Division of Languages and Literature
Jane Brien ,'89, Helene Tieger, '85
Justin Gallanter matriculated at the age of sixteen into St. Stephen’s College in 1931, into a class of thirty students. He was attracted to the school by the president Bernard Iddings (B.I.) Bell, who wore a black cape and was "shaped like a balloon;" Justin describes him as a "personality and a character." Justin, one of only two Jewish students in attendance, was still required to attend chapel every afternoon with his peers.
In these anecdotes, excerpted from a longer interview, Justin recalls the black robes that were standard attire for students and faculty, and the discrepancy between pro-Roosevelt students and the staunchly republican math and science professors. He describes the way students skirted prohibition by drinking moonshine and even mouthwash that contained alcohol. He remembers that, since the surrounding towns were not particularly exciting, students often went to Vassar for Saturday night dances; it was common to drive to Albany or New York City to "fool around" and go to speakeasies. He describes student pranks; the "burial of the algebra" ritual as a way of hazing freshmen; the Boar's Head Dinner that B.I. held on Christmas one year; and skinny-dipping near Blithewood. As Justin says, “At a school with a hundred students and a faculty of maybe 15, there were no secrets. “
Justin remembers St. Stephen’s College affectionately despite graduating from a different college because of the removal of the president B.I. Bell, and concedes that he cannot bring himself to identify with Bard College--too much has changed since he attended.
Justin Gallanter had been the college's last living St. Stephen's alumnus. He died in 2014.
Bernard Iddings Bell, St. Stephen's, Bostwick Ketchum '34, Wood's Hole, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Eulexian Society, Bill Schmidt '34, Henry Best '34, B.I. Bell, Lyford Edwards, Williams College, prohibition, Volstead Act, John Anderson '34, Edgar "Pinky" Bails '34, burial of the Algebra, All Saints' Day, Boar's Head Dinner, Hudson River, Blithewood, Cruger Island, pranks, Donald Tewksbury, Bob Kendall Jr. '34, Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Gallanter, Justin, "Justin Gallanter, '34 (BardCorps)" (2015). Oral Histories. 32.
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