Its a longstanding tradition. In The Oberlin Review for April 9, 1919, five months after the end of World War I, we read that reunions were part of the plans for the Eighty-sixth Annual Commencement on June 18.
During the last three or four years, on account of the war, Commencement has necessarily been restricted. Now that a victorious peace has come, it seems fitting to celebrate in an appropriate manner. One of the chief attractions will be the Oberlin Ambulance Unit, which has been operating in Italy. A future professor of European History, Frederick B. Artz 16, was a member of this unit.
Definite word has been received from 14 classes which are planning reunions this year.
And the returnees even included townspeople. Last Friday Mayor Phillips called a meeting of representative citizens of the college and community at his office in the Town Hall to make plans for the big Oberlin Home Coming which is to be held in connection with Commencement. On account of the significance of the year, an effort will be made to secure the return of every former Oberlin resident. This work will be carried on through the cooperation of churches, fraternal orders, schools, and womens clubs which will canvass their membership lists.
Oberlin College, having been founded by preachers during the Second Great Awakening, was still reluctant to let men and women dance together. Heres a condensed version of a letter to the editor from a member of the 25-year class, Louis H. Norton 94.
The nation's latest craze in 1919 was the shimmy, according to Miss Alice Martin in a St. Louis paper. Everybody's doing it. ...There hasn't been anything really new since 1911, when the one-step and the fox trot set the world dance mad. But the Review reported on a staid campus event for women only. Warner Gymnasium was the scene Saturday evening of a very pretty dance given by the Freshmen to the Sophomore class. Pink, green and blue streamers and apple blossoms were the decorations, and the music was furnished by the mens orchestra.
An editorial alluded to men daring to crash a womens dance party and noted that good manners were rare. But they ought not to be among college students. Such people should at least know better than to go out to a party to which they were not invited. The gymnasium is not any too large for the two classes which it has to accommodate at the class proms, and when other classmen appear on the floor the situation is impossible. It may be accounted for on the basis that since mixed dancing is not permitted, the poor students seize every opportunity to indulge in some form of the amusement at least.
The evils of alcohol were not permitted either. Moreover, the 18th Amendment had just been adopted, and Prohibition meant that Anheuser Busch could no longer sell beer. Their advertisement in the Review promoted a non-alcoholic near beer called Bevo.
According to another ad, if you traveled nine miles on the interurban railway to Elyria and spent $10 or more at the Elyria Dry Goods Company, they would refund your fare.
In other news, the beanie issue came before Mens Senate. Some Freshmen are not wearing their caps. It is hoped all will feel their responsibility to observe these traditions in the future. DISCUSSION regarding plans for the Freshman Cap Burning. MOVED AND CARRIED, that all plans for this event be left with the Freshmen.
One basketball player from Oberlin, E.D. Howard, was named to the All-Ohio Conference team. At center, the Review quoted the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the three best players were Howard of Oberlin, Kull of Denison and Knowlton of Akron. Howard was one of the steady, reliable types and against Ohio State practically won a victory for Oberlin single handed. He is placed on the first team, while Kull of Denison is given the berth on the second five. Kull was a star combination and floor man but did not locate the basket with desired accuracy.
I close with two longer, lighter stories. The first concerns a stag party (men only) at the Mens Building, now known as Wilder Hall. It was the Opening Mens Event of the spring.
The other tale is slightly odd. Its written in a stilted, pseudo-formal manner which was the style at the time. At least I think it was the style, because my mother wrote an article in similar fashion a decade later.
need to explain a couple of other things first. Then as
now, some businesses catering to the campus were on Main Street while
others faced Tappan Square. The undated photo below of West
College Street shows the A.G. Comings book store on the right,
operated then by the ancestors of Sid Comings of the Class of 1969
and later to become the Co-Op Bookstore. One of the other shops
down the sidewalk to the left is Tobins Drug Store.
I also should explain that dope, from the Dutch doop or sauce, is the term for the varnish used to waterproof the fabric of airplane wings. In 1919, it also referred to another sticky fluid, the syrup used in the making of sundaes and colas. In our present context, therefore, a dope is a soft drink. Who sold dope? Pharmacies, naturally. These stores with soda fountains included Tobins, where boxes of candy could also be purchased, and Kelleys at 35 West College Street.
Further down the street, the big attraction was the Apollo Theater at 19 East College, already in its sixth year of operation.
Enough preliminaries! On to the story of a young man of Asian descent who was pranked by his buddies upon his return from a date.