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A Fable for Critics


Every year about this time, the lamentable Legend of Sydney Pumpton '47 rises to the minds of Seniors like a half-saturated log that has been stirred loose from the bottom of a pond. The tale is passed gingerly from mouth to mouth at breakfast and dinner tables. And Seniors are sore afraid.

Pumpton was a C-plus, B-minus student in the Class of 1947. He was somewhat alcoholic, somewhat sensual, more or less athletic, and rather scholarly in courses that he enjoyed. He was, in fact, average.

Like other Seniors in his Class, he pondered the question of attending Class Week, of sticking around to derive the last, full measure of enjoyment from Harvard College, which, though not a bed of roses, had been not exactly thorny, either. Pumpton decided in the negative. He reasoned, according to the Legend, that: (a) neither he nor his girl enjoyed organized entertainment; (b) the whole idea of Class Week was sloppy, sentimental, and puerile; (c) he wanted to get the hell out of Cambridge-fast; and (d) it cost too much.

It was all very regretable. Pumpton lost his girl: she accepted an invitation to Class Week from a friend of Pumpton's and cloped with him after getting drunk at the Senior Spread. Far from being puerile, the Class Week of 1947 produced the first enunciation of the European Recovery Plan by General George O. Marshall, who, to Plumpton's mind, was the first statesman of heroic stature to appear since Bismarck. And in a frantic attempt to flee Cambridge, Pumpton piled up his roommate's Buick on the Worcester Turnpike and spent the summer in Stillman Infirmary. The bill, including repairs to the Buick, was $943.86.

The Legend of Sydney Pumpton '47 has done its work well. The 1950 Class Day Committee reported yesterday that ticket sales are 500 percent over what they were last year at this time. In an age of darkness and insecurity, Seniors are heeding the Legend and are taking no chances. Most of them, that is. A few, apparently, have not heard Pumpton's tale, or they have received it in garbled form. We repeat it here for their benefit only.

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