Heeding the Call of Reinhardt


The still night is broken by a lone, hollow cry reverberating through the Yard. Soon, other voices join the chorus.


Heads emerge from dorm windows as the cries carry from Holworthy to Grays, from Weld to Matthews.

"It was a sort of battle cry," recalls one alumnus. "It is part of the folklore...sort of a spring riot where spring fever got to be such that certain people got to be rowdy."

Treasured by nearly all members of the class, the fabled call of Reinhardt was initiated before the class of '43 arrived. Apparently, a resident of Matthews Hall launched the tradition by shouting his own name across the Yard. Soon, the trend caught on, and the sound of the name served to rouse residents of the Yard, causing them to "jump around really without any cause," according to David E. Place.


But the spirited and boisterous tradition of the call of Reinhardt was overshadowed by a larger and graver call to the Harvard class of 1943: the call of World War II.

Germany's September 1, 1939 invasion of Poland coincided almost exactly with the class' first days of College life. The war played an understandably immense role in the lives of students, but they nonetheless underwent a traditional college experience, replete with customs, activities and the intellectual growth which typically accompanies the college years.

The class of '43, however jaded by the war, was characterized by its acute awareness of its role in world politics as well as its commitment to society at large. Students confronted matters as trivial as broken curfews and as solemn as deceased classmates. They ate in the Union; they taunted Elis at The Game; they attended classes in Sever and Emerson.

Student life in the 1940s differed form that of today in many respects. Tablecloths and china, rather than today's orange pseudo-hexagonal trays, graced Union tables; students were attended by waiters and waitresses, often other students, and meals were an integral part of the day.

"The dining hall was a very important part of social bring Harvard students together to have civilized conversation," says Andrew G. Whiteside. "My hours at the table are among those that stand out as my most characteristic Harvard experience."

Class and school spirit flourished, particularly at sporting events. Place, the manager of the football team, recalls beating Yale 50 12 and remembers a "very strong spirit for the class" which prevailed during his undergraduate years. John R. Moot recalls that students of his day were more likely to storm the field and topple the goal posts--wooden at the time--than students today.

Many of Harvard's student organizations, however, have remained the same, if not the issues with which they dealt. Former Crimson President Paul Cushing Sheeline says that in addition to covering the war, one major concern addressed by The Crimson during his tenure was the popularity of private tutoring schools.

Students would attend tutoring schools in lieu of classes, and proceed to pass their exams. Sheeline says many opposed this practice, dubbing the schools "intellectual brothels." Sheeline also notes that competition at The Crimson was "very difficult."

And five decades have done little to change other student groups. According to Sheeline, while the Lampoon was "doing its usual crazy things." The Crimson stealthily crept to the top of the Castle in 1942 to steal the Ibis "a difficult feat done brilliantly by The [Crimson] staff." And The Crimson beat the Poonsters softball squad by the unbelievable score of 23-2. Mirth-seeking students read the Lemon, an alternative humor magazine, while Lampoon staffers licked their wounds.

John "Buzz" Sawhill notes that community service, through the Phillips Brooks House (PBH), was a more prevalent aspect of campus life in his era. "[Phillips Brooks House] was a highly regarded undergraduate program," he says. Sawhill participated in the seemingly divergent activities of ROTC and PBH. But he says the offices of both Harvard cadet colonel and PBH president shared the same ultimate goal: doing service. And the entire community, he says, shared his desire to serve. "Harvard undergraduates in the 1940s were involved," he says.

Numerous activities reflected the camaraderie of the Class of '43. The class sponsored an annual beer party in the Union, called the Freshman Smoker, marked by "self-contained debauchery," according to Sawhill.