Main Body

My Yale Days

Yale Alumni Show
Yale Alumni Show

Choosing one’s college was uppermost on the minds of students at University School. The college of my choice was unusual: Cornell; for engineering. A choice based solely on the fact my beloved older brother, Dudley, had gone there. Of course he belonged there because of his brilliance in science and engineering -talents that I did not share! But I wanted to emulate him. To enter Cornell, one was required only to have a diploma from a good school, such as U.S., and to pass one modern language and mathematics examination.

Yale and other Ivy League colleges required one to pass the College Board Examinations, or, their equivalent: Yale’s own examinations. My classmates planning to apply to Yale were permitted to divide these 24 exams over the last three years at U.S.

Being a “Yale Man” was a tradition in my family tracing back to the early 1700’s, when distant ancestral grandfathers were among the first graduates of that esteemed establishment. So, of course, in every respect, Yale was a more likely place for me. Several of my classmates, bound for Yale, felt that way too, and never gave up urging me to join them. Mike Wilson, Frank Dangler and Spence Murfey visited Yale during Christmas vacation. While in New Haven they signed, along with their signatures, my name to a Freshman year contract to room at Mrs. Benham’s, 396 Temple Street. Swayed by their interest and my own sentimentality, I decided to try to join them at Yale and to accomplish the almost impossible: take all 24 entrance exams at one time, in June of 1906!

Whereas my friends had gradually met this requirement in taking the tests over a three year period, I no longer had that option. Yale required passing Latin grammar, Julius Caesar and Cicero. Since never having studied Cicero, I spent all Easter vacation being tutored by Mr. Cabell. In June I took all 24 examinations, in four continuous days, with no breaks between subjects to review or cram. The result was I passed 12 of the required subjects.

The Yale Registrar wrote advising me to repeat senior year, assuring me that, based on the results of the tests I had passed, I could enter a year later. But by this time I was determined to join my friends in that falJ’s class. So I spent the summer at the Fox Tutoring School, in sultry New Haven, instead of at Cape Cod with my parents, enjoying the sea breezes. And in the September examinations I successfully completed the required 21 subjects, entering Yale with three conditions still requiring passage the following June. But, because of good work during Freshman year, Yale waived this requirement.

Our Freshman class entered the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University with enrollment of 4ll; the Academic School had 376.

Our rooms Freshman year were ideal -a large living room, with three windows facing Temple Street, plus two bedrooms and bath, adjacent to the railroad bridge. At the start, trains at night awakened me, but I soon became used to them. Tradition was to try to burn down the bridge, though, not surprisingly, our annual attempt failed, as in all previous years. We did bring down the Fire Department, which provided our class with some excitement on Freshman Row. We wanted to have the same fun enjoyed by the previous Freshman classes.

In 1906 there was no electricity, only gas. We used, for studying, welsbach burners in our lamps. The burners, an improvement over kerosene lamps, of course preceded the electric light.

We used different colored pen holders, with usually a stub, or Spencerian fine point, pen slipping into the end of the holder. I still have a solid gold pen my Father used. “Waterman Ideal Fountain Pens” were then just coming into vogue.

Sealing wax was popular. Envelopes of correspondence were sealed with wax impregnated with the writer’s personal seal, giving it individuality. The waxes were of many different colors, from gold to black.

Freshman year Mother gave me a gold signet ring: the Wick Coat of Arms was deeply engraved on it by an engraver in the U.S. Treasury Department. It made for a deep impression in my wax seals.

During my years at Yale there was very little drinking. Particularly no hard liquors. Chiefly beer, and that in moderation. Rolling one’s own cigarettes was very popular -and economical. Packets of correct sized papers and tobacco helped many to become exact rollers, and edges were lick-sealed. Mechanical rollers also were available, but the cigarette manufacturers withdrew the “makings” to force smokers to buy their many factory-made brands. Brands such as Sweet Capolal and Ramasies were popular.

Pipes also were very popular, and my early purchase Freshman year was a pipe with “Y” centered between 0 and 9 (inlaid in silver). The reigning pipe tobacco was “Handsome Dan”, named for the Yale Mascot Bull Dog.

In November came the exciting “Tap” day election to fraternities and societies. I was fortunate being elected to the Cloister Club and Book and Snake Society.

We Freshmen were only allowed witnessing Varsity games from top rows of the end sections of the stand. We were justly proud of our team tying Princeton 0-0 and beating Harvard 6-0. I enjoyed playing in the Yale Band at rallies and football games.

Christmas exams came upon us with dread, and 74 of our class failed to survive the ordeal.

I had the good fortune to sing in a quartet with Caesar Lohman, George Pomeroy pnd Meade Minnigerole. These three were to found the Whiffenpoofs before they graduated in 1910.

There were many festivities and traditional events highlighting our Yale days -and nights. The Promenade was the weekend of January 9, 1909. Several Cleveland girls from various finishing schools were in attendance. I was glad to have Janet Dodge from Briarcliffe School for both the Cloister Cotillion and Prom. (She later married John Garfield.)

I had, a few weeks before graduating, a harrowing experience. My roommate, Ted Watson, received from his parents a four-cylinder Buick for a graduation present. One Sunday we drove to Fairhill, Connecticut to spend the day with some friends. Returning home that night we had a flat tire. Repairing the blow-out in the darkness took a couple of hours.

We arrived in New Haven late that night, and from sheer exhaustion overslept the next morning. As it happened, throughout our college years Watson and I had eight o’clock classes, our last names being in the second half of the alphabet. Our lucky classmates with names in the first half had nine o’clock classes.

