Guerrillas in the Yard

The U.S. Postal Service on June 16 issued a first-class stamp honoring botanist Asa Gray. A natural history professor, Gray also founded the Harvard Summer School 140 years ago. The stamp shows plants that he studied as well as the words <i>Shortia galacifolia</i> in his own hand. The story of his epic quest for that plant is told at

Bernard s. glassman ’44, from Bethesda, Maryland, reports: “Sometime in 1942-43, I responded to a bulletin-board advertisement inviting students to join a new organization to be known as the Harvard Guerrilla Unit, whose objective was to be dropped behind the German lines to create havoc and mayhem. Unfortunately, this never came to pass. We graduated, dispersed, and our premature visions of derring-do and medals came to naught.

“In a 1942 issue of the Crimson,” Glassman continues, “there appeared a photograph of the guerrilla unit receiving instruction in how to place a demolition charge in a sewer pipe. One of the 15 students pictured was my infamous classmate, Theodore Hall, who subsequently became a spy for Russia during World War II. At the conclusion of our training, we decided, as a demonstration of how much damage could be wreaked on a strategic facility by a small, well-trained group of guerrillas, we would ‘blow up’ a trio of radio-transmission towers near Boston. After alerting the Crimson to our intention, we breached the chain-link fence surrounding the towers one night, climbed up on the concrete base of each tower and taped small wooden simulated explosive charges to the legs of the towers, and quickly withdrew without being detected. The following morning, the Crimson ran the story on its front page, together with a picture of me wearing facial camouflage, on one of the three towers—my sole claim to fame during my years at Harvard.”



Ties that bind: A photograph in “The College Pump” in the March-April issue (page 56) showed 13 of the 15 (we believed) neckties once regularly worn by Harvard varsity athletes. Warren M. “Renny” Little ’55, of Cambridge, curator (pro bono) of Harvard’s Lee Family Hall of Athletic History, reports that Gunther Fritze ’58, M.B.A. ’62, of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, has donated his lightweight crew tie (the one in the photograph was borrowed from classmate Viggo C. Bertelsen Jr. ’58, M.B.A. ’63, of Seattle) and R. Gregg Stone ’75, J.D. ’79, of Newton, Massachusetts, has filled another gap in the collection by donating the heavyweight crew tie of his father, the late Robert G. Stone Jr. ’45, LL.D. ’03, former captain of a record-setting heavyweight crew and later Senior Fellow of the Harvard Corporation. This tie has half the stripes (each twice the width) of the lightweight crew tie.

John Thorndike ’64, J.D. ’68, of Greenwich, Connecticut, held that the tie furthest to the right in the photograph, described as the “minor sports” tie, is actually the squash tie, which we believed was missing from the collection. Upon further clarification from Eliot G. Gordon ’47, of Teaneck, New Jersey, Thorndike’s tie has been proved to be indeed a minor sports tie. Little is still looking for a squash tie.

Joseph S. Vera ’50 and Alan Steinert Jr. ’58, M.B.A. ’62, AMP ’83, both of Cambridge, revealed that there is a sixteenth tie in play. Vera wrote, “If a varsity team member lettered for three years or won a collegiate championship in a minor sport, he was awarded a major letter.” Their ties have three stripes, as does the tie identified in the photograph as a lacrosse tie—but the red stripes are three-eighths of an inch, rather than one-eighth. This is the tie Thorndike was awarded. Little hopes one will be donated to complete the collection.

Thorndike added: “I attended Exeter for four years, and our headmaster, William G. Saltonstall ’28, seldom wore neckwear that wasn’t one of his football, hockey, or heavyweight crew ties!…I still religiously wear all three of my varsity sports ties—soccer, squash, and ‘minor sports’—though this never fails to produce rolled eyeballs from our two daughters, Hilary ’05 and Sarah ’07, despite the fact that they have eight varsity squash letters and two co-captaincies between them.”

You might also like

John Manning Appointed Interim Provost

Harvard Law School dean moves to central administration

Facebook’s Failures

Author and tech journalist Jeff Horwitz speaks at Harvard.

Kevin Young Named 2024 Harvard Arts Medalist

Museum director and poet to be honored April 24

Most popular

An Orphaned Sewing Machine

The multifaceted global and interdisciplinary impact of a useful object

Harvard Discloses Top Earners

The annual report details administrators’ and endowment investment managers’ compensation.

Photograph of Humsa Venkatesh in her lab

The Brain-Cancer Link

Growth-stimulating crosstalk between the brain and cancer tumors presents a new target for therapy.

More to explore

Michael Hill in a Marlins quarter zip

Leading with Care

Michael Hill strikes the right balance.

illustration of robotic hands manipulating a wooden maze to guide a worm in the maze to a target

Computational Control of a Living Brain?

How an AI agent learned to guide an animal to food—and what it might mean for Parkinson’s patients.

Naomi Bashkansky sits on a table with a chess board behind her.

Strategic Planning

A chess player’s moves on AI safety