Ye College Days

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Ye College Days  (1927) 
by Robert Ervin Howard

First published in The Yellow Jacket, January 20, 1927.

“Yes” said the ancient Grad, manufacturing a cigarette of T.N.T. and igniting it with a stick of dynamite. “There’s no doubt but the present day college student has it over the boys and girls of my day for advantages. But I doubt if they take advantage of them as they should.

“Now I don’t believe there ever was a peppier flock of students than we were at Killem Kollege. Talk about class spirit! It was rather rough going for the freshmen the first few terms. But we never made them go to the expense of buying green caps, no, we simply scalped them, so they could be properly classified. I remember one freshman thought to fool us—but we sand papered his head each week.

“Fact, it took a tough freshman to complete a term in Killem Kollege, and had it not been for the loyalty and support of the surrounding country and the alumni association, I don’r know but what the school might have had to shut down for lack of students. But new ones constantly came in to replace those who had spoken insolently to upperclassmen.

“Speaking personally, I had little difficulty in my freshman year at college, having spent my last seven vacations in the revolutionary armies of Central America and Mexico, and having attended a prep school personally conducted by John L. Sullivan. I had been champion tiger trainer in my class, and held medals for sharp-shooting and for outdoing elephants in feats of strength, so I was prepared to enter Killem Kollege with the best. However, a rather hectic time was had of it.”

He displayed a cork foot and wig, remarking, “Relics of my freshman days.

“Back in those days,” he continued, “there was intense rivalry between colleges. Ah, it would have done your soul good to have seen the preparation for a coming football game: the yell meetings, the cheerings, the rifle practice, the sharpening of swords and greasing of pistols.

“And then the game. And the parade of triumph after the carnage! How we would march about the streets, displaying the tokens of victory on spears—the scalps of the opposing team.

“I especially recall the game with Slaughterem University. They sent a special boat loaded with students. With our usual courtesy, we met them at the wharfs and such as survived the reception committee were disposed of by the main student body at the football field. It was a hotly contested battle, that football game. And I must commend the school spirit of the girls’ pep squad, who rushed out on the field between halves and slaughtered the wounded of the opposing team, with meat axes.

“The score was, I think, Killem Kollege forty slain, seventy wounded, Slaughterem University, a hundred slain, thirty wounded. They outplayed the Killem team the first half, maintaining a long range barrage, but the second half the Killem team made a flank attack and getting into close range brought into play their light field-pieces which they used so effectively that the enemy was completely routed.

“Lynchum and Burnum always gave us something of a battle, one year their students took possession of one half of the field in full force, and kept up a hot rifle first on Killem team from the bleachers, until a bomb thrown by our yell leader effectually silenced them. Thereupon we won the game.

“Yes, there was a great deal of rivalry. I recall, one day in a class of philosophy, the professor glanced out the window and exclaimed: ‘Gentlemen, barricade the doors and man the windows; the botany class of Kannibal Kollege are upon us. Girls will kindly stand by to load rifles, and let us dispose of these visitors with as much expedience as possible, so we may continue our study of the tenets of the Golden Rule.’

“At another time we were returning from a successful raid on a neighboring college, when the senior class of Slaughterem University made a sudden night march and the next morning were shown barricaded in the administration building, holding the college president for ransom.

“Upon our refusal to pay the ransom, they hung him from the cupola, affording great amusement to all of us. However, we merely blew the building up, instead of storming it, levying funds from the surrounding villages to rebuild it.

“Killem Kollege always had a large attendance, but the exact total shifted continuously, owning to the intense class spirit, the hot rivalry between fraternities, and the number of debating clubs. The attendance of the freshman class was dependant entirely almost, on the price of ammunition.”

He took up an advertizing card, yellow with age, and read: “Tonight the Bandits and Buccaneers debating clubs will hold their weekly debate, the subject to be debated upon, ‘Resolved that cordite powder is more effective than British powder.’

“The rules of the debate are as follows: debaters will stand back to back, march twelve steps in opposite directions, turn and fire at the word. There will be seven judges and in the event of a dispute, they may fight it out between themselves. The survivors of the debate will debate again next week, the subject being, ‘Whether the bayonet is more effective than the sabre in hand to hand combat.’

“That was a great debating team,” said he. “I believes that was the night we burned the freshman president at the stake.”

He was silent a while, then shrugged his shoulders, “I suppose I’m too old fashioned, for the college today. Still I don’t feel just exactly as if I’d been according the proper treatment by the members of the faculty. The president and I had had words in regard as to the disposal of some college funds—buying a cannon for the boys’ dormitory, I think, and I went to the college for the first time in several years. In a way, it was like old times. Several fresh scalps adorned the campus posts. From the girls’ dormitory came the shrieks of a new girl who was being skinned by some upperclass girls. Two members of rival fraternities were exchanging shots from behind trees across the campus; and as I entered the college boundaries, members of the faculty, mistaking me for the dean of a neighboring college, opened fire on me from the windows of the fine arts building.

“After reloading, I made my way to the administration building. But I must say that I was not met with the cordiality a man has a right to expect from a college from which he graduated, and to the treatment of which he has always contributed.

“I am not referring to the various attempts made upon me as I walked up the steps of the college, nor to the fact that I was forced to dispose of the janitor before I could enter. I simply considered that such trifles but reflected the sound loyal principles upon which the college had been founded. No, I did not especially object to those little attentions, nor to the fact that I was forced to demolish three machine guns nests before reaching the wing of the building occupied by the president. But when the president himself suddenly leaped upon me from a secluded corner and swung for me with a broad axe, hacking down a door when he missed, I considered it no less than a breach of etiquette. I think the position of president is still vacant. Doubtless I am hasty in forming my conclusions, but until I have been formally apologized to by the college, I shall refrain from taking any part in its activities.”

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1936, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 86 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.