What should we do? We had used up all our “cuts”, and the one more would prevent us from graduating. My roommate had a brainstorm: he suggested that we obtain a statement from a doctor declaring we were ill. I knew a doctor who lived around the corner, and a Yale graduate. He arrived shortly after we telephoned him.

We alerted our black houseman, “Doc” Richardson, about the other doctor’s imminent visit. “Doc” Richardson was a Baptist minister, whose sermons we wrote for him sermons that had more words from chemistry books than the Bible. He was mighty proud of his explications and admired “all them big words.”

So exuberant were we over our sick leave, we were engaged in a pillow fight when Doc called up the stairs: “You boys better stop rough-housing and get back in bed. The doctor is at the door.”

Ted told the doctor we had the gripes; that last night we had gone to Savon Rock Amusement Park near Yale, that we had ordered pancakes and beer -then more pancakes and beer -and still more pancakes and beer. Now, not willing to stand being accused of all that beer guzzling, as one glass had always been my limit, I called out to the doctor that it was not true!

The doctor looked at Ted’s rosy cheeks and twinkling eyes, and, smiling the while, wrote on his prescription pad that we were sick. We graduated, and I have never missed a reunion. I am going to attend my seventieth this year.

The Yale Alumni Musical Comedies were an attractive feature staged each year for 27 years. The performance immediately followed the annual meeting’ and dinner of the Cleveland Yale Alumni Association at the University Club. I enjoyed being in each show. These musicals were all written and performed by Yale graduates, and were rehearsed through the winter with serious interest. The scenery and costumes were designed by Yale architects, the orchestra made up of Yale musicians.

In 1911, just two years after I graduated from Yale, I was in another Yale show, in which I was cast as “Antoinette Burby”. The author wrote as explanation that she was a farmer’s daughter from a farm in nearby Derby, Connecticut. She had the courage to go to New Haven to try getting a job slinging hash at the Taft Hotel. I relayed this information to Cole Porter in a long night telegram. Cole was then a student at Yale, busy writing wonderful, clever shows for his fraternity, DKE, Delta Kappa Epsilon; football songs; and music for other occasions. I urged him to write a song about the farmer’s daughter arriving at Yale. In about a week’s time he very kindly sent on his original music and the hill song, in three verses and three different choruses. The first two verses tell of her exploits with college students; the final of her return to mother and her job milking the cows. I was the first person ever to sing this song, on the 24th of March, 1911 at the University Ciub. This college song has since of course become very popular, and I have been called upon to sing this famous Yale song ever since.

Elton Hoyt and Leonard Hanna, in New York at the Yale Club for lunch in January 1924, were asked, “Aren’t you going to stay and see our Yale show tonight?” They had indeed planned to leave for Cleveland that afternoon, but, decided to stay over. The show came across so great that they said to Cole Porter, who wrote much of it, and to others: “This is a great show. When are you going to put it on again?” To which the reply was, “Oh, we rehearsed it this winter just to put it on for this performance. We didn’t plan to do it again.” Elton and Leonard invited them to bring it to Cleveland. They said: “We will, if you’ll get up a fund, and provide a private sleeping car and dining car.”

They arrived March 22,1924. A group of us met the cast, at the Doan Street Railroad station, and took them to Leonard Hanna’s house.

Cole Porter was asked if he’d time to write something special tying the show in to Cleveland. He said no, they’d all been busy, and had only the same show they’d put on at the Yale Club in New York, January. But, that wasn’t the end of the matter. Leonard said Cole must close himself in his library, where he had a small upright piano moved. The butler was there with drinks and, closing the door, they told Cole he couldn’t come out until he’d written the song. 20 or 30 minutes later, Cole sheepishly asked, “Can I come out now? I have a song.” The song being, “Let’s Make It Cleveland.” Not untimely, it was about prohibition, 1924 being the heart of it.

Cole sang it himself at the University Club, that night in Cleveland, and received a standing ovation. He went back to New York; lost the song. 20 years later I retranscribed the song from memory, music and lyrics. I’m sure I’ve reproduced it exactly as Cole originally wrote it, if for no other reason than that I’ve sung it continuously all those intervening years.

Composed by COLE PORTER Y’13 March 22, 1924
In Leonard Hanna’s (Y’13) library, especially for the
Yale Show, Uniuersity Club
Cleveland, March 22, 1924

After the show Cole took his original back to N.Y.C., and lost it. So the music and words were transcribed from memory, 20 years later, by Warren C. Wick Y’09; but, I’m sure it’s just as Cole wrote it, as I’ve sung it continuously ever since.

I gave the music and lyrics to the Cole Porter collection at Yale’s Beineke Rare Library October 19, 1968.

“Come on my dearie, Beside Lake Erie,
We are going to settle down.
Out in Ohio, Oh me, Oh my Oh,
I know the grandest town.
That’s the title of this ditty,
It’s the famous Forest City,
Where they’ve got the ammunition,
To prohibit prohibition,
Praise the Lord and sing Hosanna,
It’s the home of Hoyt and Hanna.
Cleveland! Cleveland! Cleveland!
Cleveland’s such a grand old town,
There’s such real he-men, Y -A-L-E men.
The kind that drink it down,
Way down!
They’re slicker at drinking liquor
Than any men I know.
So we won’t go beggin’
When we start boot-leggin’
Out in Cleveland, O-hi-o.
Some say Toledo is full of speedo-o,
And rate Alliance by quarts and pints.
In Marietta; tho’ folks know bettah,
They’re gettin’ wettah and wettah and wettah!
The wine in Akron is sweet as sacchrine,
The beer is cooler in Ashtabuler,
The drink in Dayton more stimulatin’
But just you wait and see.”


My Recollections of Old Cleveland Copyright © 2019 by Michael Schwartz Library at Cleveland State University. All Rights Reserved.

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