1900-1919

Lesson in Fermentation

The New Hampshire College Monthly contains this report of an especially memorable meeting of the Chemical Colloquium, held on December 2, 1905.

After the customary proceedings, the meeting adjourned to the college club room, each man taking with him a 400cc. beaker for reference. At the College Club, a "feed" was soon under way. Beside the eatables, there was a goodly store of the product of the festive apple. The latter was contained in one of those dear old earthen jugs the size of a watermelon.

President Kennedy acted as Hebe for the first sendoff, and the atmosphere of solid satisfaction was profound when each happy "Chemiker" had been supplied with his 400cc. of the rusty nectar. Throughout the evening, the inspiring jug continued to be a center of attraction. It reminded one of a heavily "bonded" atom whose affinities were being satisfied by the ring of individuals around it.

When saturation was about reached the affinities disappeared, and the energy of the jug, and its contents became a minimum. At about 10 o'clock the festivities ended. The Colloquium adjourned, and each member went his way vowing himself glad to be a chemist, or one in embryo.

Blue All Over

The first page of a freshman's diary, found in the Modern Language room in Thompson Hall and dated September 5, 1905, was published in the New Hampshire College Monthly:

Arrived in Durham on the 2:30 train. On way down met a fellow named _____, who is a junior. On arriving at station paid man to bring trunk down to house. Then walked down to Mrs. _____. Not many students here yet, so place seems lonesome. After supper, as trunk didn't come, I walked up toward station to look it up. Found it on steps of another building, where it was left by mistake. Hired a boy for ten cents to help me carry it to room. In the p.m. and eve. unpacked and got settled. Felt homesick at times. At 7:30 p.m., being very tired, I went to bed, wishing I had never come to such a place.

Party Games

In the college's early years, its small size allowed for more personal contact between the faculty and the students. It was common for faculty to host a party for a group of students, and just about anything that happened on campus was fodder for the student magazine. The March 1905 issue reported that:

[chemistry] Prof. and Mrs. F. W. Morse gave a very pleasant 'At Home' to half of the senior class. The evening was spent in completing the definition of words, card playing and singing.

The special feature, which was novel and extremely interesting, was an egg shell painting contest. Egg shells had been fitted with collars and hats representing students, admirals, brownies, etc. These were distributed and each guest was supposed to paint a likeness, which should be similar to that suggested by the hat. Everybody had a glorious time.

Luck of the Draw

student housing
Housing shortages at UNH date back to its very beginning. The original appropriations for the college did not include money for dormitories, so private enterprise in Durham did what it could to house both students and faculty. Smith Hall, the first college dormitory, was built in 1908, providing beds for 32 women students. Within seven years, the college had to lease two more buildings to accommodate the demand for housing.

Due to the differences in comfort levels provided by the three women's dorms, a certain proportion of women from each class were required to live in each building and rooms were assigned by lottery. The arrangement was as unpopular then as it is today.

Good Look to You, Too

On January 13, 1911, patrons of the college Lecture Course were treated to an evening of musical selections performed by Victor and his Venetian Band. Signor Victor and his twenty-six band members had been touring the US for ten months before they performed in Durham.

The fraternities served as hosts to the band members during their stay on campus. The following note was left at a fraternity house by one of the band members. "If we might explain to you we would like to tell many kind words, because everyone of young man of this college they are all of the best gentleman very kind and honest, the their manner it is very affabule and cortese. We leave from here very sorry. We left many friends. We wish good-look with best regards to them."

Don't Fence Me In

From 1842 to 1912, the B&M Railroad ran through the middle of campus. From the point near the shops (now Hewitt Hall) to Main Street, the B&M erected a board fence on each side of their right of way.

A short cut from one side of campus to the other was to go through or over the fence. It soon dawned on the resourceful youth that the easiest way was to kick out a panel of fences. Thus began a duel between the students and the section men.

As often as the students kicked out a panel, the section men would restore it. After this continued for a while, the boys discovered an empty boxcar one evening and loaded the fence into it. The next morning, the B&M picked up the car and unwittingly hauled their fence out of the state. The fence was never replaced.

Strike One

The early decades of the 20th century were the heyday of inter-class rivalry. The annual class banquets involved elaborate scheming by the freshmen and the sophomores to have out of town banquets, which the other class would attempt to prevent by kidnapping and other tactics.

On April 29, 1912, the banquet contest led to one of the more notorious incidents in the history of UNH, known as the Strike of 1912. That year, the sophomores contrived to distract the freshmen by ringing the Thompson Hall bell, which served as a fire alarm. Class president and star athlete William Brackett did the deed, and while the freshmen responded to the "fire," the sophomores successfully boarded the train to Boston where their banquet awaited them.

The ruse worked perfectly until President Gibbs, catching Brackett red-handed and presumably red-faced, suspended him for the remainder of the year for ringing a false alarm. The sophomores objected, saying the punishment was too severe since Brackett had rung the bell as an agent for the class and not as an individual. They voted to stop attending classes until Brackett's suspension was adjusted to what they considered to be a fairer punishment. The freshman class and then the junior class also voted to follow the lead of the sophomores.

