Friendships Renewed

Share Button
Reproduction of Commencement Week Program from 1920.

One hundred years ago last month, approximately 2,000 alumni descended on the Quadrangle for Alumni Day. “It was the largest turnout in the history of the General Alumni Society,” wrote the Gazette in its June 25, 1920, issue. (Last year’s Alumni Weekend celebrations brought over 13,000 alumni and guests to campus.)

It was also the first Alumni Day since the Treaty of Versailles was signed, formally ending World War I, and several classes held memorial services to honor classmates who had lost their lives. Perhaps because of this, a
letter sent to class secretaries prior to the event urged conviviality: “Nobody wants to see a lot of glooms marching around the [Franklin] Field. Show that you are as young as you used to be on this day at least and produce a little gaiety and color.”

The image on this page shows the schedule for Alumni Day, on the weekend of June 12, 1920, which the Gazette judged “more interesting than ever before.”

The parade of classes started sharply at 2:30 p.m., and 40 classes marched from the Quad to Franklin Field. The Medical School Class of 1900 wore “high hats and whiskers,” while the Class of 1912 were “attired in overalls, large straw hats, bandanas and handkerchiefs.” The Class of 1918 arrived in “hats with red and blue bands, dark shirts and white trousers.” The oldest alumnus representing his class was Enoch Hollingshead M1867, a 76-year-old doctor. “As each class passed the box of Provost [Edgar Fahs] Smith, the retiring Provost was given the University and class yells.”

Once they were settled in the stands, a crowd of 8,000 alumni and students watched Penn’s final baseball game of the season—a “disastrous” 8–3 loss to the University of California—before gathering back in the Quad for a special treat. “Cromie’s Circus and Carnival” was “the first time that the undergraduates had undertaken to entertain the returning alumni, and in spite of many handicaps, they did it in splendid fashion.”

Although the Class of 1919 did not hold a formal one-year reunion, 43 members participated in the parade. It was their first time together since the end of the war, where they lost 28 members of their class in active duty.

“Many friendships were renewed,” the Gazette reported. —NP

Share Button

    Leave a Reply