The Vagabond


POPS! Leaping from the limbo of the Vagabond's mind come memories of other Springs, misty recollections of picnics in the vicinity of Wayland, followed by their inevitable softball games, of mad rushes under Massachusetts Avenue in pursuit of the 150's with sudden death lurking in every whitewalled wheel, of tandem bicycle rides in Brookline, of lengthy collateral assignments for History 1, of warm evenings on Mt. Auburn Street, of dust and bats and paper cups on the ball field, and of well-meant oaths of fealty to some sweet, starry-eyed blonde about to be ravished by the iniquitous practices of the coming debutante season.

Yes, the Pops have a strange recollective quality about them, and the Vagabond sits with a claret lemonade in his hand steeping himself in the past. He remembers this same Symphony Hall under the uncivilized spell of Benny Goodman's baton and marvels that a building can be so versatile in its atmosphere. He remembers a superb woman violin soloist of former years who later married a popular Boston orchestra leader, and while the purples and reds of Ravel swirl from the orchestra, he wonders how in the world the management reaches those chandeliers to change the bulbs. He sees disillusioned Seniors relaxing momentarily before their leap at the Divisional hurdles, he sees . . . Ah! The intermission.

The program says "Members of the Courtney School have taken tables"--and here they come; with the plainness of youth in their faces they hurry self-consciously down the aisle. Betty Alden has left her Beacon Hill underworld to jot notes on criminals at large and passes by to speak to the Herald's music critic. Tomorrow we will see in her column, "Miss So-and-So came down from the North Shore and wore sophisticated black . . . . Miss Snitz, one of our most charming buds, was enjoying herself among the older people," etc. The whole evening--the music, the audience, the atmosphere--has a certain nostalgic pleasantness that the Vagabond can never forget.

The Pops are Boston, and Boston is the place where the Vagabond has spent four years, for good or for evil, for better or for worse, and though he damns himself for swimming in a sea of sentimentalism, he loves the Pops and their provincial narrowness.

"Won't we have fun feeding peanuts to the elephants!" comes from a young lady across the aisle, and the rest of her conversation dies in the bitter-sweet waves of the "Blue Danube."