LC in History: Madness in the Air

Dr. Clifton W. Potter Jr., LC History Professor~

The day that my recent column appeared which dealt with sunbathing, a friend reminded me that, when Montgomery Hall had a flat roof, it also provided a forbidden place to sun until the administrators in charge discovered the secret and locked the doors. Another friend remarked that the grassy areas behind the lower dorms used to resemble a beach from the first warm spring day until the end of exams.

Today, there are a number of excellent products that provide a reasonable
alternative to exposure to the harmful rays of the sun.

Fifty-five years ago, there was “Man Tan,” one of the first artificial tanning products.
Too many people paid too little attention to the directions with comical results.

There was a young fellow who bought it as soon as it appeared on the market, but
didn’t bother to read the directions carefully. One day, he looked like a peeled banana;
the next day, he resembled a pumpkin from his neck to his hairline—he even had the
streaks one finds on a jack-o’- lantern. When we left for summer vacation in early June,
he was still known as “pumpkin man.”

With the resurrection of the fashions of the ‘70s, we have seen the return of
absolutely straight hair.

I had a student in one of my classes that had lovely curly hair on Monday, and by
Wednesday she had a haircut shorter than mine. What had happened? She asked a
friend to iron her hair to remove the curl—instead she removed her hair.

Do not try this at home; let a professional straighten your hair if you must look like
a picture from the 1974 edition of “The Argonaut.”

There were students who made extra spending money-cutting hair. There were
both men and women who could provide a trim as good as any professional.
Some women ironed shirts for the men in Westover and Carnegie. This was before
the introduction of permanent press fabrics, and $.25 a shirt was equal to $2.50 in our
currency.

At present, there is a fashion for piercing; 55 years ago, there were students who
pierced ears with an ice cube, a potato, a bottle of iodine and a large needle. Do not try
to repeat this ancient form of torture. Needles are for flu shots.

Ninety years ago, our students swallowed gold fish, but in 1967 when Snidow
Chapel was dedicated, they were put to another purpose.

The baptistery was filled with water for the dedication. Several enterprising
students bought dozens of goldfish from Murphy’s, which was the “dime store” at the
Plaza, and introduced them into the baptismal pit early that morning.

The effect was remarkable to say the least, as fish began to leisurely swim in and
out of the congregation’s line of vision. First, there was a suppressed giggle or two
followed by a bit of laughter and then applause, which somewhat lessened the dignity of
the occasion.

When the service was finished, the young men who had put the fish there in the
first place volunteered to remove them.  The chaplain gratefully accepted their offer!

Spring is wonderful; it brings out the madness in us all.