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Stray Thoughts: Lost and Found

When the Interactive Timeline of Pomona College history launched online last October, on the College’s 125th birthday, it was the culmination of a great deal of research. For six months, my staff and I had pored over the College history books, combed through old publications, leafed through ancient press releases and sought out every credible source of information that we could identify in order to bring those lost years of Pomona history back into the light.

 Along the way, we made some intriguing discoveries. Like the fact that Pomona and Occidental considered merging in 1909. (Pomona proposed; Oxy declined.) Or the puzzling photo (below) showing Lebus Court with a Madonna in place of the familiar sculpture of a boy with a Pan-pipe (a prop for the 1952 filming of the John Wayne movie Trouble Along the Way).

 But some of the most interesting details have come directly from you—alumni, parents and friends of the College—by way of the comments many of you have added at www.pomona.edu/timeline as part of our year-by-year unveiling of the project. Here are a few of my favorites so far:

 1949: “Snow on the quad was a lot of fun. It lasted for two or three days. It also brought a lot of smudge from the snudge pots that burned oil in an effort to keep the citrus groves alive and well. Smudge crept through any slight crack so we wrapped our clothes in sheets in the closets. It helped a little.” —Pat Wickersham Newton ’51

 1952: “Addition to the filming of Trouble Along the Way: a scene was filmed with the character played by John Wayne and his daughter walking through the main gate. Wayne reads but doesn’t say ‘Let Only the Eager, Thoughtful and Reverent Enter Here.’ Wayne then says to his daughter, “Well, let’s go in anyway.” This scene was not included in the final version.” —Peter Wait ’54

 1964: “Regarding the origins of the 47 fun: I remember a lunch in Frary during which Bruce Elgin’s older brother Bob mentioned that a math professor had given his class a proof that all positive integers equal 47. Homework was to disprove it. And THEN folks began to notice that 47 is everywhere.” —Beye Fyte ’65

 1977: “… there was no women’s soccer team, club or varsity. I tried out for the men’s JV team and played in a few practices, but after getting run over by a player, I realized that I wasn’t going to make it. I don’t recall all of the details, but I joined with Mollie Busterud, Sue Troll and others to spread the word that we wanted to women’s team. A couple of varsity men stepped up and took on the job of coaching us, the Athletic Dept. gave us balls and old JV shirts, and the first women’s soccer club team was born.” —Sarah Clark Stuart ’81

 1987: “I was in line outside Frank Dining Hall, when a gentleman asked to cut in line in front of me and my friends. I said, ‘No. This is a line. It has a beginning and an end. The end of the line is where you join the line.’ … When I sat down with my friends, they asked if I knew who that man was. I said, ‘No, but what does it matter? A line is a line.’ Then I asked, ‘Who is he anyway?’ ‘Oh,’ they replied, ‘that is David Alexander, the president of the College.’” —Rebekah Westrup ’89

 As we go to press, we still have a few more years on the timeline to unveil, and every year remains permanently open to comments, so please do keep the memories flowing. After all, it may sound like hype to say that you and your memories are a part of Pomona College history, but it’s also the simple truth.