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Wolfbook
Written January 1966
Added to website April 2011
Modified November 2019

 

Background:  Long before your friends were on Facebook, my friends were in the Wolfbook.

In 1965, as part of the admission process at Oberlin College, we incoming freshmen submitted photos of ourselves.  In many cases these were our senior portraits from high school.

The pictures, each reduced in size to about one square inch, were then compiled into a large-format 24-page photo directory of the Class of 1969. 

This booklet included our names and hometowns and college dorms.  It even had our Oberlin phone numbers in the back, though there were actually only eleven phone lines for the five freshman dormitories.

The website for our 50th reunion included a PDF version, which you can access by clicking this white box.  (Note that the first page is mostly blank, so scroll down.)

Why was the booklet distributed to freshmen in 1965 called the Wolfbook?  I imagine it was so that a campus “wolf” — a male student who makes amorous advances to many women — could constantly consult this catalog of cute coeds in order to put names to faces.

I was relatively shy, but I had gotten to know a number of freshmen from various classes that we shared.  Others were students in the Conservatory of Music (the “Con”).  Many of the male students lived in my dormitory, Burton Hall, and in particular in my section, 3C (or Third Floor Center).  I met other young men and women while hanging out at the campus radio station or dining at the women’s dormitory called Dascomb Hall, where some students had part-time jobs.  And we talked about sports and politics and the Gemini space program.

Yes, college teaches us more than just academic subjects.  We learn about other people, and about life.


Oberlin also mailed a copy of the Wolfbook to my parents, who were acquainted with very few of the 681 young men and women pictured therein.  Therefore, four months into my freshman year, I sent them little thumbnail notes that I'd typed up to describe 96 of my closest friends.

In 2019, one of the other 585 friends pointed out that some of the notes were less than complimentary.  “The ad hominem impressions of an 18-year-old should not be preserved for 50 years.”  Good point!  Yet I'd reproduced 41 of those notes here on this Internet page.

Therefore I've removed the identifying names and pictures, leaving only the following snippets of some of the remarks.

Already this year he’s had the lead in an opera, and he was one of the four soloists for the last Musical Union production — and he’s a freshman.

An end on 2C’s touch football team, the team that won the intramural championship.  After every victory he’d come back to the dorm and put on a record of bagpipe marches, full volume, while everyone was getting dressed for dinner.

One of the leaders of a section that has set up a sect ostensibly to worship a cow named Gus.  They have a well-developed liturgy which includes a ritual moo.

She’s a waitress at Dascomb. and quite a clown; people really have fun when they sit at a table she’s serving.  Not that she doesn’t get the job done efficiently, but rather that she has such a lively personality.

Like other waiters and waitresses, he usually works one week and sits down to meals the next.  He was elected by the dining hall to be Santa Claus at the children’s Christmas party given at Dascomb December 12.  The candidates were all assembled one evening at dinner, and each came to the P.A. microphone to “tell why you want to be Santa Claus and sort of, uh, laugh.”

The biggest space bug I’ve run into yet.  We sort of went through the flights of Gemini 7 and 6 together.  He even had trouble concentrating on that Wednesday afternoon in lab while they were rendezvousing because he would so much rather have been back at the dorm watching it on television.  (I would have too, but by that time I was confident enough to feel that [astronauts] Wally and Tom and Frank and Jim could get along without me.)

A real fun-loving little imp.

A friendly fellow with a voice you can’t not recognize.  He was a little disappointed that it took so long this fall for snow to get here — he’s seen snow before in Dallas, but only once every couple of years — but when it finally did arrive, he soon was joking about the cold. 

A conservative who opposed the Thanksgiving fast because he neither asks for charity nor gives it, among other reasons.  Believes in complete freedom from government interference, and states his position so strongly that he has to end up claiming we shouldn’t have any laws at all. 

Going to be a government major; he seems to have some pretty sensible liberal-Republican or moderate-Democrat views about politics, in contrast to many of the radicals around here.

The kind of fellow you like to talk to because he’s so entertaining.  Likes to poke fun at himself, and can keep going that way all day.

The other day at lunch someone said [about laboratory classes in chemistry], “Remember how easy labs were back in high school?  Those were the good old days.”  She smiled and replied, “I think these are pretty good days, too.”

 

TBT

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