Long and lean, a single white spire fights its way through the trees in Hanover. New Hampshire, to tell the world that a college shivers beneath it. Visitors descending from the rim of hills need only follow this barren beacon to find the cloisters that are Dartmouth, and once there, to help them understand the uniqueness of the country's loneliest college.
For today, the 152-year-old school which produced "educated pagan Indians" and Daniel Webster in its youth, is both a fake and a phenomenon among its contemporaries.
Dartmouth squats on a plateau overlooking the Connecticut River and Very Mont. and is shackled on three sides by foothills of the White Mountains. It is 140 miles northwest of Boston and 275 miles north of New York, yet annually fills its halls with enough students to balance the 3,000 population of Hanover. It is castle accessible by rail, auto, and air in the summer and fall it is practically inaccessible the rest of the year, but Dartmouth likes it that way. It is probably the only school in the country that takes men from 46 states, the District of Columbia, Hawail, and 26 foreign countries, and turns out class after class of men welded, if not frozen, together by what the college terms "Dartmouth Spirit."
This spirit holds men's hearts in the mow slopes long after they have left for the warmth of civilization. This spirit loosens alumni's purse strings enough to keep their outpost in the wilderness a growing, publicized center of the Spartan virtue--a healthy mind in a healthy body. This spirit nurses class rivalry back to health too, after such incidents as last weeks tug of war accident which sent six men to the hospital.
The rivalry is begun in the freshman year Sewcomers to the North Woods must eat and sleep together, must wear green beanies together, and must fight together until they are sophomores. Then they must stick together as vigilantes to make sure the new freshman do what they did.
Freshman sophomores feuds are as old as the college itself. In what is some times termed the Golden Age, the classes fought over a keg of rum. Then a huge 10 foot push ball was purchased, but too many men got crushed in the melee. After that, the football rush was instituted. The two classes lined up at opposite ends of a field. Five footballs were placed in the middle. At a signal, each class tried to get footballs over the other goal line. It the freshmen managed to beat their bloody way through the sophomores three times, they were excused from wearing beanies for the rest of the year.
But here too, the casualty rate was high. The football rush was finally stopped after a referee swallowed his whistle in the excitement. Then the tug-of-war was tried.
Four ropes are tied across three logs. The freshmen pull their ends and the sophomores, the other ends. Until this year, only the ropes had snapped from the pressure. But last Tuesday, the big log in the middle cracked, the chunks bounced off several front line tugs, and six men were carried away. Seniors the arbitrators in all these battles, declared the freshmen victors.
But the accident will not end either the tug-of-war, still safest of the contests, nor the rivalry. Lioyd Neidlinger said better ropes would be used and students made to hold them farther away from the logs.
"It was due to an error in the rigging." stated Neidlinger, "but that doesn't mean the sport is dangerous. It's traditional. And we do have class solidarity.
Funny Thing About Age
"We took a risk on that," he continued, "We stopped having freshmen eat in a separate hall from upperclassmen. We couldn't lose the tug-of-war too. But you know," mused the white-haired dean, "older people around here sometimes get awfully fed up with this sort of foolishness."
Older people around Dartmouth seem to think that the Dartmouth man should spend more time studying. Far from being in a spot where they're forced to study for lack of other past times, Dartmouth men average one or two dates per week-end.
To an outsider who views the college as a barren monastery and the students as celebrants, it may be surprising to know that within a 15-mile radius, there are 1 1/2 young ladies to every Dartmouth young man.