Dear Boys...

Maurice C. Clifford, Class of 1941

Delivered: June 1, 1991

Lux nostra, loquax clarissime Prex,
Amici, vos curatores, et grex,
Amicae quoque, tam…

That greeting, addressed (in translation) to our illustrious, most famed president, friends, girlfriends, trustees and guests, will serve just as well today as it did to open my last oration before the Class of 1941, orated from this same platform 50 years ago. Indeed, it’s better, since –as I’m sure you noticed—in today’s translation I dropped the word “loquax,” that is, “verbose,” an irreverent characterization of our then-president that my writers, back then, made me utter.

Those were the opening lines of our salutatory address, at Commencement on June 16, 1941. One of the great blessings of my College life, was that I did not have to write the pledge, “This is my own work,” on that address, since our salutatory address was the work of three: Bob Rich, Professor John Mattingly — he of the brilliant forgetful mind and the great drooping mustache — and your speaker today, whose sole contribution was to speak the speech.

What a relief to unburden myself of that secret after 50 years! If I had made my confession at Commencement, and had not borne the stress of secrecy all these years, no doubt today I’d still have that full head of hair I see in my graduation picture.

Leaving such fantasy aside, I’m glad to see Bob Rich here today and to ask him — and Professor Mattingly, if he is here — to accept this public appreciation for their parts in that unique address. That was the only salutatory in rhymed Latin verse (that we know of) in the 179-year history of this venerable College. It was also, I might add, not only the next-to-last salutatory address at Hamilton, since I’m told that, after 1942, the salutatory address was dropped from the Commencement program. The salutatory address is gone.

Gone, but not forgotten. Les Start, our class valedictorian, reminded me a few weeks ago of the couplet that concluded our three-man salutatory, lines he remembers to this day:

Libris iactis per fenestram,
Nunc eamus ad palestram.

Which translates:
Books thrown out the window,
We’re off to the playing fields.

Well, not quite. Bob Rich was of to study mathematics at the University of Chicago, having won the richest prize at graduation, the thousand-dollar Root Fellowship in Science.

Most of us were shortly off to military bases, some to battlefields, and many, a while later, back to the halls of ivy. There is, in fact, some irony in Les’ recollection of that particular couplet, since in my mind’s eye I see him spending his working lifetime as a distinguished college professor, calling out the window to students on the playing fields, urging them to come back to the classroom, books in hand.

When I sat down to begin writing this half-century annalist letter, for the first time I wondered to whom this memorial letter should be addressed. I thought first of all of our departed classmates, dear friends we shall one day follow to that undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns. And Carissima, especially my mind turned to your boys lost to war, cut down in the full bloom of youth: Bill Eddy, Ed Eisengrain, Jack Gardner, Pete Hatch, Ed Kiley and Don LeFevre. Each of them has his place, I’m sure, in all our memories.

But for me, Bill Eddy holds a special place. Member of D.T., Was Los and Pentagon, Bill was captain of our track team. Ed Abbey remembers, as many of us do, his graceful, seemingly effortless stride, running the 440, that supreme test of speed and stamina. Traveling to a meet in Schenectady or Geneva, Bill and I often sat together on the bus. Our conversations, and chance meetings here and there on campus, created for me a picture that lasts to this day of kind, unassuming, considerate Bill Eddy, an exemplar of Hamilton’s ideals, and a good friend.

First, then, a moment of remembrance and thanks and praise to all our departed classmates, especially the six men of ’41 who gave the last full measure of devotion in the second Great War: Eddy, Eisengrain, Gardner, Hatch, Kiley and LeFevre.

And let us not fail to honor the memory of our classmate Fred Deyo, who died of meningitis in our junior year. Quiet, scholarly Fred was elected posthumously to Phi Beta Kappa.

To all the youth who shared our days on this hilltop 50 year ago: Greetings, dear boys!


