Friday, July 3, 2020

Once Again To Zelda

Well, that was fun.

TigerBlog is referring to the question he asked yesterday about who the man in the picture was.

Here's one more hint:
"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy. They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money, or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that held them together, leaving others to clean up the mess they had made."

Only one person got the correct answer, and that came on Twitter. It was from "Tigre Triste," who got it right, or presumably got it right, with a response of "FSF."

If "FSF" stands for "F. Scott Fitzgerald," then yes, that's the correct answer.

As TB said in his four hints yesterday:
1) you've definitely heard of him
2) you are very familiar with his accomplishments
3) he's a Princeton alum
4) he's quite possibly the best-ever at what he did

All of those apply. And for all the times that you've read or studied about him, did you ever see his picture, let alone his picture at Princeton?

TB got a few guesses yesterday as the person's identity. Most of those guesses were Hobey Baker.

Interestingly enough, Hobey Baker and F. Scott Fitzgerald both died on Dec. 21, although 22 years apart. Between the two of them, they lived a total of 70 years, though in many ways both will live forever.

They're also linked in literature.

Fitzgerald's first novel was "This Side Of Paradise," which featured a main character named Amory Blaine and a minor character named Allenby. Amory was Hobey Baker's middle name; the character of Allenby was based on Baker himself.

Fitzgerald spent his childhood moving from Minnesota (St. Paul) to upstate New York (Buffalo, Syracuse) before coming to Princeton in 1913. He tried out for the football team but didn't make it, and apparently he owned a tennis racket.

Of course, his most famous work was the 1925 novel "The Great Gatsby," which tells the story of the ultra-rich Tom and Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby, as told by the upper middle class Nick Carraway. There's not a wasted word in the entire book - not even in the dedication, which is to his wife: "Once Again To Zelda."

Tom, like Nick, is 30 in the book, which is set in 1922. That would make Nick likely a member of the Yale Class of 1914.

This would also mean that he would have been at Yale when Baker was at Princeton.

Were that the case, then the three Hobey Baker vs. Tom Buchanan matchups were definitely defensive minded. Princeton beat Yale 6-3 in 1911 to win the national championship, and then there were two straight ties, with a 6-6 final in 1912 and a 3-3 final in 1913.

Tom is often described by his physical size and prowess in the book. He's also a jerk, which is probably why Nick says this about him: "He was one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterwards savours of anti-climax."

Of course, in the real world of Ivy League athletics, it's what you learn during your limited time as an athlete that helps shape you for the rest of your life, not what defines your existence forever, with no way to ever match it.

And it was a fun exercise to give you the picture, and to talk about F. Scott Fitzgerald's world.

He died when he was only 44, and "The Great Gatsby" didn't achieve the status it now enjoys until after his death. He was part of a magical time at Princeton and then when he embarked on his writing career, and his works today all these years later serve as a reminder of what that world was.

As for this world, Princeton and the Ivy League have both announced big decisions on the future in the coming days. TigerBlog has heard every kind of speculation ,and he doesn't have any of the answers yet.

He'll wait it out with everyone else to see what comes next. Whatever it is, Princeton Athletics will still be teaching the same lessons and the same values that it always has, and those lessons and values were essential to all during this past surreal spring.

In the meantime, it's the Fourth of July weekend.

TigerBlog hopes everyone gets to enjoy it, and he hopes that everyone is staying safe.

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