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Marty O'Malley, '64

¡Cómo han cambiado los tiempos!

      The following is a glimpse of Holy Cross's past, written by a Worcester native who attended the college 1960-1964, almost a decade before the decision to admit women - and long before the current language requirement.

      Lo siguiente, escrito por un oriundo de Worcester que asistió a Holy Cross entre 1960-64, nos permite vislumbrar algo de la historia del College casi una década antes de la decisión de matricular a candidatas mujeres - y mucho antes del actual requisito de lenguas.

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      Circa 1954, I started with French in the seventh grade at Burncoat Jr. High School, then in the eighth grade with Latin. Those languages were required in the pre-college curriculum of the Worcester public schools. At North High School, we continued with French conversation during the sophomore and junior years; Latin was mostly grammar, reading and translation. In 1960,I think Holy Cross had an admissions requirement for two languages, Latin and one other. I started out with premed at HC in 1960, and oddly enough our freshman year we had three required language courses, Latin, Greek and French. Most of the students in my class had matriculated from parochial schools and had studied Greek and Latin. Greek was taught by a Jesuit Novice and there were only three of us in his class who hadn't previously studied Greek. He gave us a month to master the alphabet and the grammar and then we went straight into the translations of the classics. Latin was all translation and I think we had that for freshman and sophomore years. French was fairly easy for me, as I had studied it for six years in the public schools. The language labs were in the basement of Carlin and they were relatively new. French, German or Russian were considered the most important languages for post graduate work or doctoral studies. Spanish mistakenly was not considered to be important.

     I was a day student at Holy Cross, lived off campus and commuted. The day student population at HC was about 15% of the student enrollment. I had graduated from the public schools where all our classes were coeducational. The majority of the students at Holy Cross between 1960 to 1964 came from parochial schools which were traditionally all male. All the Ivy undergraduate colleges and many other private colleges were similarly all male. In the early 1960's, the issue of coeducation wasn't on the horizon. There were also many private colleges that were solely for women. The Ivies had the Seven Sister Colleges; Regis and Emmanuel were the counterpart for Holy Cross. Mixers were held at HC on some of the fall weekends for freshmen and sophomores. On these occasions, buses from Emmanuel or Regis would come to the field house and the dancing would last late into the evening before the women returned to their buses for the ride back to Boston.

     After Holy Cross, I fulfilled my military obligation, basic and advanced training in the all-male Army Reserve. Between 1965-1969, I attended and graduated from Georgetown Law in Washington DC and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Georgetown Law was considered co-ed at that time but with only a 5% female enrollment it was a very male institution. On the other hand, Michigan with a student population of 40,000 was balanced in the late sixties with both men and women. During my three years in Washington DC, I experienced all the turmoil of the political assassinations, the Civil Rights demonstrations, the Marches on the Pentagon as well as the urban conflagration and riots that pummeled DC. In all of the civil demonstrations there seemed to be equal numbers of young men and women. Similarly at Michigan, during the warm fall semester days, it was not unusual to find 10,000 men and women students in the Quadrangle at noontime listening to speeches or mobilizing protest demonstrations. Those were very memorable times.

     My first exposure to Spanish came in law school where one of my roommates was Mexican American. His English was impeccable but when his parents called on the phone, they only spoke Spanish. He introduced me to Mexico while still in law school and this was my first serious exposure to Latin culture and history. The beauty of Mexico City, its anthropology museum, the Aztec and Mayan ruins, the Sierras, the richness of Catholicism, the Pacific Coast and the vibrant culture opened my eyes to a new world.

     After law and graduate school, I worked in the inner cities with Spanish-speaking minority groups for three years. As lawyers, we always worked through bilingual community organizers. During my forty-year career as a lawyer, I managed to travel extensively to many parts of the world. The Americas were the most fascinating for me. In 2005, considering retirement, I returned to Mexico and spent a month in San Miguel de Allende, an extraordinary five hundred year old (1537) Spanish colonial city high up in the Sierras. The following year it was two months, then three. Now I am retired and live here six months out of the year and still find it as magical, vibrant and beautiful as Mexico was on that first occasion back in the 1960's.

     Unfortunately, I never studied Spanish. ¡Ojalá pudiera! ¡Cómo han cambiado los tiempos!

vol. 10 (2013)
vol. 10 (2013)
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