80 Years and Counting for Brother Mel and SMC: 1930-1939

By Erin Hallissy and Rich Davi


The Collegian evolved from a fortnightly semi-literary page in 1928 to a six-page weekly with the aim of printing “all the happenings of interest to the College and interpretation of the most significant of these happenings.” The football team was received at the White House after defeating the Fordham Rams 20–12 in New York.


A new activity fee of $1 was levied on all students (although not everyone paid). Enough was raised to buy a College banner to use at athletic contests, to send the yell leader to the UCLA game, to provide transportation expenses for varsity debaters and to present an award to the College band organizer.


The executive council of the Associated Students of Saint
Mary’s College selected a standard senior ring design,
which each member of the senior class had to adhere to, and allowed a coach to increase from three to six the Block M athletics sweaters, a very popular act among students.


The graduating class termed itself the “Depression Class,” since they had entered in fall 1929 and spent all four College years in the throes of economic instability. The class failed to stage the traditional informal dance and did not present a gift to the College.


Brother Agnon, the legendary Saint Mary’s Phoenix baseball coach in the late 1800s and early 1900s, died. His highly regarded teams, which included Hall of Famer Harry Hooper ’07, led Baseball Magazine to write in 1916 of SMC that “Connie Mack has a standing offer for the star pitcher there each year, and every scout who goes to the Coast has a chat with Brother Agnon.”


Brother U. Albert Rahill took over SMC presidency, becoming the youngest college president in the United States.


Snow blanketed the campus. The Moraga Quarterly, the College’s literary magazine, completed its sixth year of publishing a variety of essays and scholarly presentations on issues ranging from religion, philosophy and history to science and math.


The College band, in aluminum dough-boy hats, red coats and sweaters and blue pants, played Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude in C Minor” and other classical pieces to surprised football fans.


SMC celebrated its Diamond Anniversary (75 years) and conducted an international peace convention attended by representatives from all Northern California colleges and universities.


The Gaels defeated Texas Tech 20–13 in the Cotton Bowl, and Madigan left the College with a 117–45–12 overall record in 19 seasons.


Inspired by marionette shows at the Treasure Island World’s Fair, young Harold began creating them himself with his older cousin, a commercial artist who painted faces on the characters. Other childhood hobbies included tap dancing as a member of an Oakland troupe that performed in the Bay Area and Santa Cruz and building a small stage in his home’s basement where he put on variety shows for neighbors.