The Red Coats Are Coming: 50 Years of the Cardinal Blazer at MIT

The Red Coats Are Coming: 50 Years of the Cardinal Blazer at MIT


MIT is a life-changing experience. MIT is home. And MIT has been home for almost all my life. Certainly ever since the first years here. And there are two things in the life at MIT that stick with you the rest of your life, and they’re not the things that you would think. One of the most important is the ability to wear a brass rat and have people know you came from MIT. The second, is the Cardinal Blazer of the 50th Reunion. One hundred years ago, in 1916 the MIT Class of 1916 graduated. They were, of course, the very last class to take all their coursework in Boston. They called themselves the, “Last and Finest Class of Boston Tech,” and they were part and parcel of the immense celebration that dedicated the new campus here in Cambridge. This is a class that loved to get together. They didn’t wait five years they had reunions, it seems, almost every year down on the Cape. But when they got to their 50th reunion they wanted to make it special. I remember 1966 when I saw the cardinal blazers for the first time. There’s really nothing like it. It was such a wonderful flashy, thing to see alumni wearing their cardinal blazers. And for me, I’ve looked forward to it for 50 years. I got to know a number of the ’14, ’15, ’16 Class quite well. In fact some were of the age that they still came and volunteered in the Museum, and they all took an interest in making the history of MIT. And, all of them were proud wearers of the red jackets at every instance they possibly could. I frequently tell alumni that the red jacket, after your 50th reunion, is your MIT uniform for life. You’ll be able to wear it at MIT function that you go to ever. I know a lot of alumni who really treat it and wear it proudly because it will certainly identify you, just as much as your brass rat, as an alumnus of MIT. I’m Lester Gould, and we’re at Gould’s Clothing in Acton, MA. My dad began Gould’s Clothing in 1934 and we’re the official source for the MIT 50th Reunion outfits. We’re very proud of that. It’s a fascinating group of people. A group of people who really have changed the world. So the MIT outfit consists of a cardinal red blazer; its accessorized with what they call the Freshman Tie, and the crest. They can choose to have the MIT buttons put on, instead of the classic, generic blazer button that it comes with. It’s a great momento of the occasion. I think the do feel special when they come in and try on the blazer, or receive it when I send them. I get a lot of emails saying how great it looks and how pleased they are. I always tell class officers and reunion committees that they reject MIT tradition at their peril. And the example that I give them is the Class of 1923 who’s class officers at their 50th reunion decided that they wanted to be different. They voted to wear white jackets instead of red jackets, in spite of the by now established tradition of the red jacket. Well, they looked very impressive but, at the Commencement Luncheon when their class meeting was held, all of the incumbent officers where voted out of office and a new slate of officers put in because people really were not happy with a white jacket instead of a red. There is not another MIT class since then that has gone to something other than the red jacket. It really is a very powerful tradition. It must be important to all of us. It certainly is to me. At MIT we tell stories about our past to inspire us to do great things for the future and I have my fingers crossed that the graduating class of 2016 will dream up some tradition that 50 years from now when they come back to celebrate their 50th reunion, when they are wearing their cardinal blazers for the first time, that they have thought to start a tradition that connects now 150 years of students, really 200 years, if you will, of MIT student life.

8 Replies to “The Red Coats Are Coming: 50 Years of the Cardinal Blazer at MIT”

  1. The bonds between time of old and new are truly mesmerising. Being a Cardinal is certainly sacred!

  2. 50 years of blood from the heart..make it count.  make sure all things u guys make is safe in the environment and living things. will these things u make affect water, food sources..yes so what are u gonna do about it? we all depend on environment for our health and well being now and future. biodegradable has to be all biology-degradable but not in food or water for animals or people or ruin environment. don't extort too much natural resources (or derivative of)  to make stuff also because of the impact on environment and health of environment and all of us. care about global future

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