Pranks

Prank
Freshman-Sophomore class hijinks, 1929

Lawrence Elk

In 1896, the college was the recipient of a gift in the form of a stuffed elk that had been shot in Corbin Park. The elk lived for many years on the first floor of T-Hall (where it made a convenient coat-rack) until it was moved to the third floor just outside of the girl's gym.

Imagine the surprise of the women who lived in Smith Hall when, one April morning in 1921, they awoke to see their old friend standing peacefully among the rocks on the little rise near their dorm. As reported by The New Hampshire, "This curious sight caused much laughter and excitement among all who saw the old fellow. After standing there for several hours, under the eye of so many 'fair ones,' the blushing old quadruped was finally relieved of his position, and carried by workmen to his old stand."

Tickets Please!

train
In the early days of the university, the fastest way to get to Dover was by train. Enterprising student found ways of avoiding paying the 20-cent fare. Students would pile into the "afternoon limited" in such numbers that despite the fast working conductor and brakeman, working frantically from either end, there was usually not time to demand tickets from every passenger. The more alert youths could nimbly avoid the conductor all the way to the city, then, as the train slowed down near Dover, drop off the center cars and hop on again at the rear for the final ride into the city.

May the Best Department Win

Anticipation ran high in 1924 when the college prepared for its annual Aggie Fair held in the gymnasium (now New Hampshire Hall). The Horticulture Department, which won first prize for the best exhibit the year before, had visions of winning another victory, while the Poultry Department hoped to regain the crown it lost the previous year. The Animal Husbandry Department was pretty confidant that they would take the big prize with their entry of a green pig. It was, according to Joe Horne '25, a "real and legitimate green." The Dairy Department promised that their exhibit would be a winner, or at least would "be less likely to arouse suspicion than the 'green squealer' being shown by the Animal Husbandry Department."

The Bells Toll On and On and…

One evening in early June, 1925, the University and Durham communities were alarmed when the Thompson Hall bells began to ring at eleven o'clock at night. At ten minutes past eleven the bell was still ringing when Henry Swallow, the genial night watchman, appeared on the scene. He found the door to the belfry unlocked and discovered that some "playful students" had hung two glass cider jugs from the striking apparatus in such a way that the thing was thrown out of gear so that the striking would continue indefinitely.

What's A Mother To Do?

The first recorded incident on campus of the infamous college prank known as the "panty raid" occurred in 1928. As Liz Roper '28 tells the story: One evening a guys' dorm marched on Smith Hall [a women's dorm]. The girls rushed about, quickly locking windows. At the time, Smith had a dear old lady for a house mother and she became confused in the commotion. Seeing her duty clear, the good soul also hurried about fixing window -- except, not realizing that they were already locked -- she unlocked them! The boys broke in and the panty raid was on. According to Roper, "Oh, the girls loved it!"

Cat Tales

In February 1926, the Wildcat was voted the official college mascot. Several months later, some students heard that a farmer had captured a wildcat and they thought it would be a good idea to get the cat as a mascot to show at Homecoming.

Amanda Simpson '28 told the story:

Cupe Osgood, Eddie Simpson, and Gil Reed climbed into Cupe's touring car and headed off to get the cat. The farmer put the cat in a wooden box, nailed some slats on the top and placed it on the back seat of Cupe's car. A short time after they had left for Durham, the cat started raising havoc in the box, producing some of the weird sounds that only a wildcat can make. The three students became extremely apprehensive about the security of the box.

Stopping for lunch in Laconia, they took to the road again when one of the three men noticed just in time that the cat had chewed away one of the slats and was half out of the box. Cupe slammed on the brakes and Ed and Gil threw a blanket over the box, shoved it back in and hoped for the best.

After starting off again, Gil put his arm around the back of Cupe and jabbed him in the back of his neck at the same time giving his best imitation of a "wild" wildcat. Poor Cupe jammed on the brakes, leaped out of the car and headed for a cornfield. Ed always said that he wasn't sure who was the wildest in the car back to Durham. Cupe and Gil didn't speak for awhile but they always remained friends anyway.

Boys Will Be Boys

One morning in 1936, Guy Clark, principal at the Durham Center Grammar School, was shocked to find a huge pig in his children's playpen. Adding insult to injury, he received many telephone calls complaining about his keeping pigs within the town proper. Of course, town residents blamed the prank on University students. Few ever found out that Philip Wilcox, foreman at the University poultry plant, and Loring Tirrell, professor of animal husbandry, were the actual perpetrators.

Cat Burglars

The last football game of the 1939 season was scheduled against the highly-favored Harvard Crimson. One week before the game, the UNH wildcat mascot, Butch III, was discovered missing from his cage behind the Lambda Chi Fraternity house. Both Tufts (who had just lost to UNH) and Harvard were considered likely culprits, but searches for the cat in Boston and Cambridge came up empty.

Three days later, an insurance salesman was surprised to find the cat in a small carrier abandoned in his garage in Woburn, Mass. Having read of the missing animal in a Boston newspaper, he called the UNH athletic department. A delegation was dispatched to Woburn and returned to Durham with the cat, which was hungry and thirsty but otherwise unharmed.

Despite the fact that on top of the cage, in large letters, was written: "HARVARD 60, N.H. O," Harvard denied any involvement, stating that they had enough cats at Harvard already without adding a wild one to the collection.

Box Office Success

In the fall of 1968, the walls of the office of George B. Nako were decorated with artwork, a couple of diplomas and eight English 401 theme papers. Two swing-armed chairs, an empty cigarette carton, and an ashtray showed evidence that student conferences were held there. None of this was very unusual except that the "office" was located under a stairwell in Hamilton Smith Hall. His posted office hours were at the unconventional times of midnight to 3 a.m., which might explain why his office was always empty.

Students and faculty pondered the existence of Mr. Nako. Soon the inhabitants of Hamilton-Smith were leaving him notes and papers to grade (which he did -- often in several different handwritings). As the semester wore on, Nako's circle of fans grew, and he received gifts and even proposals of marriage. The statement, "Nako lives" chalked onto the blackboards answered his skeptics. Those students hoping to register for his spring classes were disappointed, however. When they returned from winter break, Nako's office had disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared.

Will the Real Professor Please Stand Up?

On January 31, 1954, it was revealed that a high school drop-out named Marvin Hewitt had been teaching physics at the university for a year. New Hampshire was not the only victim of this talented imposter, who in the previous ten years had taught at four different colleges under different names. In Durham he posed as Kenneth P. Yates, Ph.D., a physicist with a good record. He had been hired in 1953 after submitting fake letters of recommendation and a genuine transcript of Dr. Yates doctoral studies.

Although graduate students and colleagues noted inexplicable gaps in his knowledge, the self-taught genius escaped discovery until Wayne N. Overman, a graduate student, became suspicious of him. "Yates" was unfamiliar with the work of a certain German physicist and could not read German -- rare for a Ph.D. in physics. Inquiry revealed that the real Yates was innocently pursuing his career in the Midwest.

Grass Menagerie

Lawn Prank
One morning in late May 1982, President Evelyn Handler discovered that sometime during the night, her front lawn had been turned into an encampment for a flock of flamingos, ducks, frogs, and rabbits. There were also a few gnomes, a donkey, and a lion in the mix.

Sgt. Robert Prince (above) was called in to round up the ornamental menagerie, which, it was suspected, had strayed from nearby homes. Faculty, staff, and local residents whose garden and lawn ornaments had mysteriously vanished were invited to come to the station to claim their missing creatures.