Friday, October 17, 2008

Homecoming Week

I went to high school during the last of the traditional times--1966-70 in small town Ohio, where the revolution of the 60's was late in coming, but far overstayed its welcome thereafter. Homecoming was a time for a new outfit, generally a suit, to wear to the Homecoming game and Dance and a corsage in school colors that was one giant mum. You elected a Homecoming Queen and her court: one lucky girl from each of the other classes and spent the time being envious of their selection.

Things got kinda crazy when I moved from a small town high school to a liberal arts college in a large urban area. While my college was known for its academics, it was not known for its sports teams, particularly its football team. In fact in the years immediately following my graduation, my alma mater set an NCAA record for most consecutive losses, that was, mercifully, broken by some other hapless institution of higher learning a while back.

I was recently visiting my alma mater as my oldest son is a senior there. I did not attend the football game because it conflicted with the sports event my son was participating in, but I did learn that one of the football cheers that became popular during my time in college was now a cheer that the football team led off each of its games with: "BLOOD!! BLOOD!! BLOOD MAKES THE GRASS GROW!!!"

This sent me into reminiscing about football and homecoming in college. Because the football team was in such sad shape, the Student Board in charge of these things did not organize a Homecoming Dance and almost no attention was paid to inviting alumni to return to campus for the event. This was immediately following the Kent State massacre and emotions were very high on campus against the Vietnam War, with the thought that the traditions of our forebears were somehow quaint and out of place in the college world of today. We had more important things to do, or so we thought.

My first year at college, there was a homecoming queen, who was elected, iirc by less than 50 votes. She was married. None of my friends went to the games. In my sophomore year, my then-boyfriend, who was a senior, was beguiled into joining the team by Coach Hudson, a great bantam weight coach whose team roster was only 30 guys. The 'dirty thirty' he called them. My boyfriend had never played football before but he was a quick runner and got placed on the special team squad. It was not very pretty. That year the Student Board decided that they would forgo Homecoming entirely, and substitute in its place "Gross Out Week," with the winner of the Gross Out contest being awarded the title of Homecoming Queen. I have no idea how many actual entrants there were in the contest. I am only aware of the winner and the runner up--both male.

Now before I describe the entries/actions of these two individuals, I would like to say that at least they did not stomp baby chickens to death, as someone from Yale had been rumored to do in a similar contest. No these fellows merely used their own bodies, but of course they did it in front of others. I am sure that the Alumni Development part of my alma mater, were they even aware of this, would do what they could to bury it deep, deep where no one could find the records. But I think that is wrong. We ignore our history and as a result are unable to make a frank honest appraisal of who we are and what we stand for. And it makes a damn good story.

The first entrant that I am a aware of is a fellow I will call Stewie. Stewie was known around campus as 'the incredible horny man' because he had a habit, freshman week of wearing a trench coat around campus and not much else. He reportedly did this to impress the girls (remember this was before women's lib had made a dent yet in some colleges and many of us, even girls, just sorta took it in weary stride). Stewie and a confederate appeared in the student dining commons on afternoon as lunch was in full swing and Stewie started belting out "Duke of Earl". Stewie had his trench and shirt and pants on at the time, but tucked within his pants was a dildo that popped out. The confederate knelt down with a can of whipped cream, and simulated a sex act in front of not just the students but a prospective freshman and her mother. It is rumored that the freshman actually did enroll in the college the next year. Stewie was so certain that he was going to win that he promised that if he lost he would suck on a dog. (at the time, I didn't think much of this, as I was in a jaded, so what period--but these days 37 years removed from it, and as a parent and supposedly solid member of society, it does rather make me cringe to recall it).

Well Stewie lost. He lost to another fellow who also performed his act at the student dining commons during a lunch. This fellow was something of a legend on campus. Cross him, and you might walk out of your dorm room to find a hunting arrow embedded in your door courtesy of this individual, who we will call Fred. Fred later went on to medical school and became wealthy as a result of inventing an IUD, it was reported. At any rate, Fred ate a hearty meal with his buddies. At the conclusion of the meal, he removed the china, silverware and glasses from his tray, stuck his finger down his throat, brought up his meal, poured it into a glass, toasted his mother, and drank it.

I thought this was so funny that I wrote home telling my parents about it. They never set foot on campus again. I did not go to graduation, but instead received my diploma by mail. That I do regret. So, as you can see, there are reasons that the Alumni Office is not interested in keeping a full history of Homecoming at my alma mater. But I wonder if those traditions are somehow not continuing on there, deeper under the surface perhaps, but there nonetheless. My visit to the college to see my son did not provide any further insights. And I did not share these with him. Yet.

1 comment:

alphawoman said...

During this same period, I was in school at a university in western KY. We had one of the frat boys run for Homecoming Queen. I don't think her won, but it made it very interesting.