At Commencement, on June 16, 1941, 72 members of our class received diplomas; at latest count, 54 are known to be living. Four years earlier, in 1937, the annual catalogue of Hamilton College listed 120 in our freshman class. By the fall of 1938, the names of 18 had been dropped, and 18 others were still listed as freshmen. Thus, the Class of ’41 lost 30 percent of its membership in the freshman year. By the time the survivors reached Commencement, 12 more had left our number.

In those days one did not go gentle into that good night of departure; our grades were published on typewritten sheets hung on bulletin boards in the library vestibule — hung there for all to see with pride or pain. The grades then were High Honor, Honor, Credit, Passing Plus, Passing Minus, F and double F (below 40). Of these majestic rankings, why is it that only F and double F continue in use — I hope disuse — today?

Our class, remembered for the most celebrated pre-Union rally in the history of the College, was not remarkably accomplished academically. We marveled at the likes of Bob Bacon, Herbie Long, Paul Rockwell and Murray Shepp, who seemed to have run off with High Honor and hidden it where our class — on a year-long average — could never find it.

Perhaps the approach of war diverted us from reaching our academic potential. On the other hand, we fortunately were not entirely diverted from such joys of life as houseparties and Winter Carnival. The May 14, 1941, issue of Hamilton Life celebrated the announcement by the College physician, Dr. Hatfield, that spring houseparty, in danger of cancellation because of our recent epidemic of German measles, could now go forward, the measles having sufficiently subsided. So intense was interest in the anticipated arrival on the Hill of some 200 young women guests that their names were listed in the paper.

Still, our College days were overshadowed by the clouds of war in Europe. When the military draft began, in 1940, three members of our class were scheduled among the first group to be called: Art Petronio, Tony Sega and Wu Teh-Yao. Ironically enough, Wu was a Chinese national, here on the Hill for a post-graduate year, a 24-year-old graduate of the University of Nanking, he came to Hamilton in preparation for doctoral studies at, I think, the Fletcher School. He was a bright, charming fellow from a wealthy family. Wu visited me at home in Washington one vacation. Afterward, he urged that I return that visit to his home in China, offering me the pleasures of (as he put it) “ a guest house with many handmaidens.” Another missed opportunity of my life. I believe that Wu rose to the presidency of a major university in Taiwan.

Perhaps war came closest here in October 1940, when the Federal Civil Aeronautics Authority opened a course to teach students to fly. First of our class to enroll were Fred Ames, Dave Cummins, Ed Gourley, Al Hooke, Pete Jessup, Wes Perine, Bob Peach and the Underwoods. Fred Ames was the first to solo.


The 1937-38 College Handbook offers this historian a spur to recollection in a list of “General Underclass Regulations,” which apparently had official sanction.

• Carrying of canes and wearing of corduroys were “privileges” restricted to upperclassmen.

• Sophomores were permitted to “travel,” that is, to move about among fraternity houses, at spring houseparty, but not at fall houseparty.

• Sophomores were required to yield precedence to upperclassmen. (It was, of course, unthinkable that freshmen would not give way to everyone.)

Supplementing those and a host of other “regulations,” the handbook also prescribed the conduct of freshmen, under the curt heading, “Freshman Rules.”

• Freshmen must not wear red in any form.

• Freshmen must wear the regulation green caps. (These caps were called, like those wearing them, “slimers.”)

• Freshmen were forbidden to wear knickers. This I, for one, found no great loss. Had we been victorious in the flag rush (which we were not), this prohibition would have been waived, for anyone who cared.

• Freshmen were allowed to smoke only corncob pipes, except in dormitory rooms. This rule, if it still exists, should be tightened.

I’m not going to continue the litany of oppression. Suffice it to say that there were eight additional listed prohibitions or requirements. Somehow we bore them all. Indeed, in the benign retrospection of this festive day, one might conjecture that such rules may have accomplished the worthwhile goal of drawing us freshmen closer together that first year and forever after.


