80 Years and Counting for Brother Mel and SMC: 1940-1949

By Erin Hallissy and Rich Davi

1942 - Navy Pre-flight School.


The first Catholic intercollegiate formal dance in the
area was held at the “swanky” San Francisco Country Club; a then all-time high of 14 dances was held during the school year.


The Great Books program, referred to as World Classics and Seminar Studies, was established at SMC under James Hagerty.
Passenger service to SMC on the Sacramento Northern line ended.


The graduating class was thinned by the draft and America’s entry into World War II post-Pearl Harbor. Jim Phelan was hired as head football coach after his predecessor Norman “Red” Strader left for the Navy to fight in the war. The Navy Pre-flight School opened on campus to train pilots for the war.


At age 14, Harold left Claremont Junior High School and enrolled at Saint Mary’s High School in Berkeley. He participated in war bond rallies and collected scrap metal for the war effort.


Former College President Brother Albert returned to SMC after two years at Manhattan College in New York. The popular Brother was dean of resident students.


Gaels football received a bid to the Sugar Bowl (losing to Oklahoma A&M on Jan. 1, 1946); sophomore Herman Wedemeyer is named All-American and “the country’s leading sports celebrity.”


In August, as the atomic bombs were
falling on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Harold entered the Junior Novitiate at Mont La Salle in Napa.


The Drama Society sparked a theatrical revival on campus, led by dynamo director Yale Mayer, who produced two plays in the first year.


After graduating from Mont La Salle, Harold was robed as a Christian Brother and took the name Brother Timothy Mel, honoring his Irish mother by taking the name of Saint Patrick’s nephew, Saint Mel.


The Gaels lost to Georgia Tech 41–19 in the Oil Bowl.


Brother Mel took first vows and entered the Scholasticate (the Christian Brothers’ house of studies) at Saint Mary’s College.


Bob Hope’s radio show was broadcast from Madigan Gym.


The College community was saddened by the death of chaplain and professor emeritus the Rev. Jean Marie Ribeyron. In October, the Bells of Saint Mary’s, a 25-note set of bells, were dedicated. The hours have since been tolled with the Westminster Chimes.