Comrades of the Quest (continued)

Five Reed women liberated the owl, moved it to an undisclosed location, and painted it pink in April, 1952. From left: Val Thorneycroft ’55, Anne Read Smith ’55, Alicia Witner, Unidentified, and Dr. Carla Wolff Horwood ’54.

The Trophy

The Doyle Owl

Ever since it was first liberated from an Eastmoreland mansion by residents of House F (later Doyle), the owl has been the object of desire, intrigue, larceny, and impostorship.

William Helms ’23: House F (Doyle) was the largest house and it boasted a more positive image. Their emblem was a stone owl, about thirty inches in height and weighing perhaps two hundred pounds. This was perched on a parapet on their house. The newly born House G would have liked to have that owl, but it was closely guarded. However, one of us sighted an exact duplicate of that owl on a gatepost of a fine home in Portland. It was not hard to figure where the House F owl had come from. I don’t remember just how it came about, but owl number two came to perch on the parapet outside House G. From then on it was war. House F could not tolerate another owl on the campus and we finally lost it. Rumor had it that owl number two ended up in the bottom of the Reed lake.

Robert Rosenbaum [math 1939–1953]: One Sunday in the fall of 1941, I was involved with the preparations for an open house at the Eastport dorm, where I was resident adviser. That morning, I was working in my office in Eliot Hall when my wife, Louise, burst in, exclaiming, “The Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor, and the rest of the campus is attacking Eastport!” I ran back to the residence hall to find students swarming up the outside walls of the building, aided by ivy, hoping to break through the second-floor windows to capture the Doyle Owl, which was being held there. One Eastport resident who was a well-heeled Anglophile had his favorite record on, “There’ll Always Be an England,” while he stood valiantly at this dorm window using a stainless steel crankshaft to rap on the knuckles of students that grasped at the windowsill trying to get in.

Ron Fox ’64: The Doyle Owl was in the possession of the Haberfeld twins, Steve ’63 and Peter ’63, along with three other guys who were all members of the football team. They were the biggest and baddest guys on the campus, and in good humor they would often show the Doyle Owl in the commons during the dinner meal, repelling all attempts to wrest the owl away. One evening after one of these failed attempts, I was walking by the library parking lot when I spotted the Haberfelds’ car. I broke into the car through an open wing window, and found the owl in the trunk. Dwight Read ’64 and I then loaded the owl onto his motorcycle, and took it to a safe place. Dwight eventually drove the owl down to Los Angeles and got it filmed inside a tank at Seaworld, where he had connections, with sharks and sea turtles. Some months later we secretly spliced this film into the Friday night movie on campus.

David Holinstat ’78: At Renn Fayre every year chemistry professor John Hancock used to do an outdoor show called “The Magic of Chemistry,” with all sorts of exploding powders and smoke at the end. The first time I saw it there was a little firework and lots of smoke and then, all of a sudden, underneath the podium Hancock was using, much to his surprise, the Doyle Owl appeared. Then, just as suddenly, it disappeared. As it turned out, it was taken down into the heating tunnels underneath the college. A lot of people then dove down into the tunnels after it. 

Brian Ruess ’87: We got word that a group called the Society for Creative Anachronism was going to be bringing in the Doyle Owl via helicopter as part of a softball game. . .