22 March 2011
Frank Deford & Princeton Eating Clubs
Ivy Eating Club
Cottage Eating Club
Tiger Inn Eating Club
Cannon Eating Club
Quadrangle Eating Club (1962 Bric A Brac - Double click to enlarge)
Excerpt from The Trad interview with Frank Deford:
The Trad: Were you in an eating club?
Frank Deford: Oh sure, everybody was. That was one of the problems with Princeton. Every year they had this thing called "bicker" in which you were selected for a club. It was a cruel, dog eat dog process. Talk about law of the jungle. It was an awful process. I won't go into that, but everybody was in a club except five or six guys who weren't chosen by anybody. They were called 'hundred percenters' which is an awful term.
TT: Hundred percenters?
FD: It means that if they had been selected, 100% of the class would have gone into clubs. But these five or six guys didn't. So, they were tagged with the term 'hundred percenters. In other words they weren't a hundred percent but everyone else was.
TT: That's brutal.
FD: I'm not sure how the term started but that's what it meant. It meant, "you loser." It was like wearing a scarlet letter on your forehead.
TT: Amazing. What club were you in?
FD: I was in Ivy which was the oldest club. Very interesting club. In many respects it had the reputation of most snobbish and there certainly was a snobbish element to it. But the other part of it was, it would take in really different kinds of people, like me. And so it was sort of a bifurcated club.
Frank Wisner, who's been in the news the last couple of weeks because he was the ambassador to Egypt. Frank was in Ivy with me. That just occurred to me. It was a good experience. I enjoyed Ivy. Bill Bradley was in Cottage which was -- Well, you don't think of clubs having rivals but Cottage was the next thing to Ivy.
TT: I'm looking at your class. Some of the clubs look very small.
FD: Yeah, Ivy was a small club.
TT: There you are on the front row. Third from the right.Some others clubs. Terrace looks pretty big. Tiger Inn...
FD: Tiger was the jocks and Cannon Club was the real tough jocks.
FD: I mean they all had reputations. Quadrangle was sort of the do-gooders. Like Kit Bond, who was the senator from MO who just retired. Kit was in Quadrangle. Every club wanted to have a reputation...otherwise you were just another club.
TT: I'm looking at Cannon and you're right...they look like a bunch of jocks...
FD (Laughing) Yea, the 'Gun' we called it. They had parties in which the beer would be an inch thick on the floor, but there were a lot of really bright guys in Cannon. You couldn't paint everybody with the same broad brush in a club.
I remember a guy, Carl Belz, who was the starting center on the Basketball team -- Carl was in Cannon but he went on to be a professor -- I can't remember his specialty but he's lead a very esoteric and academic life. It was a fascinating time. We were an in-between generation.
TT: How do you mean?
FD: Well, if you look at the generation that came before -- WWII. Then the tag end of that was the Korean war, and after us came all the boomers and they were the ones that tore up the 1960s. Everybody talked about how work changed in the 1960s. That was after us -- We were the hammock in between greatest generation and the wildest generation.
We didn't do dope or anything like that. That wasn't around then. We certainly didn't protest. There was nothing to protest. So it was a very quiet time in a way. But it probably allowed you to put your life in order. Better than the other generations.
Check out Mr Deford's new one, Bliss Remembered.