“The drinking age is 18 in New York.”
So there we were, supposedly sophisticated senior Providence College students excited about being able to drink at a bar with a legitimate ID. And not just any bar; it was the Taft Hotel Bar in the heart of the City. And it was not just any trip to
New York. The PC Friars, the upstart team from our small New England College, was in the Big Apple for the Big Games at the Big Palace, Madison Square Garden, in the biggest basketball tournament of the year. And we fan(atic)s, members of the Class of ’61, were to be an integral part of the national spotlight. We—well, our team—were about to be the ’61 National Invitation Tournament Champs… “Friars away, into the fray”…and we were Friars. At the time, we may have felt that this one experience would define our senior year at the College.
There is this quote in our yearbook; “There is no fear of being lost in the crowds of a mass-production university.” No, we did not get lost at Providence College or in a New York crowd that spring for that matter. No individual in a class of just over 400 could disappear.
And the memories linger. The Cowl, the Scowl, Logic, Ethics, Fr. Peterson (no surprise that he eventually became the President). St. Thomas Aquinas, Fr. Morris, Organic Chemistry, Poli-Sci, questions, more questions, answers. Cusano’s meatballs, Bradley’s dimeys, Beanies, blue shirts, blue blazers, rep ties, khaki pants, books carried under the arm. There goes the Cross Country team. Dominotes, Hendricken Field baseball, mixers, tent dances, hockey at The Auditorium, recruits from Minnesota, Madison Square Garden, education and graduation. The “Pilots” were the first arts honors class in the history of the school. “You think you’re smart. Wait till you meet those guys.” The memories come, one from another, like connecting dots, to create the Class of ’61.