What was the attraction at Waxie Mandino's stag?
"Waxie Mandino was the attraction," the owner says. "He's a good guy, and he knows a lot of people around here."
Realty World... Wendy's...Henry Wilson Historic District... Natick Pizza Palace...Wellesley College....
Writer Nora Ephron once stood in front of these buildings to cheer for strange men as they ran down the street in shorty-shorts. Diane Sawyer stood here. Ali MacGraw. Ephron, Sawyer and MacGraw were younger at the time, of course, harder to pick out of the crowd, and maybe they did stand here, and maybe they didn't, but certainly they had the chance.
They were the women of Wellesley College.
"We had a picnic in front of the dorm last year," says Tracy Firth, a social chairman at Cazenove Hall. "We cheered the runners, played Frisbee, had hot dogs, music. We worked with a fraternity at MIT, Phi Delta Theta. It rained, but it must have been a good time, because the fraternity wants to do it again."
Nowhere on the entire course is carnival merged more closely with a sports event than in front of this 112-year-old women's college. The Wellesley women assemble in front of the dorms on Central Street to cheer for the young and the virile and the lame and everyone in between. As they pass, the men of the Boston Marathon preen and strut, sometimes do cartwheels and generally feel as if they might actually complete this race that is only half finished.
Every year The Wellesley News, the student newspaper, receives letters to the editor from runners who felt "down, disheartened, ready to drop until I reached your campus and heard the lovely sound of all these beautiful women cheering for ME!" Writer Erich Segal rhapsodized about the women of Wellesley during his Boston Marathon days in the '60s. One runner, a brewery executive from Milwaukee, annually has a keg of beer delivered to Munger Hall two days before the race to show his appreciation for all of the cheers.
"He's an older gentleman who is called Black Bart," says Cean McCarthy, house president of Munger Hall. "He has been running the marathon for something like 50 years. He sends the beer, and he and a couple of his friends drop by to share it with us a day or so before the race. We cheer for him on the day of the race. It's a tradition."
A Wellesley senior named Kirsten Daehler has become part of the marathon tradition. A friend of her family in Phoenix ran the race half a dozen years ago and was so impressed by the reception in front of the school that he said this might be a place to consider when the Daehler girls were choosing colleges. The next steps were obvious. Kirsten's sister Maria graduated from Wellesley in 1986; Kirsten will graduate in June and—fittingly—already has run the marathon.