The October 2008 issue of Men’s Vogue devoted its “Examined Life” column to the late literary lion George Plimpton. The piece consists of excerpts from Nelson W. Aldrich Jr.’s forthcoming oral-history bio, “George, Being George.”
Included are various reminiscences by former boyhood pals, including classmates from the Phillips Exeter Academy, which Plimpton attended from 1940-1944, getting expelled three months before graduation.
The expulsion was for a prank accidentally pulled on Plimpton’s housemaster, Bull Clark (pictured), who gets the best photo in the article.
The expulsion episode, remembers classmate Buzz Merritt, is below. — CC
As luck would have it, in his last year George had found himself in Bull Clark’s dormitory, one of the most prestigious. It had circular stairwells between both floors, and therein lay some of George’s undoing. Someone had given George a Revolutionary musket, and one night, after lights out, they were having a battle in the ground-floor hall. When George heard the noise, he grabbed the gun and ran down the stairwell, and as he did he heard someone coming up and thought it was a student. So he came down the spiral pointing the gun and yelling, “Bang, bang! You’re dead.” It was Bull Clark coming up to see what the excitement was about. According to George, Clark yelped in fright when he said “Bang, bang!” — a very unmanly reaction.