Wednesday, September 10, 2014


        The spring of 1947, my final semester as a Princeton undergraduate, was in full swing. I could not have been busier, with the baseball season underway, a heavy class schedule to keep up with, senior comprehensives and final exams looming on the horizon, my senior thesis to complete, and Nassoon engagements, rehearsals, concerts, and business affairs demanding an inordinate amount of my time.
        All the while I was maintaining an intense correspondence with Margie, my most enjoyable activity by far. We were, as the saying goes, madly in love. On her birthday the Nassoons serenaded her with our own special arrangement of “Happy Birthday to You.” We sang it through once straight vanilla, and then again with the melody buried somewhere in the midst of the wildest six-part chords anyone ever heard. She loved it!
        The Nassoons’ concert schedule had been filling up to the point that we were having to turn down some invitations. We had been booked since way back in October for the Wellesley Senior Prom on Saturday, April 26. It was beginning to look, however, as if we might not be able to muster up a full complement of Nassoons for that occasion because of various conflicts that had developed, including the fact that the Princeton baseball team was scheduled to play at home against Army that same afternoon. Only if the game was rained out would I be able to make it to Wellesley!
Only if our game with Army was rained out would
I be able to make it to the Wellesley Senior Prom!
        Margie was devastated when I first informed her of that conflict. So was I! And so were the rest of the Nassoons, some of whom had conflicts of their own.  In my letter to Margie dated April 17 I wrote 
It’s been a struggle getting enough Nassoons to make the trip on the 26th. It seems that everything under the sun is happening that same weekend and causing all sorts of conflicts — baseball games, crew practice, (Theater) Intime dress rehearsal (affecting Bill Rogers), recordings in N.Y. Sat. afternoon by the “Tigers” (affecting Al Burr), glee club concert with the New Jersey Symphony (Steve Kurtz), and something else of a semi-official nature affecting Jack Pemberton. Then, too, the fellows are finessing the ‘48 and ‘46 Proms, although we finally decided to sing at the latter. We also turned down a couple of other invitations for that weekend, including one to Bryn Mawr’s Senior Prom on the 26th.
        Despite all these seemingly insurmountable barriers, the Nassoons to a man were determined to fulfill our commitment to sing at the Wellesley Senior Prom. “We can’t let Margie down!” they said. I felt that I was the one letting her and them down, and my fellow ‘Soons were doing their best to console me. Al Burr had to do his recordings with the “Tigers” orchestra that afternoon, but he vowed to catch a train to Boston as soon as they were finished. He would miss the afternoon activities but was determined to be there in time to sing at the Prom.
        Bill Rogers and Jack Pemberton both said they would be there to sing at the Prom Saturday
night, but could not stay for the entire weekend. Our hostesses had planned a wonderful Sunday outing for us all at a camp in New London, Connecticut. Jeff Penfield, Steve Kurtz, and I were the three ‘Soons with unavoidable conflicts. Fortunately our capable alternate, Herb Spencer, was available that weekend, bringing the available total to ten voices with at least two of each part. So the “Soons were good to go!
        Meanwhile, Margie was busy lining up an attractive date for each Nassoon and taking orders for our soon-to-be-released album. There was much excitement on the Wellesley campus in anticipation of the visit of the highly touted Princeton Nassoons. Despite my urging her to ask one of the ‘Soons to be her date, Margie refused in the hopeful expectation that it was going to rain in Princeton that Saturday, the baseball game would be cancelled, and I would be able to come.
        On Friday night, April 25, I sang with the Nassoons at the Class of ‘46 Prom. In the those post-WWII years with so many servicemen returning to complete their education under the G. I. Bill, every graduating class had men (Princeton was not yet coed )who had matriculated in many different classes. We all were given the option of identifying with our graduating class or the class with which he had matriculated. It was interesting that almost everyone chose to identify with the latter. So in the Class of ‘46, for example, there were students who would be graduating over a span of six or seven years, depending upon when they had left college to go into the service. So each of the “war” classes had their own Prom. That’s why I refer to “the ‘46 Prom” instead of to “the Senior Prom.” Jim, Buck, Ed Knetzger, and I, all ‘46ers, were thus able to attend our own class Prom, though I left right after we sang.
        The Nassoons had also been invited to sing at the Class of ‘48 Prom, as I mentioned, but had to decline because of our Wellesley engagement. The main group left for Boston Saturday morning, which, Margie’s prayers notwithstanding, was a beautiful sunny day! I saw my fellow ‘Soons off at the Dinky Station with my well-wishes, and my special greetings to a certain Wellesley lass who had been hoping for a rainy day.
        Little did I or they know how my plans would change!
        To be continued.

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