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Vassar Encyclopedia

An online work in progress under the direction of Vassar’s College Historian

Twas the Night of the Sit-In: A Parody in Verse

This poem, written by an anonymous author and found in the Vassar College Archives, commemorates the faculty response to the threat of outside intervention in the Black Students’ Association’s take-over of Main Building in 1969.

‘Twas the night of the sit-in and all through the house,
All the creatures were stirring except for the mouse.
The doors by the elevator were boarded with care
In hopes that Larry Quinlan (1) would not be there.

The children were nestled (but not in their beds)
And visions of chaos reigned in their heads.
Not faculty with kerchiefs (but guards with their caps)
Had just settled down for their long evening’s naps.

When out on the circle there arose such a clatter,
They sprang from their posts to see what was the matter.
Away to the windows they flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the crest of the new-fallen dorm
Gave new dimensions to ominous forms.
But what to Quinlan’s beady eyes should appear

C. Colton Johnson
Mel Rosenthal
Jack Humphrey
Dick Stephenson
Al Davis
Steve Sadowsky
Arnie Feldman
Bob Stearns
Lewis Dabney
Clyde Griffen
Fred Freedman
Dennis Micham
Joe Mucci
Jerry Parker
Dick Steele
Inman Fox
Dick Wilson
Bob Middleton
Paul Metzger
David Merriell
Don Klose
Bob Martin
Henry Albers
Lewis Falb
Phil Finkelpearl
Ken Weedin
Howard Cohn
Ben Kohl
David Schalk
David Novack
Larry Wittner
Bill Gifford
Tom McKinney
Jim Steerman
Bill Rumble
Fred Wood
Rodrigo Paris-Steffens
–our faculty dear.

More rapid than eagles to the Dean’s office they came.
They whistled and shouted and called them by name:
“Come Bettys, come Anne, come Robert and Lynn,
Come Glen, come Jack, come Catherine and Jim!” (2)

From fourth floor to second, on each side of the hall,
Sit away, sit away, sit away–

Jean Appenzeller
Ruth Timm
Betty Fluck
Henrietta Smith
Janet McDonald
Beth Darlington
Anne Gounaris
Lilo Stern
Mary-Alice Hunter
Jane Ranzoni
Elisabeth Chapman
Anita Zorzoli
Dorothy Levens
Abba Newton
Ilse Lipschutz
Mary Corcoran

Yes, all through the housetop the rumors did fly
With increasing belief that Quinlan was nigh.
And near the Drou’s office was heard from within
The sound of coffee spoons stirring the gin.

They picked up a phone and heard from the hall
That all on campus would be quiet and still.
As they served up the coffee and were turning around,
There stood Lynn Bartlett, his eyes red and round.

He was dressed all in civvies from his head to his toes.
Only Hevenor surpassed him in the condition of clothes.
A stack of release forms he held in his hand;
He looked like an honest-to-gosh P.R. man.

His eyes were so glazed, yet his laugh was still merry;
His cheeks were like daisies, his nose not yet cherry.
The butt of a cigar was clenched in his teeth
But spying C. Colton, it dropped in disbelief.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf;
They laughed when they saw him in spite of themselves.
He spoke not a word but went straight to his work,
Returning again when the coffee was perked.

After sixty-some hours with nary a nap,
There finally came reason for someone to clap!
The barred doors were open, the hallway was clear,
We finally got rid of our faculty dear!

Thank you very much for your concern and help,

Main Inhabitants

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1.) Larence Quinlan was Dutchess County Sheriff at the time of the sit-in.

2.) The administrators referred to are: Elizabeth Drouilhet, Elizabeth Daniels, Anne Constantinople, Robert Hevenor, Lynn Bartlett, Glen Johnson, Jack Duggan, Catherine Parrish and Jim Ritterskamp.