Spring 2015 Alumni Newsletter
… we are pleased to share here, as an addendum to the printed newsletter, some reflections sent by Edward White ’56, which were excerpted just briefly in Walter Kirn’s article about the club in the years of 1955 – 1960. Thank you Ed!
“I am probably a much less useful chronicler than most of the other contributors, partly due to age (80) but also to the fact that, regrettably, I kept no diaries or memorabilia to aid recollection. I was bickered in the fall of 1954. It was a somewhat stressful period for me in that, as one of two (I believe) African American students in the four Princeton classes in residence at the time, I was haunted by the thought that, with junior year looming, l would find myself facing the unappealing alternatives of learning to cook (in my room, sub rosa, of course) or hardening my arteries prematurely on the dubious cuisine of The Balt, where I expected I would spend a lot of mealtimes.
“Mercifully, Terrace Club, which among the eating clubs was already at the leading edge of diversity, decided to offer me a bid during the ’54 bicker, with the idea that I would (gracefully) decline the invitation. The purpose of this seemingly strange offer was not duplicity but to take a stand, while averting the risk of fracturing club membership or alienating alumni members. I and my three roommates (the four of us were sharing a two bedroom suite) spent an anxious night or two pondering and debating the issue. In the end after my roommates (who obviously had no problem with diversity!) and I had vented some seriously righteous indignation, I decided to tell the Bicker committee that they were free to withdraw the bid and I would quietly accept their decision—no irate articles, placards, or interviews and no marches with the Reverend Al Sharpton who was even more of a beardless youth than I at that time. However, I told the Bicker committee that if the bid stood I would accept it. With the ball clearly in their court the Club’s officers decided to make the bid formal. I joined Terrace Club, and no member or alumni member ever treated me with anything other than the courtesy and respect they displayed for other members.
“Hank Barton mentions the disappearance of the young black entertainers and the black waiters in white coats a few years later as a sign of the passing of the old Princeton. And perhaps, not so much my joining Terrace Club but that Terrace had the courage to take the lead in fostering change were signs that a new Princeton was being born.”
— Edward White