It seemed a good idea to put our College life into perspective by looking back, to see what life had been like on this hilltop 50 years earlier. So I asked Frank Lorenz to send me a copy of the half-century annalist’s letter of 1891. Lo and behold, the author turned out to be that famous litterateur, Samuel Hopkins Adams – need I say, a tough act to follow, even after 50 years.

As I read Adams’ letter, I began to wonder if a certain demi-centennial periodicity might explain the academic sluggishness of his class and ours, for Adams writes, “Our scholarship was, to put it conservatively, unobtrusive. Not until senior year did we have a man in the High Honor group.” We of ’41 made it all the way through without the distinction.

But it turns out that the fault is not in the stars of demi-centennial academic lackluster, for the Hamilton Class of 1991 boasts 21 summas, eight of them of the ineffably fairer sex.

Adams records the expansive spirit of the times a century ago. “We of the nineteenth century,” he writes, “enjoyed a broader geography, free and expanding. Only nature set limits to our footsteps, the eternal ice of the poles or the unscalable cliffs of the Himalayas. We have conquered the poles now, but where else” — he asks — “is there to go?”

Well, Sam, to the moon, for starters, and then, via satellite, to study the melting of the eternal polar ice.

In 1891, Samuel Adams tells us, beer was a nickel a drink, whiskey a dime, something called “claret punch” (I guess forerunner of wine coolers) was fifteen cents. Tuition, for Sam and his 34 classmates, was $75 a year. Room rent started at $3 a term — Sam Adams’ room on the fourth floor of North College cost $24 a year. “Good board” was offered at $3.50 a week, but Sam never found it at that price. He filled up at the table of generous relatives down in the village. In sum, Sam tells us, “One could not get through College pleasantly for less than $500 per annum.”

In fact, it’s hard to imagine one’s getting through College pleasantly at all, when Sam describes the sanitary facility. He writes, “Our plumbing was primitive, not to say punitive. At a variable distance in the rear of North — maybe 20 yards in summer and a half-mile in winter — loomed a stern, puritanical edifice known as the jo. It was an unhandsome structure, brick-walled and jerry-built, and liberally visited by all the winds of heaven with special emphasis on the updraft.”

Ours were far, far better times. A faculty of 40 taught a total enrollment of 400. We had indoor plumbing and central heat. In 50 years, tuition had quadrupled, to $300 — boosted, the year we entered from $250. Doubtless, some prescient soul had figured that the Class of ’41 was going to be a real challenge to teach. That must have proven true, for in our junior year tuition was upped again, to $400. Rent in North College was now $85 to $125 per year, and board in the Commons was $7 a week.

Today, more than 150 faculty members teach a student body of almost 1,700, nearly half of them young women. Tuition is just shy of $16,000. Room and board add another $4,500. I had intended to project these costs 50 years ahead, but my mind, boggled at today’s numbers, refused to be superboggled at tomorrow’s.

Half-century annalists have to keep their minds on guard against boggling in all its degrees. Suppose Sam Adams had looked ahead to 1991 when he wrote, referring to the state of affairs in 1891, “Dark forebodings of the first Billion-Dollar Congress troubled the editorial pages.” Mind you, the text capitalizes the words “Billion-Dollar Congress.” Poor Sam, a trillion-dollar Congress would surely have super-boggled his mind.

In any event, at the risk of a charge of sexism, I must say that to this 70-year-old eye, the beauty of this lovely campus has been markedly enhanced by the presence of women students, though their scholarly excellence is frightening. We already know of women’s physical superiority — see how long they live. Could it be that they are smarter, too? It is a question I dare to ask.

Too bad we missed this year’s Commencement, when 160 young women joined 185 young men as Hamilton grads. A far cry from our Commencement, the 129th, when Alice Van Vechten Brown became Hamilton’s third alumna, all of them honorary. The others were actresses Helen Hayes and Ruth Draper.


