The Yard was always full of imposters in those days, Young says. There was the story of the phoney British earl who, in an appeal to the innate snobbishness of Americans, and the general gullability of all freshmen, managed to live off the Yardlings for a number of weeks until the authorities nabbed him.
Perhaps the greatest Yard imposter ever was Tarzan. Once upon a time in an early fall night about ten years ago, Young says a perfect Tarzan call emanated from a window in Matthews North at exactly 11:17 p.m. That call went largely unnoticed. But then Tarzan continued the next night, and the next and the next. Absolutely no one--with the exception of a group of four or five students in Matthews--knew who was doing it. By mid-October about 200 to 300 students would gather every night around Matthews at 11:17 to hear Tarzan yell. Of course, there were a lot of pseudo-Tarzan calls coming from Thayer and Holworthy, but Young remembers they were always being booed and hissed down. Only the Matthews Tarzan was hailed. Well, pretty soon it got to the point when it was a mob scene--it reminded Young of one of those Mussolini rallies where the crowd was screaming for II Duce. "We started to get worried about the large crowds when hourlies came along," Young says.
Well, the guy was an artist and right through the end of October no one in University Hall could find out who he was to get him to stop. Through the Matthews proctor the freshman dean's office let four or five possible Tarzans know they wanted no more yells. "We admired his sense of dramatic, but the crowds were getting to be a pain in the ass," Young says. "We told him he could have two more chances."
After two more yells, despite the chanting crowds, there were no more Tarzan calls. Later that December, however, at the proctors' play (alas another tradition gone by the wayside, Young says) the proctors planned one more Tarzan appearance. Again, through channels the message was leaked and without anyone knowing who he was, safely hidden on the Union balcony, the freshman, on the cue of "We love you Tarxan," gave one more call. "The crowd went buggy," Young says.
The last time Tarzan performed was at a senior fundraising dinner. But, sadly, he had lost his cry. "I'm sure at the 25th reunion there will be a lot of people claiming to be Tarzan--I hope he gets his cry back then," says Young.
The moral of the story: "Tarzan" is now a successful doctor operating in a Cambridge hospital.