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The Dartmouth
April 15, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Homecoming and Hanover

I stopped by the Hanover Barbershop between my 10 and 12 last Friday for a quick trim and had an important revelation. Hanover has a barbershop. I had no idea. At least I thought I had no idea. I always had girls cut it in dorms last year. But there I was, right out of class and walking in this door like I'd been there a hundred times before. Weird.

Walking into this fifties-chic establishment, I greeted the barber and his customer and sat myself on the couch to wait my turn. The customer, it turns out, was a professor and former dean at the Yale School of Management on leave for the term. He was asking about what was going on in Hanover. He had clearly not spent much time in these parts, for this is a question that one generally asks only once before he learns to never ask it again. Yet, the answer around this time of year for the average Hanover resident is apparently a little different than the normal response when you ask one what is happening in this town, which is to chug a Natty Light and then kill himself. Indeed, the barber had a new answer ready: Homecoming is happening.

I was a bit taken aback. How did this friendly barber know about the nonstop blackout ragefest that was about to seep out of the basements of Webster Avenue and flood the entire campus for a few special days?

Alas, he did not. The professor asked him what Homecoming entailed, and I began to look down to my feet in sad puppy shame. I was stopped short, however, when the friendly barber quickly responded with a list of activities that required no such ignominy: "There's a parade, some speakers, some musical performances, a big bonfire, a football game, all sorts of things."

Oh yeah, right. I smiled and nodded. "We're playing Columbia this year," I added, affirming the friendly barber's words to myself as much as to the Yalie.

I have been so caught up in the Dartmouth bubble lately that I forget we are not our own planet orbiting the sun. We are in a town, which is in turn in a region called the Upper Valley, which lies in the New Hampshire-Vermont border area. If all of the towns and colleges in this area were represented by people at a party, Dartmouth would most certainly be behind the bar. As I have recently discovered, this is a dangerous place to be. The influx of power back there can be intoxicating, and its results certainly are. However, it's easy to miss what's going on in the rest of the party if you stay behind the bar all night. Some of the most interesting people at the party might be behind the crowd waiting for a drink. Lebanon Community College is smoking Black and Milds and telling dirty jokes upstairs. Norwich came, but he's doming Lyme in the other room, and we're missing all of them.

As we see the campus quadruple in size this weekend, we should take time to reflect on why this growth is happening. Sure, a lot of it is just '05s coming back to see their friends, meet '09s and release some of the inner-torment they have acquired in classy investment banking and consulting jobs on unsuspecting pledges. However, a lot of the crowd this weekend will be Upper Valley residents whose affiliation with the College is purely geographical. These people will be cheering for our football team ('09s: Rush the field. Seriously.) and cheering for our parade to the bonfire ('09s: Touch it. Really.) They're coming to the bar. Let's be good hosts and give them the drink they want and the hello they deserve.