Enter the debunking article
Sailing into the mythic
I greatly enjoyed the article
on campus myths, especially the discussion of Ida Noyes Hall.
I must confess to having done my part in spreading the story about
the poor girl’s suicide (or murder) and the absence of sorority
houses, although to my slight credit I believe that I usually said
that the tale might be apocryphal.
As to a swimming requirement, there was none
in force when I dropped out of the University in 1952 to enter the
Navy’s aviation flight training at Pensacola, Florida. The
best that I could do was a few yards of dog-paddling, and thus,
during the 16 weeks of rigorous preflight indoctrination, I was
sent to the “sub-swim” class for two hours every day.
After I learned to relax and to take advantage of one’s natural
ability to float I emerged with a Triple A qualification card, not
at Olympic level, but able to save my life if necessary.
The program involved a lot of physical conditioning
and, although a rather unimpressive athlete, I was able to perform
at a level sufficient to remain inconspicuous, or so I thought.
One event was a three-mile run. Long-distance running was something
at which I was average, and, although it was a typical Florida summer
day with the temperature in the high 90s, I was able to trot along
over the rolling terrain without much difficulty. At one point,
however, as I came up over a grassy knoll I saw a group of fellow
cadets standing under a tree and encircling the supine form of my
totally exhausted friend from the South Side of Chicago, Jack. I
arrived just in time to hear our tough-as-nails, cigar-chewing coach,
Commander Weed, ask Jack, “What college did you go to, son?”
“Roosevelt College, Sir,” Jack replied
in a barely audible voice.
Weed then turned to the assembled group and said,
“Men, you just heard this cadet say that he attended Roosevelt
College. That is a school that is under the influence of Robert
Maynard Hutchins. You know, he is the man who said, ‘When
I get the urge to exercise I lie down until the urge passes.’
[This, too, is a myth; sorry.—Ed.] I am surprised that we
have no one here who is from the University of Chicago. Then you
would really see a puny specimen of manhood.”
Needless to say, I spent the rest of training
in mortal fear that the commander, in reviewing our personnel folders,
would somehow learn I was from the U of C. Fortunately, my dark
secret never became known and I survived without further incident.
Benjamin King, AB’58, MBA’60, PhD’64
Delray Beach, Florida
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