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Gould and red: a president’s favorite color

Laurence M. Gould, Antarctic explorer and Carleton’s fourth president, was regarded as personable, passionate, and an engaging public speaker. His outfits were eternally accented by flashy ties of one particular color. As Headley and Jarchow wrote in Carleton: The First Century:“Larry Gould proclaimed his liking for any color ‘so long as it is red.’ […] Rare indeed was the student in those days whose attire […] was not vivified by some component colored bright red.”

An April 6, 1938 Carletonian profile of Dr. Gould, then a geology professor, states that he preferred not to dwell on his few dislikes, among them Camel cigarettes and roadside signs. The hue of is apparel was particularly noted. Even his pajamas were “so loud that they keep the whole neighborhood away.” His socks, on the other hand—or foot, as the case may be—were a “sad let-down.”

The Carletonian pointed out that although Gould’s ties were his trademark, they were just one facet of a well-rounded man: “The Gould personality and reputation outshine that of the red tie.” Among Dr. Gould’s many awards and medals was the Knight’s Cross, First Class, of the Order of St. Olav, presented in 1949 by Norway’s King Haakon. Gould often wore the red badge on his lapel.

Larry Gould Day was a tradition that originated in 1932 and continued until his retirement. Each May 16, Carls tried to “out-Gould Gould” by decking themselves out in scarlet, crimson, and candy apple red. Students served the Goulds punch and serenaded them at their home. The City of Northfield joined in the fun by parading the President around campus in a red fire engine.

On March 9, 1946, Gould donated one of his ties to an auction benefiting the Carleton Young Women’s Christian Association. The purchaser of the tie was cautioned to wear it “only on foggy days or after dark.” Winter Carnival included Red Tie Teas in the Severance Tea Room, and during the 1953 Carnival, students fashioned a giant red tie and placed it around the neck of a snow-penguin in front of Laird Hall. Even the bust of Schiller was photographed sporting a red tie.

On February 19, 1960, the Twin Cities alumni club hosted a Red Tie Ball at the Wayzata Country Club, marking Gould’s fifteenth year as College President. A February 15 news release asked that “all male guests wear the vivid neckwear in honor of the occasion.” When Gould retired in 1962, the faculty gifted him a bright red Jeep, the perfect vehicle for Mr. and Mrs. Gould’s new home on a Wyoming ranch. The Jeep was parked in front of Laird Hall during Commencement 1962.

After Gould died in 1995 at the age of 98, many of his personal effects were donated to Carleton, including Oscar the emperor penguin. Oscar donned a red tie on the Chapel stage during Gould’s memorial convocation, at the end of which President Stephen Lewis announced the official naming of the Laurence McKinley Gould Library. Red, bold and exciting, was a suitable color for the man who told the class of ’62, “the meaning of life is adventure.”

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