Skull and Bones of Yale University is one of the most famous secret societies of all. Yale University has various secret societies, however Skull and Bones is the most secretive and famous. For this reason, it has long been the subject of speculation and imagination by non-members.
In the middle of Yale’s campus stands a very old, Greco-Egyptian style building with padlocked iron doors and virtually no windows. This is the Skull and Bones building, which 100′s of Bonesman have entered for decades. Inside hang paintings of many of the most illustrious and accomplished members.
This renowned secret society has even been depicted in the Hollywood blockbuster, The Good Shepard with Matt Damon as well as the Universal Pictures movie The Skulls, about a secret society at an Ivy League school in New Haven.
Many ultra successful, wealthy and prominent men in business and government have went through membership in Skull & Bones. Senator John Kerry and Howard Taft were members as well as Lanny Davis, special council to the Clinton administration. And two of the most famous members are past presidents, George H.W. Bush (Yale ’48) and his son, George W. Bush, Yale ’68.
Skull & Bones
The Bush family have been Yale Skull & Bones members for generations. George H.W. Bush’s father, Prescott Bush, (Yale ’17) was a prominent Bonesman who took part in the legendary theft of the most prized possession of Skull and Bones, the skull of Apache Indian chief Geronimo. Many Skull and Bones yearly member photos contain the members gathered around this skull of chief Geronimo.
Other members from the Bush family include George W’s great uncle George Herbert Walker Jr, uncle Jonathan Bush, cousins George Herbert Walker the 3rd and Ray Walker. George W. was actually a very unlikely and unusual Skull and Bones society member.
For example, new members of Skull & Bones are assigned secret names. Many of them are taken from mythology, literature (Hamlet, Uncle Remus,etc) and religion. Thor was given to Averell Harriman. Baal, was given to Henry Luce and Odin was given to McGeorge Bundy. And the Bonesman with the most sexual experience were given the name “Magog”. George H.W. was a Magog.
Some of the members receive traditional names depending on their role in the society, while others are the chosen beneficiaries from their predecessors. For example, the famous banker, Lewis Lapham passed on his name, Sancho Panza, to Tex McCrary, the political adviser.
And the Bonesman left over get to choose their own name. George W. was one of these initiates. He was not assigned a name. He was invited to choose his own, but his lack of interest in the membership lead him to be called “Temporary” while he was deciding on a name. However he never chose a name. He is said to still be called “Temporary” by his fellow Skull and Bones members today.
George W. has shown disdain for his Yale roots. In fact he has not attended a Yale reunion since he left. The issue of his secret name is a reflection of a larger resistance to following in his father’s footsteps. Although his father, George H.W. holds his fellow Skull and Bones members in high regards.
In fact, Fay Vincent, who is a close Bush family friend and former commissioner of baseball is quoted as saying: “Young George is as unlikely a Bonesperson as I’ve ever met.”
Over the decades, Yale University’s Skull and Bones society has produced some of the most prominent and famous leaders of industry and government. In fact Lanny Davis, Yale ’67 wrote an article in the Yale 1968 yearbook describing how Skull and Bones had more power than any other similar club. And with the founding of the CIA to it’s credit, he probably couldn’t be more right.