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The Wisconsin alumni magazine
Volume 17, Number 10 (Aug. 1916)

Alumni dinner and dance,   pp. [394]-395

Page [394]

A LTHOUGH Alumni Day of this
      year was one of the most ac-
      tive ever planned, .yet the six
hundred or more alumni who gath-
ered at the Gymnasium     for the an-
nual Alumni Dinner at the close of
the day were just as enthusiastic as
they had been. when the program be-
gan at eight thirty in the morning.
College songs, class yells, skyrockets,
and speeches were given and received
with a "pep" that was worthy of
a student massmeeting.''
  President Rogers, '93, acted      as
toastmaster. When     he called   Wil-
liam H.   Spencer, '66, of Meadville,
Pennsylvania to the platform, the
entire alumni:, body   joined   in  an
ovation  to the half century     class.
Mr. Spencer said:
  Fellow Alumni and Friends: If I do
not come back to the Old Home after a
half century with wreathes of laurel on
my brow, I certainly do not now return,
like the Prodigal Son, after spending his
substance in "riotous living." So there
is no compulsion to kill' the "fatted
calf." Save  him   for  some, of   the
younger boys. If I have not been back
to you, my Alma Mater, it is not:because
I have forgotten you, not because I do
not love you, honor you, praise you; but
simply because I have been busy in
June, a thousand miles from you ever
since 1866, except once, in 1874, when I
had the honor of delivering the annual
alumni address in the Assembly Cham-
ber of the State Capitol. I am asked to
represent the class of '66 in a five min-
ute speech.
  I am glad to be here, and yet sad, for
all the other male members of my class
have gone to join the "Great Majority";
although happily some of the women
members are still here. What do you
expect of me? Reminiscences? I could
give them, were there time.- Adminis-
trative counsel ? If I were not pre-
sumptuous, I might venture here. Con-
gratulations, praise and thanksgiving?
This were easy "for out of the abun-
dance of the heart the mouth speaketh."
It was on the 29th of August, 1861, that
I knocked at the door of this school.
The three buildings here were North and
South Halls and the central part of the
piesent Main Hall. My first room was
Number 9, Norti Colle6e, as they called
it then.
  Is there any one here who remembers
the first gymnasium. It stood back of
North College about twenty feet. What-
ever else it lacked, its ventilation was
perfect. This gymnasium consisted of a
two or three inch- rope thatý dangled
from an over-arching limb of a great oak
tree that stood there. The exercise con-
sisted of running with all your, speed
toward the building, siezing the rope on
your way, an'l leaping out as far as you
could to get impetous for the backward
swing, and jumping up the incline. Of
course  the  repairs were inexpensive,
that is I mean of the gymnasium.
  I should have been of the class of
1865 but for my service in the Civil
War with Company D, 40th Regiment,
Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. My home
was in Evansville, twenty-three miles
south of here. -If you don't think it is
a good place to come from, ask the Hon.
Burr W. Jones and President Van Hise,
my fellow   townsmen. Even ý the class
of 1916 has heard of three of my class-
mates. The first was John C.. Spooner.
he was a capital debater, well-posted,
keen, and intensively partisan. I can
see  him  now   coming   up  the  walk
with  his peculiar swinging gait. He
kept up that gait until it landed, him in
the United States Senate. The second
was Philip Stein, high minded and lov-
able, a fine scholar who is still filling
an honorable career. He was with you
last year. The third was John Muir of
national and international fame.
  Fifty years ago, on graduation day,
Yrofessor Sterling, the acting president,
in his address to the public spoke of the
"embarassments under which the Uni-
versity had labored and the injurious
and. unjust criticism by which it had
been assailed" and then referred to the
"fairer prospects that were opening be-
fore it." Has there ever been a year
since then when the administration has
not felt the sting of "injurious and un-
just criticism" and has had to fight its
own battles in order to save the Uni-
versity from the band of the despoiler?
And yet has not every administration
been able to say every year, as Profes-
sor Sterling said, and truly "fairer pros-
pects are opening before the Univer-
sity." It must have been so.. For look
at what the University was in 1866 and
what it is today. The curriculum then,

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