When the Men Came Back

November/December 2002

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When the Men Came Back


For the women who entered Stanford in the fall of 1943, the dating situation soon turned bleak. Few men escaped the call to arms as the war intensified that winter, and those who did were quickly spoken for. We invited service personnel from local bases to our parties, but in general, we women spent most of our leisure time together.

Things began to pick up at the end of the war. By 1946, men were returning in droves and our social lives were back on track.

After graduating in 1947, I stayed on for graduate work and was invited to teach a couple of sections of Spanish in the romance language department. It was thrilling to see my name in the time schedule along with those of my eminent professors. What I didn’t realize, however, was that most of my students would be returning veterans, some quite older than my 21 years and quite handsome.

The first time I stood at the podium was probably the longest hour of my life. I could hardly look up from my book, and certainly did not make eye contact with anyone.

As the quarter progressed, my students and I learned to work together and became friends. On several occasions, groups of 10 or 12 students came up to Russell House, where I lived, for extra pre-exam tutoring. My fellow residents were noticeably impressed as I closeted myself with that large gathering of attractive guys.

One class member, a senior from Norway, dated a friend of mine and shocked us both by his espousal of the concept of “free love.” The romance did not last.

Although I dated students from time to time, I can honestly say it did not influence my grading. My only questionable action was to fill in a few missing accent marks on test papers for all my students. They would have lost one-half point for each one forgotten, and I thought it was the least I could do for those who had served our country. I also decided that the Honor Code, under the circumstances, needn’t apply to accent marks from caring teachers.


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