1938 CLASS ANNALIST’S LETTER
Speaking of Swampy Marsh…
DeLancey F. - J. Jones, Class of 1938
Delivered: June 4, 1988
Speaking of “Swampy” Marsh, our late great teacher of public speaking, some 54 years ago he made me get up here and do a declamation. There I was, a wretched, 130-pound teenager, with a complexion problem, an itchy scalp (that was the year, you’ll recall, when they invented dandruff) and perspiring audibly.
While hyperventilating, I frantically attempted to remember the opening line of my chapel declamation, while out there, barely seen through my fog of terror, a minatory mass of undergraduates — and faculty members — watched hopefully for some horrible disaster at my expense that would brighten their day, such as drawing a blank or throwing a fit. You realize it was not unusual to encourage such possibilities with deliberate acts on the part of the audience, such as feigning sleep, making disgusting faces or, as in one case, holding up a sign stating simply: “You Stink!” (At this point in the presentation of this letter, classmate Kermit Clark walked down the Chapel aisle holding up a sign reading: You Stink!)
And now I’m doing it again, dragged out of comfortable retirement to re-experience one of my all-time personal nightmares. I’m older and heavier, but the rest is the same, including itchy scalp. When I found out about this assignment, my brother-in-law, Vin Jones, tried to cheer me up by telling me that he too suffered qualms when he was the half-century annalist for the Class of 1928. As you realize, Vin is one of America’s most eminent journalists and is well accustomed to addressing redoubtable groups, including — oh — members of Congress and the President of the United States, folks like that, as he did when he was head of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. So, when he told me that this annalist’s assignment scared even him, you can imagine how much that bolstered my spirits.
In his talk here 10 years ago, Vin came up with the memorable study showing that the Number One fear of adults was not the fear of dying, but the fear of having to make a speech in public. This still holds. That’s Vin down there with the full head of dark hair — he says he uses industrial strength Grecian Formula.
You may wonder how one allows oneself to get snookered into this assignment. In the present instance, my wife Barbara and I were enjoying a pleasant evening with Gene and Deane Sullivan in their attractive home in Sarasota, Fla., when Sully informed me that I was wanted on the telephone. I should pause here to remind you that the chairman of our 50th Reunion is a major general in the United States Army — one of the highest-ranking officers in the country, if not the world. In spite of being old class buddies and all that sort of thing, those of us who went through WWII pretty much at the grovel level, saluting anything that moved, can’t help but be awed by such a lofty rank. Well, I picked up the phone and a woman’s voice said: “This is Miss Buxley, General Sidle’s secretary. The general wants to speak with you.” So, the general says: “You are hereby directed to be class annalist.” I asked: “But why me, sir?” “That’s an order,” he explained. “Over and out.”
Well, that’s about how it happened to me. There are some, I am told, who welcome such an opportunity. I guess these are the professional deep thinkers and natural orators, such as lawyers, doctors and preachers, to name a few of my predecessors.
My faculty advisors — John Mavrogenis and Frank Lorenz — counseled that an annalist’s letter should be sort of a retrospective — a flashback — or as Yogi Berra might say, “Déjà vu all over again.” They told me that I should review past annalists’ letters to get a feel for the job. What this did was convince me that about everything had been said before. Not to worry, they said, each year there is a new audience that hasn’t heard any of this stuff, and those who have won’t remember. Other advice was to keep it short and avoid singling out class members by name, as those who are not named might feel neglected. As you’ll see, none of this advice registered very well with me. Shortness is a relative term and naming some names seems to be inescapable (as you’ve already seen). I apologize now to any classmates not mentioned, but also refer them to the 50th Reunion yearbook so ably edited by Bud Fullerton, who does a great job of mentioning everybody.
In preparation for this report, with the help of the Alumni Office I sent out a rather details questionnaire to all members of the Class of 1938 requesting their views on a variety of pertinent subjects. Much of what is in this annalist’s letter is basically a report on the replies to the survey. Remarkably, the questionnaire was sent back by virtually all classmates still on the College mailing list, which I guess is a euphemism for survivors.
