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The Dartmouth
June 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Class of 1927: Prohibition and Dick's House

The Class of 1927, who left both Dick's House and a new Bema Dartmouth Pine to the College, returned to Dartmouth this weekend to celebrate its 70th reunion.

Dick's House, which is where the College's health services is located, was named for Dick Hall '27 who died of a crippling spinal disease during his sophomore year at Dartmouth. His parents decided to donate money for the establishment of a special College medical facility.

Class president Roger Bury '27 said Hall's parents wanted to build a "lovely home" at Dartmouth that would administer nurturing care to sick students rather than cold sterile ER treatment.

Yesterday the Class of 1927 hosted a dinner to celebrate Dick's House. Dr. Jack Turco, the director of Health Services, spoke at the event.

The Class of 1927, during their 40th reunion, brought a 40-year-old Pine tree from Vermont to the Bema as a gift to the College.

The present included a dedication plaque which Bury said he wanted affixed to a flat stone people could sit on. Bury said he traveled to a quarry in Vermont with then-class president Robert Stevens '27 to find a stone that "fit our fannies."

Bury said during a dedication ceremony he dressed as Eleazar Wheelock with a Bible while another classmate dressed as an Indian who was "beating a drum" and a third classmate rolled in a barrel of rum.

Charles Baker '27, the class secretary, said there was a nice celebration and all the classmates shared some rum. Afterwards, in remembrance of the now-dead Class Day tradition, all members smoked and broke clay pipes.

Baker said Ernest Martin Hopkins, president at the time the class attended the College, built Dartmouth into a real Ivy League school.

It was during Hopkins's tenure that Dartmouth began to accept students based on selective entrance exams and applications. The Class of 1927 was the second class admitted with the new more-stringent requirements.

"Before that, near anyone could get in," Baker said.

The Class of 1927 lived during Prohibition which Bury said resulted in not too much drinking during his time at Dartmouth.

"Dartmouth had the reputation but no liquor," he said.

Bury said students were "definitely against Prohibition" and tried to get around the situation by hanging some hard cider out their windows.

But the best way around prohibition, Bury said, was taking trips to Montreal.

"Canada wasn't too far away and, of course, they didn't have prohibition," he said. "Every now and then, a couple of our boys would get on the train and go to Montreal."

Bury said students who went to Montreal had an excellent way to smuggle bottles of "very good scotch whiskey" back to school in water tanks.

"It really worked," he said. "We'd all have a good drink despite prohibition."

Bury said he was involved with the Dartmouth Players acting group during his years at the College. He recalled trips with the group and finding women for a prom show during at spring house parties during Green Key.

"For spring house parties we put on this show in Webster [Hall] with a band and music and all sorts of things," he said. For that particular show, "I decided we needed to have some girls in it for the final number."

Bury went across campus that afternoon accosting unsuspecting men with dates and asking "every good-looking girl ... if they would like to be in the show tonight. We got a collection of very good-looking girls."

Baker said the lack of women was not too insurmountable.

"When we wanted excitement, we'd go down to Smith or Holyoke or down to Wellesley and ... Skidmore," he said.

But Baker said this was only possible once in a while.

"There was kind of a shortage of girls and money in those days," he said.

Baker said one activity he remembers was the "football rush" which was different from what most students today would associate with the word "rush." Instead of rushing the field, freshmen and sophomores would fight for control of a football kicked between the two sides.

"Nobody won and they called it a tie," Baker said. "But there was 20 minutes of real mayhem."

Another football-related activity was Hums.

"We'd have a contest between the classes sitting on opposite sides of the field," Baker said. "It was kind of mild entertainment but we thought it was pretty hot stuff."

Baker said one of the surprising things about the 70th reunion is that widows of classmates will probably outnumber members since more widows pay dues to the class and alumni fund than class members.