Calvin Coolidge didn’t travel far when he attended Amherst College. I traveled a little farther to visit it, but not much. The school and city are named for Lord Jeffery Amherst, Commander-in-Chief of British forces of North America during the French and Indian War. The students and sports teams were known as the “Lord Jeffs” until 2016, when, concerned about the military leader’s treatment of Native Americans, the school adopted “Mammoths” as its mascot. Amherst College’s Beneski Museum of Natural History houses a Colombian mammoth skeleton that was discovered by one of the school’s professors. Some supporters were happy that the animal was a herbivore. Also in the running for mascot was the “Fighting Poets.” The most photographed building is the Johnson Chapel, which sits on the acropolis known as College Row.
It was Move-In Day in Boston for Emerson College students when I visited. Right across Boylston Street is the beautiful 50-acre Boston Common. Something funny is going on there. Comedians Jay Leno, Bill Burr, Steven Wright, and Denis Leary all went to this school. Known for its fine arts programs (and liberal arts too), Emerson has a downtown campus that sits on “Piano Row.” After visiting, you can bring home a Steinway piano. But be warned that a pre-owned baby grand can cost more than a year of Emerson tuition.