At times rushing to hug each other from across the floor of the Bright Hockey rink, at other times struggling to match names to faces, 269 members of the Class of 1934 and 240 of their wives arrived at Harvard yesterday to celebrate 50 years of being Harvard alumni.
For some, returning to Harvard was a matter of course. Benjamin Beale, a former anthropology student and an executive for Champion International, "never thought of not coming back." "Harvard has got the capabilities and knack for making you live in another world for three days with no cares and only enjoyment to experience," the Westwood, Mass. resident said.
Others came to pay tribute to their alma mater. "It's a great feeling to be a part of an institution that continues to strive in all fields. It's Harvard's greatness," said Carl A. "Peski" Pescoscolido, the holder of the Harvard record for the longest kickoff return (98 yards against Dartmouth in 1932).
Like most of the group, Donald A. Dill came back just to see his former classmates. "It's nice to see men that I was acquainted with 50 years ago." Unlike many of his classmates, however, this is Dill's first reunion. "I was only here for one year," the former Standish (now part of Winthrop House) resident recalled, "but I've always appreciated the high standards of Harvard."
Much of the class's enthusiasm can be seen in the number of those returning and their gift-giving. The Class of 1934--which entered college during the depression years--boasts the highest proportion of benefactors. Pescosolido intends to endow a chair for the study of Rome's contribution to Western civilization. "You take extra pride if you've been successful in life and can do some good for Harvard," the Ipswich resident explained.
John Lockwood, a semi retired lawyer living in Long Island and class secretary for the past 35 years, has shown his dedication to Harvard by collecting 12 "tomes" of class records-on display in the Winthrop House junior Common Room--which will be sent to the archives. He plan two more volumes based on this week's events.
Not all of the attention is on she past, however. Surroundings Lockwood's class records are drawings, underwater photographs, paintings, of more recent years--all made by the Class of '34 and their wives.
"Of course people reminisce," Pescoscolido said, "but don't think we don't spend a lot of time talking about things happening today," he added.
Sometimes, however, the Harvard of today seemed difficult for many members of the Class of 1934 to understand. Asked about women as part of Harvard, Third World student groups, gay activism, and other changes since the 60s, many found Harvard a vastly different place. "I guess we're all a little bit settled," said Howard Thompson, also a Business School graduate. "It's sometimes a little difficult for us to relate to some of the Harvard of today."
Despite the changes, most members of the 50s acknowledge that they're as committed to Harvard as much as, or even more than ever before. Said Lockwood, 'The older these guys get, the greater is their devotion.