Jim Dale ’71: Orientation Week 1967

Saturday September 9th the first members of the Class of 1971 entered Alumni Hall to receive their residence Hall assignments and pre-registration forms to begin their tenure at Lehigh. The following night found us in a formal convocation being welcomed and advised by University President Dr. W. Deming Lewis. He shared that our success at Lehigh would be entirely dependent upon how we used or time, our abilities and the facilities and opportunities that could be found at Lehigh. He further outlined the purpose of the University and offered us the challenge to stretch and strengthen our minds to acquire the necessary backgrounds to make intelligent decisions as citizens, important to not only ourselves, but to our nation.

Thus began several days of placement testing and adjusting to the timing and flow of our days of walking down to the University Center for meals and finding the location of our various classrooms scattered over our beautiful campus. Among these activities was introductions to the various colleges we had enrolled in.

It was an abnormally warm Evening for an early September 1967. For the second time during Orientation Week, the 810 man strong Lehigh Class of 1971 was assembled together for a Rally, led by Professor John Steckbeck, affectionately known to all as “Steck”. The event started with the Marching 97 leading us into Grace Hall and serenading us with the Lehigh Fight Song and as we would come to know, many other tunes that would become a staple of our repertoire over the years, many modified to suit the occasions.

I doubt any of us had a clue as to the program for the day, but here we were, sealed in with our dinks and corncob pipes, signifying our membership in the Class of ’71. At some point early in the program Steck gave us our motto as a class – “71 for Fun”.   He followed that announcement up with a question, “freshmen, what class is this? And we shouted back the line that has remained with us to today – “71 for Fun”. During the program, one of our legacy class members was addressed by a member of the Lehigh Class of 1921 – something that truly amazed many of us. Imagine an alumnus from that long-ago class being around to present us with a class flag and colors and remind us of all the traditions that we would experience during our anticipated four years on South Mountain. He obviously was pleased to welcome us to the university community that he had once shared and encouraged us to seek all that was good of the university experience that was so rich at Lehigh.

About three quarters of the way through the program, I noticed a noxious smell was permeating the gym. Since the program was winding down, I feared that a jaded classmate or possibly a smart assed upperclassman had decided on his own welcome ceremony to Lehigh by lighting off a smoke bomb under the bleachers – it smelled that bad. Ahh! The fine aroma of hydrogen sulphide gas. In any event, the program ended within a few minutes without comment from any of the professors leading the Rally and we were dismissed with the refrains of “Raring, tearing, down the field…” into the night which smelled every bit as awful as the gym! It was then that I realized that the aroma of that sultry late summer night was not just in the gym, but throughout lovely South Bethlehem, compliments of our neighbor, Bethlehem Steel. We would be living with those industrial aromas of four more years after all, it was before the days of the EPA and the Clean Air Act!

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