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Guinevere L.Griest Guinevere Griest

1,673 Makeovers -- 1940-1944

    We thought you might like to re-live our 1940-1944 days on campus by re-reading Guin Griest’s excellent 5-page article that appeared in the 1944 Cornellian.  The correct title of this compilation that appears on the bookshelves of many ’44’s is “The Seventy-Sixth Volume of the Year Book of Cornell University, a Record of the War Year 1943-1944.” (As printed verbatim on page 3). You can’t find it?  It’s the one that has a pseudo leather cover in green and, we’re reasonably certain, bears a thin coating of dust,

    Several comments before we move on:  The Cornellian is the source of countless photographs that appear in your ’44 website. As Webmaster, we’re indebted to the many unidentified photographers whose contributions filled the book’s 320 pages and now are a most welcome part of our Class website.

    We’d also like to tip our hat to the Cornellian’s three-member staff. This was a major multi-hour, multi-week extracurricular activity on their part and our mentioning them here long after the fact is small thanks for their hard work.  The Editor-in-Chief was Barbara Gans Gallant; Nancy Green Stratton served as its Business Manager – lots of national and local ads in the back of the Year Book helped to lower its “per copy” cost to everyone; and Harold “Hal” Wood who did an outstanding job as the volume’s Photographic Editor.

Art Kesten,
Webmaster, Class of '44

The Class of 1944

as taken from the Class Day Address of Guinevere Griest, '44

     We the Class of '44 arrived in Ithaca in September, 1940. Our eagerness, somewhat dampened  2nd soiled by the Lehigh or the Lackawanna, was nevertheless at a high pitch. Many of the men had already been to freshman camp on Lake Keuka where they had frozen, as usual, while being instilled with CorneII traditions and customs.

Our eagerness, somewhat dampened and soiled by the Lehigh or the Lackawanna

    We cheered wildly for our undefeated footbaII team and watched it again and again overcome its opponents-building up to the powerful Ohio State eleven. It was only the beginning, so we thought. If the Class of '41 could do this, just think of what '44's team would do! We survived the charge of coaching from the sidelines that Ohio State leveled at us, endured Harvard's accu- sation thdt we subsidized our team, and went into a frenzy when we thought we had won the Dartmouth game by a thriIIing last-minute touchdown. On discovering our mistake, we offered to change the official score and Dartmouth accepted. Fifth downs were the only topic of conversation for weeks afterward and halo's were sold at the Co-op for half-price.

cartoon    It was about  this time that Wilkie buttons sprouted all over the campus, suddenly to disappear when President Roosevelt was elected for his third term. That February we got our first taste of houseparties, with Benny Goodman and "She'll be Smooth as Satin at Midnight in Manhattan." About 1500 Cornellians registered for the draft, Rudolf Hess Ianded in EngIand, and somehow It was Spring, with Spring Day houseparties, the Navy Ball, and Jimmy Dorsey. It also rained.

    Campus groups were demanding United States intervention. lsolationists and interventionists were pointing fingers at edch other. Another small group of Cornellians built an imitation tank, which was set up in front of the Straight to be signed by those who said that the Yanks were not coming. The fight over it practically overshadowed the frosh-soph rioting, which for the first time took place over a medicine ball. There were not too many sophomores crushed.

cartoon    We came back in our sophomore year to find many changes. The first women's freshman camp was held and the women somehow managed to survive the cold. Two Counselors of Students moved into the little gray-green house on Sage Place. Our footbdll team did not manage to win every game but nevertheless played before Schoellkopf packed with rooters. JP's, with a new row of windows for the view over Beebe, had been enlarged.

    It was in December that we ceased being the ordinary class we had been.

