grounds that this quaint and somewhat primitive introduction to the life of the College would deter the needed recruitment of sub-freshmen for the upcoming Class of ’22. However, under the benign influence of Prexy Ferry, the custom, as we know, was never revived.
As our sophomore year began, the war came closer home. Almost all of our own class, shortly after our arrival on the Hill in the fall of 1918, were inducted into military service as members of the Students’ Army Training Corps. We thereafter purportedly continued our College education, with tuition paid, and at the same time were furnished with board and lodging and $30 per month. Added to the faculty were Captain Clarence Emmet Ferguson, as commanding officer, and four recently commissioned second lieutenants.
The printed record gives little help to our recollections of this period; for Hamilton Life ceased publication; and The Hamiltonian of the following Spring, as well as the College Catalogue, showed an understandable desire to “scrub” that part of our College life.
This was not merely because of the suspension or elimination of cherished College traditions, but also because of the paramount pressures in the competition between military and academic demands. On the military side, only those subjects being taught to the group of 173 trainees were met with War Department directives. The dormitories were given, so far as possible, the barren bleakness of barracks. In our ill-fitting “issued” uniforms, under the stern command of Lt. Wagoner, captain of the Company A (headquartered in South), and Lt. Alexander, captain of Company B (headquartered in Carnegie), we spent hours in drilling or in performing the manual of arms, and were also indoctrinated in the Infantry Drill Regulations. In due course, after what seemed to be interminable delay, the previously limited supply of real rifles was increased; and although we did not progress to the use of ammunition in target practice, we received from Lt. Baker, our “small arms instructor,” training in the use of the bayonet, so that in hand-to-hand trench warfare we would know how to dispose of our adversary without having our weapon permanently retained in his corpse.
The era involved education four military command as well as ourselves. Some of you may recall that at the end of our freshman year Gordon McKenzie and I had the temerity to borrow enough money so that we could buy the stock-in-trade of the bookstore in North College, of which Ken Burns and Pete Sottong, graduating seniors, had been the proprietors. The merchandise consisted largely of well-worn second-hand textbooks which we had hoped that incoming freshmen could be induced to purchase at appropriately stepped up prices.
Mac and I had not counted on the S.A.T.C., or the bonanza which came in the fall with the unprecedented demand, at a 50-cent per copy profit, for nearly 200 all-new copies of the textbook for the compulsory course in War Aims, nor had we counted on moving our operation to the entrance of Commons, where there was a thrice-daily concentration of Hamilton's entire military force. The Commons food was none too palatable and only one-quarter of the men were allowed weekend leave. Hence, after each meal, a hungry mob with Government pay in their pockets or in the offing, would invade our quarters for chocolate bars, peanuts, cigarettes and soft drinks. A number of classmates, for what I hope was adequate compensation in kind, helped serve the customers.
Soon the operation was proving so gratifying that Mac’s Scotch instincts were threatening to turn an embryonic preacher into a wartime profiteer. At that point our commanding officer, Captain Ferguson, to our amazement and horror, discovered that we were guilty of a serious infraction of Army regulations, which prohibited an enlisted man from “engaging in a gainful occupation on the post.”
Our court-martial was avoided by a brilliant military maneuver. An order was issued by Captain Ferguson that permitted Mac and myself to retain our past profits and to transfer our merchandise to the Army at cost. However, at no increase in pay, I was given the duties of acting post exchange sergeant, supported by Mac as my deputy, with power to conscript fellow privates into service as store clerks; and all operations were thereafter for the benefit of the social requirements of the Hamilton “post” of the S.A.T.C., for which Washington had made very inadequate provision.
Under the abdication of the military authorities at Christmas recess, the Executive Council of the Undergraduate Association authorized the expenditure of $1,000 to take over the enterprise and run it as a cooperative under the direction of Coach Prettyman. Thus were the foundations laid for the excellent College store, which is now found in the basement of Bristol Center.
