Reporter's Notebook: Food, Glorious Food
"It's good to be king," deadpanned funnyman Mel Brooks, in his movie "History of the World, Part I."
There has yet to be a Part II to that less-than-classic flick. But if anyone were ever to produce a "History of Harvard" movie, a line that would be worthy of inclusion in the script would be, "It's good to be a rich alum."
While undergraduates living on campus during the academic year are forced to ingest such upscale prison fare as broccoli-cheese pasta, scrod that never had a chance, and produce that would make a P.O.W. think twice, alumni living in the houses are being feted to meals fit for a French Sun King.
A dinner-time visit last night to a house reknowned for Clove-smoking, avant-guarde denizens revealed this undeniable verity of veritas. Patrons entering the revamped and resplendent dining area were first informed by an illuminated menu what "Chef Stone will be serving" them: shrimp cocktail, prime ribs with bernaise sauce, asparagus on a bed of greens, tomatos stuffed with spinach, potatos a la something and, for dessert, white chocolate mousse pie.
But some hungry birthday celebrators thought this was a typical Harvard dining hall repast.
"My son complained so much about the food when he went here. I can't understand--it's pretty good," said one satisfied, if perplexed, diner.
In Vino Veritas
Perhaps most impressive in the dining hall were the many bottles of "Cabernet Sauvignon" breathing on every well-set table. Bearing a special "Harvard 350th" label, the Somona County Burgundy went down well, despite its pretensions, and was well worth every penny.
Which brings us to some strange goings-on at Lowell House last night.
Apparently the vino went down too well among the members of the Class of '56 meeting there last night. With time to kill until the Stadium spectacular-and the wine bottles likely long empty-they adopted the following resolution:
"Whereas Harvard University is celebrating her 350th anniversary; and whereas her namesake, John Harvard is not a member of any Harvard class, therefore be it moved:
"1)That John Harvard be and hereby is unanimously elected as a member of the Class of '56 posthumously; and 2) that the U.S. Government Postal Service strike a commemorative stamp bearing John Harvard's face and his class."
The motion passed unanimously, and no one passed out, according to Steven L. Seftenberg '56.
And who says the Postal Service is slow? Go to your local Post Office tomorrow and you'll see a 56 cent stamp bearing the moniker of John Harvard (though, of course, it isn't really him; it's Sherman Hoar).
Bad Preparation, H(arvard)
At $175 per, the choice seats in Harvard Stadium last night came with an added touch of comfort--a red cushion emblazoned with the 350th logo. But Harvard's scheme for distributing the tushions seemed a bit beneath the dignity of those privileged enough to sit in the exclusive "Crimaon Circle."
The throngs of monied and munificent alumni who streamed through The Stadium gates toting their pricey, though tax-deductible ducats were confronted with a mob scene when they went to claim their comforters.
The cushions, among the 350th's more exclusive souvenirs, were in boxes stacked in a corner of the entryway. Several workers assigned the task of distributing them, though, could not keep up with the demand.
In a valiant, albeit failed, effort to keep up with the madding--and getting madder--crowd, the laborers began to pass out the cushions to any outstretched arm. A scramble then ensued when a rumour began circulating that the supply was almost depleted.
"I'm national major gifts chairman of the Harvard Law School, and I can't believe what I'm seeing," said Gerald Gillerman '49 of Beacon Hill, who graduated from the Law School in 1949. "I think this is outrageous, being treated this way after all I've given to the College and the Law School," he added.
One passerby, skeptical of those glowing liquid bands being sold last night outside The Stadium, asked if they might be harmful--cause cancer or something. But the street vendor defended his product. "They're okay," he said, "I'll drink one if you want."
A Final Question
Isn't it time Harvard got a new theme song?
A Final Comment