Choose a decade to read excerpts from some of the reminiscences already received:
Don Harkness JE’51
I dearly recall my afternoon teas with Dr. French, our College Master, with fondness and nostalgia.
Bob Gordon JE’52
It is October 1949 and as we approach the JE common room we encounter a prominently posted notice. Latin is (fortunately) no longer required for admission but we find a classmate to translate; it is an admonition from Master French deprecating the discharge of fireworks in the college courtyard. His choice of language assured our attention.
We pick up our GI-style metal trays with its little recesses into which our allotted fare will be placed, and pass on through the line with no need for decisions about food choices; there are none. In the Great Hall, under its massive hammer beams, we find a reminder of former gentility in the proper silver (plate) tableware. The room is crowded; many of our classmates have returned from the war to complete their degrees.
JE was the least popular of the colleges. It was the smallest, and reputed to be somewhat more intellectual than the ‘shoe’ colleges. But JE also had a reputation for music. Junior year we had the Grand Gala Gottschalk Concert in the common room, then full size, without its later dividing partition. Beekman Cannon for JE with Basil Duke Henning for Saybrook in period attire played four-hand music by Louis M. Gottschalk, the flamboyant late 19th c American composer-pianist. It was a grand event.
Earl Mossberg and I, the two JE physics majors, particularly appreciated lunches with JE fellow Ernie Pollard. Up the hill in Sloane Lab, Ernie had the very first Yale research in biophysics underway, then a novel departure for a very traditional department. Our lunchtime conversations encouraged my future interest in geophysics, another wedding of somewhat unwilling academic partners. The college system was doing what it was supposed to do, encouraging such conversations.
George Hill JE’53
Jonathan Edwards was then believed to be a somewhat lower-class college.
Students at Yale who didn’t go to war went to JE.
I remember Sunday night suppers with melted cheese and toast as the main course. “Welsh rarebit,” sounds elegant. It isn’t.
Don Langley JE’55
It was during my days in JE (I think it was the 1953-54 scholastic year) that Yale finally implemented fully the “college concept” adopted/adapted from Oxford: seminar-style classes, exclusive to residents of the college, were instituted. JE was the first or one of the first colleges to do so.
Mike Foster JE’58
The other beyond the classroom experience that I recall with great fondness was my friendship with then Master, Willam H. Dunham.
The two recollections that come instantly to mind are the annual JE Orgy in winter, and the many spontaneous conversations that sprang up from time to time in the dining hall. The former was the social highlight of the year, while the latter stimulated friendships and encouraged the valuable kind of learning that can only occur beyond the classroom.
Austin Hoyt JE’59
In the days before and after World War II when students could select their residential colleges, JE was attractive to those interested in drama and the arts, not those interested in athletics. Its reputation as somewhat less than manly was enhanced by the fact that JE was one of two 4F colleges during World War II. That is, it accepted students who were rejected by the armed services.
Sandy Ellis JE’60
The dinner tables were pushed aside in the Common Room and replaced with mattresses so we could eat and drink horizontally.
Bruce Chabner JE’61
The major source of diversity was public versus private school, and I clearly didn’t fit in with the latter.
The returning Korean war vets thought their fellow undergraduates were impossibly immature and unworldly.
The JE basement was a catacomb.
JE housed a thoroughly roughneck student body that included a native American fullback who roamed the roof tops of JE and neighboring buildings, the dog pack that road their motorcycles in and out of the entry ways, and a roving bridge game that should have qualified for at least five credit hours per semester
Our favorite past time was shooting water balloons through curtain rods at pedestrians from the roof top of Weir Hall. Somehow, and in spite of ourselves, we did get an education.
Thomas Terry JE’61
Towards the end of freshman year, I scheduled an audition with the JE Jesters, one of the dozen+ a cappella singing groups at Yale, and the only one which still drew its membership exclusively from singers residing in the college.
Donald Cooke JE’63
Moving into J.E. sophomore year 1960. 120 VDC power! Suddenly all the geeky Electrical Engineering majors were popular. And the outside walls looked like an old Italian apartment building with all the extension cords smuggling AC power up from the basement.
