555 Whalley Avenue

Harkness Tower with the word "Sample" printed over itThe summer of ’70 a number of us stayed in New Haven at a duplex up Whalley Ave from the campus. Mostly Bench City folks from Silliman came and went as they passed through town. I had told my parents I wasn’t coming home for the summer so they said they’d cut me off. What a grand declaration of independence that was! I had a job as a medical secretary and the rest painted houses. I had bought a Honda 160 motorcycle to ride to work and scout houses for “cold calls” in the evenings. On weekends I’d help paint, once acting as ballast for Bruce Parker tied to a rope around both our waists so he could paint the upstairs windows since we didn’t have any scaffolding. There’s more to the story but isn’t there always?

Miriam Mills

The bench in Silliman courtyard

Bench in Silliman CourtyardI entered as a junior in the class of ’71 but within a few weeks was hanging out with what was mostly the class of ’70, better known as Bench City. Those folks made me feel like I “belonged” more than any time before – most were a reflection of Inky Clark’s priorities for admission – need blind, many from public schools from all over the country (including myself from Texas). There I learned more physics than in the classroom (never took it, though I was premed), philosophy (and how physics is very much like it), art, politics, music, sex and pot. And those folks have stayed close, which is why I’m officially affiliated with this class. Ask anyone what they were doing during the solar eclipse and most Bench City folks will tell you they were listening to the Beatles “Here Comes the Sun” blasting from the cupola at Silliman. Quite a number of us have identical benches in our own back yards.

– Miriam Mills