The drabness of the S.A.T.C. routine, and the frustrations involved in a futile effort to combine educational and military objectives, were offset for most of us by the feeling that we were working in support of a great cause, to which other Hamilton men had given and were giving their lives. The fall brought its personal sorrow to all of us in what was in truth a wartime casualty — the death of classmate Robert McAllister Farrell, in the flu-pneumonia epidemic. His warm and cheerful friendliness had brightened our freshman year. Bob Farrell’s death vividly demonstrated the College’s complete lack of adequate medical and hospital facilities — a lack of which was emphasized by repeated editorial comment in the issues of Life in the spring of 1919. It is indeed fitting that, after the temporary conversion of the old library into an infirmary, the present medical center of the College was finally built in memory of and named for another of our beloved classmates, Thomas Brown Rudd, whose energy and wisdom in later years were so often called upon to provide leadership in times of College crises.
Mustered out of military service in New Hartford as soon as practicable after Armistice Day, we faced the perils of mid-year exams instead of those of war. However, an understanding faculty recognized the handicaps of the preceding months. Some of us, under the distraction of military routines, had been baffled by “Stink” Saunders’ exposition of the periodic system. When at the last class some brave soul inquired as to the questions that would be asked in the exam, which we were about to take, “Stink” professed ignorance. However, in capsule form he gave us his best guess — and a very good guess it was — as to the exam’s content. Only because of this cooperation were those for whom, like myself, chemistry was and still is a mystery, able to continue the course.
A considerable normalization of College life took place in the latter part of our sophomore year. Life resumed publication, with “Wings” Matthewson as assistant business manager; Lit re-appeared with monthly regularity; intercollegiate basketball had its beginnings; and Coach Prettyman, strongly supported by Bailey Clark and Al Kaiser (with brother Dick of ’20 as captain), furthered Hamilton’s hockey prowess, despite the devastating effects on our open rink of an unseasonably warm winter. A baseball team was put together which, by its initial defeats of Union and Rochester, gave promise of a brilliant season, but which despite Pirnie Pritchard’s fantastic performances in the field and at bat, subsequently collapsed. However, some consolation was afforded by the track team’s bright season, to which Jack Holler, Ben Lawler, Charlie Seaver and Gordon McKenzie made major contributions. Meanwhile, Paul Fancher revived the Charlatans; the musical clubs were reactivated; and the Saunders musicales again became a part of campus life. On short notice, the Class of ’20 sponsored a junior prom, with a faculty “assist” in a one-day suspension of classes; and it also presented the College with a full-blown Hamiltonian.
After Christmas vacation, we and our adversaries of ’22 competed in holding secret class banquets — a custom which, in the interest of food conservation had not been followed in our freshman year. With complete success, we had full attendance and were entertained by a cabaret show provided by two captured “slimers.”
Throughout the spring of our sophomore year, however, the columns of Life repeatedly lamented a lack of what — somewhat quaintly I fear, by today's standards — we called “college spirit.” This manifested itself in the failure of the “slimers” of that year to say “hello” first and more loudly than their fellows, and also to appear regularly for practice in college cheers and songs. Organized cheering, which I am told has fallen into disrepute at Hamilton, a symptom of unbecoming immaturity, was then deemed to be an essential part of intercollegiate sport. A further lament was voiced at that time over the decline and fall of the art of “horsing.” The lament did not result from any vindictive spirit of our class toward the Class of ’22, but was voiced in a Life editorial (Jan. 21, 1919) by a distinguished upperclassman, who said:
“Horsing,” or freshman discipline, is being weighed in the balance. Abnormal times militated against its proper functioning, and what was once considered by many a desirable custom has fallen into disrepute…
There are many undergraduates, alumni and perhaps others interested in the welfare of Hamilton who believe in the salutary effects of disciplining the “pea-green freshmen.” Under the careful upperclassman supervision its conduct would meet most of the objections raised against it…
We believe that experience elsewhere shows that a strict ruling against all such “discipline” leads to lamentable, underhand, secret methods, and we hope they may be able long to continue their good work.
