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Apr.†25, 2012

Vol. 112, No. 11

Lessons from Princeton’s history

Posted on April†18, 2012

In the fall of 1936 I moved into 5 North Middle Reunion, a dreary apartment with two narrow rooms, one containing a fireplace that once had heated the entire apartment. In 1938 I acquired a congenial roommate and a pleasant apartment at 21 North West with a large living room and a good size bedroom, right over the old U-store. Senior year we moved up to 42 North West, with a very large living room and two good-sized bedrooms. Living in West was a pleasure; Reunion Hall living was depressing.

Reunion Hall was demolished some years after our graduation, and I learned that John F. Kennedy had roomed there from September 1935 until Christmas of that year. Also, James Stewart ’32 had roomed in Reunion in 1928-29. Naturally, I wondered if either of them had occupied 5NMR. †

My younger son, now retired, was claiming that one can find any information on the Internet, so I challenged him to find whether John or Jimmy had lived in 5NMR. It took him five minutes to find that John had lived at 9 South Reunion. It took him almost three hours to find that “as freshmen they were assigned to the worst housing on campus: a single room they shared in Reunion Hall,” from a biography of James Stewart by Marc Eliot, published in 2006. Obviously not 5NMR, so I conceded. †

Looking back, Princeton dropped the ball at least once:

1. To paraphrase: While incoming freshmen are all equal, some are more equal than others. Just don’t assign a Bill Bradley [’65] to Reunion Hall.

2. Relics are valuable: The Coliseum, Pompeii, even Venice, are not demolished, but treasured. Let’s hope that Princeton grads will be going back to Nassau Hall for centuries to come.

Harold L. Crane ’40
Santa Barbara, Calif.

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