The 47 Bond

By Danny DeBare ‘22

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Pomona College is OBSESSED with the number 47. Why? Beats me. If you go to the Wikipedia page and listen to donor speeches, you might find “a reason,” but don’t believe it’s worthy of every advertisement campaign and piece of apparel this college promotes. Cecil on Carnegie stepsBut, whether I like it or not, this prime number reminds me of Pomona more than a blue bird that sometimes has a six-pack (aka our mascot Cecil the Sagehen’s latest costume).

Anytime I stumble upon a sagehen­– in nature, conversation, or literature– it makes sense that my mind immediately jumps to Pomona. How many times a year does the word sagehen enter a non-Audubon Society fanatic’s conversation? I can probably count that number on no hands. Now, let me repeat that question, but substitute the word sagehen with the number 47.

How many times does the number 47 enter a non-Audubon Society fanatic’s conversation?

bus with 47EVERY DAY. MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY. Whether I’m reading and turn to page 47, stumble upon the number in the same text, hear the number in an address, hop on a bus line, or ask for the time of day: YOU NAME IT. I can’t help but exclaim a little “chirp, chirp” in my head. Do you know how annoying that is? How am I supposed to read a Borges poem in Spanish when line 47 sets off an imaginary Rube Goldberg machine of bells and whistles?

Gate 47 at airportWhile we can all agree on the ridiculousness of Pomona’s infatuation with the number, this silly tradition bonds Sagehens, both present and past. I can pick put a Pomona alumnus in a room of middle-aged adults through observing their reaction to one number. My only consolation for failing a computer science midterm was the hope I would receive a 47% … because who wouldn’t want that??

If you decide to attend Pomona, just beware that flipping out at every number 47 will become a habit as instinctual as sauntering into Frank for Sunday brunch.