Sailing to Oxford

On September 27, 1961, almost all of the 31 other new American Rhodes Scholars and I gathered for a sailing luncheon at the University Club on 54th Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Our host was Courtney Smith, the American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust and the President of Swarthmore College. Mr. Smith wished us all well on this next stage of our journey, and we all met one another, most for the first time. (The only one of us who subsequently became well-known was David Souter as Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.)

S.S. United States
Duane Krohnke on S.S. United States

The next day we all boarded the S.S. United States for our voyage to the United Kingdom. For the next five days we met one another one-on-one and in group social occasions and enjoyed the ocean-liner experience.

After a short call at Le Havre, France, we disembarked at Southampton on the south coast of England. We were met by E.T. Williams, the Secretary of the Rhodes Trust and the Warden of Rhodes House in Oxford. He directed us to the motor coach that took us to Oxford where we were dropped off at our respective colleges. Bob Orrill, a Rhodes Scholar from Purdue University, and I were the only ones for Worcester College.

On a beautiful moonlit night the College porter escorted me to my room in the Nuffield Building. He proudly said that Worcester was one of the oldest colleges in the University. This was my introduction to the Oxford and English respect for (and worship of?) antiquity, real or imagined.

Worcester College's 13th century cottages

I was amused by the porter’s comment because I knew from books that Worcester was not one of the oldest colleges. Yes, it still used 13th century Dominican monk cottages, but they were from Gloucester Hall, which was dissolved by King Henry VIII, and only later incorporated into Worcester College when it was founded in 1714.[1]

In Nuffield Building, which was built in 1950, I had a small room on the third floor. The next morning I met my “scout,” the college servant assigned to the men in the rooms on one of the staircases of the building. I now was situated in my home for the first academic year at the University of Oxford.


[1] See Post: Celebrating Oxford’s Worcester College’s 700th Anniversary (May 29, 2011).

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dwkcommentaries

As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

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