Randolph(-Macon Woman’s) College
Traditions and History:
The Past Master

Odd and Even Newsletters

by Meredith Minter, class of 1984

      "What's the name of Randolph-Macon's newspaper?" Our answer is automatic: The Sundial. But, in the 1920's, students would have made a longer reply. "Well," they'd have said, anxious to explain, "there are three of them..." There were.

      Only one, The Sun Dial, spokesman for the school, survived the paper shortages of the forties.

      The others, light-hearted forays into yellow journalism, were the Odd/Even house organs, Sophomore Slap and Freshman Blaze. Printed in class colors, issued irregularly but with enthusiasm, these papers crammed an amazing number of insults into their single page.

      Content ranged from epigrams—"Zero is an Even number; therefore the Evens are nothing"—to pointed doggerel—

One day a verdant Freshman
Saw a good old Odd class ring.
The infant was quite overwhelmed
By the beauty of the thing.
"Oh, get me one that's just like yours!"
She cried in childish glee.
The Sophomore with maternal air
Told her it could not be.
Her infantile and naive soul
By this in gloom was sunk.
I wish I were an Odd,' she said.
"Can I have one if I flunk?"

      Each issue also contained several articles, alluding to class triumphs and resembling Finnegan's Wake in style and intelligibility. An unusually lucid sample follows:

"The young squints who had elected a Hula Dancer for a Guiding Star had it imposed upon that region of their anatomy designated in the Text Books as the Cerebellum, by the Persistent Sophomores, that the time was ripe to the point of decay for them to elect a Stationary Gubernator to the Throne." (i.e. the sophomores suggested to the freshman that they elect a permanent president.)

      The date of distribution was announced some days in advance, and the opposing staff did all in its power to prevent publication. Editors went to great lengths to protect copy.

      In the early days of the papers, when rivalry was still fierce, an enterprising freshman found the press room of the Sophomore Slap containing freshly printed Slaps, ready for next-day distribution.

      There was no one guarding them. Unable to believe her luck, she quickly gathered up the papers and locked them in her room; then headed for her class president's room. (The president organized all bonfires.)

      A few minutes later, horrified sophomores discovered the theft. After diligent inquiry, they traced the Slaps. There they were, behind a locked third floor door. No one had money for a locksmith.

      Someone thought of the window. Sure enough, it was open, and had no screen. It was also of course, three stories off the ground. A hasty reconnaissance revealed two things: that a sophomore owned the room above, and that no monitors were around.

      The editor, either brave or desperate, fetched a rope, anchored it to the sophomore's furniture, and scrambled out of the window, sliding down with alarming speed. She grabbed the third-floor sill, swung herself into the room, and bore the papers out in triumph. They were distributed on schedule.

Originally published in The Sundial on October 23, 1981 (Vol. 66, no. 6, p. 3)

This article is taken from "The Past Master," a column written by Meredith Minter Dixon, class of 1984, for the Randolph-Macon Woman’s College student newspaper, The Sundial. It is published here with her permission.

Mrs. Dixon has written an invaluable multi-volume set, Maconiana: A Social History of Randolph-Macon Woman's College. For additional information, please visit her author's page on Amazon.

Please contact Mrs. Dixon (dixonm at pobox dot com) if you have comments or questions about her articles.