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Thomas Darrell Kelly ’48

Thomas Darrell Kelly ’48, December 25, 2008, in Springfield, Oregon. Tom was a military veteran of the Aleutians campaign, who was sent by the Veterans Administration to Reed for rehabilitation from psychiatric distress. He attended Reed for two years. His peculiar habit of (always) having his nose in a book got him arrested one night while he waited at a bus stop in front of the campus on Southeast Woodstock Boulevard. Portland Police, intent on keeping an eye on the “Reds” at Reed, were on patrol and saw him standing under a streetlight-at the time reading poetry by Percy Bysshe Shelley. When patrolmen ordered Tom over to their car, he suffered an attack of nerves. George Joseph ’51 reported: “The police threw him into the back of the car and took him down to the police station. Put him in jail. God. For reading Shelley by moonlight, street lamp, actually.” The story is told also in this way, that Tom was sitting on a campus bench and couldn't produce a draft card, so he was jailed for 12 hours. At the booking, a policeman was reported to have said, “See if you can take that, Lord Byron.” June Anderson ’49 recalled: “The police stopped him because they thought he was drunk. So they took him into the city and put him in the drunk-tank overnight. And he hadn't had anything to drink.” In all versions, news of Tom's arrest spread like wildfire. “The next night,” said George, “many street lights in the Portland area had kids reading under them. Most from Reed, but not all.” Time magazine (February 17, 1947) noted that 20 Reed undergraduates convened the next night on a downtown Portland street corner and collectively read Shelley. There were no arrests. The Time headline poetically positioned Tom under moonlight instead of streetlight, and provided the legend with a title, “Shelley by Moonlight.” His last known residence was in Rockaway Beach on the Oregon coast.

Update: From Patsy Garlan ’48 (2013), we learned that Tom inherited a house on the coast from his aunt and a small legacy. "He did a bit of research and invested the legacy in the IPO of a little start-up company called Microsoft. Tom turned that legacy into a great deal of money, and also guided friends to do the same." Patsy is also the author of a tribute for Tom in Reed magazine, "Hail to Thee, Blythe Spirit."

Appeared in Reed magazine: November 2009

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