Why I’m Not Going to Any More Alfred Reunions

I was born in 1922. I started in Alfred in 1940 because my father was in the glass business; in those days that is how it was done. I finally left Alfred in 1948 after about four years on the campus and a war intervening. Incidentally, in 1939 when I was accepted, I was told to learn to read German, because glass technology literature was not available in the English language.

At Alfred, Dr. Samuel Ray Scholes saw to it that I got a degree in glass technology, but the rest of my experience in the valley is really what shaped me, and it had little to do with most of my classmates or my curriculum studies.

Professor C.D. Smith introduced me to aspects of theatre that I never imagined. He made the stage come alive. Drama – not glass.

J. Nelson Norwood, as President, spoke at my obligatory first campus chapel service. I don’t know if Alfred does that anymore. He said many of us would meet our spouses in the valley, he did and so did I.

Stanley Saunders, an Alfred University graduate, kept Holsteins and sold milk in Town. Through him I learned to strip the last bit of milk from their teats after the milking machine had done its work. Yes, I was enrolled in Glass Technology.

Charles Sisson lived on Church Street and kept cattle in a fenced pasture that must have been more than 1500 acres, west of Town. I hand-salted his heifers to keep them tame in winter so they could be rounded up in springtime.

Sandy Luce, a Townie from Irish Hill, taught me to tack horse shoes on the animals that Bob Young AU’47 and I kept at Mrs. Mamie Vincent Rogers Thomas Armstrong’s barn on South Main near where Dr. Watson make his honey chocolate Candies.

Barn rent was five dollars a month and hay, Bright Timothy, was less than a dollar a bale. We bought our mounts from the Remount Service at Cornell ROTC for about $150 each.

A.J.C. Bond, Dean of the School of Theology, taught me how to back a buggy and horse out of a parking place in front of the pharmacy on Main Street, and he also taught a course in the Literature of the Old Testament. I took that course and another from Dr. Hall in the Liberal Arts College where he reminded students that there was no such thing as a disembodied mind, and still another from Dr. Roland Warren that helped me to understand the various moralities of ethical systems like those of duty, religion, and happiness. Yes, I earned a degree in Glass.

Dean Ellis Drake got me to understand that I had to pay for repairing his office lawn after my horse walked over it in a foot of snow. When the snow finally melted in spring, the lawn had a horse track across it, and he remembered – and I paid.

I hunted deer from horseback and shared the venison with people in Town.

I lived on Sayles Street with H.O. Burdick’s family across from Pi Alpha Pi Sorority and eventually married one of them, Edith Foster, AU’47. We had six children, one of whom, Edith Ann, was Theta Chi in the next generation. She married a chap from Delta Sig, or was it Klan?

Dr. H.O. Burdick was active in the first Alfred Seventh Day Baptist Church and I joined it. He pioneered in the human pregnancy test using a diesterous mouse.

Reverend Everett Harris was a part-time teacher at the School of Theology and he was my Pastor when I was in Alfred. He too hunted dear but was a poor shot.

At a recent reunion, the only person left who I knew from my college days was Billy Crandall. The students I encountered didn’t have the slightest knowledge of the SDB Church or that Alfred once had a School of Theology or the fact that in 1940 the U.S. Post Office and the bank were open on Sunday and closed on Saturday. Few students I met at reunions interfaced with the Alfred Fire Department or the local Boy Scouts.

Many old buildings and monuments remain, but the demographic has changed, and I no longer make the connection. This is not, in any way a complaint. Things change; for example in 1941 the Town barber “didn’t know how to cut a colored man’s hair” and a pregnant undergraduate killed herself. For me, to be designated a member of the President’s Council today would strike a discordant note, if ever I was asked and if then I spoke up. I represent an eight year tiny wedge of Alfred’s long past culture, but here and now the President and the University must address problems of the present and the future. Golden Oldies – yes. President’s Council – no.

I’ll grant it was fun for a few years to be wined and dined and taxied over the campus; but to be included in a President’s Council is not in the cards.

