Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Time Capsule: 1967

Dies Irae
February, 1967: Prospero and Roger Bacon could sing the Dies Irae and apparently John Bellairs could, too.

40 years ago this month Bellairs was an instructor at Shimer College, then located in Mount Carroll, Illinois, and not his happiest. The want for change at the tiny college pitted the administration against the faculty, an event known as the Grotesque Internecine Conflict, making for tense times during the 1966-67 school year. Bellairs had only moved to Mount Carroll the proceeding August but didn't waste any time making a decision about his future and submitted his resignation that November.

During the spring semester, Bellairs continued to teach and express his allegiance with other faculty members, even going as far to march in a protest to the President's residence. This infamous "Funeral March," in which the future author dressed as a pall-bearer, carried a full sized coffin and led the Dies Irae, was described by Bellairs in a letter sent around February 22, 1967 :

"We are in the midst of a violent faculty revolution here. You may read about it in Harper’s magazine later this year. I am in on the fun, along with 15 or so of the faculty, including several of the best liked and most experienced ones, so it’s hardly a Young Turk thing."

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