Terrorism, which trips off the tongue so easily these
days, had a forerunner in World War II: the prospect of air
raids on American cities. And Johns Hopkins was prepared to
Fearing that the German Air Force might be bold enough
to fly across the Atlantic and bomb East Coast cities, the
university's campuses joined other venues from Maine to
Florida that were carrying out air raid drills.
When the sirens sounded, students, faculty, staff and
visitors stopped what they were doing and headed for
In January 1942, on a cool Saturday night, the siren
sounded at Homewood. Forty couples were dancing to Big Band
music in Levering Hall. They were ordered to leave the
dance floor and go to a shelter in nearby Latrobe Hall.
This caused some consternation among the dancers, and it
prompted a letter from one Isaac George to President Isaiah
"According to my cousin," wrote Mr. George, "in the
middle of the dance a campus police whistle blew for a
practice Air Raid alarm and, without giving the men a
chance to get their coats or the ladies an opportunity to
get their wraps, all were asked to move to an adjacent
building. The weather was quite cold and several in the
party criticized the way it was handled."
President Bowman turned the letter over to his
no-nonsense provost, P. Stewart Macaulay. Macaulay wrote
Mr. George that he was responsible for "air raid
precautions on the Homewood Campus." Further, he said, "the
air raid test was properly authorized and carried out
strictly in accordance with instructions."
Suggesting that it was not too much of a hardship for
the dancers to go outside without their coats and wraps,
Macaulay added, "In fact during the evening many of the
young men and ladies were observed on the steps of Levering
Hall and strolling the grounds — without wraps."
And then Macaulay, who was known for being direct,
especially with people who annoyed him, wrote, "When we
find certain groups that cannot fit into our plans, we
shall close the campus to such groups for the duration. We
already have restricted the use of the gymnasium and it may
be that we should do the same at Levering."
The file in the Hamburger Archives indicates no
further communication from Mr. George.
This is part of an occasional series of historical
pieces by Ross Jones, vice president and secretary
emeritus. A 1953 graduate of Johns Hopkins, Jones returned
in 1961 as assistant to President Milton S. Eisenhower and
was a close aide to six of the university's 13