Canyon Day was supposed to be a day set aside to work together to beautify the canyon, but by the time I got to Reed it was mostly about waterfights. Traditionally the residents of Quincy would move all their furniture away from the windows and into the halls and challenge the rest of the Reed community to “aquatic combat,” which meant they would come under siege. A few days before Canyon Day the residents of Quincy weighted down the trap doors leading from the other dormitories to the attic to prevent an attack from above. They also used to spray attackers with the fire hoses. I recall that some of the besiegers used slingshots made of surgical tubing to fire hard-boiled eggs with a firecracker in the middle, the fuse of which was lighted before launch. A fellow in Quincy slammed the window shut on one such missile, which exploded harmlessly outside, then opened the window to taunt those below just as another egg sailed in. Ultimately a window was breached and the front door unlocked from within, then a rush was made on the door. A strapping young man from Quincy wedged his feet against the stone steps and braced his back against the door to prevent it from being opened. He was so strong and the attackers so determined that eventually the wooden door split and cracked. I believe at that time a truce was called because all realized they were getting carried away.
There was also a tug-of-war, with the losing team obliged to hang onto the rope and be dragged through the pond mud of the Canyon.
A story that took place in 1964 as remembered by John Cushing ‘67 which can be found at the Reed Oral Histories Project .
We really should have played Hide n’ Seek or something in the Canyon.
Reed reunions can change your life. Ask us. We know. We graduated Reed together 26 years ago. We knew each other back then, but were at best casual friends (Laura even has a photo of the two of us and other classmates on the library steps just before the thesis parade). And now we are engaged and plan to marry in May. We’ll show up at Reed again this year for reunions (after all, Sheldon is the next president of the alumni association), but this time as a married couple.
We went our separate ways after Reed and did not stay in touch. Laura went to Kansas for a Ph.D. in psychology and a career as a professor of public health; Sheldon was off to Wisconsin for a Ph.D. in the history of science and a career as a corporate historian. We saw each other for the first time in two decades at our twentieth reunion. We became friends again, but nothing more. We did, however, stay in touch by phone. Close to five years later, with another reunion coming up, we decided to take a joint vacation just prior to reunions. Laura was driving across the country to Corvallis, helping a friend and her daughter move. Sheldon arranged to meet her in Portland at the end of her trip. We planned a tour of Oregon that would take us back to some old haunts (the coast, the Rogue River, the Shakespeare festival in Ashland) and some activities that hadn’t existed in the early ’70s (Willamette Valley wineries, the restored lodge at Crater Lake). It proved a truly magical vacation. By the time we arrived back in Portland for reunion, we were head over heels in love. Though we were somewhat in a daze, it was still the perfect frame of mind to be back at Reed reconnecting with old friends.
Reunions ‘98 ended with a social sponsored by the class of 1968, featuring a reunion of Laura and the Vipers, the late ’60s Reed rock band. So there we were, in the new Kaul Auditorium, dancing to music we might have danced to a quarter century earlier. Lost in ourselves and in the music, we were interrupted by a tap on the shoulder from one of our classmates. He said, “will you guys knock it off for just a minute? I’m trying to say good bye.” It was the perfect comment to end a magical week. We did knock it off for just that minute, but we have kept it up ever since.
A story that took place in 1998 as remembered by Sheldon ‘73 which can be found at the Reed Oral Histories Project .
Awww. This is like When Harry Met Sally but better because it’s without Billy Crystal.
If the Reed College buildings were burning and only the top 10 percent of the student body in academic terms were on hand, the job of putting out the fire might have to wait upon the conclusion of a very interesting and stimulating discussion of the effects of fire on wood and brick.
A story that took place in 1930s as remembered by President Dexter Keezer which can be found in Comrades of the Quest.
Olde habits die hard.
Ross Thompson had been the CEO of Litton Industries before coming to Reed. A lot of people disliked him. He was a corporate executive, and not a good fit for the college. Jim Webb, who was finishing up his last year teaching English, had a billboard put up on McLoughlin Boulevard in Portland with a picture of Thompson, and text that asked, “Would you buy a used college from this man?
A story that took place in the 1970s as remembered by Mathew Kangas ‘71 which can be found in Comrades of the Quest.
Omitted here is a photograph of the billboard—you can find it in the book.
