Amherst Magazine

Merrill Van De Graaff '62

Submitted by Craig H. Morgan

From The Olio

Van de Graaff MERRILL VAN DE GRAAFF
3043 Adams Avenue, Ogden, Utah.
Prepared at Ogden Senior High School.
English.
Phi Kappa Psi
Literary Magazine, Co-Chairman.
Colin Armstrong Poetry Prize

Merrill Van de Graaff '62, died March 13, 1974
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Remembrance

Merrill's brother wrote the following remembrance for our reunion book.

After my brother Merrill graduated from Amherst College, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and attended the Language Training School in Monterey, California. He then served with the Army Intelligence Service in Berlin, Germany, as an interpreter.

After his three year enlistment. he stayed in Germany for another year before returning home and attending Hastings Law School in San Francisco, from which he graduated in 1973. He then took a job with the Uptown Legal Aid Society in Chicago, Illinois, while he prepared for the Illinois State Bar examination. He loved helping people who would otherwise would have not had access to legal representation.. Unfortunately Merrill died without learning that he had passed the Bar examination.

Merrill was the ninth of eleven children, and we was greatly loved by all his siblings. and they miss him still. He was the best man at the wedding of his brother Fred, and one of his nephews is named after him. His life was much too brief for him to reach his full potential. He loved your school, and a picture of the campus still hangs in a prominent place in my home. He was truly a wonderful person.

Merrill's poem entitled "Sand Ripples" is a favorite in my family. It was illustrated by another brother and still hangs in the homes of his surviving family members.

----John Van de Graaff

Sand Ripples

Minnows in the calm are dashes of shadow on the sun's mirror;
The salvation of intolerance is tolerance;
Humility is the knowledge of the stars and the tides and the self.

Autumn mist is cool sweat on the faces, petals are the rain cups;
A yellow leaf floats on an oily pond;
Let the love of honesty within each man preserve his soul.

Pebble-bound to the bottom, the seaweed writhes in the current;
A man must grow from his own body;
Great stagnation is the blue-blooded child of great indifference.

Foam gathers about the grasses at the shallow end of the lake;
Ice shelters water from falling snow;
The young are lovers of knowledge and jellybeans.

The edge of ocean-washed glass is bitten by salt;
The agent of love is touch;
Warmth for the children's faces must come from their mother's hands.
 

Whittling To Be Whittling

The little boy sits on the bank,
Drags his feet in the silent ditch water,
And whittles on a cottonwood branch.
He whittles to be whittling, and drags his feet
To feel the coolness of the water, and sits
To smell the moistness of the grass.
He whittles the chips away from his dirt-streaked belly,
And they are shot out into the ditch.
They are rafts for drowning ants.

Someday he will whittle jobs and families and worlds;
And he will know he had to be a boy before he was a man.