A friend of mine from Penn shared on Facebook this article about the last of “Munger’s men,” those who played for Penn’s last big-time football coach from the late 1930s through 1953. After that, Penn’s reputation as football powerhouse faded with their de-emphasis of athletics:
Prudente, who went on to a three-sport coaching career at Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges, remembered how he went to Munger when he first got into coaching, asking for a playbook. Munger told him there was no playbook. They had playbooks for practically every opponent but no opponent had one for Penn.
“You played for Penn,” Munger told him. “You have the fundamentals.”
It’s a beautiful testament to another era in the University of Pennsylvania’s life that these lettermen have been getting together for more than half a century to recall their time for new generations. Now numbering fewer than ten, one of the men “suggested the group officially continue after their own days as the Mungermen, Sons and Daughters.”
What once was can be again. Keeping the memory of different eras alive is an enormous part of what allows future generations to imagine things in their own time can be different.
All of this spoke to me, especially in light of my grandmother’s death. She often recounted her experiences at Penn from 1946-50, many of which included Penn football games, including the Penn-Cornell game, where Penn students once mutilated Cornell’s alma mater, taunting: “Far above Cayuga’s waters/20,000 sons of bitches!/call themselves Cornell.”