What Should Customs Week Be?

A number of people on campus are asking how Customs Week might be enhanced. Hoping to establish something a ‘baseline in time’ that could inform my understanding of how Customs Week has evolved over the past 30 years, I queried my classmates via our Class of 82 Google group and invited their recollections.

Many remember an experience heavy on the social side and light –very — on the academics, though the substance was occasionally dark: “I had a meeting with the head of the French Department to discuss the dismal results of a French placement test I’d taken (he suggested that I never set foot in a French class and consider changing colleges).”

I’d welcome your thoughts about Customs Week via the Comment function; to prime the pump I’m pasting in thoughts offered by BMC 82′s Roz Cummins. (It’s worth noting that many of us feel as close to these Mawrters as we do to our fellow Fords, so tight was the relationship between the two colleges.)

I remember the swimming test that was given during customs week and being told (perhaps erroneously) that it was because so many Princeton grads died on the Titanic that we had to take this test. I was shocked by the Lion “spitting” water into the BMC pool.

Most of my memories of Customs Week are of a horrible square dance in the BMC gym and having to perform stupid skits, but I also remember attending a presentation at Haverford given by faculty doing 5 minute descriptions of their courses. Wyatt McGaffey got up and said that most people think that Anthropology is “something to do with apes.” That was all he said. It made me want to take his course.

I think that Customs Week was also the week that I stayed up camping outside of Founders Hall all night so that I could sign up for a specific Haverford course. At this point I have no memory of what class I thought was worth staying up all night to get into. I just remember hanging out with Judd Nelson since he was the only person there that I knew because he was in my Customs Group.

Whenever I see footage on the news of people camped outside Fenway to get Redsox tickets I remember camping out in front of Founders.

The one happy memory I have of Customs Week was meeting some friends during Popsicle Night. Mostly I just liked being outdoors at night ­ something that I associate a lot with college. I’ve never spent so much time outdoors at night before that or since then. I remember walking between campi at all hours ­ sometimes alone, sometimes not, sometimes feeling fearful, sometimes not. I can remember going to Dunkin Donuts at one or two in the morning with my beau and having Wrong Way Wooten (the guy who worked there who also rode his bicycle backwards) ride his bike around the parking lot while singing “Chances Are” along with the 8-track tape player that was strapped to his bike. I once saw Wrong Way performing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. A friend who stayed in Philly told me that Wrong Way died a few years later from AIDS.

Great. Now I want a French Cruller. Proust had his madeliene, I have my French Cruller. I don’t think I could even force myself to eat one of those things at this point! I guess I’ll have to go find out…


Oh baby.

So what are your recollections of Customs Week? How could it have better prepared you for, or more accurately foreshadowed, what was to follow? (And for those who are into social networking and may be wondering “Why are you using a Google group…doesn’t HC offer decent networking for its alums?” the solution is coming in Q4 08…stay tuned…)

For now, though, feel free to comment away.

-CM

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