a personal preface
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7
could see practically every important motion picture, American or
foreign, ever made.”
I am trying to tell, as thoroughly as I can, the story of the Scales
years, and I am trying to recover what I think was the mood, the
atmosphere of those years, but I know that I will never really suc-
ceed. I can read every issue of Old Gold and Black, turn the pages
of every Howler, review the official catalogs and alumni magazines,
examine all the Trustee records, interview others who were here
with me, and yet I will never be able to say what was happening in
those places where students were alone—or where they saw just
each other—and in the minds and hearts of those same young men
and women for whom colleges and universities exist. Their stories,
collectively and individually, are the true history of whatever is
lasting and significant about a college: what was said one day in
a classroom, what was discussed one night in a dormitory, a few
words of encouragement from a friend, a moment of unexpected
joy or sorrow or disappointment or hope; what happened once on
Pub Row or backstage at the Theatre, in the middle of a debate or
a concert, in a locker room before a critical game, after midnight
at a fraternity party, during a Scripture reading in Chapel; what
suddenly took place while someone was looking through a micro-
scope or reading a book in the library stacks or hurrying across the
campus for an appointment or going home for the Christmas holi-
days or cheering at the Coliseum. These events—remembered but
not usually recorded for anyone to read—are what really count about
Wake Forest or about any college, and sadly—in this “public” his-
tory—I can only hint at the interiors of all those interwoven lives
that make up the enormously complex—and, for me, endlessly
fascinating—life of a college campus. “Time past and time future,”
T.S. Eliot said, “Point to one end, which is always present.” And the
present tense, not the past tense, is the true tense of college life. For
it is in the present—the present that was yesterday, the present that
will be tomorrow, the present that is now—it is in that present that
students live—it is where they “Hold infinity in the palm” of their
hands. History, Eliot wrote, is “a pattern of timeless moments.” How
can a “historian”—like myself—be expected to find, underneath or
within the narrative, the “pattern of timeless moments”?
I must also confess that even though, because of the change in
the name of the institution in 1967, this volume carries the title of
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