Monday, November 22, 2010

Black Squirrels, an Alumni Gift


By Monica Greco '13

There are several legends associated with our black squirrels here on campus. One credits their existence to a squirrel lab break, so to speak, and another to an experiment gone awry. Skeptics point out that black squirrels aren’t all that uncommon to begin with. There’s truth in this. I’ve seen black squirrels in New York too, though only in certain parks. (And no, I did not mistake rats for squirrels, take my word for it.)

However, the explanation that I’d prefer to believe is as follows: black squirrels were introduced into the Princeton “environment” as a gift from the esteemed and incredibly generous alumnus, Moses Taylor Pyne.
Legend has it that he sponsored the introduction of both black and orange squirrels, but the orange squirrels have since died out. This is perhaps a gross demonstration of school spirit—but I like it.
However, it makes me curious about other things, in particular, the ladybugs that made homes out of my windowsill last year. These ladybugs also happen to be reppin’ some Princeton school spirit, with their very distinct orange and black coloring. A coincidence? Perhaps, but I’d like to think not! In Princeton v. Mother Nature, it seems so far that we’ve got the upper hand.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

The reference to Moses Taylor Pyne appears to be quite true. Pyne was both a benefactor to the University and a very involved businessman/philanthropist in the town - his funeral procession numbered in the thousands from university staff and townpeople alike.

Anonymous said...

cute! I enjoyed this.

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Anonymous said...

Alumni is the PLURAL form of the Latin word that signifies a graduate of a school.

The ancient Romans, being a male dominant society, had both masculine and feminine endings for the singular nouns. Thus, a male graduate is an alumnUS, and a female graduate is an alumnA. (A pair or more of female graduates would be alumnAE).

As one alumnus notes, when you see a license plate holder that reads "XXXX alumni" there should be at least two graduates aboard!

P.S. While it is generally assumed that an alumnus/a actually graduated, each institution has its own rules. Some alumni merely attended but did not graduate, and at some institutions, attendance must have been for at least a complete year.

Anonymous said...

The ground floor of Guyot Hall used to have an interesting little natural history museum, including a fairly large collection of mounted orange and black insects and small animals. A few of the larger fossils from the museum are still there (now displayed more for aesthetics than education), but the orange and black collection is gone. I hope it's stored in some basement somewhere and not thrown away- someone put a good deal of work into that collection! Maybe the Prox can do a follow-up post on the fate of that little bit of lost Princetoniana.

Anonymous said...

Just for the record: Prince editors, not columnists/bloggers come up with titles. So the misuse of "alumni" is the editor's fault, not Greco's. Plus, Greco was in my Latin class last semester (a 300-level class), and was a beast no less, and so obviously knows how to pluralize Latin nouns.

Just saying.