A Clarkson Mosaic - page 335

Poku, All-American
. Playing outside right for the Clarkson soccer team, Kwasi Poku, native
of Knmusi, Ghana, West Africa, had been named to the All-New York State team for the past
three years. In the 1968 season, as captain of Clarkson's team, he was named honorable mention
to the All-American soccer team. A fellow teammate, and fellow African, John Ebanja from
Kimba, West Cameroon, also was named to the All-New York State soccer team.
Poku was one of 14 African students in the United States to receive the third annual
Student Achievement Award of the African Scholarship Program of American Universities.
From the two hundred nominated African students studying in colleges throughout the country,
winners were selected for their "excellent contribution to the college community." Poku, a
chemical engineering senior, had been on the Dean's list every semester, even with his busy
outside activities, signified by his being tapped into Phalanx in his junior year.
"Champagne Train."
In the mid to late 1960s, Clarkson's seniors elected to hold their Senior
Balls in Canada because of the scarcity in Northern New York of ballrooms large and attractive
enough to accommodate the over 500 seniors and their dates in a memorable formal ball.
Frequently, they were held in the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa. Such a grand location was reached
best by special trains from Cornwall, Ontario, direct to Ottawa, hired especially for the
occasion. For the 1968 Senior Ball, however, through the efforts and expertise of Prof. Robert
B. Shaw, professor of accounting and longtime &iaficionado of trains, the Penn Central and the
Canadian National railway Companies jointly agreed to bring a "Champagne Train" into
Potsdam to take seniors this year to the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal for their ball.
To bring this about, both companies set aside labor, international, and trackage rights,
and at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, June 7, and backed a Canadian National train into the Potsdam
depot for the trip. Its one empty baggage and 10 passenger cars were boarded by the 660
partygoers: Clarkson seniors, their dates, chaperones, and guests. This 90-mile trip was
scheduled to take four and one-half hours. In reality, it took seven and one-half.
Somewhere near the Canadian border, about two hours into the trip, this slow pleasure
train lurched heavily to the right, then to the left, and shuddered to a halt. Curious revellers
clambered out to find out what had happened. What they saw was amazing: the tracks had
shifted as the train passed over them.
Once the train had stopped, the engine was disengaged, and the engineer departed to
report the mishap, while the trainman posted himself some distance down the track to warn any
freight trains of the derailment danger. And there the cars sat in the bright sunny day for the two
hours it took for the incident to be reported, and for the engine to return and resume the
journey. By the time the train finally pulled into the Montreal station underneath the Queen
Elizabeth Hotel at 7:30, all the partying seniors and their dates were ravenous. Dashing to their
rooms for quick showers and changes into formal attire, the hungry horde soon found the Grand
Salon Marquette where hors d'oeuvres and drinks were being served prior to the dinner. An
abbreviated cocktail party sent them to the main dining room for the dinner a half-hour late, and
then to the ball for dancing until 1:00 a.m.
Boarding the train at 1:30 a.m. for the return trip, the weary revelers fell back into their
seats expecting a sleepy return to Potsdam with an arrival time of 4:30 a.m. No sooner had the
train pulled out of the station on schedule, though, than it stopped again and sat in the Montreal
rail yards for 90 minutes. It stopped again at the Huntington, Quebec, border crossing for a
customs check, and again at Massena to change crews, arriving in Potsdam at a bright and
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