“Trumpets blowing and drums pounding.”
That’s how the Acropolis yearbook describes the Whittier College homecoming festivities that took place 50 years ago in 1963.
Black and white photographs document attractive, young undergrads - dressed in what-we-now-call-vintage sweaters and thick-rimmed glasses – turning campus into their very own playground. Residence halls were ornamented with homecoming-themed décor. Ladies pinned yellow chrysanthemums to their lapels. Societies outwitted one another in painting the Rock. And Homecoming Queen Suzanne Jones ‘63 reigned over it all in her Cinderella-style gown and tiara.
Excitement seemed to be everywhere at Homecoming 1963, especially at the College’s ever-popular float parade that took place in the City of Whittier’s nearby Uptown district. Society members put every muscle they had into creating extravagant floats that served as testament to school pride. Up for grabs were title captures that included “Most Humorous” and “Most Original” and, of course, bragging rights.
The Palmer Society’s entry – “A Whale of a Tale” – won the “Sweepstakes” award that year. It was their second year in a row.
“We were out-of-our-minds excited,” said alumna and Palmer Sandy Trombatore Krogh ’63. “Each society that signed up to participate in the parade was given its own parking lot close to campus to build its float. Some of our Palmer girls—there were about 28 of us at the time—were very artsy, so they took the lead in sketching out our float’s design, and then we got six to seven of our fathers together to help us build it. Once [our float’s] frame was built, we covered everything in chicken wire and worked into the night for an entire week stuffing holes with tissue paper and flowers. We relied a lot on coffee and hot chocolate.”
For the pure joy of celebration, students, family members, friends, neighbors, and even local dignitaries would flood the sidewalks along Philadelphia Street to watch the homecoming floats go by. Afterwards, societies dispersed for their brunches only to reunite again at Memorial Stadium for the evening football game.
No one dared miss the football game.
In 1963, the Poet marching band ignited the crowd during halftime with the Beatles’ “Ain’t She Nice.” Then all Poets cheered as Stan Sanders ’63 and his teammates victoriously beat Occidental, 28-6.
Fifty years later, the Class of 1963 will gather during homecoming week for its golden anniversary reunion. Among talk of children and grandchildren, careers and life events, these students from Whittier’s passionate past will be sure to talk about the Poet pride they still carry on their backs.
In the words of Krogh herself:
“When people ask me what was the best time of my life, I always say it was when I was at Whittier.”
-by Hallie Gayle '15