The Plastic Age
The college year swept rapidly to its close, so rapidly to the seniors that the days
seemed to melt in their grasp. The twentieth of June would bring them their
diplomas and the end of their college life. They felt a bit chesty at the thought of
that B. S. or A. B., but a little sentimental at the thought of leaving "old Sanford."
Suddenly everything about the college became infinitely precious—every
tradition; every building, no matter how ugly; even the professors, not just the
deserving few—all of them.
Hugh took to wandering about the campus, sometimes alone, thinking of Cynthia,
sometimes with a favored crony such as George Winsor or Pudge Jamieson. He
didn't see very much of Norry the last month or two of college. He was just as
fond of him as ever, but Norry was only a junior; he would not understand how a
fellow felt about Sanford when he was on the verge of leaving her. But George
and Pudge did understand. The boys didn't say much as they wandered around
the buildings, merely strolled along, occasionally pausing to laugh over some
experience that had happened to one of them in the building they were passing.
Hugh could never pass Surrey Hall without feeling something deeper than
sentimentality. He always thought of Carl Peters, from whom he had not heard
for more than a year. He understood Carl better now, his desire to be a
gentleman and his despair at ever succeeding. Surrey Hall held drama for Hugh,
not all of it pleasant, but he had a deeper affection for the ivy-covered dormitory
then he would ever have for the Nu Delta House. He wondered what had
become of Morse, the homesick freshman. Poor Morse.... And the bull sessions
he had sat in in old Surrey. He had learned a lot from them, a whole lot....
The chapel where he had slept and surreptitiously eaten doughnuts and read
"The Sanford News" suddenly became a holy building, the building that housed
the soul of Sanford.... He knew that he was sentimental, that he was investing
buildings with a greater significance than they had in their own right, but he
continued to dream over the last four years and to find a melancholy beauty in
his own sentimentality. If it hadn't been for Cynthia, he would have been perfectly
Soon the examinations were over, and the underclassmen began to depart.
Good-by to all his friends who were not seniors. Good-by to Norry Parker.
"Thanks for the congratulations, old man. Sorry I can't visit you this summer.
Can't you spend a month with me on the farm...?" Good-by to his fraternity
brothers except the few left in his own delegation. "Good-by, old man, good-by....
Sure, I'll see you next year at the reunion." Good-by.... Good-by....
Sad, this business of saying good-by, damn sad. Gee, how a fellow would miss
all the good old eggs he had walked with and drunk with and bulled with these
past years. Good eggs, all of them—damn good eggs.... God! a fellow couldn't
appreciate college until he was about to leave it. Oh, for a chance to live those
four years over again. "Would I live them differently? I'll say I would."