Without any question, the most exciting event of our four years at Hamilton occurred early in our freshman year: the rally before the 1937 Union football game. Incidentially, we of the Class of ’41 beat Union coming and going — in our freshman year, and again in our senior year.

The ’37 pre-Union rally was the greatest in history, I make that claim unequivocally, intuitively, without a shred of supporting evidence.

No, there is indeed one shred of evidence that testifies to the uniqueness of our great, mad, wild event: it ended up with the gentlest, most inoffensive of men. Wally Aitchison, in the pokey. This is what happened, as five of my classmates reminded me. The night before the game we lit a big bonfire somewhere out back of Carnegie. Dressed in pajamas — pajamas over sweat suits, mind you — we’re talking about November, folks, on this hilltop — we ran around the bonfire, singing “Lord Jeffrey Amherst” and other such martial anthems, in defiance of our ancient rival.

And then someone called the Clinton Fire Department. Soon, the fire truck labored up the Hill and was immediately boarded by 15 or 20 of us. Satisfied that the bonfire was under control, the firefighters drove back down the Hill, many of us still aboard the fire engine. I, for one, was clinging to the side, standing on the running board. If you’re too young to know about running boards, don’t worry, be happy.

Down to the village we went. And there we jumped off and followed some bold soul at a run into the village movie theater, up onto the stage for a few hearty cheers, and then, pell-mell, out again into the quiet street, while the movie played on. What was playing I don’t know, but I can tell you that there was a certain fascination seeing the image broken up on our faces and bodies as we rallied in front of the screen.

The fascination still gripped us as we milled around looking for new worlds to conquer, when along came the Utica bus, rounding the village square to the bus stop nearby. Gordy Hayes, Wes Perine and Bill Taggart describe the bus as a “trolley,” so I suppose it may have been a trackless trolley, but I remember it as a bus. To put the best face on what we did, I say we “commandeered” the bus. The bus was packed and pajama-clad, fired-up sons of Hamilton, and the driver had no choice but to go back to the barn in Utica.

So off we went to that great city, my last free ride on public transportation. Down the main drag we went, to call a halt at the Stanley Theater, a very large movie house, Utica’s finest. In we ran, and up onto the stage. More yells and cheers in front of the screen. Then off the stage and out onto the street again.

I have some vague recollection of our invading or trying to invade one or two other theaters, but none of my classmates has any such recollection. So I suppose it’s just another of my fabrications to enthrall my grandchildren, who seem willing to credit tales my children would have instantly debunked.

The long and short of it is that somehow we all got back to the Hill unscathed — all, that is, but poor Wally, who spent a few hours in police custody. A couple of us roisterers were lucky to get a lift from a trusting soul who figured us — in spite of, or maybe because of, our attire — to be boys from the Hill.


The retirement, in 1938, of Dr. Frederick Carlos Ferry, Hamilton’s president for 21 years, signaled the end of an era in Hamilton’s presidency. A new era began with the appointment of Dr. William H. Cowley. Dr. Ferry, a man of decidedly formal bearing, is best remembered by most of us as a figure of imposing presence as he sat sledding down the Hill to his house for lunch, on one of those cold, snowy winter days of which this hilltop knows not a few.

His replacement breezed into office with a message of educational expansiveness, which earned him wide publicity across the nation and great popularity among his students. His “holistic” vision directly challenged the tradition of intellectualism then being enshrined by Robert Maynard Hutchins in the Great Books Curriculum at the University of Chicago.

President Cowley won great huzzahs in February of 1941 when he declined the presidency of the University of Minnesota. The announcement of his decision to remain at the helm of Hamilton set off a thunderous ovation in chapel. He and Mrs. Cowley walked from chapel to Buttrick along a path lined on both sides by applauding students. Faculty response to his concept of education was far less enthusiastic. However, and during the hiatus of World War II, President Cowley quietly resigned in 1944.