One thing the questionnaire replies have done is bring into focus the Hamilton of 50 years ago. And I assure you that all possible help was needed in the attempt to reconstruct those days gone by.
It all started on Monday, September 17, 1934, when 163 of us arrived on campus, some having been deposited by the kindly New York Central Railroad at the Union Station in Utica, thence by trolley and Burdick’s Livery to the Hill, and others being delivered in the family Chevrolet, Studebaker, Hudson or name your own.
All of us, mostly 18 years old, checked into our dormitory rooms, bracing ourselves for whatever we had drawn in the roommate lottery, checking out our living quarters and aimlessly wandering around the corridors, meeting the other inmates.
What kind of a group were we? Where were we from? To begin with, the majority of our class came from the East, with New York State alone providing 80 percent of us. Not much emphasis on geographical distribution in those days. Today, we’re scattered around the country, but New York State still claims about 40 percent of the class.
Most of us came from white, middle-class, church-going and undivorced families who, in the years of the Great Depression, had to scrape hard to come up with the $700 required for tuition, room and board. At the same time, we were among the elite of that generation. In those days, only 15 percent of high school graduates went on to college.
We were the first class at Hamilton to experience life after the full repeal of the Volstead Act. We seemed to catch on to this newfound liberty without any difficulty.
Based on the questionnaire, a composite member of the Class of 1938 was 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighed 156 pounds, was 32 inches around the middle, wore a size 15 shirt and a 9 1/2 shoe, smoked cigarettes and had a full head of hair, probably crew cut.
We dutifully studied our handbooks and found that being a college man didn’t exactly mean leaving all restraints back home. Parental guidance was being exchanged for the tyranny of institutional rules and customs that had evolved over the years were administered by our natural enemies, the sophomores. We learned that freshmen had to wear green slime caps. We were prohibited from wearing knickers and smoking on campus, with the exception of corncob pipes. All buckles had to be fastened on our galoshes. We were to keep strictly to the regular paths on the campus and be the first to say “Hello” to upperclassmen. And to top it off, only upperclassmen were permitted to wear corduroys and enjoy the privilege of carrying canes. Canes?
Did our class observe these rules faithfully? Not at all, according to a Hamilton Life editorial that fall: “The present freshman class has particularly distinguished itself, if in no other way, by its blatant disregard for these little laws of ours — such as wearing slime caps and speaking to upperclassmen first. We should hazard a guess that at the present time there are more capless freshmen walking across lawns and smoking cigarettes than ever before.”
We lost the Flag Rush to the sophomores. “However,” reported Hamilton Life, “the frosh, represented by the fleet-footed quartet of Thompson, Power, Reddy and Fulkerson, streaked to a decisive win in the relay.”
During the following year’s Flag Rush, it was reported that Addison Wardwell “volunteered when no sophomore heavyweight appeared and under large weight handicap — weighing only 135 pounds — Wardwell valiantly lost the heavyweight bout to Big Bill Ingraham, Masters, Flanders, Pooley and Reddy won the one-quarter mile relay, beating Judson, Brown, Elliott and Dodge.”
There were several distinguishing characteristics worth mentioning about the College in those days. For one thing, we definitely had a “core curriculum” — now being rediscovered by the secretary of education and other such authorities. Ours consisted of four years of English composition, public speaking and physical training. Freshmen also were required to take Latin or Greek, a modern foreign language and mathematics.
On the subject of physical education, each of us was required to experience every sport offered by the College, including some esoteric stuff like fencing, boxing and tumbling. Also, you may never have been on skates before, but Coach Prettyman changed all that and in a couple of years you might have wound up as a varsity hockey player.
And all of us are sure to recall that we were required to attend chapel services every day — weekdays and Sundays.
If we wished to be absent from any of the above, we were entitled to exercise one of the three cuts allotted to each course per semester. Big deal!
We learned quickly that the Chapel bell ruled our lives. There was a 12-stroke countdown for every class period and chapel. If you didn’t get there by the 12th bell, you couldn’t get in and were marked absent. Kerm Clark recalled: “I can still see Stan Gilbert rushing from South College in his pajamas and huge Buffalo coat trying to make chapel before the final gong.”
