A row of old books in the Sterling stacksI do not remember what academic task first took me to the stacks at Sterling Library.

I discovered a world of old books. Some had been idle for 20-80 years. Some were uninteresting but others had stories of obscure worlds. I found books that had not been checked out for decades.

The carrels offered study cubicles with no distraction. I saw so few other students that carrel studying (stack crawling) had an aura of magical exclusivity. So: why are alumni denied visiting privileges?

M. Bruce Parker

The Bench

Bench in Silliman CourtyardLike many Yale students in Silliman, I retain considerable nostalgia for The Bench. I do not remember who articulated the suggestion that most any question was OK and a decline to discuss should be limited to a gentle: “No thanks.”

Like many of my era (and my father’s era at that other school), I learned as much from the interactive discovery with classmates as I did from formal education. This center of learning was chaotic, weather dependent, inefficient.

I believe there was some facilitation of the bench (like a talking stick a generation later) which gave us permission to talk with relative strangers, about more ideas than we would raise in the dining hall. It is probably not an accident that Silliman graduates disproportionately populated the Y70 blog a decade ago, and that more than a few of us have teak benches in our yards.

Bruce Parker

Bingham Hall

September 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