Winter Carnival: Reflections of a Mad Age

Dartmouth Frenetically Tries To Live Up to Its Reputation

Milk punch before breakfast .. . quasi-primitive bopping ... six inches of snow ... and Sunday "Thank-God-They're-Gone" parties constitute the three-day euphoria of the traditional Indian ritual, the Dartmouth Winter Carnival.

With the influx of 2000 girls, Hanover, N.H., temporarily loses its celibate atmosphere and begins its most strenuous attempt to live up to its fun-loving reputation. Contrary to popular rumor in the girls' school circuit, Dartmouth men are not exceptionally big drinkers or "wah-hoo-wah." Although the liquor flows from twelve noon till four a.m. (the administration prohibits drinking at any other time), Dartmouth men "can hold their liquor mighty well." Alcohol is a weekend staple.

The numerous activities guarantee an "out" for the unsophisticated freshman, unable to adjust to three compulsive days with a slight acquaintance, and to the upperclassman who finds himself paired off with a "turkey." The large number of blind dates leads to the barbarous custom of "shooting down"; i.e., ditching a date for someone else's or for a stray male or female. Nevertheless, most people don't object, at least not openly, and everyone seems to be having fun.

Fun. It starts Friday night with a good meal (the only one of the weekend) at the Hanover Inn. Nobody goes broke since the prices here at the plushest restaurant in town are no higher than at Cronin's. After dinner, Outdoor Evening's skating is climaxed with the crowning of a Carnival queen before a mildly enthusiastic crowd.

Then partying takes over, as the fraternities change into noisy, smoky, crowded nightclubs. The gatherings set the pace for the weekend, which is one continuous party except for the few hours taken off Saturday to attend the ski events and hockey game. Many consider Sunday the best of the three days since everyone gives up running around and settles down to milk punch for breakfast and a "black" hour. (For the uninitiated, this means a time for telling offcolor stories). In the afternoon there is a "cage" party when the remaining couples troop upstairs to a dormitory room and finish off any left over liquor and choose the prettiest girl and the best dancer.

According to publicity statements, Winter Carnival "is the Dartmouth student's pride and the college girl's dream." However, a number of students complained that this year's event lacked the dash and sparkle usually attributed to it. Many blamed this on the fact that they were in the midst of their studies (Dartmouth is now on a three term schedule and Carnival no longer takes place during inter-session) and that there was just not enough snow. Nevertheless, festivities have increased in scale since the first Carnival, whose purpose was "to provide the added attraction of women, something foremost in the minds of even the most wild and wooly woodsmen." Fred Harris, founder of the Outing Club, which is one sponsor of the weekend, believed that young ladies would foster young men's propensity to enjoy the great outdoors.

The theme of the Carnival was "the Good Ol' Days"--the Roaring Twenties--which the Daily Dartmouth described as "a mad age of loud parties and wild dances and much beverage." This mad age was in evidence all over the campus, but somehow ol' mad spirit was not up to par. College students of the "beat" fifties are not completely satisfied to exuberate wildly for 36 hours, doing nothing but dance ... and drink ... and laugh loudly. Yet this discontent is buried under the revelry and shows itself only on Sunday night during bull sessions over dirty glasses and broken bottles.

But there is always next time, and preparations for next year's Carnival start early in March. Even in the backwoods of the North, "Hope springs eternal..."Time to leave, or, as the conductor said, "By God, there are so many lovers around here."