Not even three-tenths of the Harvard-Radcliffe community apparently has ever heard of the nationally famous Duke of Earl. Of 348 College students questioned yesterday and Wednesday, a meager 102 thought the name even faintly familiar.
The "Duke of Earl" is a rock and roll song which has been number one some time during the past month on most of Boston radio stations. Although the masses know and love this American folk hero, (and of 101 students from Rindge Tech and Cambridge High and Latin, 97 knew exactly who he was), the Ivy-covered walls of Harvard gently protect their inmates from any harsh contact with the Outside.
But Harvard students are never at a loss. If they don't know something, they'll take a stab at it, drawing upon all their plentiful resources of study and experience.
"You mean the Duke of Argyle," one boy corrected. Others decided that he was the Angler Biddle Duke, or Antony Armstrong-Jones, or the Duke of Windsor, or the man who sweeps out Lowell basement.
Some of the rock and roll types approached burst spontaneously into the chorus of the song: "Dook, dook, dook, dookuv url url url." (The song, sung by Gene Chandler, is divided, fugue-like, into three overlapping voices, a "Dook, dook, dook" line, an "oooooh, oooooh, oooooh" line, and the story line, which goes something like "Wherever I go in this wide world there's nothing can stop the Duke of Earl.")
In answer to the questions "Have you over heard of the Duke of Earl?" or "Do you know who the Duke of Earl is?" a large number of people were "really sorry," but didn't.
Several thought the Duke sounded vaguely familiar, but couldn't place him exactly.
Some of the other responses were: "Is that E-A-R-L?" "That sounds like a non-existent title." "The what?" "Is it on an hour exam?" "Um, I know, just a minute, uh..." "The present Duke of Earl?" "I don't know, but he's probably a big man in Earl." "Was he a Tudor? No. A Stuart? No...Uh..." "How can a Duke by an Earl?" "I think some-one's pulling your leg."
"I'm sure there is one, but I don't know who he is," said one student. "No, I don't, I'm a science major," said another.
And still others said "Why do you ask?" (Frightened.) "Earl is not a place, It's a thing." "Is it a building here?" "Why, that's redundant." "Sorry. My history background is very weak." "What are you, some kinda nut?" "I don't think he lives in Cambridge." "There's no news today, huh?" "No, not off-hand."
One boy replied, "Speaking."
A few students were apparently startled at being spoken to.