The strike dragged on for more than a week before some of the trustees intervened. After consultation with President Gibbs and the class representatives, Brackett's punishment was reduced to suspension for two weeks and probation for the rest of the college year. The students returned to classes, and the student strike was over.

Piano Bar

In 1913, through the efforts of the Women's League, the administration granted the use of a room on the first floor of Thompson Hall for the use of commuting women students who came to campus by train each morning and often stayed until the evening trains departed.

With contributions from interested clubs or individuals, the room was equipped with all the comforts of home, including a piano. The furniture of this room proved to be very popular for use as theater props and also for social events and dances held on the third floor of Thompson Hall (which housed the only stage or auditorium on the campus).

This use became so frequent and so disastrous to the furniture that in 1917 it was voted that nothing could be taken from the room without written permission, and a charge of twenty-five cents was made for each article borrowed by any organization or individual.

Conductor Cowed

In the early 1980's, at age ninety-two, Albert Erlon Mosher penned his reminiscences of his years at UNH, Class of 1914.

I am a two-year student alumnus. Two-year students were referred to as "Shorthorns", and came very close to being considered second class persons in the eyes of many four-year students, but not all. I had many friends from both that I cherished all my life. Like most students I came to Durham by train... Each morning the conductor, instead of calling "Durham" would announce the stop as "Cow College." The students got rather irritated at this and when the conductor got off the train one morning he was greeted with barrage of rotten eggs. Passengers heard no more of the "Cow College."

The Highwaymen

The October 6, 1914 issue of The New Hampshire included the following account of an automobile accident, the first ever reported by that paper:

The New Hampshire College wrecking crew began its season of activities last Sunday night. The three students who comprise this crew were enjoying a moonlight stroll along the Madbury road when they ran across the auto of a well-known Dover resident lying in the ditch. The owner of the auto went to the nearest telephone to call for help, while one of the students drew out his slide rule and attempted to solve the problem of rescuing the auto.

While trying to make sin 30 equal tan 0 plus cos 0, Pa Stone and Frank Morrison arrived on the scene with a flask of gasoline and two feet of logging chain from the aggie department. A few well chosen expletives from Frank scared the auto to its feet and with the aid of the gasoline, the slide rule, and the three husky students, the auto was soon in the road again and on its way. The road being narrow, the three young men obligingly picked up Pa Stone's and Frank Morrison's Fords and turned them around, then rode triumphantly home.

Reven to the Rescue

Riding the train was a rather mundane event back in the early part of the 20th Century. Occasionally, however, it provided a little excitement, as shown in an article for the October 7, 1916 issue of The New Hampshire:

With rare presence of mind, Roy Reven '19 snatched a woman from death under a moving train at the Dover station last Saturday morning. The woman, whose identity is unknown, attempted to get onto the rear platform of a coach as the train was pulling out. Hampered partly by her weight of two hundred pounds or more, she lost her footing and fell heavily under the train. Revene, who stood on the station platform with many others, saw her plight. By quick thinking and the use of his football-hardened muscles, he was able to rescue her when the wheels of the next coach were by a scant few feet from her body.

Dancing on the Grass

Maypole dancing
On May 14, 1917, the YWCA presented a four-part pageant on the east lawn of Morrill Hall. The pageant, called "The Ministering of the Gift" was performed by the women students of the college, assisted by the women faculty, the camp fire girls, and children of the Durham Sunday School.

Through short skits, song, and dance, they portrayed the work of the YWCA in its many forms (college association, country association, city association, and foreign association). The portion of the program titled, "The Association in the Open Country," included a maypole dance, performed by a group of students from the junior class.

Hold on to Your Hats

In 1917, "Tinker" Prescott ran a garage in downtown Durham. He owned a Stanley Steamer roadster which he used to taxi the Student Army Training Corps to Dover during their time off. Leon Batchelder '29 recalled:

Each evening he would drive up town about 6:00 PM and when enough fellows showed up, he would head for Dover City Hall. The number of men who could hold onto that car was unbelievable and what was more unbelievable is the fact that he would make the round trip in just 30 minutes to pick up another load. Around 10:00 or so, he would start bringing them back from Dover at the same high rate of speed... and as far as I know he never had an accident.

Christmas Spirit

In 1919, The New Hampshire reported that those students who lived too far to go home for the winter break were not forgotten by the college.

On Christmas Day those students who remained in Durham during the vacation enjoyed a Christmas dinner at the Commons [Huddleston Hall]. Turkey, cranberry sauce, mince pie, plum pudding, and all the good things of which a Christmas dinner should consist were served. There were only ten at the table, among whom were an Armenian, two Greeks, and an Irishman, all of whom made the conversation very entertaining by relating their experiences. The chef acted as waiter and it is said that he "played the part well." After dinner one of the men waited on the chef and the assistant baker. This was Christmas spirit displayed at the Common.