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The 1929 Algol controversy

The Features section of the 1929 Algol was trouble right from its title: “The Alc’hol of 1929.” Prohibition was still in effect, after all, and Carleton’s campus was dry before and after alcohol was outlawed nationwide. The supplement began, “Entered in the postoffice of the U. S. A. as low-class matter by the act of God. June 42, 1626.” The following are some of the shorter amusing sections, most of which poke fun at the campus and surrounding community.

“This section is dedicated to The Night Watchman. For to him, when the stars cast a feeble glow over our slumbering campus and the moon hangs high in the heavens, we owe the undisturbed rest of our sleep, when it is undisturbed. He keeps our cars parked in the right place, he ferrets out vile, naughty burglars and even [Oles] and sends them on their ways. He is a check upon drunkenness Would God, dear night watchman, you might plunge a stiletto into Elliot’s neck—for he owns a sax and lives next door. And pray, night watchman, kill the bozo who considers himself a first assistant to Dan Cupid and has us chasing cigars at all hours of the night. And the lusty-throated serenaders—Well, night watchman!

“Situated at Northfield, Minnesota, Carleton is conveniently located near St. Paul and Minneapolis, and is within easy bumming distance of the matinee at Faribault. The Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad and the Dan Patch [a train’s nickname inspired by the famous racehorse] run through Northfield quite frequently except in case of rain, snow, breakdown, or intense cold.

“As a college town, Northfield offers ideal surroundings. To the East are two beautiful cemeteries and the rocky precipices of the Northfield golf course. To the North and South stretches a magnificent panorama of cornfields and cow pastures, with glimpses here and there of the rolling Cannon River. And in the West, of course, there is always the sunset.”

The section continued, “Rising above the river on Laird Field is the Carleton Stadium used at football games, track meets, etc. The stadium, with great foresight, was made nine times larger than the necessary size in order to accommodate those football enthusiasts who prefer being able to follow the ball up and down the field rather than having to watch the game from one particular vantage point.

“A private golf course is maintained by the college for the exclusive use of students. Players tee off at the north end of Nourse Hall and follow the ball over pleasantly rolling greens to the rear of the Music Hall. From there the ball is hit back again and the game continues until a window is broken.”

The “Alc’hol” also contained “rattling good or pretty lousy imitations” of poems by Sandburg, Lindsay and Chaucer, which retold the suspensions of 23 students who stayed out past curfew to attend prom at Shattuck-Saint Mary’s School in Faribault. A ribald photo, by 1929 standards, showed a nude fellow covering his pectorals and unmentionables with phonograph records. The caption of another photo described the propensity of female Carls for drinking and smoking.

The section’s writers may not have taken their work seriously, but faculty and administration did. The May 31, 1929, Minneapolis Journal said an administration bulletin called the “Alc’hol” “highly discreditable to the good name of the college” and “[reflected] discredit on the women.” Three male students were suspended for the remainder of Spring Term, and hundreds of the “objectionable” books were confiscated. A copy of the ’29 Algol on 2nd Libe clearly shows where the offending pages were simply cut out.

 

Thank you for reading, and enjoy your summer!

This poem appeared in the January 23, 1894, Carletonia [sic]. Although slightly dated, it is included as a bonus to show that Carls of yesteryear probably understood end-of-term crunch time just as well as we do now.

“Busy”

We oft are told that Satan

     Some mischief findeth still,

Wherewith the idle-handed

     May flying moments fill.

But when he finds a college

     With curriculum like ours,

He seeks for greener pastures

     To exercise his powers.

From five o’clock in the morning

     Till ten o’clock at night,

He could not work a sin in

     Endeavor as he might.

At five our lamps are lighted,

     We start the day with Greek.

Ten still finds them burning,

     We’re learning French to speak.

All day in the laboratories,

     Biology, Physics, and Chem.,

And then Rhetoricals pending—

     Societies, what about them?

The Sabbath’s a repetition,

     In a little different line,

The busiest day in the week

     With ten students out of nine.

When Satan’s looking for idlers,

     He does not come near here;

He knows we’ve more in a month

     Than he would do in a year.—Robin

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