"The best
place in
the world
to be."

So said Frank H.T. Rhodes,
a longtime friend of '44,
at the time of his
retirement in 1994

'44's contribution to his book
of Class mementos follows.

L-R '81 interview;
1977 Inauguration;
Barton Orientation;
Reporting out!

In concert, this fifth day of November, nineteen hundred and ninety-four, each of the fifty-four officers of the World War II decimated but still dynamic Class of '44 (a typical group is shown at the top right), do make this unanimous

Declaration of Affection

       When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for we fifty-four spokespersons to expound on the desires and wishes of our solemn, silent, and severely scattered seven hundred and seventy-nine brethren and sisthren, each of whom in the years subsequent to the year nineteen hundred and forty-four hath pursued Life, Liberty, and Happiness to the fullest, and it remains for we fifty-four Class Officers to summarize, as is our right and as is our duty, the history and the reign of the present ruler of our extensive land grant - that's you Frank Harold Trevor Rhodes - we have determined - collectively and individually. after desultory deliberation - that no clear presence of abuses, usurpations, or definable despotism exists on the one hand but, on the other, that we verify that a formidable and unexplainable array of evidence exists in the public record that you, Frank Harold Trevor Rhodes, in your infrequent dealings with the Class of 1944 did not exercise reasonable prudence and probity on all occasions and, therefore, in seeking only native justice and in the interest of consanguinity, we endorsers of this Declaration - having lived through some bad times and being living proof that some bad times can be lived through, do, in petitioning for redress and submitting these facts and these pluses and minuses to the candid world hold these truths to be self-evident:

       That on the ninth day of June in the year nineteen hundred and ninety-four you did, at a sumptuous feast at which you were our most welcome guest of honor, make light of the cumulative tithing efforts of our good people, and in an inexplicable and unconscionable demonstration of poor taste did refer to our oversize instrument of equity that we had given to you - a CityCorp check drawn in the amount of $3.184 million - as being "rubber."

       The fact that this sizable contribution reflected an enormous outpouring of goodwill on our part and the instrument of transfer was, in actuality, an absolutely worthless two-foot by four-foot Styrofoam replica (photo at right), and the fact that just prior to your acceptance of said instrument, this symbol did fall from its tripod not once but twice and actually did bounce on each occasion, were, in the opinion of our assembled septuagenarians, insufficient reasons for any jocularity on your part. (Sir, that gizmo symbolized three million bucks! . . We have to give you a grade of "C" for this outrageous flippancy!)

       On this same occasion, in adopting the chameleon-like behavior so characteristic of many other of today's leaders you then fit your ensuing remarks quite expertly to what this large assemblage of '44's wanted to hear, and with well-researched verities you expounded at great length on the trials and tribulations experienced during World War II as experienced by the Cornellians shown in the bottom left photo and gathered before you, raising the self-esteem of everyone present once again to new heights and even bringing forth one meek "Hurrah!" from the back of the tent. (Give yourself two “Attaboys!” for this, Frank!)

       And, then while joyful tears of recollection and remembrance were still In the eyes of many, and while an "Isn't he great?" buzz began to circulate and gain momentum under the big tent, you again shocked everyone present by belittling our class emblem (shown at top left) stressing that our emblem's motto was couched in Latin that, at best, resembled Yugoslavian doggerel; commenting that you had been presented with four differing faculty translations that, in their totality, confirmed the obvious faultiness of our Class motto's wordage; and that, as ruler of the realm, you were in a position to offer discounted remedial summer school Latin instruction to any and all of the assembled.

       Despite this unbelievable affront, not one soft or hard roll was thrown, nor did anyone present stand up and shout that the four disparate faculty translations exposed an obviously quite serious and most flagrant weakness in your Latin Department . . Some would have it that '44 showed its complete couth on that occasion by not rebutting your intolerant statements; others would contend that most of us simply were in a state of complete shock!

       Is that all? . . Not exactly . . We left the campus in the '40's. It was serene, beautiful, verdant. In the 50 years that followed countless holes, excavations, and erections have changed the exquisite vision we recall as being “our campus”. . You are certainly responsible for a part of this half century of environmental desecration, and we have to give you a failing grade here.

       In the interim, some unthinking, uncaring administrator also took a good part of the joy out of campus life by cementing the corrugated steel mesh of our beloved suspension bridge - a passage that guaranteed an oscillating thrill for every yard walked, and a promenade that assured that couples who traversed it sooner or later did so in some form of embrace. We can't be certain you were involved in this transgression as well as the unthinkable conversion of our Beebe Lake Johnny Parsons fountain and after hours retreat to a poorly-stocked 7-Eleven. We hope and assume these actions were done before your watch. But if they weren't, add more "minuses" to your transcript.

       And, finally, it behooves us to mention - and this Is not a trivial, casual bleat and one that, in closing, we simply cannot overlook - apparently it was during your administration that canines were banned from our many quadrangles, and that sir, was an unbelievable and totally unnecessary action, and the decision to make it was truly not one becoming a supposedly loved and respected "Cornellian."

       Now . . having said our collective piece in several hundred words - and having strived at length to generate a detectable degree of humility on your part - however small - we have almost reached the bottom line . .But before we do, we extend an open invitation to you in your pre-retirement days - while you still have all of your faculties to rebut any of the foregoing, but at the same time, please don’t think unkindly of us for reciting all of the foregoing trumped-up castigations - and that they were. Remember that even a falsehood written in script is still a falsehood - and blame us not for loading up this epistle with everything but the kitchen sink - and just for good measure, we've thrown that in, too! (lower right photo). .

       You see, it’s this way . . we were educated once and it took years for many of us to get over it. But as you might expect, we've saved the very best for the very last . . The theme of this unique scrapbook is tied directly to your spoken words, “Cornell - the Best Place in the World to Be,” a statement with which we, as signatories, all agree and to which we utter a loud and fervent “Amen!”

       In other pages of this magnificent memento to which all classes have hastened to contribute, more serious writers have devoted ample space to your countless contributions to Cornell and to the astounding growth of our University to world-class status during the eighteen years of your stewardship.

       These, President Rhodes, the undersigned gloss over quickly as "givens" . . It remains for us to set down in hard copy in the only paragraph in this whole kerbosh that has true meaning just four straight-from-the-heart phrases that will tell you what our entire Class of '44 is thinking at this point in time: "You were simply great.. You made our University greater.. We are very proud of you .. We are going to miss you."

 
 
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