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McCutcheon and Ade: College pals, colleagues and lifelong friends

George Ade, a University benefactor, noted humorist and playwright, and member of the Purdue Class of 1887, considered John McCutcheon his closest friend.

The two met while students at Purdue and became Sigma Chi fraternity brothers.

Their lifelong friendship was cemented during their years living in a Chicago boardinghouse when both worked for the Chicago Record and later the Chicago Tribune.

Ade wrote stories. McCutcheon illustrated them.

A file full of letters in Ade's effects in the Special Collections library at Purdue are those written to and from "Mac," as Ade tended to refer to McCutcheon in correspondence.

Letters between the two included highlights of their lives; comings and goings of their friends and colleagues; their work; and, at times, happenings at their alma mater.

In the Ade biography "George Ade, Warmhearted Satirist," Ade recalled some of the social outings the two were rather famous for while living in Lafayette.

It was when John was a senior, Ade remembered, that the two were known to go calling on young ladies, bringing along a book of song titles numbered 1 to 165. The two impressed their dates by encouraging them to pick any number and the boys would be able to sing that song, or at least part of it.

Ade and McCutcheon also were known to put on impromptu plays during their years at Purdue, and sometimes dress up in outrageous attire to get a laugh or make a point.

At the 1939 Purdue Founder's Day Banquet, when Ade and McCutcheon were presented Distinguished Alumni Awards, David Ross, then chairman of the Board of Trustees, said in his toast:

"George Ade, John McCutcheon, in their own peculiar way have influenced many people - never with caustic [words], never anything sharp. They entertain us; they instruct us; and in everything they ever do, there is something serious for humanity."

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