This story is a prequel to the excellent series of the early ‘50s recently penned by Brother Don Ayers.
First let me set the scene. I was among 86 high-point, combat veterans to enter a special class which Lafayette started in early November, 1945, to catch up with the freshmen of the already formed Class of 1949.
Pre-WWII, Lafayette had been a small men’s school, closely oriented to the Presbyterian Church, of some 1500 students. But, when we arrived, the Campus was almost deserted after being relinquished by the Army’s pre-training program (ASTP) for Air Cadets earlier in the year. Frankly, the school was starving for students, or practically none of our Special 1945 Veteran’s Class would ever have qualified for admission.
Soon after settling in on Campus, I started meeting other high-point Marines. Among them was Andy Olinger, who asked me to join him and several other Marines as Zete (Zeta Psi) pledges.
However, my first room mate at top of Old McKeen Hall was Joe Trickett, who had already pledged Deke. Although a recent high school graduate, Joe was a very mature football player and had already met a number of the newly-arrived veterans. He soon introduced me to several other good guys–combat veterans–who were already members of his pledge class. They included Marine Jim Schultz; Air Force Pilot, Charlie Brownie; and Navy Blimp Pilot, Jim Mott. So, after being invited, I decided to join them as the newest member of the Deke pledge class. The four of us soon became such good friends that we roomed together in a first floor suite at the tiny, old dorm: Newkirk Hall. Over looking the, then, much larger Quad, this delightful living experience couldn’t have been much different than veterans of that time saw in the days immediately following the Civil War.
Our large pledge class of some 12-15 recent prep/high school grads, mixed in with about an equal number of older combat veterans, was the first group of Dekes to open up the Old House after it had been evacuated as a barracks by the Army ASTP program.