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TIME CAPSULE: 1940

How Not to Meet Women

LOFTY: MemChu in all her glory, on a World war II-era penny postcard.

By Carl Heintze

Not many Stanford men can claim to have sung a solo in Memorial Church, but I can. Actually, I wish it had never happened.

My solo came about in this fashion.

On Matriculation Sunday, a group of us newly minted freshmen were lounging about our spartan quarters in Encina Hall, telling tall tales and looking for something to do. Prominent in our discussion were the new Stanford women, all of them far across campus at Roble Hall. Suddenly my new roommate, William E. Spaulding (now a retired San Diego State business professor), came up with an idea: volunteering to sing in the scratch choir enlisted for the Matriculation service later that day.

“There’ll be lots of women in the choir,” he said. How he knew this I am still unsure, but he was a born salesman and we were all too eager, especially where women were involved.

We soon found ourselves in the choir loft at Memorial Church, where the choir director presented us with hymnals. Accompanied by the organ, we sang—or tried to.

I could not read music; I still can’t. But it didn’t matter. We mouthed the words and ogled the girls, all of whom ignored us.

When we were done, the choir director asked the new members of the choir to stay behind. The girls departed. So did William E. Spaulding Jr., who seemed to sense what was coming.

One by one, we frosh were asked to sing a brief solo.

It was one of the most painful moments of my Stanford life, an off-key rendition of a hymn whose name I blessedly have forgotten. After listening, the choir director gently said, “Perhaps you need more practice.” I smiled politely and fled.

Now, every time I visit Memorial Church, I look with trepidation at the choir loft and remember that Sunday. My only consolation is that when I sang, the church was empty.


—Carl Heintze, ’47

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