Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Small Beer? Student Culture of Yore

As a footnote to the recent posts on student culture and problem drinking culture, this account by Elijah Kellogg of commencement day in the early years of Bowdoin College, which opened its doors to students in 1802:
With dignified officials, sober matrons, gay belles and their beaux came also horse jockeys, wrestlers, snake charmers, gamblers, and vendors of every sort. The college yard was dotted with booths, where were sold ginger-bread, pies, eggnog, long cigars, beers small, and alas! too often for the good order,  beers large. While seniors were discussing Immortality, jockeys outside were driving sharp trades and over-convivial visitors were enjoying fist fights.
— cited in Herbert G. Jones, The Amazing Mr. Longfellow: Little Known Facts About a Well-Known Poet (Portland, ME: The Longfellow Press, 1957), 19
In other words, the proverbial good time was had by all, but not all were happy about it.

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