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First Family

March 1, 2010

During the 2007 All-Kirkland Reunion, Natalie Babbitt read from her latest book, Jack Plank Tells Tales, and took questions from the audience.  Click on the triangle below to hear a brief sample of her responses:

As a couple, Samuel F. and Natalie Babbitt may have modeled an ideal marriage in the view of Kirkland students, many of whom went on to struggle with issues of work/life balance.  Sam had been Assistant Dean at Yale Graduate School before becoming President (at age 40) at Kirkland College.  Natalie’s career as a children’s book author was just beginning, and her most celebrated works (including Kneeknock Rise, The Search for Delicious, and Tuck Everlasting) were written during their tenure at Kirkland.  Her fame (104,000 Google search results!) ultimately surpassed that of the College.

Both Babbitts also taught at the College; Sam’s specialty was American Studies, and Natalie held popular seminars in book illustration and children’s literature.

Affection for the Babbitts, if not universal, is certainly widespread among the Kirkland community.  These lyrics (author unknown) for a special event illustrate the general sentiment:


Samuel Fisher Babbitt
President of Kirkland
Early in our College life we know
We’ve got it made
As long as you’re our Prexy
Naught can ever faze us.
Hail to our Chief, to whom all laud
be paid.

Natalie Babbitt’s papers now reside with the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at University of Connecticut

Now that we’re all legal
Let’s not get too sober,
let’s keep up our jolly ways, our mud,
our Saga* lines.
Let ad hoc be glorified
By vote of the Assembly
and our dorms be fixed
before our Joe resigns.

Samuel Fisher Babbitt
President of Kirkland
Natalie and Christopher
And Tom and Lucy , too.
How we love all Babbitts
May you wave in triumph
First in our hearts, our halls,
Forever – YOU

Title Page

“The 49th Magician” title page ©1966 Natalie Babbitt

* Saga provided campus food services during the period.

NOTE: These lyrics were found on a single sheet in my collection, with no date or author.  Any intelligence on their origin,  melody or the occasion would be most welcome.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Isabel Weinger-Nielsen permalink
    March 2, 2010 12:16 am

    This sounds like something Elaine Weiss ’73 would have written – I’ll e-mail her and ask. I think it was for a testimonial dinner in NYC late in 1978 (?) honoring the Babbitts. I took color photos and will scan some if I can find them – I wonder if any of the photos are in the archives?
    Isabel ’76

  2. pamela shipley permalink
    March 2, 2010 4:51 am

    does anyone know the TUNE to that amazing song?

  3. Margaret Doris permalink
    January 18, 2023 8:59 am

    “Joe” would be the custodian responsible for custodial services and upkeep of the Kirkland dorms. I can’t recall his last name with any certainty at the moment, but I believe it was Mason. His cheerful, bellowed warning “Man on Floor!” was legendary, was his occasional nemesis Olive, the free-range campus dog.

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