The Reed website said students were responsible for the billboard, but I’d like to believe a professor did it. I recall a few of my professors expressing discontent with C.Divvy. Whether or not I agreed with them, I appreciated how much they cared about Reed; I appreciated that they valued Reed as much as/if not more than I did. In a sense, they’re the backbone of the college.
We got word that a group called the “Society for Creative Anachronism” was going to be bringing in the Doyle Owl via helicopter during a softball game at Renn Fayre. On the day the helicopter showed up, a whole group of us got in a Datsun pickup driven by Dave Conlin ‘88, and came blazing across the field where it had landed. Half of the guys jumped out of the pickup with fire extinguishers—the water-only kind—blasting everybody down, while the other half of the guys grabbed the Doyle Owl. We tossed it in the back of Dave’s pickup, and we all jumped in the truck and took off up the hill. We then proceeded to take the Owl all around Portland.
A story that took place in the 1980s as remembered by Brian Ruess ‘87 which can be found in the Comrades of the Quest.
That’s it: Olde Reed wins.
(using Simplified Spelling): This is my greeting to you for the New Year: may it be the best year of your life so far! And if you hold the same wish for me, let us be really “Comrades of the Quest.” How much that may mean in fellowship and idealism, I have tried to tell you from time to time.
In the first place, our Quest must be for higher things. The dramatic opportunity of beginning a new year calls us to burnish our old ideals, and add new ones with a faith that will make them potent. Tho we may not hitch our wagon to a star, we must look high—we must venture upon the glowing promis of the new year with aims that are adequate challenges to the strength of our youth. And in all good things we must work together. That is our second necessity: that is a part of comradship. I must be of greater help to you; you must be of greater help to me; and together we will make a college that commands our loyalty unto the end. For loyalty is at once the price and the reward of our highest life together; that, too, is part of comradship.
A story that took place in December 31, 1912 as written by William Foster, “letter to Lindsley Ross ‘15”, which can be found in Comrades of the Quest.
Margaret McGowan Mahan ‘24: They stopped using Simplified Spelling the year I started, thank goodness. Try playing Scrabble with it sometime.
(Imagining if C. Divvy adopted l337.)
Our attitude at the time was anti-establishment. Any corporation, any business was seen as fair game for shoplifting or for whatever. This manifested itself at the Reed College bookstore. They were getting shoplifted right and left by Reed students. To defend itself, the bookstore instituted a policy of asking students to place their bags in the shelves at the entrance to the bookstore.
That kind of procedure later became universal, but it was unusual at the time. The request enraged a small percentage of the population. They felt this was a violation of the Honor Principle, that Reedies should be trusted, that they shouldn’t have to check their bags anywhere.
A story that took place in 1970s as remembered by Douglas Uhlinger ‘72 which can be found Comrades of the Quest.
This is olde news disguised as nu news at Reed today. People recently stole from the bookstore (though I’m not sure Reedies were the culprits), the bookstore responded with security cameras, and a few Reedies invoked the Honor Principle. The main difference is the lack of an anti-establishment attitude (at least to the bookstore, though some Reedies feel that way towards Bon Apetit [commons]). I wonder if olde Reed lamented the “bubble” and the lack of serious off-campus radical activism then, too. One of my housemates recently had this to say about the bubble: “Sometimes it feels like there is a physical barrier that surrounds the campus, and any Reedie who tries to escape across the front lawn gets shot with a tranquilizer gun, then is dragged back into the mess.”
-Alex Cherin ‘12
Ethelwynne Lewis ’42 was this wonderful girl from Hawaii. She wasn’t native Hawaiian, just a great big gal, and lots of fun. We all thought it would be great to have Ethelwynne run for student body president, since the student body presidents were always men, just as a spoof to show that women could run if they wanted to. She agreed to go along, although we didn’t expect her to win, it was just to have fun. We posted flyers and threw a lot of nice parties for her, including shows with Ethelwynne dancing in a shadow scene. We put a curtain up and put a light behind her dancing so that her shadow was cast on the curtain. Ethelwynne did this hula-dance shadow scene, which was much more sexy than doing it out in front of the curtain. Then, when it looked as though she was going to win the election, Ethlwynne backed out! Ω
A story that took place in 1941 as remembered by Sylvia Campbell Powell ‘42 which can be found in the book Comrades of the Quest.
