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On A Pair Of Leather Suspenders
by [?]

Do Scott’s boys, I wonder, still gather clothes for pressing around the Campus? Do they still sell tickets–sixteen punches for a dollar–five punches to the suit? On Monday mornings do colored laundresses push worn baby-carts around to gather what we were pleased to call the “dirty filth”? And do these same laundresses push back these self-same carts later in the week with “clean filth” aboard? Are stockings mended in the same old way, so that the toes look through the open mesh? Have college sweeps learned yet to tuck in the sheets at the foot? Do old-clothes men–Fish-eye? Do you remember him?–do old-clothes men still whine at the corner, and look you up and down in cheap appraisal? Pop Smith is dead, who sold his photograph to Freshmen, but has he no successor? How about the old fellow who sold hot chestnuts at football games–“a nickel a bush”–a rare contraction meant to denote a bushel–in reality fifteen nuts and fifteen worms. Does George Felsburg still play the overture at Poli’s, reading his newspaper the while, and do comic actors still jest with him across the footlights?

Is it still ethical to kick Freshmen on the night of Omega Lambda Chi? Is “nigger baby” played on the Campus any more? The loser of this precious game, in the golden days, leaned forward against the wall with his coat-tails raised, while everybody took a try at him with a tennis ball. And, of course, no one now plays “piel.” A youngster will hardly have heard of the game. It was once so popular that all the stone steps about the college showed its marks. And next year we heard that the game had spread to Harvard.

Do students still make for themselves oriental corners with Bagdad stripes and Turkish lamps? Do the fair fingers of Farmington and Northampton still weave the words “‘Neath the Elms” upon sofa pillows? Do Seniors still bow the President down the aisle of Chapel? Do students still get out their Greek with “trots”? It was the custom for three or four lazy students to gather together and summon up a newsy to read the trot, while they, lolling with pipes on their Morris chairs, fumbled with the text and interlined it against a loss of memory. Let the fair-haired goddess Juno speak! Ulysses, as he pleases, may walk on the shore of the loud-sounding sea. Thereafter in class one may repose safely on his interlineation and snap at flies with a rubber band. This method of getting a lesson was all very well except that the newsy halted at the proper name. A device was therefore hit on of calling all the gods and heroes by the name of Smith. Homeric combat then ran like this: the heart of Smit was black with anger and he smote Smit upon the brazen helmet. And the world grew dark before his eyes, and he fell forward like a tower and bit the dust and his armor clanked about him. But at evening, from a far-off mountain top the white-armed goddess Smit-Smit (Pallas-Athena) saw him, and she felt compash–compassion for him.

And I suppose that students still sing upon the fence. There was a Freshman once, in those early nights of autumn when they were still a prey to Sophomores, who came down Library Street after his supper at Commons. He wondered whether the nights of hazing were done and was unresolved whether he ought to return to his room and sit close. Presently he heard the sound of singing. It came from the Campus, from the fence. He was greener than most Freshmen and he had never heard men sing in four-part harmony. With him music had always been a single tune, or at most a lost tenor fumbled uncertainly for the pitch. Any grunt had been a bass. And so the sound ravished him. In the open air and in the dark the harmony was unparalleled. He stole forward, still with one eye open for Sophomores, and crouched in the shadowy angle of North Middle. Now the song was in full chorus and the branches of the elms swayed to it, and again a bass voice sang alone and the others hummed a low accompaniment.