The world’s a stage

The words "no photo yet"It started when I joined the donutmen freshman year. After selling donuts I would improvise, a little faux Shakespearean tale for those gathered in the Vanderbilt entryway up the staircase. And by our departure, it had moved to the Silliman courtyard, where on one extraordinary spring day in ‘70 Craig Slutzker and I, and the first flash mob in recorded history, presented a fractured Bard history of dramatic comedy, swords in the hands of Clowns. There was great merriment. Those were the days.

Rich Levin

The Yale Buttery

The words "no photo yet"In the basement of Durfee Hall on the Old Campus was the Yale Buttery, a student-run hamburger joint I worked in freshman and sophomore years. It sold burgers, fries, soft drinks, milkshakes, and other junk food, such as Hostess cupcakes. The place was little more than a large, dull basement room with a kitchen and sales counter at one end, but it did a thriving business every evening till 11:00.

It was a challenge to keep the place clean. Boiling french fry grease would atomize and settle on the floor and every other low surface. We had to swab the floor with detergent every night after closing. The city health inspectors, who came around monthly, were meticulous about two things: the temperature of the freezer where we stored the meat, ice milk, and frozen french fries, and the cleanliness of the refrigerated “cows” that dispensed milk. They were not concerned with the french fry grease, which we changed daily, nor with the age of our Hostess products, which somehow never got stale.

Working at the Buttery was not exciting, but I had one memorably satisfying experience when I achieved the only “marketing” success I’ve ever had. We sold two sorts of milkshake: “regular”, made with two scoops of ice milk for 50 cents, and “thick”, with five scoops of ice milk for 75 cents. The thick shakes actually cost us less to make since by volume ice milk was cheaper than liquid milk. Hence, we were motivated to get people to buy thick shakes instead of regular. But how do we convince them to do that? An ingenious solution suggested itself to me. We needn’t change our prices, or the proportion of ingredients of the shakes. All we needed was to change the description of the shakes from “thick” and “regular” to “regular” and “thin”. When a guy (and in those days it was still all guys) ordered a shake we would ask him “Regular or thin?” Very few people would ask for a “thin” shake, and no one would be so obviously cheap as to buy his girlfriend one. Sales of “regular” shakes soared.

I have often wondered whether the marketing professionals for commercial products have it all wrong: instead of selling regular, large, family, and jumbo sizes of laundry detergents, say, they could relabel them as tiny, mini, small, and regular respectively, thereby encouraging people to upgrade their purchases to “regular”. If this ever happens, you heard it here first!

David Jefferson

The Classics Library

The words "no photo yet"At the top of Phelps Gate, reachable by countless stairs or the world’s slowest elevator, was the Classics Library. It was designed and equipped with the creature comforts that a scholar of St. Thomas More’s day might desire: thick carpets, a corner fireplace, comfortable chairs and tall windows overlooking the New Haven Green on one side and the Old Campus on the other. And, of course, many, many, many books.

In pale blue Oxford Edition dust jackets were the Greeks from Aeschylus to Thucydides; the green-jacketed Loeb Library editions with both Greek and English for cribbers. The great Roman writers from Cicero to Suetonius claimed another section, along with their red-jacketed Loeb counterparts. And then there were shelves upon shelves of secondary sources: dictionaries, concordances and commentaries. It was an excellent spot to fraternize with fellow archaeology majors [like Doug Connor] and to observe haggard but impressively scholastic graduate students. And, of course, there were the occasional sightings of the professors whose assignments made this space a second home for us. Whether seated at one of the sun-drenched worktables by the windows, surrounded by monographs, or slumped in a stuffed armchair by the fireplace absorbed in Xenophon’s Anabasis, this was a perfect place to cram for midterms and finals. And to nap.

Randy Helm

The snow cathedral

The words "no photo yet"First snow, freshman year, wet snow. Young men go out to throw snowballs at each other. As a New Englander, this is not my first wet snow, and I start rolling snowballs of a size to build with. Someone wants to start a fort. When a wall gets to a certain size, I demonstrate how you can use an arch with snow balls of a certain wetness and size.

A red-haired fellow directed the build of a very decent likeness of the gothic cathedral at Chartres. The front facade with my arch got a lot of detail, as impressive a work in snow as I have ever seen, but there were flying buttresses and all the named parts. One spire taller than the other.

Genuine 13th Century Gothic architecture among the wannabe gothic of Yale.

That was how I first met Larry Maloney, who became one of my sophmore roommates. I later came to know his incredibly deep and broad knowledg of everything, via a Jesuit high school north of Boston. He certainly had memorized the proportions and general architecture of Chartres.

I don’t remember other faces among the 20-30 guys who built the cathedral. I think Charlie Schnelle from Silliman, Maybe Marv Krakow. Maybe Al Meyers? Whoever came by as night fell. I hope others remember.

My goals as a Jewish pacifist at the time were more about avoiding snowball fights than getting the flying buttresses right. (Even after I stopped being a pacifist I didn’t have much of an arm.) I think the cathedral was pretty successful at putting off the snowball fight, although it may have served as a fort later that night or the next day. . I don’t remember getting hit by any snowballs that night, or seeing more than a few go by once we started rolling and building. I put myself mostly on rolling once Larry had the arch thing.

It was so much fun out in the falling snow, building.

– Mark Zanger


Steps in front of Farnam Hall

Steps at the entry to FarnamFirst impressions of the Old Campus as a freshman. We would hang out on the steps and talk. Got to first know many of my classmates right there. One beautiful Fall evening President Brewster came strolling by walking Handsome Dan. He stopped to chat for a while. I felt like it was just like home in the 7th ward of New Orleans where folks did the exact same thing.

Tap Taplin

Bingham Hall

Harkness Tower with the word "Sample" printed over itSeptember 1966. I arrived with high hopes and a rube’s experience.

Bingham hall had two impressive architectural features which I appreciate and remember.

At the top of the tower there was a large room which had been an observatory. All the optical equipment had been removed, leaving a domed roof and lots of dirt and trash. Still, it was a remarkable thing to gawk at.

The tower also had a single room on the 7th floor, not assigned as no one would have wanted to walk up 6 flights of stairs. Through the magic of skeleton keys, I could enter this room, which I used intermittently as a refuge, as lodging for my father, as a really quiet workspace. Good view.

Long trudge. Antidote to the wonderful chaos of the university. No water, no heat except for what drifted up through 3 floors.

I still like towers.

Bruce Parker

A Vanderbilt entryway

worn stone stepFirst arrival, never been east of Denver, off the red-eye from San Francisco, the first Brooklyn accent I’d ever heard, Kennedy, and the weirdly pale color of green of the foliage from the window of the Connecticut Limousine. Find the Old Campus, strangely fortress-like. Find Vanderbilt. Enter entryway for #12. Put foot on first step, pull foot back, startled. The step is worn into a gently curving basin from thousands of students’ steps. Oh my God, this place is old. There’s nothing this old in California.

Conrad Cummings

The Old Campus

Old Campus in the fallThe Old Campus is a place out of time. Such a large yard, ringed with buildings, all of them over 100 years old. It’s a space designed for things to happen there, so big that almost anything can: walking, playing games, sitting in the sun, or many activities at once. The criss-cross of walkways leads you on one path or another but you don’t have to stay on them. It feels safe, both a place held together by tradition and a blank canvas on which to create.

Stuart Cohen