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College Night! You were expected to ‘dress up’ (which for some meant just wearing more than a tee-shirt). Sometimes they were rather sparsely attended, or people left right after finishing their meal.
I can remember a few of them:
Arie Haagen-Smit: the “father of air pollution control” who had figured out the causes of smog while at Caltech. I think Dr Thimann knew him, which is how came to be invited.
A brass band (not the Canadian Brass, I think, but something like them) which played so loud my ears were ringing for quite some time after.
Participating in a “Western Night” show with corny cowboy jokes and silly songs, when Gauss House had the job of putting on the show.
I think it was my freshman year when Merrill had Clark Kerr as its college night speaker, and I ‘snuck’ over there to hear him. It wasn’t long after Reagan had ousted him as the UC system President, and he had a lot to say about the founding of the Santa Cruz campus, in which he had had such an important role..
But, by far, the most memorable of them all was in my senior year, when, after a year of begging, Tom Lehrer consented to perform his songs “because they let him play the Bösendorfer piano”. The dining hall was packed beyond capacity, and the cheers were loud and long. Definitely one of the highlight days of my time at UCSC.
If anyone else has any recollections, I’m sure those will remind me of others which aren’t coming to mind, but those definitely stand out in my memory.