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.

Unaware of the awesome power of 47? You can read about it here, in more detail here and about the new clock-chiming tradition here.

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.

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  • Kate Seeger


  • John Clifford

    So this week’s restaurant will be Fatburger in Pomona?

    Glad to see you do hit the top spots in town.

    [It’s also where I found the playing card in the gutter a couple of weeks back. Top spots indeed. — DA]

  • An uncanny disguise! The hairstyle is a bit of a giveaway, though.


    “The series revolves around Agent 47 (usually simply referred to as “47” or “Mr. 47″), an assassin-for-hire, whose flawless record places him in high demand among the wealthy and elite.”

    [My target at that moment: a small hamburger and fries. Strike accomplished. — DA]

  • But we all know that the purpose of this post was not to reveal your secret identity. The purpose of this post was for you to hint that you want birthday presents.

    Now if I can just round up 47 bound volumes of city council minutes from Upland, Pomona, Ontario, and other hot cities. You’ve lived through those city council meetings — now re-live them (and others)!

    [Once was enough. Besides, you’re six months late, John (note date on original “47” item). Or is that six months early? — DA]

  • DebB

    Yesterday I was telling a friend about the significance of 47, and he was laughing at it. He said that if you focus your attention on something like that, it will seem important even if it isn’t. “Like the license of the car in front of us,” he said. “It ends in 47.” … startled glance … significant pause … Who’s laughing now?

    [Eerie. — DA]

  • Bob Terry

    In 1974, I was hired by Sparkletts Drinking Water in Irwindale to become a 5-gallon bottled water delivery salesman. I was 15 pounds under their minimum weight, 135 compared to 150, but they hired me anyway. The 1st 5 years were all glass bottles at 55 lbs. each, then they went to plastic which was about 38 lbs. After being a relief driver for about a year and a half I finally got my own route in Whittier. Every route in Irwindale started with 50……my route number for 10 years in Whittier was 50…….47!!!!!

    [50 is your 47, eh? — DA]