‘Twas the night before comps…


Twas the night before comps, when all through Hays Hall
All the seniors were cramming, not playing dodge ball.
The posters were hung in the hallway with care,
In hopes Celebration day soon would be here.

The chemists were nestled all snug at their tables,
And making their flash cards with all kinds of labels.
While Scott Feller in farm boots, and I in my coat,
Had just finished penning one last helpful note.

When up in the lab there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my desk to see what was the matter.
Upstairs to 316 I flew like a flash,
Tore open the fume hood and threw up the sash.

The lab exam contents were strewn ‘cross the bench
with billows of smoke and a horrible stench!
I then saw a sight that could not be ignored
A man dressed in red and white at the chalkboard!

With a list of “Be Able Tos”, writing from memory
I knew in a jif it was
St. Wally Chem’stry.
More rapid than thermite reactions they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Wittig! Diels-Alder! Aldol condensation!
Combustion! Addition! Esterification!
Know reactants! And products! And all energetics!
Show stereochem, arrows, quantum mechanics!”

The students got paper and started to write,
While hoisting more than a few prayers to the sky.
Then down to the second floor lab they all flew,
Where St. Wally showed them their instruments, too

The AA-how it twinkled! The IR how merry!
Block diagrams, simple! NMR isn’t scary!
Discussed sensitivity and selectivity
St. Wally, he also espoused relativity

A Ranin pipetman he held in his hand,
And he searched on a gel for dark protein band.
His hair was all wavy, and I almost could see it
resembled a beta strand or alpha helix

He was chubby and plump, a slow metabolism?
From mutation, inhibition, or alcoholism?
With point groups and coordination all in their heads,
Inorganic behind them, now nothing to dread.

He had some last words to help them with their work,
Then he laid out the blue books, and turned with a jerk.
He waltzed out of the lab to a familiar hum
The sounds of Old Wabash they quietly sung

He sprang down the stairs and went out the front door
To disappear back into college folklore
But we heard him exclaim, ‘ere he vanished from sight,
"Happy Comps and, remember, Wabash Always Fights!"


with thanks to Patrick Taylor (and apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)

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