I was getting VIP treatment all weekend long. What did I do to deserve it?
- In 1962, I applied for admission to MIT, and was accepted.
- I worked hard there for four years and graduated.
- Then I managed to stay alive for fifty more years.
- Finally, I made the trip to Boston for my fiftieth class reunion.
- I bought and wore my red blazer.
The tradition for MIT reunions is that at or after the fiftieth, you get to wear a red blazer and a striped tie in the MIT colors, available by special purchase.
Janice and me in front of the Stratton Student Center, after registering, Tues., June 2, 2016. I’m wearing the standard red blazer and striped tie. Straw hats were given to all 50th reunion class members. There were men dressed that way all over Boston and Cambridge. (There were a few women in the class, too, with red blazers.)But it didn’t lead to any fortuitous meetings.
It has become an annual event that commencement is accompanied by Tech Night at the Pops, a special program of the Boston Pops Orchestra in Symphony Hall. Janice and I went to the concert in 1991 for my 25th reunion. An insert in the program said, “Thank you for attending the 199th annual Tech Night at Pops!” That would imply that the first one was in 1818.
The show at the Pops began with a bit of a retrospective. It said that in 1916, the president of AT&T, an alumnus, set up telephone hookups to major U.S. cities, so that alumni groups there could hear the proceedings and speak to the assemblage. At this concert, 2016, there were some audience polls conducted by texting, for another technological note. We voted on what color the conductor, Keith Lockhart, should wear. The concert was mainly Russian music.A graduating student, Julia Cha, had been invited to play Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. The program ended with a sing-along, where we could vote for the pieces to sing. The picks included “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want to” and “American Pie”.
MIT was founded in 1861, and its campus was in Back Bay on Newbury St. By 1916, it was feeling a crunch for space. It acquired land in Cambridge on the north bank of the Charles River Basin. The move took place in 1916 with great ceremony. Students made a huge papier-mache beaver mascot. A barge called the Bucentaur (from Venetian history) crossed the Charles River with the MIT charter. There were pageants and fireworks. Commencement in June 1916 was the dedication reunion. To celebrate the new campus, the red jackets were introduced. I entered MIT in 1963 and graduated in 1966. I don’t remember much about my graduation; I even considered being absent.