|Re-Buffed: Part II of a Fleming Education
January 12, 2016: Part II of my January series on the intersections of my parents' lives and education. It is the early 1950s, and Dad has benefitted from Harvard University's desire to be more diverse and reach into remote western high schools for worthy students. It is one way that Harvard was forward-thinking at the time. In other ways, as Part II shows here, I am appalled at some of the expectations that they maintained, well into the late 1960s, if my research has been correct.
The man had asthma, respiratory
Problems landing him in the infirmary,
A 4-F exception to war in Seoul,
Almost costing him his seat in the school.
Even with an obvious health excuse,
He refused to ever consider misuse
Of his restrictions for the stupidest
Requirements: Take the freshman step test.
He completed the painful two minutes
Which even the fittest limped to finish,
But when the heart rate wouldn't slow down,
He used the doctor's note as a get-around.
But calisthenics didn't touch the shame
Exposed in the swimming lesson lanes.
The endurance of swimming is enough,
But why must it be done in the buff?
Apparently swimming in the nude
Was proper form by those who collude
And refuse to challenge the traditions
Of their sacred academic missions.
I try to learn from my father's history,
Although '50's Harvard a mystery
To any underachiever like me.
Still it doesn't take much for me to see,
That the conventions of centuries
Of men in lush tams with high degrees
Don't have to amount to a hill of beans
When there is required nudity.