Memories of Tufts

It is impossible to recreate the feeling of being a Tufts student three-quarters of a century ago. The first time I saw the campus without the big Rez (the reservoir) at the top of the campus, I couldn't "see" the college I had known at all. For years the walk (or run) around the Rez was there to see out of the windows of West Hall. My brother, Richard Winslow, Class of 1930, with his ever present harmonica, used to lead groups singing Tufts songs on the steps leading up to the water. Just before the south side of the reservoir embankment the newest dorm, Fletcher, was being built. Old fraternity houses on Sawyer Avenue had not yet been replaced into brick buildings on Professors Row. Ballou Hall and the Chapel remained as the campus center with outdoor bulletin boards on Ballou Halls eastern side. The library was a small building beyond the chapel toward the main highway and the School of Engineering. Not only were the buildings different, but so was the spirit of those prewar years which were almost homelike. A great change was the huge athletic field, named for President Cousens, with a swimming pool and parts for all aspects of college athletic teams.

There were many fine professors who impacted my life. I especially recall Dr. Charles Gott, head of the Department of English. All literature classes were held in Packard Hall and other English professors I remember were Kenneth Myrick and Myron Files, whom I later saw frequently after he retired to Ipswich, Massachusetts and wrote a regular column for the local paper there. History professors Albert Imlah and the classicist William Wyatt were two other lecturers whose classes were enthusiastically admired by students. I still have the big scrapbook on classic art that I made for Professor Wyatt's class on mythologies. The general atmosphere of the college was one of serious scholarship and anxiety for in addition to the terrifying world rumblings, there were few jobs to be had. However, fraternities, sports, and social parties helped reduce the gloom.

Graduating in 1934, with the country still in depression, I could not find a teaching position. Tufts generously offered any current graduates, free tuition for a year's work on a Masters Degree; so my fifth year at Tufts was entirely devoted to literature courses and writing a thesis on my favorite author, Thomas Hardy. I had time to write longer term papers and especially enjoyed working at the Harvard Theater collection in Cambridge.

I had elected to work for a B.S. degree in English to avoid taking Latin, required for a B.A. Years later I regretted that decision. Jobs were still scarce and it was not until September of 1935 that I was hired to teach Social Sciences (having minored in History) in an East Greenwich, Rhode Island, Junior High School. At last my lifetime wish to be a teacher was realized.

I had fulfilled all the required Education courses at Tufts. Not only had I taken 18 hours, of Education courses, but I had witnessed and actually taught English in the West Somerville Junior High. This did not satisfy Rhode Island. Massachusetts trained teachers had to take a Saturday morning class in Providence taught by a Political Education man, We were taught that the FIRST school in America was in Rhode Island, not Massachusetts, the FIRST textbook in the United States was printed in Rhode Island -- well you can just imagine how those young Massachusetts teachers resented wasting their weekends on such facts.

Only twice in my later years did I return to class reunions, the 25th and the 50th. If a former student doesn't keep in touch with the campus, change is to be expected, but the old friendships endure. Two of mine became doctors. One is no longer living, but the other is still an active cardiologist in Indianapolis. In the end it is these personal relationships that are the most lasting heritage of college life.

Written by Donald Winslow in 2007.