Alumni Stories

Glee Club Memories

By Tom Byers

Here are two brief memories from Tom Byers, '67:

In the fall of 1967 and 1968, many of us who were incollege in the Northeast and didn't have the time or money to go home for Thanksgiving met in New York City. The Waldorf-Astoria had a very low rate for the holiday, and most of us went to Mama Leone's for a somewhat non-traditional Christmas feast. In some ways the best memory, however, is that on midnight of Wednesday (or was it of Thanksgiving Day itself?) some of us who were glee club alumni formed a circle in the lobby, and sang a couple of songs (before management politely asked us to stop). The sound in the high-ceilinged grand old hotel was excellent. I think that at least one year, we sang "Amo, Amas, I love a lass"--I don't remember what else. But it is a very happy, F. Scott Fitzgerald sort of memory.

In June of 1968, after my first year of college, I was fortunate enough to be part of the glee club's first European tour. I have many happy memories of this trip, but perhaps the most interesting from a historical point of view was that we were in Paris near the end of the students' May revolution. We passed the Place de la Concorde on our bus, and saw hundreds or thousands of Parisian police in riot gear.

Then we went to the gothic Eglise St. Severain (the student church for the Sorbonne, filled with plaques expressing gratitude for examinations successfully passed). We were to sing a concert and a service there. We sang one (I forget which), but the other was cancelled and we were hustled back on our bus and out of the area, because the police were firing tear gas into the University up the street. I think Tim Whitehurst ('68) went back to the Latin Quarter with his camera and got some actual shots, on the run, of the police pounding on demonstrators. Yet another part of a Springs education!

Tom Byers
Professor of English and
Director, Commonwealth Center for the Humanities and Society
University of Louisville
Louisville, KY 40292