The senior who expressed what to our class were such wise and just views was none other than Philip C. Jessup, the winner of that year’s Clark Prize with his stirring oration on the Religion of the Battlefield, to whom, as a member until recently of the World Court, present-day students have justly given a post of honor in the Root-Jessup Public Affairs Council of the College.
Despite the sage advice of Phil Jessup, the needed discipline of members of the Class of ’22, which were so qualified and willing to administer, was terminated by the benign but firm opposition of Prexy Ferry. The concluding ceremony occurred when, in a brief but eloquent address from the “horsing bench,” Prexy interrupted at its peak an exceptionally fine performance then being put on by Dean Alfange.
The fall of 1919 saw the bloom of our days on the Hill. As juniors, we were still free from immediate concerns as to post-graduate plans and took seriously the task of restoring to full vigor the many facets of student life which had been curtailed by the war, even in our days as freshmen. To our regret, some of the traditional facets of that life had yielded to the gradual but firm restrictions of orderliness imposed by Prexy Ferry. However, in other and more significant areas the College, happily for us for those who were to follow, was in a new era. Nearly 300 students were in attendance as our junior year began, in contrast to an entering Class in 1919 numbering 103. And although the S.A.T.C. interregnum had brought 134 members of the Class of ’22 to the Hill, its membership had shrunk abruptly with the ending of the S.A.T.C., so that the entering Class of '23 far outnumbered its 69 sophomore rivals.
The student message in the 1970 Hamiltonian — which for some reason is now a production of the senior class — was that after the first two barren years of conservative ideas, imported “dates” and college isolation, junior year had brought a staggering change by providing liberal views, girls across the street and involvement in the outside world. To us, the pendulum at end of our first two years had swung the other way. As upperclassmen we found pleasure in what most of today's Hamilton students would regard as a parochial and myopic existence, focused primarily on our own absorbing activities on the Hill.
Our athletic teams took on their importance. The appointments which attended the football team’s 1919 mid-season defeats were forgotten in the final game when, as Life described the event, the varsity, under Bart Gorman's captaincy, crushed Union by a score of 6-0, and kept untarnished the cherished record of a Hamilton team unbeaten by Union on Steuben Field. We were proud that Art Campbell and Bailey Clark made brilliant contributions to that victory, and that Ben Lawler, on receiving a forward pass from Cart Schwartz, made a 43-yard run for the only touchdown of the game. Football was a disappointment in the following year, when Williams added to our other defeats a score of 81-7; but we found some consolation at the end of the season when, with Art Campbell as captain, Hamilton held Union to a 7-3 victory at Schenectady.
In other sports, under Roy Cowan’s leadership, basketball acquired a full-fledged intercollegiate status, and Pirnie Pritchard and Jack Holler were successful leaders in baseball and track. For the hockey season of our senior year we had a new standard-sized (but as yet uncovered) hockey rink, whose nine lights, in place of the three which had dimly illuminated the old rink, permitted practice and play after dark. In addition, its perfectly level horizontal surface was a welcome change from the end-to-end six-inch slope of its predecessor. With such a rink and Al Kaiser as captain, supported by our own Bailey Clark and by the Reeders, Bill Marlow and Tommy Thompson, Hamilton jumped into the top rank of college hockey by winning all of its 10 games against adversaries that included West Point and Colgate, as well as the highly rated Buffalo team, which was beaten by the phenomenal score of 21-0.
Toward the end of the junior year, the trustees had encouraged our athletic prowess by appropriating the large sum of $1,000 for gymnasium apparatus, and had made preliminary appropriation of $15,000 toward the covering of the hockey rink. The beginning of greater things to come was followed by an appropriation of $20,000 for a new baseball diamond and $125,000 for the new athletic building, which among other things, would house the hockey rink.
