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Under the Talcott Tree
By John Prindle Scott

Added to website June 13, 2002
Tree photo added February 2, 2014

Background:  There is a college dormitory in Oberlin, Ohio, called Talcott Hall.  Built in 1886, it once was exclusively for women.  And there once was a tree called the Talcott Tree.

This is a photo of it in old age, from Pictorial Memories of Oberlin.  From 1851 to 1931 the tree was “a billboard for generations of Oberlin students.  It is estimated that 60,000 tacks were thumbed into its bark over the years.”

A old song proposes a tryst under the Talcott Tree.  This composition, now a century old, is one of my favorites from the 1946 edition of the Oberlin College Song Book.

The words and music are by John Prindle Scott of the Conservatory's Class of 1900.  The tune goes like this, if you'd care to get out your ukulele and sing along.

I took the pictures below on June 12, 2002, in Oberlin.  They feature Talcott Hall as well as the Morgan Street bridge that crosses little Plum Creek on the south side of town.

John Prindle Scott wrote eight other songs in that Song Book.  One of them, "Down the Street," was intended as a victory march after a winning football game by the Crimson and Gold (once coached by John Heisman).  "Every breeze through the autumn trees now sets our colors flying!"

In "There's No Place on Earth Just Like Oberlin," he rhymed the title with "It's nothing like Paris or old-Turin."  (That's a bit of a reach, although it's hard to find anything that does rhyme with Oberlin.)  Scott went on to praise the town's piety and sobriety:

It breakfasts at six and turns in with the chicks,
     When matins and vespers are said.
To increase its renown, there's a college to crown
     Its ultra-respectable head.

It's keen as a vulture on all sorts of culture
     Of whatever epoch or tongue;
A town one commends to all parents and friends
     Who seek a safe place for their young.

But in the following song, "Under the Talcott Tree," Scott admitted that sometimes young people will be young people after vespers.

Imagine the wee hours of a moonlit night.  Beneath a sleeping coed's window, a college student is softly serenading her.

  Here in the shade of the Talcott tree,
     Love, I am singing my song to thee;
  Waken and hear,
  List to me, dear,
     Hearken my tender tune.

  Come, ere the moon of the night is set.
     Put on your rubbers; the grass is wet.
  Dearest, make haste!
  No time to waste;
     Morning will be here soon.


Open thy window,
  Come down to me.
No one shall hear us,
  No one shall see.

Here I am waiting,
  Waiting for thee,
Under the Talcott tree!


  Under the bridge down at Morgan Street,
     There I have anchored my sailboat fleet.
  Safe in the dark,
  There we'll embark,
     If you will only come.


  Then say farewell to old Talcott Hall,
     Baldwin and Peters, the gym and all;
  Ere dawn of day
  We'll sail away,
     Borne on the raging Plum.


Open thy window,
  Come down to me.
No one shall hear us,
  No one shall see.

Here I am waiting,
  Waiting for thee,
Under the Talcott tree!






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