March 27, 2002: From the Editor

Presidents Dodds and Truman shake hands at the close of Princeton’s Bicentennial.

While fact-checking Bill Ford ’79’s Princeton lineage for the cover story of this issue, I came across a photo of the five Firestone brothers, all of whom went to Princeton (the eldest, Harvey S. Firestone, Jr. ’20, was Ford’s grandfather). Taken at the cornerstone-laying ceremony for the Harvey S. Firestone Memorial Library, the picture shows Raymond ’33, Roger ’35, Russell ’24, Harvey ’20, and Leonard ’31 with President Harold Dodds *14 on the Chapel steps.

The historic shot was just one of 121 photos published in that PAW issue of July 4, 1947. The pictures tell the story of the closing days of Princeton’s yearlong Bicentennial celebration, the final weekend of which, from Reunions through Commencement, saw Princeton hosting a remarkable collection of people and events. The PAW cover (right) shows off the guest of honor, President Harry S. Truman, shaking hands with President Dodds. Truman delivered a national address from the steps of Nassau Hall during Commencement on June 17, 1947. (Broadcast by all the American radio networks, the speech was heard by 6.5 million listeners, according to the Hooper survey of the day. The speech was also televised, but as PAW reported: “A power failure blanked the National Broadcasting Company screen as the President began to speak. Power was restored just as the Chief Executive finished his 20-minute address.”)

Inside, photos show the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by honorary-degree recipient Serge Koussevitsky in a concert at Dillon Gym, which was dedicated that weekend; honorary-degree recipient Dwight David Eisenhower, not yet elected president; former President Herbert Hoover; 1946’s honorary-degree winner, Albert Einstein; Truman and Hoover with Mrs. Truman, Mrs. Woodrow Wilson, and the widow of Grover Cleveland; war heroes Admiral Nimitz, Admiral King, and Viscount Alexander of Canada; and Miss Margaret Truman escorted by a smartly dressed Orange Key guide, John Sharon ’49.

The national notables are followed quickly by snapshots of Princeton events and traditions: Herbert Lowell Dillon ’07 at the dedication of the new gym; a musical celebration of Princeton’s history, narrated by José Ferrer ’33 and presented in McCarter Theatre; students leaving Baccalaureate; clay pipes clutched by smiling seniors; a snaking line of P-raders; 1942’s Class Baby throwing the first pitch of the baseball game against Yale; the large contingent from the 50th Reunion Class, the Class of 1897.

Fascinating as the photos were, though, what astonished me most was a stunning example of Princeton coincidence. The photographer for much of the issue, including the cover image, was James A. Lebenthal ’47 — the father of Alexandra Lebenthal ’86, featured on PAW’s February 27 cover.


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