"I will endeavor to retain the spirit of youth"
~Sigma Chi Creed, George Ade ΔΔ 1887

Class of '63 Recounts Inaugural Bowling-on-the-Green Event

The Start: One bowling ball, six bowling pins and no receipt

The initial 1962 event that ultimately led to the campus-wide bowling-on-the-green phenomenon in the spring of 1963 reflected neither high-mindedness nor gentlemanly qualities. It is hard to imagine a community of young men exercising free will in a tolerant setting that would not include the occasional rascal, the excessive imbiber, the exceeder of limits. So it was with two or three members of the Classes of 1962 and 1963 who, of an early spring evening, engaged in an episode of kegeling and tippling at a Lafayette bowling establishment. Somehow the revelers returned to Littleton Street toting one bowling ball, six bowling pins and no receipt.

A 3X wake up call for the entire freshman dorm

In that era the third floor of the Lodge (Sig house) consisted of the Junior Dorm (a sleeping porch on the south end of the house), two study rooms on each of the south and north ends and a large Freshman Dorm. The FD comprised perhaps thirty bunk beds arrayed on either side of a carpeted pathway that ran the length of the house between the beds. At some point beyond midnight of the evening involved, the purloined bowling ball was sent from the north end southward toward some six bowling pins that had been arranged at the other end in what may have been, more or less, a triangle. The rolling ball must have aroused a few of the slumbering brothers as it rumbled down the carpeted corridor, but its unlikely collision with the six pins at the south end - followed by a resounding KA-THUMP!! into the sliding door of the bathroom between Rooms 15 and 16 - was every bit as effective as a 3X wake up call for the entire dorm.

The audacity and charm of this incident readily overcame the outrage of FD occupants at their untimely arousal as well as the stain of dishonor potentially incurred by the obvious larceny involved. Residual concern focused on the disposition to be made of the stolen goods. Initially not much use was made of the bowling pins, as there were no able jugglers in the house at that time. The ball itself, however, found use in a form of macho catch – one brother would toss the 14-pound ball like a shot-putter, whereupon a second brother would perform a one-handed catch above his shoulder, leaving him poised to re-launch the ball to the original tosser or to another participant in this he-man activity. Now, it can be said that the pledging experience in those days fostered an appreciation for physical conditioning. The ball tossers, however, were almost exclusively upper-classmen, who grew weary of the ball tossing without much delay.

A Tournament Shall Be Held

At this point some fertile minds, wishing to make the most of the early spring weather and the presence of ill-gotten bowling materials, came up with a clever alternative to an apologetic return of the ball and pins to the bowling alley: A tournament could be held at the bottom of the hill along River Road. A lane would be mowed, foul line established, pin boys appointed, score kept and a champion crowned. Three-man teams were solicited from among the brothers. Each team was to have a creative name and present itself for competition in distinctive uniforms. Each line was to consist of ten frames, and scoring would merely count the pins knocked down. There would be no complicating consideration of spares and strikes, although, as the tournament progressed, it became apparent that no allowances for spares and strikes would be necessary, as few if any were achieved by the contestants.

"The Nudes" vs. "The Straps" for the title

The competition reached its climax in the tournament finals late one weekday afternoon. Weather conditions were ideal for lawn bowling, Littleton Street style. The memorable "bad boy" team of Butch Waller '61, Jim Crosbie '62 (CE) and Russ Glover '63 presented themselves without shirts, and demanded to be recognized as "The Nudes." Their non-labor-intensive uniforms were offset by those of their opponents, “The Straps,” whose uniforms consisted of khaki Bermuda shorts, distinctive T-shirts, and athletic supporters worn on the outside of their khaki shorts, thus establishing a fashion concept adopted some decades later by Madonna. The chest of The Straps T-shirt bore an emblem consisting of a stylized athletic supporter with a gold lightning bolt striking through it, above which was lettered the team’s cryptic motto, "HA-ZA-NA." Despite the distasteful heckling and trash talking of The Nudes throughout this contest, The Straps prevailed, and celebrated by team members Jim Ritchie '63 and Dick Stall ’63 hoisting their heroic leader, Bill Weigel '63, repeatedly into the air by means of his readily reachable supporter.

The classic match between The Nudes and The Straps brought to a close competitive bowling-on-the-green involving residents of 202 Littleton Street as participants – a disappointing development, although an even more outrageous successor was soon to rise in its place.

Submitted by the Class of 1963

Bert Jepson ’64 designed the Bowling-on-the-Green letterhead.