For those of us who were “neutrals” — not members of any fraternity — one of his signal achievements was sponsorship of the Squires Club, organized in 1939 by Bob Lewis of the Class of ’40 to provide a focus of social life for those who would not, could not or, in any event, did not join fraternities. A number of the faculty joined in getting the Squires Club up and running. One can only hope that its demise in 1961 was the end result of increasing social openness on this campus.

To our minds, as students, President Cowley’s greatest accomplishment was the erection of the new Alumni Gym, begun in 1939 and completed in 1940, at the staggering cost of $400,000. The gym was dedicated a few days after the 1940 presidential election. It wasn’t the presidential election we students were excited about, but the new gym. No more basketball in old Soper Gym, where the indoor running track so overhung the basketball court that even a Larry Bird couldn’t have made a corner shot.


The annual catalogue of Hamilton College for the academic year 1937-38 lists 42 members of the faculty, excluding emeriti. As I read through the list, I pictured almost every one of them.

There, unmistakably, was the colonel, Professor Milledge Bonham, that stately bearded Southerner famed for the detailed maps required of his students in America history — maps full of colorful pins and markers. In chapel, at Easter, the colonel was always first to stand at the opening notes of the “Hallelujah” chorus. He died in January of our senior year.

In memory’s portrait gallery, I can still see the beloved “Digger” Graves and “Smiling George” Nesbitt and “Bobo” Rudd, seated at his desk on the classroom podium, his poodle, Jalon, lying quietly at his feet, ready to rise and stretch seconds before the bell signaled the end of the allotted hour.

There was one of our great favorites, “Stink” Saunders, a serious and renowned scientist who never took himself or his science too seriously. On his retirement in 1939, after 39 years on the Hill, Professor Arthur Percy Saunders was quoted in Hamilton Life as saying; “I've been working on peonies with sense for about 20 years, and without sense for 20 years before that.” Stink Saunders set before us an image of how to live, enjoying work and enjoying leisure, and to some degree melding the two.

In its catalogue last fall, Wayside Gardens, a South Carolina supplier of plants to gardeners across the country, had this to say about peonies: “…It remained for the late great Professor A.P. Saunders, of Clinton, New York, to introduce vastly improved [varieties] to glorify the finest gardens of the world…many of his numerous introductions remain among the best ever.” Today, in my backyard, a Saunders hybrid peony called “Summer Night” grows — but not yet blooms. (That will take another year or two.) With its first blossom I shall raise a toast to our late, great “Stink” Saunders.

Let’s look at some of the others who taught us and shared the life of this small hilltop community: “Fifi” Gordon, “Trot” Chase, “Bull” Durham, “Rocksy” Dale, “Chubby” Ristine and no less than three directors of physical education: Coaches Prettyman, Gélas and Winters, and an associate director, Mox Weber.

And then there were the junior faculty, whom all of us of ’41 hope to greet at this reunion — junior faculty now risen to the exalted ranks of professors emeriti.

• Dave Ellis, whom we knew as a fellow student of the Class of ’38 — a really bright guy who tried to teach Bill Taggart good study habits.

• Otto Liedke, remembered by Phil Sottong for locking the classroom door against latecomers at the last stroke of the bell. Coming late himself one day, Dr. Liedke, according to Phil, found that he’d been locked out. Not to be thwarted in his pedagogical ardor, he climbed in the window.

• Dwight Lindley — a year behind us, but a good kid.

• John Mattingly, scholar and co-author of Latin verse.

• Phil Rogers, always good-humored and helpful.

For the Class of ’41, hearty greetings to them, one and all!


Like the academic achievement of the Class of ’41, our athletic record could most charitably be described as “spotty.” Generally speaking — and this is memory, not research — we often won at hockey and fencing. At football, track and soccer, we often lost.

