The Bobcats dance band were a Saturday night fixture.
H. Jay Burns, Managing Editor
The alumni of the Bates Bobcats dance band are a loyal group, so I should’ve expected the polite and purposeful phone calls. They came after the magazine chose the worst place — in an obituary, last year — to misspell the name of their early ’40s leader, the late Howard Jordan ’44.
Lou Scolnik ’45, retired from the Maine Supreme Judicial Court (but more important for this context, the Bobcats’ tenor sax player) came down from his Mountain Avenue home to render his decision on the matter. He described how the Bobcats were a Saturday night fixture at Chase Hall in the years before World War II. (The band’s origins date back to the early 1930s.) “You looked out at so many people dancing,” he remembered. “It felt really good. The campus was unified on those evenings.”
I was interested. Scolnik then tipped me off about writer Bruce Park ’44, a retired college English professor living in Mobile, Ala. (but more important for this context, the Bobcats’ piano player). Park wrote this issue’s story on the Bobcats band, as it existed right before World War II.
In recent years, we have learned again how the war disrupted the hopes and destroyed the innocence of a generation. Bruce Park’s story on the Bobcats, illuminating Bates student life in the early 1940s through the lens of jazz and dance, gives us yet another bittersweet example of what was lost.