By Erin Hallissy
Something about decades-old yearbooks kept drawing me in over the past two months. In researching notable events in the College’s 80-year history in Moraga, I found myself sidetracked, devouring poetry written by students of long ago, skimming stories of grand football and basketball victories and defeats and being captivated by the antics of students who apparently terrorized freshmen, figured out ways to get around rules and expressed sincere gratitude for professors and Brothers.
The pictures of College dances from different eras told the story of changing fashions, from men in ties and slacks and women in dresses to the casual attire of jeans, T-shirts and miniskirts. Each year’s highlights, from trips abroad to the activities of Eire Oge, the Dante Club and the Forensics Team, kept me from returning to my computer to keep up with e-mail.
The College’s annuals from the 1930s were particularly interesting, not just because I could see the photos of my father, James ’35, on the only college hurling team in the country. I was impressed by the spirit of the young men on campus who filled pages with vignettes about “Silva and his drum corps at the California game,” “fighting the brush fire in back of the College,” “Rice making sport of an injured pal,” and “rollicking in the snow.”
Those old yearbooks, with embossed covers, vellum pages, hand drawings and tributes to team and individual accomplishments, also included essays on topics ranging from the annoyance of telephones (imagine what author Bob McAndrews ’32 now thinks in the cell phone era!) to the Mosaic law of “Corners,” which Edward C. Schaefer ’34 says “forbade the gleaning of every grape from the arbors, or the gathering of every sheaf of grain from the fence corners.” Back in 1933, Schaefer lamented that men “are so involved in the present complications of the mad scramble for wealth that the great majority of them fail miserably in gaining any appreciation of the finer things that life offers…”
With a drop in student interest, time and dedication, along with a new culture of connecting on social networking Internet sites like Facebook, college yearbooks are becoming an endangered species. It would be a shame if they went away at Saint Mary’s. Just like the Great Books, they show us that the more things change, the more they stay the same.