Yet, in our senior year, the 50th year of Hamilton’s football history, our football team won the last two games of the season, beating Haverford and Union. Jack Williams starred in both of those games, as did an outstanding sophomore, Milt Jannone. In its issue of December 4, 1940, Hamilton Life reported that our senior-year football team had the distinction of being only the fourth team in Hamilton’s history — up to that time — to score on every opponent. Pete Hatch was captain of that team, and Bill Eddy, Dave Milner, Art Petronio, Bob Towner and Bud Van Deusen were lettermen.

My recollection may be faulty about the athletic prowess of the Class of ’41, but this I’m sure of: we played our best, and we cheered our best. Win or lose, we loved our teams and we enjoyed our sports. I’m sure all of us hope that that is still true today.


Much of this “letter” recounts my own memories, but let me speak now of some of the memories shared with me by my classmates in response to calls for help. Eighteen sent notes about their experiences here, and two, “Oolong” Sottong and Bill Taggart, sent tapes. Let me take a moment, too, to thank Frank Lorenz, John Mavrogenis, Mag Melvin and Pat Allen for their always prompt and generous responses.

Ed Abbey recalled the dead-heat finishes of the brothers Underwood in the mile and two-mile races they ran with such inexhaustible energy.

Steve Angell told of early morning bird-watching with a group called “Angell’s Feathered Friends.”

Bob Brennan, who left Hamilton in 1940 to pursue a calling to the Jesuit priesthood, simply sent greetings to this gathering, a “non-event” for him, he said. Not so, Bob, for we remember you.

Dick Goodman told of bringing Will Bradley’s orchestra to a Hill event. Dick also had a hand, I think, in bringing Glenn Miller’s band here. Will Bradley’s fame — for me at least — was short, but who of us will ever forget Glenn Miller?

Al Hooke reported mass post-prandial dozing in Professor Shepard’s one o’clock class in French. Generally wide awake, and a good debater, Al was president of the honorary debate fraternity Delta Sigma Rho.

Ted Kantor commuted in a vehicle he describes as “a $24 Model A Ford.” As a commuter, Ted enjoyed the privilege of driving, a privilege denied until senior year to those of us who lived on campus. That rule was changed in our final year to allow both seniors and juniors to have cars on campus beginning in the fall of 1941. We missed by one year enjoying that privilege as juniors. On the other hand, we did enjoy the benefit of an earlier liberalization, a year or so before we came — compulsory weekday chapel was cut from six days to three.

Remember how we had assigned pews, in which our attendance was recorded by fellow students sitting in the front row of the balcony? Being a “chapel marker” was deemed an honor — at least it was so deemed by the dean.

Jon Miller, who career seems to have kept him up in the air a lot, recalled unexpected encounters at Newark Airport, one with Seth McKibbin, and another time with Dick Couper, then acting president of the College.

Les Start reminded me of the great snowball battle in our sophomore year between the forces of North and our antagonists Carnegie. As to the outcome, North was something of a disadvantage because our larger rectangular window panes were more fragile than the smaller, diamond-shaped panes Carnegie had at that time. Victory, however, went to the bursar, who assessed the cost of replacing each broken window against the occupant of the room. It was a costly engagement for one of those whose rooms bordered the battlefield.

In the blurb I wrote for our 50th reunion yearbook, I credited Les with introducing me to “classical” music, mainly by playing a recording of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, which in its third movement has a challenging passage for the cellos. At least it was a challenging passage to the cellists of the Utica Civic Orchestra, of whom Les was one. He journeyed faithfully to rehearsals and concerts with Betsy, his cherished instrument. Afterward he occasionally dallied over beer with other players — to the point where, arriving in the dead of night at the foot of four stairs in North College, he and Betsy required some assistance in the ascension. We always heard and always heeded his pleas for help. I trust that Betsy, like Les, survives in good health.

