Westlands Lawn, 1960

by Katharine Reece MFA '12

Flashback

For the cover of the 1960 yearbook, SLC photographer Gary Gladstone decided to paint the name of the college in the night sky. To accomplish this feat, a series of camera flashes would capture yearbook editor Maggie Tilgner ’60 writing with a flashlight while the camera shutter remained open.

In the afternoon daylight, Gladstone’s crew finished charting the walking route and was about to leave for dinner when they realized it would be impossible to see their markings and reset their equipment in complete darkness. One student ran to her room and brought back a box of lavender talcum powder. They scattered the powder over the marked lines, and smug with their creativity, the group left for dinner.

When they returned, they found that a brief shower and heavy winds had eliminated their careful markings. Then Gladstone caught a whiff of lavender. “Everybody down on your knees and sniff for the lines!” he shouted, and by crawling frantically across the lawn, the group found every marking—except the crucial tripod spot. Dragging his nose through the grass, Gladstone followed a faint wisp of lavender and discovered the marking, as well as a fresh doggie defecation. They shot the photo between bouts of convulsive laughter.

Gladstone, who photographed SLC from 1955 through the 1970s, recently donated his iconic collection of negatives to the College, and Seeley Garden (outside the Esther Raushenbush Library) now hosts a plaque commemorating his groundbreaking work.