All this added up to a fairly rigid, structured College life on an isolated campus situated two miles from the nearest town and the trolley car that offered an escape route to the metropolis of Utica. This vehicle was a tempting target one night, when, clad in pajamas and fleeing from hazing sophomores, a group of freshmen commandeered the trolley at the village green and drove it at top speed to Utica, and then paraded down Genesee Street. The entire Utica trolley system was disrupted.
Some of the flavor of our years at Hamilton can be derived from College publications and replies to the questionnaire. The College Bulletin and Catalogue, for example, cheerfully greeted us with a first page devoted entirely to the ominous message: “Every alumnus is encouraged to remember the College in his will.” There is now a whole department working on this project. On a related subject, the Alumni Fund for 1934 brought in $2,800. This year it’s about $2,500,000. Talk about inflation.
A typical Hell Week experience was reported to Bob Shankland: “I was sent to the College Cemetery in the very late evening to transcribe six Greek tombstone inscriptions. To my slight surprise, this chore scared the hell out of me, and when silence there was suddenly broken by the Chapel bell ringing midnight, I nearly had a stroke.”
The College Store reported that students were buying 10,000 cigarettes per week (mostly Chesterfields).
When asked in the poll, “Would you be willing to bear arms in any war if called by your country?” 75 percent of the class said “No!” When asked if we would bear arms if the United States should be invaded, a similar number still said “No!”
A Hamilton Life item in February 1935 stated: “Recently President Ferry received a letter from a group of girls in California asking him to grant them permission to use Hamilton College as a setting for a book to be named Kitty Green at Hamilton College. Needless to say, President Ferry replied quickly, saying that Hamilton has never been a coeducational institution and wasn’t likely to become one in the future, and therefore the setting would be inappropriate.
There were several reports on the weather, with one recalling a temperature reading of 56 degrees below zero. And this was before wind chill factor had been discovered.
Midway through our first year, the organization against morning chapel claimed 80 percent support. In one protest against compulsory chapel, all students kept silent during the hymn singing — leaving it up to our hero, “Swampy” Marsh, who was leading the chapel service that day and who gave an impromptu solo performance that made the windows rattle. The trustees finally reduced chapel attendance requirements to three days a week.
Pete Hoch recalled: “In spring, at the choral competition, our class lined up on the library steps. Ken Soper blew his pitchpipe. Some of us thought that was the note to start on, others that it indicated the key. Out came a perfectly executed piece, sung in fifths.”
In chapel polls, the student body voted for Republicans over Democrats, against the New Deal and in favor of Alf Landon over Roosevelt. In our poll earlier this year, by the way, most of the class predicted that Bush and Dukakis would be nominated and that Bush would win the election.
There were several nostalgic recollections about busloads of girls arriving from Wells and Skidmore on blind dates for football dances. And about the excitement as hordes of young women materialized for the fall and spring house parties.
There was a report that a biology student inserted a hollow cork containing a note into a hen’s egg duct. Although somewhat abashed (so the story goes) the bird went ahead and laid her egg anyway. The student then sent the egg to his girl, who cracked the egg and read the note, which said something like “You’re my chick.”
While on the subject of eggs, several of you wrote in about the time that “Bobo” Rudd was on an inspection tour of the Alpha Delt house early one morning during Thanksgiving recess and surprised an undergraduate and a young woman seemingly about to eat some boiled eggs. Shocked by this apparent breakfast tryst, Professor Rudd demanded to know what was going on. The undergraduate explained that he and the young woman were merely observing some eggs hatch in connection with a biology experiment. “Bobo” was not buying this and stormed out. Returning awhile later, he was flabbergasted to see the couple still brazenly sitting there. But this time, there were also four baby chickens scampering around the table yelling “Cheep” at him. A worldly gentleman, Professor Ruff was still not fully convinced and he later grudgingly expressed admiration for what he considered to be a devilishly ingenious subterfuge.
Some other items: The Hamilton Choir appeared on Rudy Vallee’s Variety Hour broadcast in March 1937. A year later, there was another nationwide broadcast of the Choir, with Alexander Woollcott as M.C., Orson Welles as narrator and John Kelsey as soloist.
