Written By: India Anamanthadoo
For many of us, graduation is a terribly frightening prospect, not because it means initiation into the “real” world or the possible loss of high-school friends, but because it means having to come up with your graduation quote. If you find the idea of having to find a single quote—one that fully encompasses your personality, hints at your future success, and, at the same time, makes you appear wise and mature—daunting, well, that’s because it is.
Nowadays, most Harbord graduates choose to quote a song or “wise” thinker; however, this raises the problem of having the same quote as another graduate, which can be embarrassing and awkward for both. Others choose to leave a personal message, usually pertaining to an “inside joke” between their friends, which fails to give yearbook-readers any idea of that graduate’s personality (other than that they were exclusive). So what are we to do?
To find the answer, you need look no further than Harbord’s past yearbooks. Instead of meaningless quotes, each graduate’s photo is accompanied by a small blurb about the student that is written by a member of the yearbook committee after a short interview with the graduate. Not only do these mini-bios paint a picture of what the student was like during their time at Harbord, but they are also hilarious.
According to the 1950-51 yearbook, graduate Jack Gwartz “wants to be a surgeon so he can dig for buried treasure…” and, when interviewed, Sidney Chusid “had only one thing to say, ‘I prefer blondes’”. Another graduate of that year, the handsome John Stroz, was accompanied by this mini-bio: “His magnetic personality, charm and humour make him the desire of EVERY red-blooded Canadian girl”.
Stanley Taube (1954) apparently “loves wine, women and Latin poetry” and has future plans of “ludicrous wealth”. Jean Pawlyshyn, who graduated in 1964, is “one of those people who would be popular even with smallpox”. I couldn’t help but laugh when I read 1972 graduate Robert Raymond’s written blurb:
“Needless to say, he has to be the coolest guy going. He likes freaky hairdos, playing football and having a great time. With his great looks and sex appeal, his hopes are to continue and better his education.”
Clearly, current Harbord grads are missing out on this lost tradition. When I flip through my yearbook in 15 years, I want to remember my classmates, friends or foe, in all their glory—not by an undecipherable quote. That being said, it is a little unrealistic to expect the yearbook class to have to interview every single graduating student—the student population is much larger than it was in the decades before.
Nonetheless, the loss of this great tradition is but one of the many things that have led to the unfortunate decline of the Harbord yearbook.