One of my favorite memories of Harvey Mudd College came during my senior year (spring 1973). Several of us were taking the Modern American Drama class from Dr. Davenport and, rather than taking a final just before graduation, we were doing a project. Bob Peak and I wrote a play for the group to perform (“The Corn Mutating Cane Marshall”) which was mainly a silly farce, but which tried to incorporate a lot of the themes from the plays we had studied in class. As a result, one of the interludes in our performance became an “Off-Off-Off Broadway” tableau, which was more than a bit vulgar – in keeping with the theme.
As it happened, we were rehearsing for our one and only performance one afternoon on a stage in Gallileo Hall when Joe and Jean Platt walked in, with (I believe) her mother in tow, on a tour of the campus. Of course, this occurred right in the middle of the “Triple O.-B.” scene. The three of them stood there semi-dumbstruck for a few moments and then departed with great aplomb. Joe (yes, I know I should say “Dr. Platt” but after many nights of sing-alongs, he was always “Joe” to us) even came back to apologize for intruding, saying that he hoped he had not inhibited our artistic expression.
What a wonderful person he was and his concern for the students and love of the college did a huge amount to make the HMC experience worthwhile. I am certain that I am not alone in saying that he was one of the more positive influences on my life.