Ron Sipherd JE’64
Beekman Cannon’s music-appreciation seminar at JE informed my confused appreciation of classical music
Mark Blum JE’64 ET AL
On a rainy spring day when our rooming group found that it had been assigned to Jonathan Edwards, we visited the mournful courtyard, muddy and unusually populated with various different crops popping up in different places. We received condolences from the current residents. They had randomly strewn all kinds of seeds in the mud yard which had had no significant grass for some time.
JG Wolf JE’66
JE was easy to live in, small and intimate; our jackets and ties hung in the cloakroom soupstained and well-experienced
Someone, perhaps I, thought it might be fun to have fires in our fireplaces, so with much enthusiasm and little knowledge—a common state for Yalies to undertake action— we set out to look for some wood. The “Yellow Pages” directed us to a wood vendor who agreed to send us a cord of wood for something like $40, a real sum in those days, so we agreed, not having the slightest idea how much wood made up a cord. We all learned that day when the flatbed showed up that a cord is a lot of wood. Soon we had wood in the entries, wood in the stairwells, wood in every closet, wood under every bed, wood wood wood and more wood. We had it for months. Smoke poured from chimneys all over JE. We sold it to friends in other colleges; we burned it every night; for a few weeks we turned JE into a miniature version of London in 1880s.
J Harvie Wilkinson III JE’67
Beekman Cox Cannon, the master of the College, did not want a single blade of grass disturbed.
Perhaps the fun we had in college would induce even in the great Puritan the faintest trace of a smile.
JE was also home to the Roman Orgy, a bacchanalian rite out of place with the prim courtyard, but one that was probably tolerated by Beek because it was beneath his dignity to pay much notice
Michael Yogg JE’68
When I had his [Professor Hamlin’s] attention I blurted out, “That’s all fine about Goethe but who is this Goethe?” (making the second Goethe rhyme with “both”). I soon learned.
Bill Packard JE’72
It was horrible being at an all male school, where about half the students had graduated from private schools.
Even though women were a very small percentage of the class, the atmosphere changed dramatically throughout the college
Michael Tietz JE’74
JE events that stand out most were participating in opera performances in the dining room/ Great Hall. The most memorable was Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea, for which a stairway was built from the floor of the Hall up to the balcony on the end
Jonathan Arnold JE’75
I still consider myself fortunate to have met two JE fellows, Gallup and Thornton Wilder
Kevin Wells JE’75
It was known as The Spider’s Ball from the very beginning.
John Carey JE’76
It turned out that each of the residential colleges had its own eight-oared shell in the boathouse on a lagoon near the Yale Bowl. Who knew? Hardly anyone in JE did, apparently, since I was told that JE’s boat hadn’t been in the water in many years
The other colleges’ crews didn’t expect much from us. Not only had most of us never rowed before, we were also one of the few (perhaps only) crews to include women in the boat. Then we won our first race.
Ted Barnett JE’76
I want to go on record as having recently revised the Yale Bladderball Wikipedia entry. The ball was grabbed with a fishing gaff, not a meat hook (as was originally stated). I know this for a fact because the fishing gaff belonged to my father
I am not sure how I was appointed to that position—other than that I showed an interest in planning the actual stealing of the bladderball. Up until that point there had been loud declarations from various students that we SHOULD steal the bladderball but nobody had an actual plan
The plan was that the flying wedge would get near the ball and then charge away from the ball, toward the area between the two buildings (Connecticut and McClellan) at which time the two stationary wedges would move into action, forming ranks behind the ball… As luck would have it, the plan worked far better than anyone had anticipated and JE took control of the ball within about 30-60 seconds of its release from Phelps Gate.
Jay Mead JE’76
The shortest gladdest years of life.
Delightful to re-live what, in retrospect, was the high point of all of our college careers (and lives perhaps!), except for, of course, the carefree hours spent in the JE Purge-O-Rama (eventually to morph into the Happy Hootar Cafe–is there no end to gladsome memories?), and the Great Hall of the People, the voice of Margaret Cannon ever ringing forth in timeless peroration: “There will be no copulation in the Great Hall!”