In 1937, President Ferry pointed out the disagreeable contrasts between the green walls and oak paneling and pews of this Chapel, urging that it be redecorated. Dean Ristine agreed, and ultimately their wish came true.
Hamilton’s first Winter Carnival took place in January 1938, with Frank Taylor as chairman and featuring music by Bunny Berrigan and vocalist Gail Reese.
When Woody Herman died last fall, De Whipple called to remind me that Woody’s orchestra had played at our senior prom at the Yahnundasis Club.
There were several recollections involving cars. When Charlie Brown’s Model A Tutor sedan froze up, he remedied the problem by pouring beer in the radiator, causing the car to smell like a brewery thereafter.
As a final departing grand gesture after graduation, John Kelsey left his ancient Chrysler sedan at the Utica railroad station, with motor running, while he boarded the train back home to Chicago.
Another episode involving a car — one in which I was a bystander — had to do with Bill Masters and what you might call his first case. Bud Materne and I were playing golf one day, and at the third tee Bud suddenly doubled up with pain. Dr. Hamlin not being available, we rushed to the Science Building and searched out Dr. Butcher amidst the cat cadavers. He did a blood count and said, “Get to the hospital immediately.” But how? The answer was Bill, who not only owned a Chevy roadster, but also was a pre-med student. In his best no-nonsense professional answer, Bill took charge. As it turned out, his true calling probably should have been ambulance driver, as, with the three of us crammed in the front seat and the patient moaning and groaning, he put the pedal to the metal down the Hill, went flat out through Clinton on two wheels, then down Genesee Street in Utica with horn blasting, making split-second decisions about whether to go to the right or left of the streetcars advancing up the middle of the main artery, then finally screeching up to the Emergency dock at Faxton Hospital, where the doctor took a look at Bud and diagnosed acute peritonitis aggravated by high-speed driving. Such were the beginnings of Bill’s eminent career and Bud’s survival. The doctor said I didn’t look so hot either.
With respect to faculty members when we were in College, I have detected a proclivity on the part of the prior class annalists to refer glibly to our professors as “Stink”, “Digger”, “Chubby”, “Trot”, “Little”, “Greek”, “Rocksy”, “Baldy” and so on, as if this was the way students addressed them. Now, does anyone really recall using such nicknames face-to-face with the namees? I can’t believe that any of us would have tried to address that distinguished professor of chemistry, noted chamber musician, and world-famous agronomist named “Stink,” or even by his given name, Percy.
This is not to say that Professor Saunders was austere or unapproachable — quite the contrary. Charlie Brown reports that in his opening lecture, Dr. Saunders said, “If you are homesick, see me. The best of us have been homesick.”
In our day, there were 52 members of the faculty, serving 488 students, a ratio of 9 to 1. Today, the ratio is much the same, with a faculty numbering 160.
When asked to name professors who had contributed the most during their years at Hamilton, our class made mentions of Professors Graves, Rudd, Nesbitt, Johnston and Patterson. Also among the leaders were Mox Weber, Mattingly, Liedke, Cameron, Shepard and Super, plus many others who had strong support.
Memories of the faculty were varied, but taken together reflected high regard for the quality of the instruction we received and its lifelong impact. Faculty members were dedicated, some distinguished and some pure characters.
A sampling of the memories: Prexy Ferry coasting down the Hill on his sled for lunch; Professor Brown’s twin setters; ebullient and red-cheeked young Otte Liedke; the chalk on Professor Super’s seat from leaning against the blackboard, as well as his and Professor Shepard’s clicking dentures; Professor Bonham hurling an eraser at Les Elliott in history class to wake him up; and Professor Graves’ puns, such as “The British defeated the German fleet by von Scheer luck.”
Tom Johnston was remembered as a true saint as well as a man of wit. Bill Read recalls receiving back an English composition with the notation: “Quel Fromage!” Bill also remembers Economics Professor Patten’s summation: “There is too much romance in the canned pea business.”