But intercollegiate sports did not overshadow equally important College activities. The Charlatans came to maturity, under the direction of Paul Fancher and the successful leadership of Pat Thorp ’20 and our own “Zip” Griffith. With great success, in their first trip in four years, the Charlatans appeared in the New York metropolitan area, as well as in Utica and other local communities. The musical clubs, too, traveled far on their renewed Easter trip and won wide acclaim. In intercollegiate debate, Hamilton’s prowess was demonstrated by its defeats of Lafayette, Rutgers, Union and Wesleyan in spring of ’20, and of Amherst, Rutgers and Union the following year. This is not surprising when we note that the members of the team included Frank Fry, Jack Van Kennan, Ed Finegan and Joe Rodgers. Life thrived under the leadership of Ray Gapp in our senior year, with the Class of ’21 providing seven of its editorial staff; and a Press Bureau was established.
Since, as you will recall, we were still a fairly ascetic group and lacked the proximity of Kirkland’s modern-day beauties, we contented ourselves with fall and spring houseparties, and, in accordance with tradition, were also responsible for the prom of our junior year. It is recorded in the unbiased annals of Life that our prom was a “mammoth event” — the “most brilliant in years;” and that Damon’s Demons of Jazz began their routine of 38 dances with a fox trot at 9:30 p.m. in the old gymnasium. That venerable and unpleasantly redolent structure, under the direction and inspiration of “Zip” Griffith, had been turned into what was justly described as a “veritable dreamland” of music, flowering trellises and beautiful balloons. I am indebted to Bob Fisk for the comment made by our newly arrived faculty member from the deep south, Professor Milledge R. Bonham, whose academic courtesies included the gentle use of a long, pointed stick to awaken those students of history who drowsed in an otherwise relaxing two o’clock class. Professor and Mrs. Bonham were undergoing a prom experience for the first time. Hence, as he admired the gymnasium decorations, the professor was heard to inquire of a chapter-one: “Tell me, Mrs. Smith, does the red light over the Psi U booth have any particular significance?”
Later in the year, our 1921 Hamiltonian was produced. It was a memorable tome, with Ray Gapp providing its editorial inspiration. Clarence Pickard obtaining its financial support from misguided advertisers, and Ted Paton imparting to it his unique, artistic humor. In it, as juniors, we claimed to have had a large part in laying the foundation for the year’s prosperity at the College, and modestly admitted that there was not a single undergraduate activity that did not owe some of its success to the efficiency and ability of the members of 1921.
In our upperclassmen years the Myers Lectures were restored to full vigor, with lectures from Thomas Lamont, Alexander Woollcott and Robert Frost. Our junior year, as well as the preceding Spring, saw the Hamilton faculty and student body involved, as were similar groups in other colleges throughout the country, in a bitter ideological and political struggle as to the role of the League of Nations, and as to the nature of this country’s participation in it. Debate ran high between the league's all-out supporters led by President Wilson, the moderates who, following the leadership of Henry Cabot Lodge and Elihu Root, were in favor of our membership in the league and those extremists who joined Senators Borah and Johnson in their vigorous total rejection of the league. The interest of academic circles in the issues involved resulted in the preparation by a group of editors of College publications, including Hamilton Life, of a set of alternative resolutions to those issues, which in January of 1920, were submitted for a country-wide vote of faculty members and students. A month earlier, in an editorial on the subject, Life had urged the fullest discussion of those issues and participation in that vote.
A large number of today’s college students apparently feel that mass demonstrations, with their all too frequent concomitant disruption of community life and injury to persons and property, are the best if not the only vehicle for self-expression on current controversial public issues. To them I commend — as I trust you do — the manner in which the League of Nations poll was used in 1920 to ascertain and reflect student sentiment. Despite the strongest feelings, this procedure gave country-wide expression, without bloodshed or so-called peaceful civil disobedience, to the opinions of the faculty and students, some of them battle-scarred as many are today, on issues which were as critical to those which divide our present society.
