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Dad - In His Words

Letters From Dad
East Fairfax Rd.
Elementary School
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Amherst 1st Year
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Amherst '46-'49
Tom's Biography
Fran Kimball
Hiram Hardesty

Amherst College 1946-1949

I returned to Amherst in the fall of 1949 as a sophomore and lived in Pratt Dorm with my new roommate Dave Steel. A good 90% of the students were veterans so were somewhat older than the regular sophomores. When I got back I thought I would try out for football since my Dad had always wanted a football player in the family. However I was not really into tackling and being blocked so I decided to stick to diving. I made the swimming team that year and while there was one or two other divers I was better them both which was not really saying much. I won my share of meets however and in my junior year I placed fourth in the New England Meet. This did not include big schools like Harvard, Yale and such but more of the smaller schools whom we swam all year. My senior year I was chosen as captain of the team and had a reasonably good record of wins. The ‘New Englands’ were held at Amherst that year and during the qualifiers for the finals I didn’t dive very well and was told I didn’t make the final 6 qualifiers. I was sick about this because my folks were coming from Cleveland to se the meet and it appeared I wouldn’t be participating. I was walking out of the Pool Building feeling very sorry for myself when one of the team came running out yelling ”they made a mistake and you did qualify”. So the next day I did participate and though I only placed 5th at least I was in the finals for Mom and Dad.

My sophomore year I joined Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity. Dad had belonged to this club at Western Reserve so he was pleased. My roommate Dave Steel also pledged Deke and since there was room at the house olive we moved there as roommates. All social and school activities revolved around the fraternities. At Amherst it was a perfect situation since all who wanted to join a fraternity were pledged so unless they wanted to be apart the entire college was members. I thoroughly enjoyed my three years in the Deke House.


The parties the friendships, the singing, and even the studying together created a true spirit of the college. For example, we had meetings every Tuesday night and after the meeting we all went up to the front porch and sang the Deke Songs and some college songs. Sounds very corny but it was college spirit at its best. When the school went Co-Ed in the 70s fraternities were disbanded at the college’s insistence and I believe a great deal of the college life was changed. These were carefree times for all of us and even though we were all veterans we enjoyed the freedom and lack of worry that the war had caused. Everything was o.k. and we could relax, we could be crazy and have a good time. We studied and made sure we got our grades ok but we were living the good life. One silly example which I have told a number of times involved our initiation into Deke. It is admittedly corny but you really have had to go through it to appreciate it.

The night we were to get our pin the pledges were all gathered on the third floor. We had a dumb waiter which went to the basement and as our name was called we got in the elevator and went to the basement. There gathered together were the members and a number of graduate Dekes who came for the initiation. One of them was about to put the pin on me when suddenly one of the members yelled “stop- This man does not deserve to wear the Deke Pin. He has been disrespectful and has not shown the character of those we wish as members. If you grant him membershi0 I am leaving the fraternity.” The rest of the members played their parts well and co9nsoled me and said “Tom go back to your dorm and we will straighten this out. My accuser was Connie Reiman and I really didn’t know what to think. I was led upstairs where everyone else was gathered and they could see that something was wrong and all played their part well. ‘They told me to go back to Pratt Dorm so I walked down the hill and at the bottom out jumped Connie from behind a bush and congratulated me for becoming a Deke. You would think all would know this was faked but at the time it worked for every pledge and we as members the next few years did the same to every pledge class thereafter. AS I say real corny but it was a relaxed and fun time of our lives.

I was not an exceptional student at college. I got satisfactory grades but was in no way an honor student. I graduated in 1949 with a B average which was better than average but not outstanding. Since I was a medic in the Navy I thought I might study medicine but when I was told I would have to take Physics and advanced chemistry I changed my m9ind. I had had bad experiences with those subjects as a freshman and did not want to go through that again. I probably should have done it but at the time it did not seem like a good idea. I therefore majored in economics and political science both of which I really enjoyed.

I graduated in June of 1949 and returned to Cleveland. At this time we were in sort of a recession and jobs were not easy to find but I finally was hired by the Cleveland Trust Co. in the Personnel Loan Department. It was a lousy job and paid very poorly but at least I was working. I then entered Cleveland Marshall Law School and went o night law school for the next four years. In September of 1950 my Dad, who had started a Mortgage Loan Business called and asked if I wanted to join him and his partner at the firm. Although the pay wasn’t much better I jumped at the chance and started a career in the Mortgage business that lasted 48 years. We’ll return to business later but now let’s talk about family.