"Bright College Years"— Fifty Years Apart
Toby Berger (I’ve always called him Grandpa Toby) enrolled at Yale College in 1958. His middle class, Jewish upbringing made him an atypical Yale student at that time. But it didn’t take long for him to prove to his professors and his peers that he belonged there. He graduated with the highest grade point average in the Electrical Engineering major. He also won multiple History essay prizes. And he accomplished all of this while maintaining a long-distance relationship with his high school sweetheart and future wife, my Grandma Florence.
When I was deciding where to go to college, I thought a lot about Grandpa Toby. His kindness, his intellectual curiosity, and his steadfast devotion as a husband, father and grandfather have always made
me admire him deeply. If Yale could help me become a man like him, I thought, then it is a place worth going to.
During the summer before I went north to New Haven, Grandpa Toby attended his fiftieth college reunion.
His experience there, and my decision to attend Yale, filled him with more school pride than ever. Before I left home, he wanted to make sure I knew how to sing the classic Yale song “Bright College Years.” He played the opening notes on his harmonica, and then began singing in a completely different key. But we made it through the song, and afterwards he gave me a card with the lyrics on it, presumably from one of his reunion dinners. I took it with me to Yale, and have kept it in my desk ever since. When I look at it, I am reminded that I am more than just a "legacy" student at Yale. I am part of my Grandpa Toby’s legacy.
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