Father Scott, Hail to Thee

My Campion experience started August 25, 1948 when I debarked from the Burlington Zephyr, suitcase in hand and subsequently made my way to experience the shock, dismay and awe, inter alia of the assigned thirty square feet (if that) cubicle in Kostka Hall that was to be home until May, etc., etc.

Father Aspenleiter was new at that time and Mr Kalb was a first year prefect. Father Scott had not achieved the venerated super status he later enjoyed, and was assigned to monitor Freshman evening study hall in Kostka Hall. He would enter the hall quietly, ascend the steps to the platform that had a chair and desk positioned thereon, seat himself at the desk and prepare the next days Physics class lesson. Father Scott at the time was a total mystery because he never spoke to any of us. He was a priest who taught in the Senior Division so we assumed he had little use for freshmen in the Junior Division. We thought that he must have been "paying his dues" in the seniority pecking order among the Jesuits at the time to have been "stuck" monitoring a Freshman evening study hall.

One warm evening in September, the study hall windows were all open and a bat flew in following an erratic course, fluttering here and there. The result was chaos. After about 5 - 10 minutes of frenetic activity attempting to do something with it, the bat finally flew out the window and order was restored. Father did crack a smile during that event, as I guess he was witnessing the miraculous technology of flight, which was a part of the physics that he loved.

Some number of evenings later, with the same temperature conditions prevailing, the windows were open and a bat again flew into the study hall. We 12/13 year olds thought that this would be another opportunity to abandon the study and silence that was the steadfast rule and engage in some free spirited activity. The bat made a couple of sorties around the room and was headed from the front of the study hall room (i.e. left to right) to the area where Father Scott was seated. At a point in time just nanoseconds earlier than its arrival at the desk area, Father, abandoning the preparation of his lesson, arose from his chair. While swiftly rising to his feet, he concurrently retrieved a tennis racket from the large satchel he had brought with him. The interloping bat's radar means were not quick enough to avoid a powerful forehand from Father Scott, who kept his eye on the fuzzy ball-like creature, took a powerful swing (he was exceptionally strong) and sent it sizzling back to the front of the room from whence it came. It was a laser shot using a form worthy of Pete Sampras and made it game, set and match.

The flattened carcass was quickly retrieved and put out of the window. Some astonished laughter, an abbreviated applause and then silence again reigned.

We knew after the incident that this was a special person not to be toyed with or taken lightly; and further, he was as resourceful and innovative as they come. In retrospect, it was a real time demonstration of Newton's laws of motion.

Later, as juniors and taking physics, our class got a big kick out of Father Scott. He would get those experiments going, and even if it went awry , and he would catch 1000 volts that would stun him, he remained stoic and never flinched or let on that he'd been zapped and would always remark: "This is most amazing phenomenon."

I did witness him getting upset with a student or two over the years and he could be very stern and assert himself in no uncertain terms. He is/was such a tranquil, dignified gentleman that he taught by example as well as by word. He was and is a wonderful man and we all owe a great deal to him. We are all a composite of our experiences and what Father Scott imparted to each us made us a better person.

Instead of CAMPION hail to thee, the chant today is Father Scott hail to thee.

As an aside I happen to have a good sized pool at my home. I noticed this year, in particular, that at dusk, there are a number of bats which arrive to swoop down toward the water with me in it. Taking a leaf from Father Scott's notebook, I now have a tennis racket at the ready poolside to dissuade any flying rodent seeking to share space with me.

Regards Tom Beck
Class of '52