Dorothy Davenhill Hirsch ’52, who attended Reed after the war
as one of a handful of female veterans, joined the Women’s Army
Corps (the WACs) while working for the Soil Conservation Service in
Portland. She served as a lieutenant at Camp San Luis Obispo, never
getting overseas. But the experience has remained vivid for her: “I
joined the army first of all to know the experience, and because we
were all thoroughly patriotic,” she recalled. “Nobody
was—there were people who did not wish to serve. But most everybody
was, when I say enthusiastic, [they] felt obliged to enter into this
war because it was a very important thing in our lives.”
Through it all, academic life went on. Deferment programs such as the
Army Specialized Training Program and its navy counterparts allowed
more than half-a-million college students to accelerate their studies
and enter officer training, coming out as so-called “90-day
wonders,” freshly minted junior officers whose status was sometimes
viewed with derision by veteran enlisted men and noncommissioned officers.
These were popular options for many Reed students, and one offshoot—the
Army Air Corps Pre-Meteorology program (AMP)—brought uniformed
soldiers to campus for an intense stretch of scientific training,
a move that helped provide financial support for the school during
the lean war years (find online articles about the AMP program at www.reed.edu/reed_magazine/fall2007/).
Cartoon, 1943–44 AMP yearbook
Some Reed graduates went to war as quickly as they could. Many didn’t
come back. Glenn Ditto ’41, who opposed U.S. involvement before
Pearl Harbor, was one of the early casualties, as was Navy torpedo
bomber pilot Ricky Scholz, whose father, Richard F. Scholz, was president
of Reed from 1921 to 1924.
Hendrickson’s recollection of “working like hell to finish
my thesis” strikes a timeless chord among Reedies. But the fact
that he left specific instructions to the team of cleaning ladies
not to disturb the papers strewn around the Winch dorm room he shared
with Jack Dudman ’42 (who later became a math professor and
dean of students)—even though the two of them were about to
depart for military training—offers a glimpse of college life
“The men just vanished,” recalled Sally Hovey Wriggins ’44.
A rough estimate has 40 percent of the male student body leaving the
campus by late 1942 to early 1943. Departing faculty included Noble,
who took leave to chair the regional War Labor Board in Seattle. He
joined the State Department in 1946. Munk left in 1941 to be director
of training for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration,
returning to Reed after the war.
By May 1942, meanwhile, Reed’s small number of Japanese American
students were gone, many interned with their families under Executive
Order 9066. Hattie Kawahara Colton ’43, Midori Imai Oller ’42,
Ruth Nishino Penfold ’43, and Gus Tanaka ’45 were among
the 110,000 ethnic Japanese dispatched to harsh, isolated camps in
the inland West. While there were protests in the Quest,
and visits from professors and friends at the Portland Assembly Center,
a converted stockyard that served as a transit point before internal
exile, none returned to Reed after their uprooting.
Students sew up sandbags on Canyon Day, 1942–43.
“I had Japanese friends and I thought the whole business of taking
the Japanese to camps was a terrible violation of everything we stood
for,” Wriggins said.
Another wartime departure was far more welcome: the unpopular President
Dexter Keezer left for Washington, D.C., in 1942 to become deputy
administrator of the Office of Price Administration. Chemistry professor
Arthur Scott stepped in as acting president, and along with physics
professor A.A. Knowlton, they brought the war to campus in a patriotic
and pragmatic move, securing the college a role in the Army Air Corps
Pre-Meteorology program. The AMP was an accelerated academic endeavor
that brought uniformed troops to the campus, saw the Woodstock Safeway
converted to a barracks, and kept the college running nearly around
the clock. The program also provided a financial boost that allowed
the college to keep functioning.
“The faculty was down to bare bones,” M. Jeanne Hansen
Gordner ’46 said in an interview. But the need to move male
students through allowed little respite.