Patrice Le Melle JE’80
Not unlike a few folks, my time at Yale was fraught with complicated and, sometimes, very difficult experiences and feelings. Nevertheless, entering the JE courtyard always provided a bit of solace
Bruce Cohen JE’84
The beautiful wood paneling of the Hall echoes with the sound of my friend, Setsu Tokayasu, performing Mozart’s 23rd Piano Concerto with the Orchestra, which was made up of approximately fifty undergraduate instrumentalists (most of whom lived in Jonathan Edwards College). What a beautiful setting, what wonderful acoustics and what a wonderful time it was.
Richard Kim JE’88
The grand prize turned out to be a slip and slide, which we put out onto the grass in the middle of the college and made an absolute mud pit of the field just in time for graduation.
Carla Power JE’88
Among the many joys of JE: how easy it was to leave it, and to slip through the fence into the Sculpture Garden in the back of the Art Gallery. On spring nights, my room-mates Margaret Young, Aileen Tsui and I would hop up on the wall, inhale, slide between the bars of the fence, and have the Henry Moore to ourselves.
Kim Easter JE’90
The greasy festive Buttery, and delectable grilled cheese sandwiches soaked in butter.
Johanna Woll JE’90
Yes, we had keys. The kind that jingle.
Anittah Patrick JE’99
It used to be you could clamber out here any old time you wanted, this patch of grass atop a building which to Midwestern me seemed some sort of impossible wow
Arpit Garg JE’07
JE students did not view themselves as limited by the past. JE was our institution, through and through. It was our home, and that meant we could shape it, and evolve it, to meet our needs and interests. And that’s among the many many reasons why I so fondly recall my time in JE.
Norie Pride-Womack JE’08
The Taft Libraries were quiet and filled with natural light, the perfect environment for deep work. They were just hidden enough to feel like a place of my own, my own little corner of campus that I could claim just for me and my fellow spiders. I felt a profound sense of connection to those who came before me, and of belonging.
Bobby Gibbs JE’10
The pressures of finals do weird things to people. For seven days in Spring 2009 I studied, wrote, ate, studied a bit more and even slept in the gazebo. I brought my sleeping bag out there and brought dining hall meals out as well.
Zach Groff JE’13
Everyone on campus wanted a ticket to Spider Ball.
Culture draw was one of the talking points for admitted students about how great residential colleges are, and it was every bit as fun as it sounded. I loved going to see “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” with JE fellow Kem Edwards and a few of my friends and classmates. I met new people I would never have run into, and in Kem I saw someone whose retirement made me look forward to mine.
Russel Cohen JE’17
The interactions shared by students forge an energy, a vibrancy, a spirit of joy and common purpose. JE is a home because it is a family and a web in which the strongest bonds of friendship are connected. That is its true magic. That is why it remains so central in our hearts long after we have exited its gates
What makes JE so special? Perhaps it’s the college’s incredible traditions. Spider Ball, swinging the night away in our finest attire. The Great Awakening, with bounce houses, sumo wrestling, and delicious barbecue. Wet Monday, the bizarre water fight ritual clearly originating in an earlier era of school rules. Midnight pizza in the Froco suite, an event never to be missed. Fireside Brunches at the graduate club, all getting to know each other better. Screenings in the Great Hall, whether cheering together through the Super Bowl or crying together at election results. College Teas attended by authors and entrepreneurs, senators and songwriters. Paskus Mellon forums, raising our glasses and hearing our friends explain research on topics totally new to us. Senior week, playing croquet on the lawn and getting collectively buzzed at the Jonathan Edwards winery. The freshman dinner, learning Bright College years from Ken Edwards, seeming to be the human embodiment of Yale, and the senior dinner, cheering for our classmates’ dedication to their studies and to the community. Graduation, our friends and loved ones watching us walk across the lawn one last time, wearing caps and gowns that had to have been given to us by mistake.