DAVID GREENE, Host:
When Yale students return from winter break on Monday, a 160-year-old tradition will be shuttered. Mory's Temple Bar, a private club for Yalies, is nearly broke and needs a loan fast. NPR's Brian Reed reports on his alma mater.
BRIAN REED: If you've heard of Mory's, then you're probably my grandparents' age, and you probably remember Rudy Vallee or Bing Crosby covering the Whiffenpoof Song.
(SOUNDBITE OF "WHIFFENPOOF SONG")
BING CROSBY: To the tables down at Mory's To the...
REED: Jamie Warlick business manages the Whiffs, the nation's oldest college a cappella group. They've performed at Mory's every Monday since...
M: January of 1909, so we missed the hundred-year mark by not more than two weeks.
REED: I wasn't a Whiffenpoof. But I was a member of the Society of Orpheus and Bacchus, an SOB. We sang at Mory's on Tuesday nights.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
REED: Singing at Mory's meant singing for cups - giant, silver, two-handled chalices filled with red or gold or green concoctions. They're alcoholic, of course, and you gulp them down while your party serenades you, then you pass the cup around the table.
M: When you drink a cup, you not only imbibe the glory of the alcohol, but the glory of the spit of everyone else that you have been drinking this cup with. It is a shared communion.
REED: That's Barry McMurtrey. He was an SOB and a Whiffenpoof, and he is an active alumnus. Barry estimates that since his freshman year in 1984, he has been to Mory's at least 800 times. But his enthusiasm is rare. In an informal survey of 100 Yale seniors, most of the non-singers said they had been to Mory's at best once a semester. Chris Getman is the new president of Mory's board of governors. He says that before any alumnus will bail them out, they need a business plan to make Mory's relevant to students again.
M: A lot of people come here because of the ambiance of the place. Then they don't come back once they've seen it.
REED: Several students said Mory's made them a bit uncomfortable. One said she disliked the, quote, masculine nostalgia of a club that didn't admit women until 1972. Noel Leon sings at Mory's every other week with Whim 'n Rhythm, the Whiffenpoof's female counterpart. She enjoys Mory's for the same reason that it kind of turns her off.
M: Mory's is really old, and that carries some things that make it really awesome and also make it strange, potentially.
REED: As for Barry? He says asking Yalies to go on without Mory's is like asking Notre Dame students to go to services in a plain, Presbyterian church.
M: We can go through the rituals in other places, but somehow the soul will be missing or languishing to be in its home.
REED: Until his dear old Temple Bar reopens, Barry will spend his Mondays and Tuesdays languishing as well. Brian Reed, NPR News.
GREENE: You can listen to full versions of the Whiffenpoof song and a song by the SOBs - both mention Mory's - on our Web site, npr.org. This is NPR News.
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