If the Irish at Harvard College had marched in Boston's St. Patrick's Day parade as ten years ago, they probably would have met a barrage of eggs bottles, stones, and other debris.
But times have changed. Yesterday, 25 undergraduates, most of them Boston Irish, marched the streets of South Boston as an official part of the parade and received lots of cheers and only one split lip.
Joseph F. Flynn '66, who was the marshal of the undergraduate delegation, said last night that the reception was much better than anticipated and suggested that participation in the parade by the "Harvard Irish" might become an annual event.
Groups from some of Harvard's graduate schools have marched in the parade for the last three or four years and have always been well greeted, but as one Irishman noted last night, "In Southie, the graduate schools have always been considered fine professional schools, but Harvard College for years was considered to be the stronghold of Boston's old yankee families."
"A lot of people used to feel that no real Boston Irishman would or could go to Harvard College," he added.
A few spectators questioned the Irishness of Harvard College's marchers yesterday. And only a few more had an opinion about it that they wanted to express.
One of these shoved his fist into the face of a Harvard marcher. But Boston police prevented a brawl from breaking out. A little while later an empty beer can was thrown from a roof; it landed near the marchers, but hit no one.
Nevertheless, Harvard's Irishmen spent most of their time shaking spectators' hands and acknowledging applause. They sang "10,000 Men of Harvard" for the parade's chief marshal at his reviewing stand and checred Mayor Collins at his receiving stand.
There was a lot more in the 3 hour parade, however, than the Harvard marchers. Every major Massachusetts politician, from U.S. Senator Leverett Saltonstall '54 to Mrs. Louise Day Hicks, marched or rode along the route.
While Mayor Collins and Gov. John A. Volpe received big ovations, the longest and loudest cheers went to U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy '54.