This Week in Amherst History

Ambulance Unit 539, a World War I unit composed entirely of Amherst students, received a citation for bravery from French Field Marshal Henri-Philippe Petain 82 years ago this week.

Petain commended the Unit for its outstanding courage and superior efficiency during operations in the region of Oulehy de Ville from July 18 to July 28, 1918. “The unit rendered invaluable service in assuring the evacuation of the wounded with the maximum speed and without regard of danger,” wrote Petain in the citation.

The citation went on to applaud the students’ “superhuman efforts, willingly consented because of the greatness of the task confronting them.”

Because Petain officially issued the citation, it also entitled the Amherst men serving in the Unit to the French croix de guerre, awarded for valor in war.


Thirty-three years ago this week, as the number of American soldiers serving in Vietnam neared its peak, the Amherst faculty voted to endorse a College Council resolution banning military recruitment on campus for an indefinite period of time.

The key sticking point for the faculty, The Student reported, was its belief that the government’s approach to recruitment urged draft boards to consider dissent as “an illegal interference with recruiting and a reason for re-classification.”

This position was “to be deplored,” wrote then Dean of the Faculty Prosser Gifford in the letter the faculty authorized him to send to various government offices, including the Massachusetts senators and the Department of Justice.

The administration took no direct action pertaining to the faculty-approved resolution other than to continue to postpone campus visits by military representatives, a position outlined a week before in a speech given by then President Calvin Hastings Plimpton.


Nine years ago this week, The Student printed its review of Antonio’s Pizza, which had opened a month earlier on North Pleasant Street in the center of town.

While graciously awarding the fledgling pizzeria’s food four and a half stars out of a possible five, The Student food critic found the atmosphere to be not quite up to par due to a “somewhat plain” design and a “noticeable lack” of seating. Antonio’s ambiance thus earned a mere two stars.

But most of the article reflected the reviewer’s sincere-if measured-enthusiasm for Antonio’s pizza offerings and reasonable prices. While the variety pizza crusts and sauce-less pies garnered mixed reviews, the pizzeria’s diverse selection of toppings drew praise, and the Hawaiian pizza was singled out for acclaim as “an absolute favorite.”

The review also noted that plain slices were priced affordably at $1.00 per slice, with toppings costing an additional 25 cents; diners paid $4.50 for small pies and $6.00 for large ones.