As one who has devoted study to the significance of the number 47 to Pomona College, I was tickled recently to receive that number at a restaurant and place it in a stand to receive my order. As numbers go, 47 has more gravitas than most.
Click below to read my own version of 47.
This item appeared in my column on March 13, 2011.
IN POMONA College lore, the number 47 looms large. In 1964, a group of science-minded high school students invited to the Claremont campus for the summer wondered if a number chosen randomly could then be found anywhere one looked. They chose 47.
“Soon after,” Freeman Allen, a retired chemistry professor, wrote in a letter to the Claremont Courier last year, “the Claremont exit to the then-new 10 Freeway was numbered 47. The rest is history.”
Forty-sevens have been found all over campus. That’s the number of students in the first graduating class, the number of pipes in the top row of the Lyman Hall organ, the number of characters in the school motto.
An alumnus, Joseph Menosky, impishly included the number in various episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” as the length of time a character was unconscious, the number of a space relay station, etc.
Last November, in a culmination of the tradition, the refurbished Smith Memorial Tower’s clock was set to chime each hour on the 47th minute, from 9:47 a.m. to 5:47 p.m.
One further milestone suggests itself.
Since the foolishness of 47 is said to have begun in 1964, that means 2011 is 47’s 47th anniversary.
That was an easy calculation for me to make. On Monday, your 1964-born columnist, a Claremont resident who lives near the campus, turns 47.
When the bell tolls Monday morning, perhaps it will toll for me.