On May 10th, 1930, Dartmouth students were ambling through the customary groove of Hanover life in peaceful contemplation of spring, when lo and behold there came murmurs and growlings and editorials and tension, and then the fury of open revolt. Dartmouth had gone "shorts" mad, Hanover and neighboring merchants were besieged with orders for shorts of any description, and the campus became a colorful pageant of bare legs and bizarre shorts. Those who could not purchase abbreviations, hacked off their trousers and flaunted legs which never faced public eye before. Led by the Dartmouth and other organizations the movement spread rapidly in spite of a chilly wind that made action a requisite. Fox Movietone appeared and with it a group called the opposition dressed in sheepskins, fur coats, ski jackets, mufflers, and mittens--they suffered at the hands of the rebels. Attempts at a talkie were interrupted by continual catcalls, but the pictures were taken and Boston and New York newspapers carried glowing descriptions of the uprising. A rainy and cold day chilled the enthusiasm of the rebels the following day, but warm weather soon burst forth once more and the rebel forces again gained headway. As a matter of fact they gained headway to such an extent that in all probability "shorts" will be worn by Dartmouth men every spring from now until the time when some wise fool comes to the front with another revolutionizing custom.
On May 9th, the day before the beginning of the "Shorts" uprising, the following editorial appeared in The Dartmouth. In all probability it would have appeared in the Jack-o-lantern, had an issue been forthcoming, for the instigator of this rebellion had his headquarters in the Jack-o office. However, the daily paper readily agreed to support the revolt with this editorial:
Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye, ye men of fat legs and thin legs, of long legs and short legs; harken, ye seekers after maximum comfort and the minimum of swaddling clothes. Give ear, ye who would be dictators of a fashion and dressed in the style of the hour. We announce the "short", as suitable for all Hanover occasions--full dress, afternoon wear, morning lounging apparel. Tomorrow's the day.
Yesterday we spent the time answering our neighbor's questions as to whether we really and truly were serious about all this shorts business. We even had a calf-comparing contest in which we came out very much the worst but content that if we could wear this newest in men's style, most anybody else could also.
This idea seems more and more like the sort of thing everybody's been thinking about for a long time. It's been mulling about in the sub-conscious desires of the campus and if it has anywhere come to light, it has only been a kind of wish fancy. Now we want to do a bit of wishful thinking coupled with some real freedom-giving action. Wherefore The Dartmouth comes forth to you waving banners of revolt for the accepted uncomfortable conventional.
And the possibilities are unlimited. Khaki shorts, fiannel shorts, grey shorts, blue shorts, green shorts worn with any shirt open at the neck and any kind of socks loose about the ankles. We advocate them for tennis, for golf, for basking in the sun, for attendance at the most aristocratic of classes, for study in the library, and dinner at the Outing Club House.
Here is an opportunity gentlemen, for the fecund imagination of Dartmouth to produce something other than forward steps in educational line. Here is a chance to be different with a vengeance, not for the sake of being different but in the name of good sense.
This means you, a Dartmouth under-graduate; this means you, staid and respectable members of the faculty, this means you, townspeople of Hanover, older than three and younger than sixty. This means everyone who believes that our logic is sound and refuses to be drowned in his own sea of self consciousness.
Tomorrow's the day.
* * * * * *
On the following day, The Dartmouth's editorial column was filled with nothing but--Wear your shorts, wear your shorts, wear your shorts, etc. It appeared in large bold type, and minute type, but it appeared nevertheless. The editorial ended with, "Rain or shine, put on your shorts, sleet or snow, put on your shorts; fair or foul, put on your shorts, blustery or balmy, put on your shorts right now before you have your coffee and doughnuts, PUT ON YOUR SHORTS."
These pleas to sound thought and comfort brought results when more than 500 students appeared in newly styled garb. As a starter nothing more promising could have been expected. Next spring Dartmouth men will again don shorts and in all probability to a greater extent than they did last year.
A poem written by "Lncio" and published in the Manchester Guardian Weekly, an English magazine adds a little more to the sound thinking behind the "shorts" movement which is not dead now, but only dormant during the colder weather.
Short and Sweet
What saps a nation's strength and pride? What cramps its manly form and stride, And turns its youth, unsanctified, To Coiltrils and carousers? What spreads corruption's baleful breed And makes the stoutest lad weak-kneed? Be warned--it is, it is indeed The cursed cult of trousers!
Aghast, the Bird of Freedom shrieks, "And shall Columbia miss the peaks, And fall from grace through wearing breeks
Of too much elongation? Ah, no!--for liberty and law All other lands on this must draw, And still be taught to look with awe On this almighty nation?"
Let Texas roast its blacks alive, Let racketeers extend and thrive, Let gangsters flourish and survive By methods grim and gory! But Knee-high shorts shall still preserve The noble mind, the fearless nerve And still shall culture's highest curve Remain Columbia's glory!
(P. S.--If he were taught to squeeze His legs in breeks as short as these, And boldly show his valiant knees, Be those well-clad or bony, Do you suppose this might impart A milder mood, a change in heart, A love of Literature and Art, To Scarface Al Caponel)