Mac McGinn reported: “I was standing under the goal posts enviously watching varsity scrimmage, when Coach Winters came up and said, ‘Where’s your suit?’ I said I had not been invited. He replied: ‘Get to the gym and tell Doc to fix you up.’ I never forgot it nor failed to appreciate him.”
Duane Tucker wrote: “Never did not find out why Boyd Patterson’s dog was named Tucker.”
Several classmates made note of the fact that President Ferry “graduated” with our class in 1938 and now, 50 years later to the day, it’s happening all over again with President Carovano the privileged one this time. This has to be more than mere coincidence. Rather, the hand of destiny seems to be at work. Who will be next?
All in all, our class obviously regarded the faculty with great respect and affection. The distinctive quality that emerges is that, in our day, faculty members took a personal interest in our progress. They were our friends and they wanted us to succeed. They knew us by last name in class and by first name around the campus and at social events, often in their homes. They are almost all gone now. They were part of our lives and a common thread shared by all of us.
Hamilton has weathered well. In 50 years, we have seen her evolve from somewhat humble status to a nationally recognized institution with a formidable reputation for excellence.
True, there are dissenters in our class who bemoan the liberalization of the curriculum and campus life, the jettisoning of treasured values — throwing the baby out with the bathwater. But, whatever the view of today’s Hamilton, we remain among the fortunate few who, in the Depression years, were able to attend this small liberal arts college in its original state. Hamilton had a profound effect on our lives — no denying it — and we love her, the old and the new.
So much for mush. What’s happened to us, the Class of ’38? You'll recall that trim young gent described a few minutes ago, the composite 1938 class freshman? Statistics reveal that, since then, in its totality our class has shrunk 2 1/2 feet in height, added 27 1/2 feet around the middle, put on more than a half-ton of blubber, lost 36 heads of hair to the heartbreak of baldness, and added five feet around the neck. Besides these gross physical changes, what else have we done with our lives?
Following Hamilton, 60 percent of the class attended graduate school. About a quarter of our classmates have spent their careers in the field of education and a similar number in business administration. There was strong representation in the general area of publishing, journalism and advertising, followed by marketing and sales and medicine. Many other fields claimed the talents of our group, such a law, music, the ministry, insurance, accounting, engineering and the military: and there was one horseman, who is here today. A quarter of the class members said that they probably would have tried a different career if they had it to do over again.
On the income questions, our class members reported that their first job paid about $67,000 a year — wait: that’s the total for the entire class, made up of a lot of $600 and $1,200 a year salaries. Today, mostly in retirement, we’re generally doing as well or better than the estimated family median of $35,000.
So far, our class had produced an average of 2.4 children each, plus 2.8 grandchildren. Two great-grandchildren were reported by Charlie Gibbs.
Like most everybody during the years of 1940-46, our classmates contributed to the war effort, whether or not in uniform. Most went to sea, in the Navy, Coast Guard or Merchant Marine, followed by the Army, then Air Force, for a total of 75 percent of the class in military service. You’ll recall that that exact percentage — 75 — said they would not bear arms if called by their country back there in the undergraduate days.
Three-quarters of our class voted that Hamilton did a very good or good job preparing them for a career. Most everybody rated Hamilton tops in preparing them for Life, with a capital “L.”
We gave positive remarks to today’s curriculum, with some reservations about lack of emphasis on core studies. Also pluses on the athletic programs, general condition of the campus and admission policies. A majority expressed disapproval of public speaking and chapel attendance requirements (or lack thereof), coed dorms and the administration’s handling of fraternities.
If 18 years old today, about three-quarters of our class said they would pick Hamilton again.
A total of 70 relatives of our class have attended Hamilton, with sons, brothers and brothers-in-law leading the field. One father-in-law was reported: mine.
Most of us are Protestant, principally Episcopalian, and claim to be in good health — possibly because we work at it — unlike Eubie Blake, who, on his 100th birthday, said, “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”
Eighty-eight percent of us don’t smoke, although 75 percent did once but gave it up. Typical 1938 willpower!
We seem to be following enthusiastically at least my doctor’s advice, or acquiescence, to imbibe alcohol — er — moderately, with the martini being cited as the favorite portion of this discriminating group, although there was some play for boilermakers and salty dogs.
