Thursday, December 07, 2006


Like in “Animal House”, at Dartmouth in the late 1950’s, when things were most desperate and there was little hope for deliverance, it was time for a ROAD TRIP! This was indeed a non-college-sanctioned bizarre form of testosterone-induced tradition that took many an alcohol-impaired life. I think, in my freshman year, eight classmates were killed in auto accidents, many on the way back from visiting women's colleges. We had a code name for many of these distaff colleges. The ones I remember were:

Colby Jr. College was Coal Shute
Green Mountain was The Groin
Wellesley College was Swellsley
Skidmore College was The Skids

And I’m sure there were many more. (Were Smith and Mount Holyoke known collectively as North Humpton, the town in which they were located?) Of course this was disrespectful, but what wasn’t then (and, I suspect, now)?

The road trip involved stuffing a car with classmates or fraternity brothers and setting off for one of these destinations full of high hopes and hormones. The trip there itself usually involved a fair amount of beer … steeling ourselves for that ever-dangerous “cutting out of the herd.” This last phrase meant the actual getting of a date in as little time as possible … so that there would be enough instance for establishing a connection, both mentally and physically. Think of it as today’s eight-minute dating. My pick-up lines weren’t nearly as innovative as was displayed in “Animal House.”

We usually would go to a pre-selected dorm that previous road-trippers had drummed around campus as being “productive,” and shouting up the stairwell “Anyone want a date!?” Then after a few words to anyone who rose to this bait (these words, of course, would somehow include the word “Dartmouth”) we would be off to the local gin mill to keep the buzz going.

I will draw a curtain on the rest of the evening’s frivolities and return to our story at the drive back to Hanover (often in harsh weather) which was usually filled with more beer and war stories. But, by the end, everyone was asleep except hopefully the driver. These drivers were indeed the most courageous of souls since it was they who kept us all alive for the next bit of road-trip insanity.

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