Today, as alumni, we are grateful to the administration of the College and its faculty, as well as to the undergraduates, for the protection and fostering, without violence, in the best tradition of Hamilton, of what has been described by President Chandler as “uninhibited intellectual exploration, debate, discovery and proclamation.” We are also grateful that, as stated in the report of President Chandler for last year, Hamilton under his leadership will continue to be an institution whose educational program is paramount, and whose integrity, as such an institution, will not be impaired by the altercation of its schedules and procedures in order to accommodate political interests and activities.
The initiation of the trustees in the spring of 1920 of a $700,000 endowment campaign saw the building of Prexy Ferry's plans for a greater Hamilton. The vigorous and prompt support of the campaign by alumni and by the students, 96 percent of whom contributed a total of over $40,000, was aided by a $200,000 gift from the General Education Board. The endowment provided urgently needed improvement of Hamilton’s physical plant and also alleviated to some extent the then sorry financial plight of Hamilton's excellent faculty. Prexy’s plans for expansion of the College were endorsed by a student vote, which overwhelmingly favored an increase of the size of the student body (then less than 20) to 400 to 500.
As upperclassmen we witnessed two somber events. One was the dedication at the Commencement exercises in 1920 of the plaque of the Chapel, which commemorates the sons of Hamilton who in the war had given their lives for their country. The other was the death of our venerable Schnitzy Brandt, for whom a memorial service was held as part of our own Commencement exercises. Those of us who had been privileged to know Schnitzy’s kindly but demanding classroom standards were particularly saddened by this event. But even for those whose interest in the German tongue had been diminished by the war, the worldwide academic tributes paid to Dr. Brandt upon his death brought home to all of us the depth of scholarship of our faculty, which he exemplified.
Except for the Brandt memorial service, our Commencement celebration followed the customary elaborate and elongated pattern. It began with the McKinney Prize debate on Thursday evening and concluded on Monday morning with the conferment of degrees (including the lone degree of bachelor of philosophy to “Abie” Ballot). Interspersed were, of course, a Friday Class Day for the seniors, a Saturday Alumni Day and a Sunday baccalaureate service. The daylight hours of Class Day combined ivy planting at the then “new” library with chapel ceremonies. The latter consisted of a Trial of Intelligence of the faculty before Judge Van Kennen with Frank Fry as prosecutor, as well as a spoofing of the foibles of our classmates. On that occasion we elected Grant Keehn as our 25-year president and Al Kaiser as the “squarest man in the class” — a meaningful compliment in those days, whatever the term might mean today. The evening of Class Day provided a Charlatan production, followed by our Commencement dance, which began at the hour of 11.
Under alumni demand, the College administration had brought the annual Clark Prize “Exhibition,” as it was called, from the Stone Church in Clinton to the Chapel, where it was given a black-tie and nocturnal features, was continued until last year as a Commencement event, but, as you may have noted, has now unfortunately been advanced to an earlier date.
Since Prexy Ferry had entered College with us, we felt a special kinship with him and were grateful for the wise counsel of his baccalaureate address. Being a mathematician, he took that verse from Revelations, which, in describing the vision of the New Jerusalem, stated: “the length and breadth and the height of it are equal.” In his address he urged that we give to our own lives a comparable dimension and symmetry.
Our College years had been good to us. The world, we believed, was entering an era of international tranquility; and the College, we were confident, was having a physical and academic rebirth. In our four years, we had worked hard in our studies, for our country and for the College; and our work had been enriched by faculty and student friendships and had been tempered with carefree episodes.
