21 Dec 2008

“Pass and Be Forgotten With the Rest”

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The Whiffenpoofs of 2005 at Mory’s

Old Blues thought it was depressing when the Yankee Doodle closed last January.

Well, things can get worse.

When students return after winter break, Mory’s, beset like General Motors with overly generous union contracts precluding any prospect of profitability, will have shut down, possibly permanently.

Mory’s, a 19th century bar and hangout of Yale undergraduates, upon the retirement of its beloved proprietor Louis Linder in 1912, was purchased by alumni, moved bodily from Temple Street (where it was in the way of development) to a new location on York Street, and transformed into a private club.

Yale undergraduates became eligible to purchase life memberships upon arriving at the dignity of Sophomore year. Membership was restricted in the first half of the last century to the rich, white, and Protestant, but by the 1950s, all Yale undergraduates were admitted.

Mory’s made permanent enemies of a large number of its members in the early 1970s when its board levied an unprecedented assessment intended to pay legal fees for resistance to coeducation. Yale had coeducated its student body in 1970. If you didn’t pay your assessment, Mory’s revoked your membership. A lot of Yale alumni did not support the males-only membership policy, or objected to an assessment they had no opportunity to vote on, and refused to pay.

Back in the 1970s, the union made Mory’s close in the early evening, shortening work hours, but permanently ending late night undergraduate conviviality and reducing business.

The rise of Puritanism and Paternalism more recently restored the 21 year old drinking age, reduced to 18 in the days of the Boomer generation’s youth. National attention was increasingly directed by the media to undergraduate mishaps resulting from alcohol, and the Yale administration and the police responded by stepping up enforcement of underage drinking prohibition.

It’s not easy making a go of it as an alleged undergraduate club, if you don’t let most undergraduates drink. Yale bureaucrats and urban haute bourgeoisie in provincial and decaying New Haven are not adequate as a replacement customer base, and the fatal influence of bien pensant liberal politics gave away the farm to the waiters’ union years ago.

The Yale Daily News talks about “updating,” “modernizing,” and getting into step with the spirit of the age, but the handwriting of doom has been overlaying undergraduate graffiti on the oak panelling in the old Temple Bar for years.


In memory of the old Mory’s, listen to Rudy Vallee (Y 1927) singing The Whiffenpoof Song 3:13 video

4 Feedbacks on "“Pass and Be Forgotten With the Rest”"

Walter Olson

Meanwhile John Wilhelm, whose work as a labor organizer did so much to destroy the club (and a lot else that used to be charming about New Haven), has gone on to fame as a figure in the world of unions nationally. At least Elizabeth Dole, of 21-year-old drinking age fame, lost her Senate seat.

Michael Lawler

The drinking age in Connecticut during yours and my time at Yale (1966 ff.) was 21. It was 18 in neighboring New York until 1984 when the Feds weighed in, though it had long been under pressure from Connecticut and New Jersey to protect their youth from the sin of cross-border alcoholic consumption.



CT lowered it to 18 in 1972, then raised it back, one year at a time, in 1982, 1983, and 1985.


The Conn. drinking age during much of my time, which covered much of the 70s and briefly overlapped with David’s, was 18. Otherwise I would not have been able to live at Rudy’s.


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