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Brett Tomlinson: On this episode of PAW Tracks, we talk with Richard Reinis ’66. He came to Princeton from Los Angeles, hoping to make his mark in the classroom, as a history major, and on the football field, where the Tigers were one of the East’s powerhouse teams. But his college experience was shaped by a decision he made in his sophomore year, when he proposed to his then-girlfriend, Lois. She said yes, but for a Princeton student at that time, that wasn’t enough. To get married, you also had to get permission from the dean.
Richard Reinis: Dean Lippincott and I had a conversation that I was required to have and an extended version of in loco parentis, and he asked me if I was crazy, and I told him that I was 19, and that I had known my fiancé for six years, and he relented and granted his approval. Yeah, you had to have the approval of the dean in order to do that.
Because we were married after my sophomore year we had to move off campus. There was no married student housing. So it changed the experience for me a lot, and no one had an automobile. I had an automobile because I was required to do so in order to maintain a small little bunny hutch that we lived in off of Pretty Book Road.
It was a converted bunny hutch, literally, had a sloped ceiling that went from about seven feet on the left-hand side to about five feet on the right-hand side, so as I moved from left to right inside of it I had to bend over in order not to brain myself. It was divided into a living and dining and kitchen area and a small bedroom. It had a Sears Roebuck catalog shower, and our nearest neighbors were two horses. It was a great pastoral opportunity for us, really was, but, on the other hand, everything was going on here, my daily life was here on campus, and so there was a sort of commute. And it made life for me a bit different than it was for all the other students except for the married students.
BT: Being married, Reinis lost interest in the eating club scene, but he stayed connected to fellow students through working odd jobs on campus.
RR: Well, I was part of the furniture moving company, which was kind of interesting because it was largely dedicated to moving furniture of faculty members in and out, one of whom became a president of Princeton — Bowen, right — who was a terrific guy and only a professor when I had to move his furniture. And at this time of the year we were the company that installed the tents for all Reunions, and then I worked at a 35th reunion, which was highlighted by my first exposure to seeing people consume Bloody Marys at 8 in the morning and ride unicycles — at the same time. So that was one of the extracurriculars.
I played rugby for a while, but that was much too rough.
BT: Rugby was too rough, but football was not?
RR: Absolutely, we’re wearing armor! [laughs] Guys who play rugby are insane.
BT: Playing football was, for Reinis, the most memorable extracurricular activity. He was a lineman in the dynamic single-wing offense — Princeton was one of just two major college teams running the single-wing at that time.
RR: It was a real advantage in some respects because the preparation for playing a single-wing team is unique. You have to be able to deal with double team blocks and pulling guards and pulling tackles on every play and linemen are not used to that. They are used to having their opponents come directly at them one-on-one and try to maneuver them in a direction. This was you’d get hit by two 200-plus-pound guys in those days, not 300-pounds, and then that would create an opening for a lineman who was very mobile to come through first. The disadvantage of the single wing is you have to have a very, very talented running back who can also pass. And we had several who could do that, and they were recruited for doing it, but if you’re dependent upon that high caliber skill level, running and passing in one individual, and he goes down, the team goes down. The offense is geared around him. And we had a terrific fullback named Cosmo Iacavazzi who couldn’t pass. That wasn’t his job. His job was to run over opponents and so the offense was geared around him, but he was enabled in that respect by terrifically talented tailbacks. That’s hard to find. There are more tailbacks playing in college today than ever before, but you have to be very deep and very lucky in your recruiting and then lucky not to have that one super skilled individual get hurt.
BT: One game stands out in Reinis’ memory: November 14, 1964, when undefeated Princeton took on undefeated Yale at the Yale Bowl.
RR: During the course of the first half, when Yale was leading, their defensive linemen and linebackers used a code to slant. The code would be a color, let’s say red, and they would go right, and green and they would go left. I figured out the code early on, and during halftime talked to Roy Pizzarello, who was a quarterback — which doesn’t mean he ever touched the ball, god forbid he should ever touch the ball, but he called all the plays. And I said to Pizzarello, this is their code. When we come up to the line of scrimmage, wait for them to call the color. Then we’ll all know which direction they’re going. And we had an offense called a 30 offense, which was basically we come up to the line knowing that Cosmo would get the ball, there would be some faking in the back field, but it’s basically Cosmo in this hole or that hole, and the number — he would call the number, eight, seven, six, and that would determine the angle at which Cosmo would attack on.
Well, if you knew which way your opponents were slanting it became very simple. So in the first series of downs or second series of downs in the second half he goes for 50 yards. Another 65-yard run later on in the day, and it was over.
BT: More than 50 years later, the 1964 Ivy League champion Tigers remain Princeton’s last undefeated team.
After college, Reinis went to law school and eventually found his way into business, a route that he said has had its ups and downs. Rich and Lois celebrated 52 years of marriage last June, just after the Class of 1966’s 50th reunion. They have five children and, so far, 13 grandchildren. Reinis says that if he has a legacy, it’s his family, and the quality of the people who make it up.
Our thanks to Richard Reinis for sharing his story. Brett Tomlinson produced this episode, and the music is licensed from FirstCom Music.