Under the Ivy
a column by Jane Martin firstname.lastname@example.org
14 , 2005:
president of the Class of 1955, arrives on Cannon Green for
Class Day ceremonies.
a white horse
A class presidency that started as a joke
and ended with a gallop
He may not have been the savior of his class, exactly,
but Albert Hinckley ’55 played the part during his senior
year. Class Day 1955 saw him ride into Cannon Green on a white horse,
wearing shades and carrying a coonskin cap.
The prank was the last gasp of a senior class presidency
that literally started as a joke, remembers Hinckley. While he was
away from campus, a group of his friends decided to throw a campaign
for him. Late-night sessions yielded campaign posters bearing slogans
such as “Albo is the Rich Man’s Rich Man,” “All
men are created equal, but some are more so,” and “Albo
believes in Santa Claus.” One gag Hinckley remembers is an
illustration that spoofed a popular cartoon: a drawing of two straight
lines with two circles on either side was transformed from “Panda
climbing a tree” to “Albo climbing a tree at the Palm
Beach Bath and Tennis Club.”
The ridiculous campaign worked all too well. When
Hinckley returned from his trip, he recalls, he bumped into a classmate
at the Princeton Junction train station. “Congratulations,”
the fellow said. “For what?” Hinckley asked. “You’ve
just been made class president!” the friend informed him.
“I didn’t even know about it,”
Hinckley still marvels today. “They ran me as a joke. But
I guess people were fed up with straight arrows, as they were called,
and, well, I swept in, to the consternation of the others running.”
But Hinckley proved a better sport than his class
could have imagined. Having been elected, he took on the job, and
took it seriously. “It forced me to come out of my shell,”
Hinckley says now. (So much so that he auditioned for, and won,
a lead role in the Triangle show of that year, “Tunis, Anyone?”)
By the end of his term, his class was impressed enough with his
dedication to vote him the W. Sanderson Detwiler 1903 Prize, which
goes to the senior who has done the most for his class.
It was the cap to a charmed senior year: In addition
to the class presidency and the Triangle role, a number 1 in room
draw had allowed the future architect a prized room over Blair Arch,
with a big bay window that allowed him to marvel at the beauty of
the campus, especially on a spring day.
The magic eventually wore off. When Hinckley ran
for president of the class the year after graduation, “I lost,”
he laughs. “That was a message from above.” Once again
following the mandate from his classmates, Hinckley concentrated
on a successful architecture career instead of politics; he is principal
architect of Hinckley Shepherd Norden in Warrenton, Va.
But without a doubt, a spring day in 1955 was fine
time to ride off into a Princeton sunset — even if it was
a on a rented horse.
Jane Martin 89 is PAW's former editor-in-chief. You can
reach her at email@example.com