Growing Ivy, Brown

Brown University est. 1764

One of the finer results of travel is unintentional learning.  One would think that in touring our country’s historical institutions of education, one would expect to learn a thing or two, but it’s that third thing you learn that comes as a surprise.  The answers to questions you never knew to ask are the ones that stick with you. 

Surprisingly Roman statue... everywhere else has colonial guys.

Question like, who is this Roman looking guy on the horse, and why did I just realize now that Dartmouth had no statues? 

Did this architect make an Ivy League tour, or is there a requirement for a building in this style to be built before an institution could be considered Ivy? Hmmm, the chicken or the egg?

And of course the obvious question as to what colonial era college does NOT have a building that boasts to at one time served as the headquarters for a revolutionary army? 

The original building, and at the time the only building, that became Brown University.

On my many ventures, southern and otherwise, I have seen many 1st Baptist Churches.  I have never, till now, actually seen THE first Baptist church.  Turns out it’s in Providence, right down the hill from Brown. 

America's oldest Baptist church.

Also down the hill from Brown is a row of houses, one of which is covered in relief carvings and contains the art studios of the Providence Art Club. 

The Fleur-de-Lis Studios.

Letting gravity take its course, drawing me further down the hill,  I the found the Euro Deli & Cafe.  A quaint little shop filled with bookish looking patrons, this deli produces a treasure worth noting.  Hot chocolate with a healthy dosage of cayenne pepper!  This Aztec treat should clue historians in to why the Conquistadors really invaded Mexico.  I had no need to rally troops and burn my ships, I only needed to hand the woman $1.50.

Euro Deli & Cafe.

 Perhaps Brown’s greatest acheivement was losing the Rose Bowl to Washington State in 1916.  This game was the second time football had been played in California’s annual festival of the Roses, the first being a western embarassment at the hands of Michigan some years earlier, but was the first in what would become an annual tradition.  Of course that tradition now rarely, if ever, includes Brown.

Waiting in line at the Brown Bookstore, I was looking at a portrait of that 1916 Brown team, and over on the left hand side was a brown player.  Brown as in, very distinctly, an African-American.  That was Fritz Pollard, the same man who would in 1922 become the NFL’s first black coach.  Go Brown!

Ahhh the good old days of the gridiron.  Old institutions putting forward young men to do battle.  Men wore hats, sports writers were poetic, and a black man could run the ball.  This brings us back to looking for answers we never knew to ask.

Mr. Pollard played in the Rose Bowl 54 years before USC’s famous game against Bama in 1970.  Mr. Pollard was professionally coach Pollard more than 80 years before a man of his race coached in the superbowl.

Progress is often slow because progress sometimes goes backwards.  It is the case with both individuals and societies that while time marches steadily ahead, people don’t steadily go the same direction.

I realized this at Brown.

I'm not sure this was the moment I realized that humans digress, but I am positive this is when I realized this was a great cup of hot chocolate.