Bob Towner recalled the conferring of an honorary degree on Helen Hayes, arrayed in the costume of Portia, delivering the “Quality of Mercy” speech from The Merchant of Venice. Too, Bob remembered Paul Robeson’s 1940 honorary degree, when he responded with songs, of which I best remember “Ol’ Man River.” Robeson’s visit was, of course, a special thrill for me, and I was doubly thrilled to be invited afterward to a small reception at which he and Alexander Woollcott were the stars. I remember thinking afterward how stupid I must have seemed, since I was in such a state of awe that I could hardly speak.

Another honorary degree recipient during our time was alumnus Ezra Pound, just returned from 17 years in Europe. “Oolong” Sottong recalls that Pound amused himself, but not his fellow honoree, the journalist and Commencement speaker H.V. Kaltenborn, by giving Kaltenborn the raspberries off and on throughout his address.

Oolong was one of the best-liked of our classmates and certainly the most enterprising. He brought fame to this College, and renown to our class, by funding the expense of bringing a date to a campus dance during through the sale to his classmates of 12 shares of her demure attentions for 25 cents a share, limit one to a customer. No fool Phil — he held back two shares for himself. A report of his capitalist coup made the local papers and was picked up by the Associated Press.

Finally, to complete the compendium of recollections after 50 years, I note for the record that Bill Weeden disclosed, in a letter to me, the origins of Bud Can Deusen’s other nickname, bestowed on Bud as a freshman and persisting, so I’m told, to this very day. Profound respect for both these eminent medical colleagues, Bill and Bud, prevents my disclosing this information, certainly not without their consent. But both Bill and Bud are here, and if you are curious, I suggest you simply ask “Birdlegs.”


Well, in 50 years times have changed, but I wonder how much they’ve changed?

• Do pranksters still take every stick of furniture out of some hapless student’s room and set it up in identical placement on the lawn?

• Is participation in carry-over sports — sports like golf and tennis that you’re likely to continue in the afterlife of College — still encouraged, if not required, as in our day?

• Is the historic emphasis on public speaking — in our time a mandatory four-year course — now totally dissipated? If so, we of ’41 cry shame.

• Is there still a Class Sing? ’41 might try again. Back then we never won.

• Do students still feel, as we did (according to Hamilton Life of May 22, 1940) that the greatest need at Hamilton is “closer faculty-student relations?”

• Are unwary passersby still bombarded with water balloons dropped from dormitory windows?

• Does the Chapel bell still toll the hours of class? And does it still, for hours on end, proclaim our team’s victory?

• Do the Charlatans still perform, and if they do, have they again put on Charley’s Aunt, now that the female parts don’t have to be played by boys in drag?

• Does everybody drive now, even slimers?

• Does the choir still journey to New York for the annual concert at St. Thomas’?

• And finally, ’41, just to satisfy my ancient curiosity, who was it, in South, who used to fire that machine pistol to vent celebratory emotion? Why do I seem to recall it was Bud Gourley?

As we left this College, 50 years ago, Hamilton Life had this to say, on June 13, 1941:

After Monday morning…these days will be behind, and one chapter in the lives of 72 seniors will be written. Then will come time for the members of the Class of 1941 to discover what progress they can make by themselves.

Those of us who do homage to you today, Carissima, may well inquire, “What is progress?” We have survived, and we have returned.

And now, ’41, enough of these sentimental musings. When this is over, let’s go check out the ivy Bob Towner planted for us 50 years ago at the Alumni Gym. And while we’re there we can see if later classes made good on our class gift, half a century ago: the electric scoreboard for which we ante’d up the down payment.

Surely our time here was a good down payment on all the years of our lives.

Maurice C. Clifford, Class of 1941

Maurice Clifford, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the College and salutatorian of the Class of 1941, has combined a distinguished career in medical education with notable public service. Formerly president of the Medical College of Pennsylvania, he has been city health commissioner of Philadelphia since 1986. A former trustee of the College, his contributions to the field of education and to the community at large have earned him wide recognition and numerous awards, including an honorary doctorate of science from Hamilton in 1982.

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