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The Dartmouth
May 27, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Alums recall music, debauchery from past celebrations

A simple mention of Green Key weekend to many Dartmouth alumni sparks the recollection of some of their favorite college memories, and many were eager to share their stories.

Due to the fact that Green Key lacks a mainstay tradition or focal point, such memories vary from generation to generation. However, certain elements are invariably found in them all. For decades, Green Key has been an occasion for Dartmouth students to take a step back from the rigors of their academic pursuits and enjoy the long awaited return of warm weather with their friends.

Prior to coeducation at Dartmouth, "friends" often meant women visiting from area colleges. Pierce McKee '51 vividly remembers the ladies of Skidmore College who came to Hanover in the spring of 1950.

"My most memorable Green Key was my junior year," McKee said. "It began on Thursday, May 4, l950 -- my 21st birthday ... when Rosina Schmidt arrived with other Skidmore girls in a limo. She stayed in a rooming house that night and moved into the Sigma Chi [Tabard] house for Friday and Saturday nights." It was not uncommon for women to flood the campus during big weekends before coeducation.

McKee continued, "The weekend was a busy, event-filled two days with dances, baseball games, picnics, and jazz concerts on fraternity row on Sunday. The big dance was on the top floor of the gym where we took semester final exams a month later," he said.

McKee also described the traditions of old, including "Wet Down" ceremonies, where younger classes ran through a gauntlet of seniors with belts flying. He recalled one year that the line of students went from the Hanover Inn all the way to the white church near Fairchild and Steele.

As is still the case, alums said that fraternity parties, outdoor events and concerts have been the staples of nearly every Green Key weekend, along with the long-awaited warm weather.

Green Key "seemed to mark the beginning of summer," Dan Godfrey '98 said. "Everyone was outside enjoying themselves " barbecuing, playing wiffle ball, volleyball, pong, enjoying the band at AD."

Many recent alumni, like Godfrey, tend to note the debauchery of the weekend. Another '98 who preferred to remain anonymous recounted an early morning round of fun.

"The first thing I remember is one of the largest and perhaps scariest looking men alive fittingly referred to as 'House' walking into every room of Beta at 7 in the morning playing 'Pump Up the Jam' on a radio until we woke up to go to 'Come as you are' over at Chi Gam," he recalled. "God only knows why he picked that song, either, but hey, it worked. I'd say 10 to 15 of us were across the street on the Chi Gam lawn drinking mimosas by 8."

Bobby Spillane '98 recalled the Green Key Saturday of his freshman year in 1995.

"Brad Jefferson '98, Chris Sweeney '96 and I had a 'Kegs and Eggs' party that started at 8 a.m. Some people came dressed up for the day -- others were in their boxer shorts. As the day wore on, word got out that there were kegs in Richardson," he said. "By mid-afternoon our dorm had become a refueling spot between Theta Delt's pig roast and AD's lawn party."

For others, the concerts and musical events included in the endless events of the four-day weekend stuck most firmly in their minds. Al Henning '77 and Carol Muller '77 both noted that they will always remember the a cappella show "Spring Sing" being held over Green Key and that Spaulding Auditorium was always sold out.

While that is no longer the case, a well-established band still performs on campus nearly every Green Key. Henning and Muller remember seeing both Livingston Taylor and Hall & Oates over their four years at the College.

The amount of alcohol available on and around campus may have diminished somewhat with the implementation of the Student Life Initiative in 1999. And many of the traditions that Pierce McKee '51 recalled have faded, but Green Key will continue to be one of the most anxiously awaited of the big party weekends since it does signify the end of the dreary days of extended Hanover winters.

"Green Key was my favorite special event at Dartmouth," Godfrey said. With the expected sunshine, a performance by "The Mighty Mighty Bosstones," and the countless opportunities to kick back with friends, scores of new memories are sure to be made over Green Key '03.