In what seems like eons ago, (precisely 56 years) I arrived at a Liberal Arts college called Lafayette. It was there that I experienced orientation, thankfully not the same orientation experienced by our first year’s this weekend. Our field hockey team along with the other varsity teams this weekend, helped our new class to their rooms. Fifty six years ago, none of that was available to us. As we assembled as a class, we got the admonishment from President Bergathon to ” look to the right of you and the left and one of you standing there will not be at Lafayette by the end of the school year.” Aside from being of decent academic reputation, I was impressed by Lafayette’s football stadium and hoped to play on the floor of that stadium. In those days freshman were not allowed to play on varsity teams, and we practiced in an empty lot behind Markle as freshman. We did indeed play a game with the Lehigh freshman on Fisher field later in semester.
We were isolated in other ways. Most of the upperclassmen lived in 19 fraternities or 3 social dorms. Freshman were in dorms. There were no women at that time, and we looked forward to the four social weekends that semester. In the meantime, it was pretty much a monastic existence aside from the occasional forays to local women’s college’s in the area.
It was at that orientation we received our “dinks.” small beanies we were to wear (until we got smart), that identified us as freshman, who could be called upon by an upperclassman, demanding we sing the alma mater or school fight song. On football weekends the freshman class formed a large “L” within which the team ran out before the game. We sat in the designated freshmen area, and formed the foundation of support for our football representatives.
Thankfully, the dinks are gone, the women are in residence, and the freshman isolation has evaporated. I don’t know what goes on in orientation these days, but from what I could learn, it does include a tour, not of the campus, but the town environment. Buses are now provided for our young Leopards to go the mall on week ends, or to help our young charges avoid the hike from the bottom of the hill.
I hope they are still telling about the other things that make Lafayette what it is. Do they get briefed on the ghost that inhabits the upper floors of Pardee?? Do they know about the early history of the college, the fire that burned down Pardee in the 19th century apparently started by a careless chemistry student. ( which confirmed the foolishness, according to our liberal arts faculty, of filling ” Pardee with noxious odors).” How about the gift of an ancient Egyptian neckless from an alumnus that was stolen from College in the 1980’s and bought at auction by a Boston Museum a decade later. The theft was not discovered until then. In the meanwhile, the college archivist whose responsibility it would have been to catalog the artifact, was killed under mysterious circumstances. A connection ??!! ( I can attest to the existence of the necklace having seen it on display in library during my student tenure)! Orientation indeed!!
Most of all I would hope our rivalry with Lehigh is covered. Freshmen were required to build the bonfire ( long ago stopped) before the Lehigh football game. I can say our class of 1967 had the tallest bonfire never lit. Not only was it built with creosote soaked railroad ties, which according to the fire Marshall, would have melted the windows of Markle, but was at least 5 stories tall. We freshman would have to guard the bonfire to ward off Lehigh invaders who might light it prematurely. Sadly, in that year President Kennedy was assassinated and the game was postponed a week. ( the only time that happened).
Sports history is rampant surrounding the Rivalry. Consider “Wrong Way Down” who set a record in the 1918 contest when he completed a 115 yard touchdown run, scampering the wrong way, circling the goals post and turning upfield and eventually scoring the right way. Down later turned to baseball and played with the Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Athletics and Brooklyn Dodgers. Legend has it, that he once reached second base and repeated his football feat by attempting to steal first base!!!. I wonder what his major was at Lehigh!!
One year, Lehigh students were able to saw the sword off that the Lafayette statue displayed in front of Colton Chapel. I have reminded myself to look to see if it ever was reclaimed. For years, Lafayette statues were cocooned in wooden boxes to deter the “Brown Invaders.”
For years, the words “Lehigh S S” was emblazoned on the Lehigh Library steps. There have also been skywriting, banner flying and all manner of pranks during the years.
The “Rivalry” is a part of every sport, every season, and support on that day is extremely important. Our field hockey team had won 13 straight games with Lehigh until two years ago. Lehigh won in overtime 1-0 despite having been outcornered and outshot that evening. That year, during a pregame cocktail party at the Lehigh Football Game, that Field Hockey game was toasted by the Lehigh President in front of we Lafayette faithful. Never Again!!
Last year’s game ended with a Leopard win in overtime. You cannot read a Lehigh Field Hockey web page without mentioning the “RIVALRY.” This year the Leopards will make the trek on Friday night on October 18th at 7pm to Lehigh. Be there, because Lehigh will there in force!!!
Yes, the dink is gone but there is still plenty to absorb by a our newest class.