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Our Own Mario Savio

I enjoyed reading in the April Bulletin (“Letters”) the observations of my old friend Leo Braudy ’63 regarding the difference between the relatively harsh justice handed out to miscreant male students by Dean of Men William C.H. Prentice ’37 and the genteel admonishments Dean of Women Susan Cobbs gave to wayward women. In the late 1950s, student protest was only a dim beacon on a distant horizon, but I remember one hero on Parrish steps, banjo in hand, reworking the old work song “Take this Hammer to the Foreman” into “Take this book bag to the Prentice and when he asks you if you’ve been drinking, tell him, Lord, you’re stoned….” (This was the era of the green Harvard book bag.) Picture this, mere yards from the Deans’ Office, and you will appreciate the guts it took for Ted Nelson ’59, our own Mario Savio, to do such a thing.

Peter Gessner ’61
San Francisco

One Response to “Our Own Mario Savio”

  1. I think that my friend, Peter Gessner, is misrepresenting the culture of the college in the late 50's when he speaks of Ted Nelson's singing on the porch of Parrish as an act of daring. Yes, "The Rules" seemed onerous to us and were strictly enforced. But I do not remember ever being afraid to voice an opinion, think a thought, write a sentence, sing a song. On the contrary, we were privileged to express our serious opinions along with our sophomoric illusions all day long …. to our great benefit and joy.