H. Stuart Hughes, who likes to remember that he was an assistant professor and George Cabot Lodge only an undergraduate when they were neighbors in Lowell House, once remarked that Lodge at Harvard was "a dull boy, but nice."
Hughes was half right. George Lodge is still nice, but he has never been dull. And unlike the other Harvard man in the Senate race, he graduated with honors with his own class, the class of 1950. Lodge never made much noise while he was here, and maybe the professor took quietness for dullness.
Lodge came to Harvard, as Lodges do, from Groton. He didn't come directly, though; for two years before registering at the University, he served as an enlisted man in the Navy, where his fellow sailors were Bostonian aristocrats. The fact that he prepped at sea as well as at Groton was, as a friend has observed, responsible for rubbing some of the private-school veneer off him.
Lodge was not a frivolous student. "I came out of the service obsessed with the desire to gather knowledge, and painfully aware of how much I had to learn," he says. This is not sententious twaddle, but a simple statement of the truth.
His field of concentration was American History and Literature, but he was much more interested in literature than in history, and was particularly passionate about fiction, both as a reader and a writer of it. Every year he took a course in short story writing. He studied under Howard Mumford Jones and Arthur M. Schleshinger, Jr., under Raphael Demos and John L. Finley. His grades were respectable: A's and B's, mostly B's, and just a sprinkling of C's.
Lodge wrote his senior honors thesis on the electoral college. At the same time he was writing it, his father, Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. '24, was conducting hearings on a plan to amend the Constitution to divide each state's electoral votes proportionally according to the popular vote. George's thesis topic was probably suggested by the Senator. "It wasn't the sort of thing I was really interested in at the time," George recalls, "but I hoped it would be useful to my father."
"All I ever did at Harvard was work and row," says Lodge. This is a vast overstatement. True, he took his studies seriously. And equally true, he went out for crew and rowed on the junior varsity team. But he was not a grind, and he did not confine his extra-curricular interests to athletics.
The thing that characterized him, both in his studies and his outside activities, was an enormous romanticism and idealism. In college he began a search for values which he continues today. He refused to accept the sort of life which is so easy for a prep-school boy with a socially prominent name to fall into here, he was never a snob or a clubbie, and spent little of his time at his club (the Fly) or with a Groton clique.
Maurice M. Pechet, former Allston Burr Senior Tutor at Lowell House, knew Lodge well and remembers that he was interested in House activities. In his Junior year, George was elected to the House Committee, through which Pechet got to know him better. "He got along well with all types of boys, not just the club types," says Pechet. "I think that this was because he was genuinely interested in people. He had a strong sense of responsibility to the community, which was the motivating factor behind his service in the House. I was very impressed with the way he played his part on the House Committee; I always felt he'd end up in public service."
Lodge married Nancy Kunhardt of Morristown, New Jersey, in April of his junior year. But even after he moved out of the House, he remained a part of it, often eating there and participating in House life.
Master Elliott Perkins '23 remembers Lodge as "a good strong fella who wouldn't sit around telling about what his father did." Perkins also recalls, "I didn't have to intercede in his behalf with either the police or the Dean."
Lodge's romanticism came through most clearly in his devotion to writing
Although he never had any intentions of becoming a novelist, he grew more and more absorbed in writing short stories as time went on. Gordon Abbott Jr. '50, one of his roommates, says that Lodge used to travel the streets of Cambridge at night, looking for source material for his stories.
Lodge's great-grandfather, for whom he is named, may have been a poet, but people are surprised when any candidate for high office in the United States turns out to have had a literary bent in his youth. Lodge explains his interest in writing in typically philosophic terms:
"I wanted to experience as much as I possibly could in as short a time as possible, and to do it in such a way that I could determine what the experience meant. It was not just to be an adventurer, but to work within a discipline that gives you experience and forces you to formulate the details of experience in a precise way."