Amy Jacobson, you have a difficult job. I don’t know how a President’s Councilor fits in. Alfred in 1940 was good for me then, but I have not the slightest idea what colleges today do for young people today. Thanks for the memories.

How I Remember Alfred University

I came to Alfred University in 1940 from Long Island. I had never, ever, been 1800 feet above sea level, never rode a horse, never poached deer, never wore a freshman’s green beanie, never been hazed, rarely went to church, was an indifferent student. I got to Alfred because I was pushed there. Here I studied, no I didn’t study – I simply took the glass course. S.R. Scholes liked the way I interpreted the periodic table and gave me whatever grade I needed to keep up my average. I memorized his book. As a result, I was never unemployed.

On Sayles Street I roomed with the H.O. Burdick Family and Dr. Burdick suggested I drop the glass course and do pre-med. He assured me I could go to Strong Memorial. I stood for hours in front of the machine works on Main Street and marveled at the massive vertical boring mill that they built there.

I visited Dr. Bennihoff, the veterinarian, and watched him castrate young stallions. I worked for Stanley Saunders in his cow barn and learned how to strip the udders of his milk cows. I listened to Robert Luce on Irish Hill who told stories about herding sheep and learned from his son Sandy how to shoe a horse. I bought timothy hay from Irving Palmitter. I kept horses on South Main Street at Mrs. Mamie Vincent Rogers Thomas Armstrong’s barn and watered them in the Kanakadea across the street.

I squired a girl so avidly that her grades declined and she was about to get kicked out, so I went to Dean Dora Degan, who was the Dean of Women, and apologized and got my girlfriend a probation. Then she took up with someone else.

I went to the First Alfred Seventh Day Baptist Church regularly, became a member and a friend of Pastor Everett Harris and A.J.C. Bond, Dean of the School of Theology. Today there are many in Alfred who don’t know what a SDB is. Dr. Bond taught me how to back a horse and buggy out of a parking slip on Main Street.

Foo-Chow Sutton showed me how small the world was – he had taught chemistry in China. Later I learned his name wasn’t Foo-Chow – it was Willard, Ph.D.

On Sayles Street I played bridge with Pi Alpha girls and eventually fell in love with one of them, Edith Foster ’47, and we remained married for 60 years, that is until she died in 2009. Of our six children, two went to Alfred, one graduated, she was Theta Chi.

By the time WW II ended, I had attended Georgia Tech, the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and the Navy Midshipmen’s School at Columbia. For me, Alfred was the best. Granted, there have been changes in these last 72 years, but by and large the culture of the school, and that of the people it serves, seems a good match. So yes, I took the glass course, but also at Alfred I had a chance to study Ethics, Literature of the Old Testament, Human Genetics, and mostly how to thrive in environments that I was not accustomed to. My thanks to Alfred. It’s been a good life.

Credentials as a Witness in Aquaculture Hearings

December, 2009
Mervin F. Roberts

Credentials as a witness in aquaculture hearings.

  • B.S. Alfred University, Alfred, New York, 1947

  • Former Chair, Governor’s Council for Marine Resources, State of Connecticut

  • Present Chair of Old Lyme Shellfish Commission, Connecticut; 25 years

  • Founder of Old Lyme Water Pollution Control Authority

  • Listed in American Men of Science and American Association for Advancement of Science

  • Author of about 25 books and pamphlets about animal husbandry in general and tidemarsh life in particular. Over 130 citations in Amazon and Google.

  • Established several Aquaculture projects in Maine including Beals and Cutler as a consultant. Also acted as consultant in Brazil, Ecuador, and Kerala, India. Testified in Department of Marine Resources hearings in Beals, Cutler and Mount Desert Island since about 1985.

  • Advised and monitored two atomic power plants on matters relating to inmpacts on wildlife.

  • Former Naval officer and former Third Mate, any ocean, any gross tons, steam. Boat operator.

  • Presently Chaplain, Old Lyme, Connecticut, Volunteer Fire Department