Not a group of aging coach potatoes, most ’38ers exercise regularly, usually engaging in some form of forward movement such as walking, jogging, hiking or running. One mention of “chasing girls”was crossed out — in a wavering hand.
Golf, reading, fishing, photography, gardening and music scored highest among hobbies.
Our favorite reading matter includes The New York Times (although one person specifically stated “Not the Times.”); also The Wall Street Journal, local newspapers, Time, The New Yorker and (in a cameo mention) Whiz Bang!
By contrast with our parents’ generation, our class has traveled abroad extensively, to a total of 78 countries in fact, with England, France, Canada, Italy and Germany heading the list.
After we left College, all hell broke loose in the world around us, and it’s been doing it ever since. We started out in the Great Depression. Then, in a single stroke, on December 7, 1941, we found ourselves in a horrifying global war. It came to an end in another single stroke, an atomic bombing, which has haunted the world ever since.
As might be expected, World War II was at the top of the list provided by my classmates when asked to name the most important — good or bad — happenings during the past 50 years. Other subjects high on the list were Vietnam and all other conflicts, Russian aggression, television, gains in civil rights, nuclear development, computers, jet travel, AIDS, pollution and destruction of natural resources, eradication of smallpox and polio and other medical advances, foreign aid, founding of the U.N. and maldistribution of opportunity and food in the world. Assassination, terrorism, holding hostages and other mindless violence were included also.
Many negatives on the domestic political scene were noted, including Congressional spending, budget deficits, lack of political leadership, corruption all over, especially in high places: Chappaquiddick, Watergate, Irangate and Tailgate (starring Gary Hart).
Much concern was voiced for what has been happening in our society in terms such as: drop in personal integrity, moral deterioration, obsession with sex and violence, crime, drugs, money, madness,and the proliferation of “gaps” — not the gap as in “gaposis,” that dread affliction finally conquered by the zipper — but rather gaps between segments of our society, as between the haves and have-nots, the rich-rich and the subculture locked in poverty, between young and old — the generation gap. Much has been made of the latter, with good reason, with reference being made to the social upheavals of the ’60s, the time of trashing treasured values such as civility (as in not having to say you’re sorry) respect for elders and authority (whether or not deserved), working for a living and children conceived in wedlock.
And, as if the generation gap was not enough, publications and television recently have latched on to the amazing “discovery” that there are a lot of old people in this country, 28,000,000 of whom belong to the AARP in order to get discounts for motels and prescription drugs. Not so innocent, say the media, which like to depict us as an organized lobby of predatory gray panthers stalking the baby boomers and scooping up vast piles of social security benefits.
Looking on the brighter side, during our 50 years the Man in the Moon became a reality, giving rise to satellite communications and the marvel of pictures and voices traveling instantly from the other side of the world to our living rooms.
Back on the ground, ordinary travelers like us began touring on cruise control for 400 to 500 miles a day in air-conditioned comfort on a network of super-highways — first viewed in miniature at the 1939 World’s Fair, as you’ll all recall. Air travel abruptly zoomed to 600 miles an hour as jets replaced props and seemingly everyone flocked to the airports, leaving the railroad stations high and dry. Universal railroad passenger service, the kind that used to get us in and out of Utica, became a has-been.
Additional mentions, in a positive vein and bearing on technology and day-to-day living, included semi-conductors, (not to be confused with the decline in railroad service), electronics, calculators, Xerox copiers, tape recorders, color film, household inventions, fast food, air conditioning, advances in farm machinery, better car tires and Super Bowl II.
Hamilton enjoyed numerous mentions, including: Hamilton alumni support, graduation of the Class of 1938 and the Carovano presidency.
Two other presidencies received attention: Roosevelt’s and Reagan’s. Both names appeared in both the “Good” and “Bad” categories.
What does all this seem to add up to? I don’t know — it seems like a mixed bag. There are many good things, but cumulatively, responses to the questionnaire indicate a gnawing apprehension, a foreboding among the world we live in. “I’m not optimistic about where we’re going,” said one.
