Friday, September 20, 2013

Lemons for a New President

Stephen Harvard, Class of 1970
"It appears that Dartmouth has bought another lemon for President." These words do not refer to Dartmouth’s newest President, Philip J. Hanlon, Class of 1977, but they do refer to man who was president of the College when Phil was a student, John Kemeny.

In May of 1970, just two months into his new presidency, Kemeny found himself facing a major crisis. The US incursion into Cambodia on May 1 followed closely by the shooting of four students at Kent State by Ohio National Guardsmen had students around the country, and at Dartmouth, threatening to strike. In his oral history Kemeny states "I think in a very real sense, I feel that I fully assumed the duties of president of Dartmouth College in the half hour between 8:30 p.m. that Monday and 9:00 p.m." In following hours he made the bold decision to cancel classes for the coming week to facilitate discussion and allow tempers to cool.

The Manchester Union Leader, then a Nationally known newspaper with a reputation for being one of the most conservative news outlets of its time, ran a front page editorial with the headline "Dartmouth Buys Another Lemon." In a perfect example of the old adage, if life gives you lemons, make lemonade, both students and faculty adopted the lemon as the symbol of the week. Students made tee shirts and posters and a delegation of faculty presented Kemeny with a miniature lemon tree.

On behalf of his colleagues, Professor of Biology, Tom
Roos presents President Kemeny with a miniature lemon tree.
The week happened to culminate with Green Key weekend and the students asked their new President to speak. At the end of his speech Kemeny threw lemons out to the crowd. Many of these were brought back to him by students to be autographed.

We certainly hope that President Hanlon will not have to face a similar crisis so early in his tenure. But if he does, he only has to look to Kemeny for an example of how best to deal with it.

Listen to Kemeny describe the "lemon incident," or read the entire transcript.

To see the Stephen Harvard poster ask for Broadside 970240


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Letter From Judy

One is repeatedly surprised by unexpected human connections that come to light among our manuscript holdings, to wit, a short letter from Judy Garland to the author, Charles Jackson, thanking him for a Christmas gift and a poem he wrote just for her. Jackson met Garland in Hollywood in 1944 when he was there for several months during the filming of The Lost Weekend, the movie version of his bestselling novel of the same title, which remains an iconic example of the literature of addiction. (One wonders if Judy read it?)

Jackson lived from 1944 - 1954 in Orford, New Hampshire, and during that time, became friends with Herbert West, Class of 1922, long a Professor of Comparative Literature here at the College and founder of the Friends of the Dartmouth College Library. That connection led to the presentation of the original manuscript of The Lost Weekend to the Dartmouth College Library in 1949.

Judy's signed letter, as well as Jackson's poem for her, and the manuscript of The Lost Weekend are now exhibited in the Class of 1965 Galleries in Rauner Special Collections Library as part of the exhibit, "The Lost Weekend and Dartmouth; selections from the Papers of Charles R. Jackson exhibited in commemoration of the 64th anniversary of Jackson’s presentation of the manuscript of his best-selling novel to the Dartmouth College Library on October 28, 1949."

The exhibit will be on view through November 30, 2013.