First of all, no wonder people just called Lucy’s friend “Ethel”. Ethelwynne is a mouthful and a pain to type out (if you’re reading this, Ethel, I only kid). Second of all, Ethelwynne reminds me of Celia Hassan ’11, the 2010-11 Student Body President. In a similar yet more progressive way, Celia was a costume wearing force to reckon with. Now I never paid much attention to the student body elections, but I did get a chance to hear Celia talk about what she did on a regular basis. It is tough work juggling administrative responsibilities with a full-Reed-course load. I’m sure Ethel pondered the consequences of being a BAMF President combined with her enormous workload and peaced out just in time (at least I’d like to think that was what happened). And I’m sure you’re curious about the costume Celia frequently donned during her tenure as President: She was none other than Batman, and her VP, Cori Savaiano ’11, was Robin. I remember Celia and Cori’s outfits because the single election event I did attend, they wore them. Indeed, even the VP candidate at the time wore a costume; someone threw a can of PBR at him and his suit retained the beverage.-Alex Cherin ‘12
The FBI first came to Reed in 1953 to interview the faculty and administrators. The main person that they wanted to speak with was the admission director, Bob Canon, who had just been appointed dean of students by President Ballantine in the fall of 1953. They made Canon tell them which other people at Reed were Reds. Canon later told friends and relatives that testifying was the worst thing he had ever done. They believed that he cooperated only because the FBI threatened to expose his homosexuality.
A story that took place in 1953 as remembered by Michael Munk ‘56 which can be found in Comrades of the Quest.
I’ve never really heard the politics of my professors. Sure, the curriculum might reflect their beliefs, but I wouldn’t know if a professor was Communist or even Atheist. Yet some professors are comfortable with the student body knowing their sexual orientation. I recall at the end of Edward Segel’s “Origins of the Second World War” class one year, Ed gave students a chance to ask him any question. One student through rumor had heard that Ed ran down the halls, telling everyone he was gay, once he received his tenure. Ed chuckled, then made a comment hinting that at least part of the rumor was true. It is good to know our professors can trust us with such knowledge about themselves.
Alex Cherin ‘12
So have you heard about this book called Comrades of the Quest by John Sheehy ‘82? It is a massive and inspiring oral history of Reed College. Sheehy collected interviews from over 1,400 past presidents, professors, alumni and trustees (and staff?). All of these stories are also searchable and archived for the select few who can remember their IRIS passwords right over here. The tome is an impressive wallop of Olde Reed (the youngest alum = ‘08). The Switchboard sent the book over to Alex Cherin ‘12 (who is, PS, looking for a job or opportunity in advertising). Alex volunteered to excerpt some of his favorite stories and respond to them. Kind of a little New Reed/Olde Reed conversation. Alex will be posting weekly here using the “comrades of the quest” tag. Hit it, Alex.
Once I got to Reed, I was really shocked to learn that there was a two-year requirement, four hours per week, for students to take physical education.
A story that took place in 1961 as remembered by Jack Scrivens, physical education professor 1961-1999, which can be found in Comrades of the Quest.
So during my last semester at Reed I took Lower Body Abs (LBA) and Zumba. The first quarter I took both, which positively tore my body apart (in a good way). Between intensive core workouts with Wendy, the LBA instructor, and hip twerkin’ workouts with Tracy Reeves, visiting film and literature professor, I felt like a mummy getting out of bed every morning. It wasn’t until the second quarter I learned you could only get credit for taking a single class per quarter. Basically, I busted my ass for nothing. I still needed one more credit in order to graduate, and I already missed two classes of Zumba (somehow I was still signed up for that class). The rest of the semester, while revising my thesis, applying for internships, and drowning in homework, I had to commit to two hours per week of hip gyrations and shimmy-shoulders. In other words, if it wasn’t for Beyoncé, I wouldn’t have graduated from Reed.
Alex Cherin ‘12
I only lived in the Fishmarket for a week at the end of my freshman year. In the main social room, which was covered with mattresses, the concept of the Chinese cluster f*** was invented—basically a bunch of people take off their clothes, get into the room, probably drunk, and then just go for it.
A story that took place in 1961 as remembered by Jim Kahan ‘64 which can be found in the book, Comrades of the Quest.
Just think. Your grandmother and grandfather were just as salacious, stupid, and silly as you were at your age! I wonder why I ever worry that I won’t become the responsible adult the world begs of me when so many of my elders had done the same at one point in their lives. It seems the best course of action at this point in my life is to enjoy the now—be the young, carefree fool I was meant to be at my age.
But boy, what a wild world the ’60s were, huh?
Alex Cherin ‘12