More than fifty years ago, Ephs took the field against Wesleyan.
Tomorrow, they do the same. And ten years from now. And one hundred. Do our Eph football players recognize their history? Do you?
TB Jones ’58 (my father’s roommate) played varsity squash at Williams. I remember seeing his picture in one of the many team photos that used to line the walls of the old gym. Walking by those old photographs each day for practice provided me with a great sense of the history that I was becoming a part of. Years later, those emotions were perfectly captured by Robin Williams in “The Dead Poet’s Society” when he takes his class to view the pictures of past students at their fictional New England prep school.
From the script:
Keating turns towards the trophy cases, filled with trophies, footballs, and team pictures.
KEATING: “Now I would like you to step forward over here and peruse some of the faces from the past. You’ve walked past them many times. I don’t think you’ve really looked at them.”
The students slowly gather round the cases and Keating moves behind them.
KEATING: “They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you. Their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because you see gentlmen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in.”
The boys lean in and Keating hovers over Cameron’s shoulder.
KEATING (whispering in a gruff voice): “Carpe.”
Cameron looks over his shoulder with an aggravated expression on his face.
KEATING: “Hear it?” (whispering again) “Carpe. Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”
The boys stare at the faces in the cabinet in silence.
Decades from now there will be another young man at Williams who will walk down those halls on his way to practice. Perhaps he will play squash like TB Jones and I did (although I hope that he plays more like TB than like me). Whatever his future might hold, I hope that he sees our pictures and wonders about us, about where we went from Williams and how prepared we were for the journey. I hope that he realizes how fortunate he is.
Does new football coach Mark Raymond remind his players of the history of those who have gone before? Does he know their names and their stories?
I hope so.
Williams may win or lose tomorrow. Given the fact that the team has struggled all season, that the seniors have lost at Homecoming every year that they have been at Williams and that Wesleyan comes into the game as one of the top teams in NESCAC, a victory tomorrow would be one of the sweetest in years, all the more so because no (?) neutral observer gives Williams any chance at all.
Did Frank Uible ’57 win or lose the games he played against Wesleyan more than 50 year ago? In the longer sweep of history, one game, one loss, is as dust in the corridors of memory. What matters is the day itself, and the place we each occupy within the traditions of the Williams community.
No one remembers the score of the game these men played 100 years ago. But we look in their faces and see ourselves.
I am Frank Uible ’57. Who are you?
[Thanks to EphBlog regular “nuts” and Williams Sports Information for the photos. Note that the original post in this series did not include a YouTube clip because YouTube did not exist. Old Time is still a-flying.]