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September 15, 2004: On the Campus

Illustration by Ron Barrett

Illustration by Ron Barrett

Summer tales

By Jordan Paul Amadio ’05

This time of year, colorful tales are in no short supply. Sidle up to a dinner table on Prospect Avenue or in the residential colleges, and you’ll hear Princetonians eagerly swapping anecdotes of summer accomplishments. After a few minutes amid this frenzy of interaction, one learns about fast-track Manhattan internships, soul-searching treks to Xingyang, cross-country photography projects, and newly unraveled mysteries of bacterial genetics. The faint of heart are advised to take it one story at a time.

Such September rituals aside, many globetrotting friends managed to nurture their connections during the summer months — mostly thanks to e-mail and Instant Messenger, the same technological marvels that have allowed me to submit this column from the desert wastelands of Namibia. In major cities, the Class of 2005 went so far as to organize a series of get-togethers with alumni from the classes of 1980 and 1955. Boston resident Robert Amick ’55 hosted area ’05 students for one such mixer in July, to provide solidarity between the two classes — or alternatively, as organizer Emily Moxley ’05 put it, to provide “free food, since we’re no longer sheltered beneath our eating club chefs and have been left to cook for ourselves.”

The campus itself, of course, does not go into complete hibernation between Reunions and Opening Exercises. Far from it — graduate students and industrious undergraduates remain, trading homework and exams for jobs and research positions in every field you might imagine (and some that you might not).

On June 22, those lucky enough to be living in air-conditioned Forbes College were surprised with an additional thrill. Having received bizarre reports of a black bear roaming the Forbes lawn, Public Safety immediately rose to the task of instigation — er, investigation. Captain Donald Reichling posted a concerned e-mail about the bear incident to all students, which sparked panic among Forbes dwellers. (The message’s less-than-reassuring conclusion: “Responding units did not locate the animal.”) Several other sightings were reported, the last of them in the northern part of Princeton Township. After the bear was determined to be heading toward Montgomery, the hubbub subsided — at least around the University. Scott Grant ’05, a chemistry major who stayed in the Forbes Annex when not running inorganic synthesis reactions, kept his cool about the matter. “People are talking about the bear, but I don’t feel endangered,” he said. “Public Safety got too worried about it.”

Blessed be the Class of 2004, for its members have tasted the full glory of Reunions! Once again, the P-rade and the bacchanalian tent-parties figured as memorable hallmarks of May’s Reunions experience. The mini-reunions held by a number of student clubs, on the other hand, presented a more specialized opportunity for nostalgic bonding.

On the dizzyingly hot Saturday morning of Reunions weekend, for instance, alumni and current members of the University Press Club gathered over breakfast. This rendezvous was a poignant one. Princeton’s Press Club, after all, is a relic of youthful years, a tiny society that has graduated about four people a year since 1900. But that day, it brought us all peacefully together — Depression generation, Vietnam generation, Internet generation. The unofficial guest of honor: Lee Gould ’38, tireless champion of the Old Guard and one of the club’s oldest living alumni.

Mr. Gould, whose attitude showed as much fierce Tiger spirit as his extravagant Princeton-themed regalia, has been to almost every reunion since the Carter administration. Between sips of orange juice, he relayed snapshots of his student days — how the Press Club boys would wire stories from the Western Union office on Nassau Street; how they would scoop the Prince time after time; how the ancient typewriter keys were always stuck; how a favorite member died in an automobile tragedy. We undergrads, mere babies, silently wondered — will we be spinning our own Princeton yarns in a few decades? In all likelihood, the quality of our present experience will decide. As we inaugurate this new academic season, our most challenging task is to savor it. Wisely.

Jordan Paul Amadio ’05, a premed student concentrating in biophysics, is from Cazenovia, N.Y.

On the Campus Online: Go to to read Sara Mayeux ’05’s “Summer Abroad: It Isn’t Sun and Sand but Working and Researching.”

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