A Heart-to-Heart Talk of the Old Grad to His Undergraduate Fraternity Brothers
The John T. McCutcheon illustration known as “The Old Grad” pictures Significant Sig Lawrence A. Downs ‘1894 seated in front of the fireplace in the Great Hall imparting “some extremely good advice” to the young Sigs in the chapter house. Downs was the Chairman of the Board for the Illinois Central Railroad at the time and a frequent visitor to the Sig house.
This cartoon titled “A Heart-to-Heart Talk of the Old Grad to His Undergraduate Fraternity Brothers” conveyed the true Sigma Chi spirit that is shown between the upper and lower classmen.
It was first seen on page one of the Chicago Sunday Tribune on February 3, 1935. Drawn by McCutcheon, it incorporated visual elements from both the chapter’s Great Hall and Library. The Ade painting over the fireplace can be found in the Library.
The March 1935 Boilermaker Sig noted, “The chapter has received a photostatic copy of the original of the drawing, autographed by Brother McCutcheon, which has been framed and now graces the library.”
The article continued, “In correspondence with Brother Chester W. Cleveland, Editor of The Magazine of Sigma Chi, he says: “You will be interested to know that Grand Consul Hamilton Douglas, Jr., was so thrilled with this cartoon that he has asked us to send all of the 96 chapters of Sigma Chi a photostat reproduction such as you have. All of these will be autographed to the various chapters by Brother McCutcheon and we sincerely hope that each chapter will frame and permit it to become one of its cherished possessions.”
The original 1935 autographed copy of the McCutcheon “Old Grad” illustration presented to Delta Delta is stored in the chapter’s archive room, with a high resolution copy on display in the Library.
Source: The Boilermaker Sig, March 1935; The Boilermaker Sig, Summer 1939