Why Ivy Leaguers Come to the Village


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March 11, 1959, Vol. IV, No. 20

TONIGHT (Wednesday) at the Barrymore Theatre, Sydney Poitier and Claudia McNeil open in “A Raisin in the Sun,” perhaps the most important American play yet written about Negroes — Negroes as ordinary working-class human beings, not just black human beings. Its author is beautiful young LORRAINE HANSBERRY, a Villager for many years and once a waitress in the Potpourri Restaurant.

Saloon Society

By Bill Manville

(Some weeks ago a Princetonian wrote The Voice, asking why he and his friends were so often disliked in the Village. In recent issues, several people have offered answers. The letter below is one I myself received, postmarked Raritan, N.J.)


May I contribute an idea or two to the discussion of the universal antipathy felt by Village saloon society for men from the better colleges on the Eastern Seaboard (which you people insist on calling the “Ivy League”).

To begin with, let me say that unlike your correspondent a few weeks back, most of us do not mourn this fact. On the other hand, we do not take special pride in it. We merely accept it as A Fact. Noblesse does Oblige.

From my own admittedly subjective point of view, I would say that these college men are unpopular in your competitive world because of their personal excellence. They are better educated, of course, come from kinder and better families, have better futures in store for them, and, candidly, are even better looking. Finally, and most important of all, they are disliked because they usually are to be seen with the most wanted women.

(And why not? All women are realistic enough to know it is up to them to find the strongest, most capable men in each generation to father the future. And the most attractive women are in the best position to act upon this knowledge. This explains the tremendous correlation between wealth and good looks, as Darwin realized many years ago.)

I know that at this point, many garret poets, tubercular painters, unpublished authors, dealers in tedium vitae — the sad, the sick and the discontented — are ready to shout at me that they have no use for this kind of girl. But next time you are at a bring-your-own-bottle Village party, and a clean-haired college girl comes in, just watch the Beat and beaten Beards bellow, snort, and thunder their eagerness to have at her.

One final reason for the dislike is simply that Villagers know and resent this fact: college men come to the Village only in the manner in which sailors come into a foreign town: for an evening of excitement and color, a romp among the natives (and native women), and then off, back to duty, back to the ship and the sea and home, perhaps never to return, or even think again, of the (I must admit) langorous, exotic port left behind.

I know that you will get many fervent denunciations of this letter. But by the light of the angry fires I have kindled, you will be able to see how right I am.

Yours, etc. — Yale ’54

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