    Many of US left school; more stayed. We watched the prom called off, but houseparties still were held, and Mrs. Roosevelt came as usual to Farm and Home Week. Later on, we got very excited about Spring vacation, which was granted after all. The BDMOH contest took the campus by storm as horses paraded across the quadrangle and propaganda pla- cards were posted in every available spot. We had a Navy Ball and Spring Day house- parties, with Glen Gray and Will Bradley, but there was a shortage of gasoline and not as many cars were around so the taxis did an infla- tionary trade. However it rained, as usual.


    In September, 1942, many men came back most uncertainly, because Secretary of War Stimson had announced that the ERC might be called at any time. The campus took on a technical and martial air. Ensigns hut-two- three-foured up and down the Hill, the Curtiss-Wright girls moved into Comstock, and the Army tested its cold vac- cine in the ideal locality. The "Sun" no longer appeared on Mondays.

cartoon    After a minor house- party crisis, Junior Week appeared as Victory Weekend with Bobby Sherwood, and was a huge success. Perhaps it was because our Enlisted Reserve thought it would be their last big party. A few even had not re- turned after Christmas va- cation because they had taken to heart the rumor that the ERC would be cdlled so soon that it would not be worth corning back to lthaca. It was announced that ensigns would occupy Sage - the co-ed's stronghold. OIin Hall was opened for business and the Chem E's moved into their private Iaboratories. Aa February passed into March, the ERC became more and more tired of waiting; finally on March 28, orders came through for a part of them to leave. As April and May passed the remainder became rather used to the uncertainty and were almost surprised when they, too, finally received orders and left with the advanced ROTC. May had brought Spring Day - "the last house- parties for the duration." This time it snowed, a sign of change.

cartoon    In June it was announced that a Naval College Training Program of 1600 men would arrive in July; and in succeeding months not only the V- 12s, but the Army Specialized Training Program, the Purple Commandos, and the familiar faces of the advanced ROTC appeared "far above Cayuga's waters.'' Dormitories, fraternity houses, and women's cottages were hastily vacated to provide barracks for the incoming hordes.

    More than half of us accelerated to become seniors that summer. We were the first to see the Memorial Room changed into a Soda Bar, retaining our old friend "Stuffy" and adding a juke box and a Children's Hour from seven until eight o'clock every evening. The Straight terrace was roofed for the Army Mess Hall and the "Widow" happily proclaimed that it had ceased publication for the duration. The "Sun" came out three times a week until the fall when it entered a war- time eclipse. Its successor was the “Bulletin,” which ap- peared each Friday. We heard Benny Goodman once more when he played on a nationwide broadcast from Barton Hall.

    Our '43-'44 football team with an intercollegiate V-12 squad had a fine record. Women moved into remodeled fraternity houses, and alumni were aghast. When the Cadettes graduated, women moved back into Comstock. True repre- sentative government was finally achieved by the co-eds when they revised their W. S. G. A. Constitution. As a result they obtained 1:30 a.m. permissions for Saturday nights---an amazing accomplishment/ After this went into effect the Navy received orders to be in at I:OO a.m."

cartoon    For the first time the women at Cornell took top positions in extra-curricular activities including the editor-in-chief of the "Bulletin" and the "Cornellian," head of C. U. R. W. and the Straight Board of Managers, and strove to keep up the good work done in pre-war years.

    The Navy was granted 1:30 permission for New Year's Eve and the Army was not. Classes were held as usual on Thanksgiving Day and New Year's Day, 1944. Jan Savitt played at the New Year's Dance in Barton, and houseparties were held at the few remaining fraternities. In February our class gave the highly successful Liberty Ball in the Drill Hall, at which Lionel Hampton played. It was preceded by the Variety Show in Bailey. One of the last events in our history was the statement that the Army would discontinue most of its ASTP program.

    Those of us who stayed have seen the transformation that war has brought to our Alma Mater. We, the last of the old time, class-cutting Cornelians, saw our class depleted by high-pressure recruiting and the draft. Those who follow us have little idea of what Cornell was; at least we have a memory.


Guinevere L.Griest,
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