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Tracking Auden

As a footnote to your piece [in the January Bulletin] about the connection between Swarthmore and the railroad, may I offer an image that has stayed with me all these years?

Oh, yes, the train was our link between Swarthmore and the wider world of Philadelphia. Cars were not allowed at the college, but we didn’t miss them in 1944–45 when I was a member of the Navy’s V–12 program, because gas rationing was in effect.

To get to the village, we had to walk down Magill and then go through the dank, narrow, dark tunnel under the railroad tracks. We never thought anything of doing that; it took only a moment. However, I surmised that the poet W. H. Auden, who was living in the town and teaching at the College that year, did not like that tunnel. His method of getting to the other side was going over the tracks and over the fence in the middle. In his great coat with the collar turned up and carrying his books, he was a wonderful sight and reminded me every time of the courage and independence of man.

Edward Johnson ’46
Dover, N.H.

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