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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Lining Them Up

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

In the Good Old Days

Turn back the pages of Harvard-West Point football history and you will get an accurate and albeit interesting glimpse of what the gridiron game was like at the turn of the century. Line plunging was the rule, end runs a luxury, and beef a necessity. The forward pass, of course, had not yet made its appearance and the games were not as spectacular as they are now.

In those days the Harvard team used to play games every Saturday and Wednesday, which left little or no respite for the squad in between contests. Between 1895 and 1910 the Crimson made 13 trips to the banks of the Hudson to play the Cadets. A few bits from the newspaper accounts of the games give some interesting sidelights on the football of the nineties. In the game in 1898 Harvard won a 28 to 0 victory, its third in succession over West Point, and a certain sports writer said that E. Kendall was the best all around back for Harvard because he was "heavy on his feet and easily threw off most of the men who attempted to tackle him." It is hard to imagine any of the star backs of the game today who rely on speed for their gains being praised for being heavy on their feet. But 30 years ago many of the men whose speed today makes them an asset to any team would not even have been considered as material by a university coach.

In a story about the 1897 game with the Cadets this same sports writer gives present day followers an insight on the condition of the men. There were hardly ever any substitutions except under special circumstances. The day on which the '97 game was being played was a hot one and the heat and the dust combined to make the tilt almost unbearable. There was no relief until near the end when we read that "Doucette and Haughton were compelled through exhaustion to retire from the field." The Haughton of that game was the same one who was to make a name for himself and Harvard later on as coach of the Crimson.

It also seems that the Army was not as great a team in those days as it usually is now. The Crimson won all of the contests of the prewar series, some of them by fairly comfortable margins. In the story of the 1899 game the real weakness of the Cadets is shown up when we read that early in the game Harvard found out that she could gain easily around the Army ends but then settled down to playing a line plunging game because that is where the practice was needed. Harvard won that game 18 to 0.

"Tomale,--Paprika--Tabasko"

Time Out is in receipt of a small poster, about six by ten inches, red in color, with the edges and some of the sides singed off by match fire, which drifted on to his desk from the Middle West the other day. It comes from Ann Arbor, Michigan and tells of a mass meeting and dinner that will be held on November in some building on the Michigan campus. It leads off with "Tomale!--Paprika!--Tabasko!--Red Hot--Every One!" Then proceeds with, "What do you mean? I mean the stunts at the Football Stunt Dinner on Tuesday." (The date, November 4, is supplied by a calendar of the month of November with a big circle drawn around the fourth). Immediately below that comes, "Put a ring around that date on your calendar and watch it burn through!" Then follows a list of all the features with the main one reading "no speeches."

The whole university seems to be taking the Harvard game extremely seriously. The athletic officials have not scheduled a game for the Saturday previous and the rally of the fourth is evidently going to be one of the biggest that has ever been held in a Big Ten town. The poster also has a score prediction on it which says "Michigan 13, Harvard 6." This is a bit early for prognostications on the Michigan game, but when the time comes Time Out will call in his aide, H. Flung Huey, to decree the score and it will be right, as the Sage of the Age is never wrong. But Mr. Huey could not undertake to foresee the score of the game now. He has to observe the Michigan rally and take it into consideration.

Do You Teapot With Your Tutor?

Another of the many permutations amid the Houses paves the way for the heavy of beautiful belles, who provide a contrast with the strong masculinity of football Saturdays, to imbibe tea and incidentally Dunsterish and Lowellian atmosphere. At least, this was the announcement greeting the ears of Time Out this week. Buffet lunches, tea with lemon and decorum are to become fixtures of the Autumn afternoons before the clash of calf on pigskin.

Time Out pauses to wonder and to weigh judiciously any ramifications that must naturally ensue when Radcliffe, Smith, Beacon Street, and points east begin to tread the greensward of a weekend. Harvard, if a determined and persistent effort is made, will add a few rungs to the social ladder and in time,--who knows?--may even have house parties to rival its contemporaries. Yale and Princeton. Naturally, austere dignity is assured because they will be House-parties. Emphasis on the capital aids immeasurably. In fact, the Dunster House party of 1933 may even rival the Lowell House High Table of 1930.

Anyway, it's something to think about. And in fairness to the originators, Time Out suggests the awarding of an "H" to Messers Noyes and Hammond with suitable insignia. For instance, one house could have a rococo "H" with two lumps of sugar. The other, since Houses must be distinctive, could surmount the blazer with an "H", and perhaps, a lemon or two.

Military Mythology

For the last three years the Harvard-Army game has always been classified as the test for both teams. Coming as it does early in the season before either team has played another major college foe it is a test that will go a long way to determine the calibre of both of the elevens. But it is not a final determination either. In 1928 Harvard rallied successfully after the 15 to 0 Army defeat to beat Dartmouth the following week and a somewhat questionable Yale team later in the season. Last year a tie with the then powerful Cadet machine set Crimson hopes high but a crushing defeat from Dartmouth seven days later blasted them again.

The peculiarity about the Harvard-Army game is that there is a certain psychology attached to it which is detrimental to the Harvard cause. Before the post-war series with the Army began Army was distinctly on the upgrade while the opposite can be said of Harvard. When the Cadets came here in 1928 the general wish was that it would be great if Harvard could win, but it seemed to be an impossibility. The Army won and last year when they returned again the same opinion prevailed. The Army was strong in both cases but the fear of the visitors seems to have had too great an effect on Harvard.

The myth that exists that Army is an unbeatable clan that swoops down yearly for victory is an outgrowth of the above belief. The opinion that the Cadets are always strong, always big, always husky is a prevalent one. It is substantiated in fact in some instances, of course, in so far that the men from West Point are always in excellent condition physically, and that they have players on their squad that have years of experience in college behind them, the myth always increases their potential power. Last year Harvard went some way towards arousing skepticism to the myth when the Army was tied. The newspaper odds had favored Harvard during the preceding week but when the day actually came they favored Army. The thought that Harvard would actually beat Army was too optimistic. This season Harvard has again been the early favorite but by today the Army has a slight choice. But the Crimson never had a better chance down from his high place.

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