Obviously we have been living through an extraordinary period, full of destruction, terror, moral decay, a serious disintegration of the family unit, want in the midst of plenty. Our class has straddled the good and the bad. We went through a numbing depression and consuming war. Yet we lived through an era of grace, of lasting marriages, of emphasis on job security, of saving money for a rainy day (or trying to), religious affiliation, conservatism in mood and appearance, and family cohesiveness, in all walks of life.
Some of these are seen through the rosy diffused lens of retrospect, yet clearly we’ve seen many advantages of the good life peak up and then start downhill, or turn into imitations of the real thing. “Gracious living” is now sold by the package, including saunas and hot tubs; we eat nouvelle instant food; weirdo punk rock performers are deified as great performers. The travel industry offers us “cruises to nowhere.” That’s got to be symbolic!
Enough of the 1938 questionnaire results. Let’s return now to 50 years ago, when that Class was graduating at Hamilton’s 126th Commencement. Along with us, the Rev. Henry Sloane Coffin, Senator Carter Glass and Secretary Henry Stimson received degrees. Ninety-four out of our original class of 163 were there for their diplomas, reflecting a 43 percent attrition rate.
Mike Carmer joined other dignitaries in breaking ground for the new gymnasium, using a decorated shovel. Dave Ellis gave the Salutory Oration — in Latin — Sully’s native tongue, concluding with those immortal words: “Vale Praeses, Valete Professores—et Vale Johnson.” As Valedictorian, Bob Allen expressed gratitude for all that had been done for us by Dr. Ferry and others, as “we step through the Door of Commencement into the Street of Life,” and pointed out that in those days, few enjoyed the luxury of choosing a vocation, so that when asked what kind of job we expected to have, we answered: “Whatever we can get.”
I have reached the point where once again Swampy’s spirit appears, reminding me (and this is a direct quote that Dave Ellis unearthed in his College Cemetery research). “Jones, keep command of your terminal facilities,” to be loosely translated as “know when to shut up and sit down.”
But first, one more anecdote might be appropriate on this drowsy spring morning, as reported by Bob deCourcy: “There was the warm spring day in ’37, with bees buzzing outside the windows of Root Hall. In the middle of the lecture, most of the class dozed off, including the professor. He awoke with a start and dismissed the class.
Now it is time for dismissal — with an assist from two summations. First, from George Waddington: “Looking back,” he said, “it was another era! Wearing green beanies for the freshman year; tradition (a great one) of greeting fellow students on campus; ancient languages for a B.A., modern languages for a B.S.; Salutatory in Latin; Prettyman requiring playing hockey in gym classes; dropping a composition grade by one letter grade for each misspelled word; the running track around the basketball court preventing shots from the corner; the silence when someone couldn’t finish his chapel declamation; compulsory chapel. They are wonderful memories.”
And last, Dr. Ferry, as mentioned, also “graduated” with the Class of 1938. Let’s hear again what he said in his final report in 21 years as president of Hamilton. Referring to Hamilton as “the kindly, gracious hostess, which this place has proved to so many,” Dr. Ferry declared: “In concluding my last annual report to the alumni, I wish to record an expression of the gratitude which both Mrs. Ferry and I will always feel toward Hamilton College and all associated with it for the happiness which has attended our lives here.”
Sentiments that may well be echoed here today by us, his classmates, a half-century later.
DeLancey F. - J. Jones, Class of 1938
DeLancey Jones, a native of New York City, majored in English literature and biology at Hamilton and honed his writing skills as a columnist for Hamilton Life. After receiving an M.S. degree in journalism from Columbia University, he became a reporter for the Bridgeport Post-Telegram. Two years of working nights for wages perilously close to the poverty level helped prompt a move into public relations with AT&T. Except for service as a naval officer during World War II, he remained with the Bell System until his retirement in 1977. Most of his time was spent in managerial posts with Ohio Bell in Cleveland, in the fields of internal communications, advertising, operations and personnel.
He is now residing in Williamstown, Mass., and pursuing a second career in real estate. Both DeLancey (better known to his classmates as “Pudge”) and his wife Barbara have numerous family ties to Hamilton, and his affection for the College is clearly evidenced in the letter that follows.