[ Nu Alpha Phi ]

Old Traditions and New

Robert B. Dozier '23 #3 made the following acceptance speech at the Alumni Wash Program on April 27, 1996, Alumni Weekend when he and Fannie Boyd Dozier '24 #3S were awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Bill Irelend, President Stanley, and friends of Pomona College:

When I first heard that this award was being planned, I found myself wondering "How does one respond to such an award?" Then, on second thought, I realized that the award was to the two of us, as a couple. So the question quickly changed to "How do two respond?" But upon opening the question with Fannie she quickly settled the problem by delegating me to be the responder.

And so, again, I thank you and the Alumni Council on behalf of both of us for this award, and we also express our great appreciation for loyalty of the many other Alumni who have given their support to the College through the Alumni Council.

In contemplating what else I should say on this occasion, if anything, some of the Traditions of Pomona College have come to mind, and I have mused over their meaning and their long-time effect for me, and possibly for others as well.

So, let's reminisce more or less seriously for a few minutes on the subject of Traditions, old and new.

First, there is the Legend of Pomona's Three Bears.

You may not recognize them by this name, but I know that you have met them.

The First Bear appeared about a hundred years ago, at the very inception of Pomona College, and appears again each year.

As the new graduates leave these cloistered halls to face the big new adult world, they are handed diplomas, sometimes called sheep-skins, to celebrate the event and also to give the new graduates support, confidence, and encouragement as they join their predecessors who-watch out now-Who Confidently Bear their memories of lessons learned from Alma Mater.

Did you get it?

The name of the First Bear is Who Confidently Bear.

The Second Bear came to town with Dr. James A. Blaisdell, who was President of Pomona College from 1910 to 1928.

Soon after he arrived here, President Blaisdell erected the College Gates on College Avenue at Sixth Street.

There you will find, chiseled in stone, this edict:

They only are loyal to this College Who Departing Bear their added riches in trust for mankind.

Thus he introduced to us the Second Bear, Who Departing Bear.

What a challenge he adds to the Legend.

For many years the Wash Program has welcomed Alumni back to the College to renew the fun and frivolity and the friendships of their student days.

Now, in recent years, has come the Alumni Distinguished Service Award Program, in which we are now participating, to honor representatives of the large group of Alumni Who Returning Bear their wealth of experience to enhance the life and success of the College.

So, meet the Third Bear, whose name is Who Returning Bear.

Thus, at long last, we have met Pomona's Three Bears, each with his message for all of us, and known as

Who Confidently Bear

Who Departing Bear

Who Returning Bear

These Three Bears express our obligation to be grateful for our undergraduate schooling, to be constructive in our communities, and to be helpful and active alumni.

Their combined messages define the kind of Alumni we Traditionally strive to be.

So much for the Legend of the Three Bears.

Now for one more Tradition.

I also became aware in my musings that there are other Traditions, some of them now largely forgotten, whose relatively short lives have unexpectedly left their influence far beyond those years, to touch our lives even today.

A fine example of this is the Pole Rush.

The Pole Rush, you say?

What was that, and how is its influence living on to this very day?

Let me elucidate.

Back in the Ancient Days of the 1910s and 1920s, which perhaps a few of you may remember, each year the gladiators of the Freshman and Sophomore classes met in heroic struggle. The location was at the edge of The Wash, probably right under the spot where we are sitting today.

For there was no Big Bridges Auditorium then, and the wilderness known as The Wash came right up to within a stone's throw of what is now known as Marston Quad.

Perhaps you will think that at that time There was no There There. But to the contrary There was.

The annual reincarnation of this event which I witnessed took place in the Fall of 1919, the Freshman year of the class of 1923.

On the appointed day, and at the appointed hour, the Frosh and Soph Teams, properly attired for the struggle, came trotting down from the Training Quarters and stepped gingerly into the small lake which had been prepared by applying an abundance of water to the soft dirt of the place. A flag pole, perhaps 15 feet high, stood in the midst of this-please excuse the expression-this mud puddle.

It was the goal of the Frosh to tie their muddy towel, whimsically called "their flag," to the ring at the top of the pole.

To the cheers of the surrounding audience, who remained clad in their clean clothes, the struggle continued.

The Frosh acquired two heroes on that eventful day: Willard Morgan, who was renamed "Hercules" by his classmates, was a tall, strong football player and discus thrower.

Herk secured a key position with his back to the pole, and Joseph Choate, small, lithe and a climber, reached Herk's position with the help of his team, and was lifted to Herk's shoulders and then shinnied up the muddy pole and tied the flag to the ring.

The Frosh Team was Triumphant!

But why tell this story at the Wash Program, you ask?

Well, First, I am sure you will agree that the two teams, as they trotted back to the Training Quarters, needed, more than anything else, a good, thorough Wash Program which at that time they could find only in the showers.

Second, the victory of the Freshman Team entitled the Freshman Class, which was previously mentioned herein as the Class of '23, the Permanent Right to Carry Canes.

Well, and so what, you ask?

Well, we Freshmen bought our canes, and exercised our right to carry them on campus.

Of course, the novelty soon wore off.

As the years have passed, and the events which make up college life have changed, the Pole Rush has disappeared. No doubt other new and strange traditions have developed to express the activities and the rivalries of a new day.

I know not how many canes still grace the homes of the Class of '23, after these 76 years.

But my cane, the trophy of an almost forgotten event, has returned and is here today, seeking its destiny.

True to its original purpose as a walking stick, it has now come into use to Protect the comfort and safety and to satisfy the Ego of the old codger who, some 76 years ago was given the right to carry it.

The tradition of the Pole Rush disappeared long ago, but the symbol of that event has returned to touch our lives today.

May your traditions, no matter how mundane, do as much for you.

And so,

The Pole Rush is dead.

Long live the Pole Rush.

[ <-- Back ] [ Contents ] [ Next --> ]

NAP Home

[ NAP Home ]

Support Nu Alpha Phi and The Oak Leaf: Send in your News and Dues today!

Copyright © 1996 Nu Alpha Phi Fraternity, All Rights Reserved.