A year ago last week Harvard began its greatest transition year in history from a peacetime University, rich in liberal tradition, to a wartime training center, turning out skilled men quickly and efficiently.
The first contingent of the "wartorn" Class of '46 entered on a scene almost of peace. A few men drafted, the Navy Supply groups across the river, the small Electonics School, an increased interest in Navy and Mil Sci, no isolationists, and a co-ed full term summer school were the only alterations in the Harvard Scene. A week later 750 men entered the Naval. Training School, becoming the biggest service school at the College.
Girls and Marchers
As the Navy marched beneath the ivy walls of the old Yard, and girls sat on the steps of Widener, the students, all living in the Houses, took life gently through the summer. Only two courses, long weekends, and feminine companions in lab and lecture lightened the burden nicely.
Then there were the town-gown riots with Cambridge's vociferous councilman, Mickey Sullivan, violently protecting the rights of the poor boys from the town, and the Yard Cops protecting the poor College boys. Meanwhile sex was everywhere, with many a cool summer-school hand smoothing the fevered brow of the returning student warrior.
All Sorts of Things
Before summer school ended, the Freshmen got a lot of dull dinners and one merry dance where the lads cashed in on Widener steps romance. A new school was also added when 150 chaplains took up residence on Divinity Avenue.
But as it must to all men, autumn came to Harvard's student body. Almost 700 hundred more Freshmen arrived after the week's vacation was over, swelling '46 ranks to the unprecedented, all-time, magnificent total of almost 1400, with more of them coming in January.
The old students started to register in the morning and the football season opened in the afternoon, with Dick Harlow's team doing well against the North Carolina Aviation Cadets. Injured captain Don Forte sat on the sidelines while the team took a 14-0 defeat.
Football continued with a loss to Penn, 19-7, in which a freshman, for the first time in 35 years eligible for varsity football did admirably. It was end Wally Flynn, Harvard's top punter, in the tradition of Loren MacKinney. Harvard went all out for its game with Army, adding a spectacular military parade including all service units at the University.
Amid the drudgery and Freshman jitters at November hours came the great moment of the season as Comeford-to-Lyle did the trick for Harvard in the closing seconds of the Princeton tussle as the 19-14 win subdued a favored Tiger eleven.
The football year went on as a win over Brown showed fine playing by tail-back Don Richards and wing back and captain-to-be Cleo O'Donnell. But Yale was a heartbreaker. In a week-end almost like that of previous years, the Harvard men invaded the bowl to receive a stunning 7-3 loss at the hands of favored but outplayed bulldog.
Meanwhile all Harvard had been stirring with rumors of the ERC, controlling fate of countless students, and the Navy's V-1, V-5, and V-7 programs. After weeks of waiting, with a set of Class elections and the announcement of the first midwinter commencement in between, the news came, a CRIMSON extra delivered the news to the shocked students, with the date of February 1 set for ERC induction.
Special Hours Painful
Special hour exams before Christmas vacation were given to enable early departers to get credit for the term, as the impending loss of most of the student body was "viewed with alarm" by University Hall.
During reading period, on January 5, Harvard's President Emeritus Abbott Lawrence Lowell '77, died at the age of 86.
The University's first mid-year commencement was a tradition-shattering ceremony; included was a valedictory service in homage to her sons about to enter the armed forces.
On January 25 the Crimson had a birthday, its seventieth, with a delayed message from Franklin D. Roosevelt '04, absent at the meeting in Africa; to congratulate the undergraduate journalists.
With the start of the new term the old students heard the worst about marks, and the new freshmen, 85 more '46- ers saw the worst about Harvard. Around the middle of the month the ERC left and quite a few empty rooms dotted the houses.
Concurrently the announcement of the three regular terms which were to comprise the next year came out of University Hall and things began to look pretty Martian.
The winter sports season went on almost at full tilt, although Athletic director Bill Bingham, following Coach Dick Harlow who went into the navy, had joined the Army as Major. Hockey was the big sport with John Chase's boys losing only three times. Twice they bowed to the over-strong Dartmouth sextet, tying them once. Once they lost to Yale, but twice they beat them soundly to take the series.
The Crimson, seeing its fellow college papers ceasing operation in wart me, decided to insure the continuance of its name, and began in February to print the HARVARD SERVICE NEWS.
The spring approached with two sets of hour exams again and a complicated business called cumulative grades which left everybody floored, temporarily. The Student Council had some draft trouble, but it ran the gamut of four presidents through the term and finally came out with a few men left over.
As the leaves budded, and the birds twittered, Harvard headed for the river. No town-gown tangles marred the tranquil scene. Elections continued with '45 choosing its class officers just two years ahead of time. As exams approached students were leaving Harvard at the rate of more than 15 a week; prospects looked dim for the civilian college.
With the V-1, V-7, V-12, and so on, group the only large bunch of College men to return in uniform, prospects looked dim, but life went on. Final exams struck. Commencement came with Harvard's only honorary degree for the year going to Joseph Clark Grew '02; in attendance were 4000 service men who received certificates of training from the University.
This week begins its greatest transition.