Sponsor group dinners—and reunion dinners—are commonplace at the College; it’s a rare day when at least one such gathering, formal or informal, isn’t seen taking place at either the Frary or Frank dining halls. One feast, however, yearly outperforms the rest: A pair of sponsor groups, organized by Robert Chew ’14 and Deidre Lee ’14, gather annually to make and serve their own Thanksgiving dinner for the group of approximately 30—this year, 40—friends. The tradition began four years ago, in the fall of Chew and Lee’s first year at Pomona, when they were in neighboring sponsor groups in Lyon Court. “We were just sitting around right before Thanksgiving,” recalls Lee, “And we were like, ‘We all love this holiday, but it sucks that most of us are going home. We can’t celebrate it together but it’s one of our favorite holidays.’” Then the simple solution took hold: Why not just make their own pre-Thanksgiving dinner? Easier said than done. “The first year involved a lot of us saying, ‘OK! We’re going to make Thanksgiving dinner! …How do we do that?’ There was a lot of mother-calling,” says Chew, laughing.
Sagehens publish prolifically. The latest books from Pomona alumni and faculty.
From sculptors to screenwriters, creative Sagehens get the spotlight.
It was World War II, a time when many Japanese Americans were denied their civil rights out of unfounded suspicions about their loyalty. Kazuma “Benny” Hisanaga ’41 faced another cha llenge: fighting against Hitler’s army on the European front. Hisanaga was a member of the 100th Infantry Battalion, a segregated army unit made up of Japanese-American troops. Confronted with the double burden of prejudice against their ancestry along with the shocks and struggles of wartime, Hisanaga and his fellow troops proved they were more than capable of rising to the occasion. The 100th Battalion and its successor, the 442nd Infantry Regiment, would go on to become one of the most decorated units of the war. And Hisanaga, who had been a star athlete at Pomona, managed to carve out a remarkable legacy of leadership, winning some of the country’s highest military honors for his bravery in combat.
Aging Millikan Hall, built at the dawn of the Space Age, is being torn down and rebuilt to state-of-the-art standards over the next two years. But the iconic atomic artwork on the west facade of the building will be preserved and prominently displayed on the new building. atomsideviewCommissioned for Pomona College’s new math, physics and astronomy lab back in 1958, the bronze atom sculpture facing College Avenue was designed by noted sculptor Albert Stewart, whose work adorns civic buildings nationwide, including the U.S. Mint in San Francisco. Before his death in 1965, Stewart created counterparts for the atom for the facades of Seaver North and South, with an image of cell division for biology and an array of particles for chemistry.
The Class of 2017 was welcomed to campus Sunday with the traditional celebratory entry through the College Gates. Of course, Cecil Sagehen was on hand to keeps things chirpy as the new students moved along College Avenue. (Photos by Carrie Rosema.)
Current Pomona College students may feel a tinge of envy to learn that the College once had a lab set on the shore of one of Southern California’s most beloved beaches. This summer marks a century since the 1913 founding of Pomona’s Marine Laboratory in Laguna Beach, Calif., with the seaside facility built in part as a gift to the college through donations made by citizens of Orange County. Each summer for three decades, groups of faculty and students made the trek to Laguna, where they camped out in tents and set up shop at the lab for a six-week summer school session focused on marine biology. The sessions included general courses in such subjects as botany and oceanography, but students also got a chance to do hands-on field work where they could tackle their own projects. Highlights of the summer included the infamous early-morning collecting runs.
Before students return to school each school year, Grounds Manager Ronald Nemo and his crew turn their trimmers on Pomona’s green behemoth, the massive pittosporum hedge that runs for blocks – in total, perhaps 3,000 feet – along both sides of College Avenue. The wall of green was planted decades ago for a practical purpose: to help discourage pedestrians from darting across the avenue outside the crosswalks, according to Nemo. As much as it is an omnipresent barrier, 15 feet wide at some points, the College Avenue hedge is also easily overlooked. That’s by design. Donning vests, gloves and protective goggles, Nemo’s 14-person crew goes at it with handheld power trimmers until the hedge’s new ‘doo is a close-cropped crew-cut reaching only about three feet high, allowing clear views of the street and campus, while still serving as a big green buffer. The pittosporum also gets a clean-up before Alumni Weekend and Commencement.
Claremont may be a rough 40 miles from shore, but, even so, Thatcher Music Building will soon resound with the hearty sailor songs of yore. This fall, Visiting Professor Gibb “Ranzo” Schreffler leads the Sea Chanty and Maritime Ensemble, a half-credit course in which students will learn history and technique from a man who has memorized more than 500 chanties.
“Enthusiasm, rhythm and lyrics—perhaps in that order —are more important than pitch precision or voice quality,” ethnomusicologist Schreffer notes. In other words, don’t worry about going, well, overboard.
Coolest name for a college band: The Inland Emperors. The group formed last fall, and Wes Haas ’15 and Lee Owens-Oas ’15 came up with the moniker during their Physics with Music class. As Haas explains, they were talking about how they now live in the Inland Empire and wondering whether anyone’s ever thought whether “there’s an emperor of the place” and—voilà—the band, which includes three more Sagehens, had its name. What do they play? “Loud rock music,” says Haas. Gigs so far have mostly been on campus, but with a name like that, we’re sure their reign will someday reach all the way to Riverside.
“We cannot get away from the fact that the era in which we live is an era of mass thought and mass action, an era of mass production and mass destruction, and era of mass media and mass communication. … More iconoclasm would be a good thing in our machine society: good in our newspapers; good in our television and our radio; good in our politics; and good in our academic communities. The refusal to take things for granted, the insistence on understanding the reasons for accepted dogma, the determination to inquire into the facts and to form one’s judgement for oneself is the mark of a good citizen as well as an educated man.”
– from the 1963 Pomona College Commencement address by John B. Oakes, editor of The New York Times editorial page.
With the new Jackie Robinson movie 42 hitting theaters today, it’s worth recalling two visits the hall of famer from Pasadena made to the nearby Pomona College campus in the days before he became a star for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The first account comes from the Pasadena Star-News’ Rose magazine recalling how Robinson, along with Ted Williams, played in a big high school baseball tournament in Pomona, and then attended the tournament’s banquet at a Pomona College dining hall, where the speaker was Will Rogers.
Afterward, everyone rushes up to get Will’s autograph. Everyone except Jackie Robinson. He goes over and asks Sam the chauffeur for an autograph. Soon, the line to get Sam’s autograph is as long as the one in front of Will. All because of Jackie. So I kind of got the impression that this is a special kid.”
And then there is a Los Angeles Times article recounting how Robinson, as a student at Pasadena Junior College in 1938, competed in the Southern California JC track championships held at Pomona College, setting a new record in the long jump.
Pasadena track Coach Otto Anderson obtained permission for Robinson to take three jumps in a row, before the other competitors. Robinson’s series was 23-5 1/4, 24-7 and 25-6 1/2, breaking his brother Mack’s national record by an inch.
Then he jumped into a waiting car and was driven to Glendale by close friend Jackie Gordon–changing into his baseball uniform on the way–and arrived in the third inning to help Pasadena clinch the conference championship, 5-3.”