by Meredith Minter, class of 1984
For Randolph-Macon students, Thanksgiving provides a week of R&R, a lull before the onslaught of exams. People hurry from campus, eager for horizons not bounded by walls. The pattern is a natural one: a calm before storm, a sunset before darkness.
Yet, till 1948, Thanksgiving break did not exist. The day itself was celebrated in high style, with a dinner, a Sock and Buskin play, and numerous sporting events. A guest speaker presided over chapel services, and classes, of course, were suspended.
The dinner was never less than three courses long, and frequently extended to eight. A sort of Skeller sing was held; tables vied with one another in the singing of hymns and college songs. A theme for the day was chosen, much like Even or Odd Day, and the dorms were decorated accordingly.
During dinner, students rose to give toasts, which were usually involved, witty, and in keeping with the day's theme. (In the twenties, the group originating these toasts called themselves "The Electric Toasters.")
Sports were at least as important to the students as dinner was. Every year, the intramural finalists in basketball and hockey met, making class enthusiasm run rampant. In the years that Odd and Even teams competed, the clash of colors on the field and in the halls was truly amazing.
Sometimes, this class enthusiasm went too far and ended in hurt feelings, as when, after a narrow defeat, an Even team found a green-and-tan skeleton swinging near their locker room. Once, though, it led to a wonderful Thanksgiving Eve.
That year, two Even teams were playing each other, and their classmates were eagerly decorating the school. Suddenly, they heard a sound of singing. Hurrying to the windows, they saw candles and smiling faces. It was obviously a serenade. Then, they looked again. The singers were not Even. In a day in which class rivalry mattered far more than it does today, an Odd class was saluting Evens. The holiday spirit was there.
Originally published in The Sundial on November 20, 1981 (Vol. 66, no. 10, p. 6)
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.