The contribution of our class to the College, as well as our own feeling about the College, can be summed up in the farewell message of Life in its 1921 Commencement issue; and, as I quote, bear in mind that Life's then editors were our one-time slimer foes:
At this Commencement time with its ceremonies marking this departure of the Class of 1921, it is only natural that we should look ahead to next year. We look ahead with optimism, despite the fact that with the Class of 1921 there goes from Hamilton an invaluable collection of athletes, scholars, musicians, writers, actors and gentlemen. It would be trite to say that their places will be filled with difficulty. Nevertheless…we look forward to next year with optimism and anticipation. We are embarking upon a new era; we are upon the threshold of a greater Hamilton. The Class of 1921 leaves behind it a record of which Hamilton may be proud. It only remains for the succeeding classes to continue this work and even to perform greater work in keeping with a greater college.
I do not want to conclude this letter without pausing to remember our classmates who are not here today. We know that circumstances have prevented some of them from joining us. To them we send our greetings. Others, many of whom have shared with us the privilege of assembling in previous reunion years, are no longer among our 40 survivors. Since our last reunion we have lost Ralph Bodie, Art Campbell, Frank Fry, “Nate” Pendleton, Joe Rodgers and Bob Sinclair; and since some of you were not here at our 45th reunion, I shall also name those we lost during the preceding years of the past decade. They are “Abie” Ballot, Harry Bartlett, Bailey Clark, Gordon Durkee, John Flynn, “Zip” Griffith, Harold Hutchens, “Gerry” Hyde, Ward Maier, Ray Moffat, Ned Moore, Clarence Pickard, “Mat” Stackhouse and Ken Terrell. May we pause for a moment in memory of these men, and our other missing classmates, whom we knew so well and loved dearly.
As our class returns to this hilltop, with its surging life of a new generation of students and faculty, we may well be as perplexed as they must be. Little advice can we offer, despite our 50 years of treading this earth since we were admitted to the society of educated men. For my own part, I would urge those few students to whom this Letter may come, to practice and to urge their fellow students to practice, the art of patience and tolerance and the equally important art of civility, stressed so recently by Chief Justice Burger in an address to a distinguished group of the bench and bar. May you and your fellow students remember that, despite today's seemingly overwhelming problems, the last half-century has been one of enormous scientific, economic and social progress for the world and for our nation. We urge you to improve, not to destroy — and to keep your perspective and sense of humor.
To President Chandler and the dedicated members of a great faculty, we give you our blessing and support. We shudder, perhaps, at the waves and cross-currents which rock this once calm sea of learning. But we envy you the challenge and admire your courage.
May all of you, students and faculty, and all of Hamilton’s sons who have come before and will follow us, join in never forgetting this place of memory as “the College on the hilltop, whose days will never end.”
Allen Eaton Throop, Class of 1921
Allen Eaton Throop attended nearby Utica Free Academy, entering Hamilton as a Fayerweather Scholar. A member of ELS, he obtained his Phi Beta Kappa Key and was graduated as class salutatorian. He then headed for Harvard, acquiring an M.A. in English literature, followed by an L.L.B. degree in 1925 and a S.J.D. in 1926. After leaving Harvard, he began his law practice in New York City. In 1932, during the twilight of the Hoover Administration, he accepted a position as counsel to the Reconstruction Finance Corp., an early attempt to stem the Depression’s tide. In 1934, in the heady days of the New Deal, he returned to Washington as assistant general counsel of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Appointed general counsel in 1937, he then accepted an associate professorship at Yale School of Law. In 1940, he headed the reorganization of the bankrupt Associated Gas & Electric Corp. Throughout World War II, with some 30 lawyers working under his direction, Mr. Throop successfully unraveled the tangle created by the unscrupulous ingenuity of those who fashioned the public utility system into an empire. In 1945, he began an 18-year association with Shearman & Sterling in Manhattan, and, in 1963, was named vice president and general counsel of the Communications Satellite Corp. (Comsat), the privately owned company chartered by Congress to deal with satellite transmissions. In 1969 he was appointed as an advisor to the American Law Institute.