Tag Archive for college

(Digital Collections) Caps, Gowns and College Towns: Collegiate Life in The Spencer Collection

It’s cap and gown season here on the campus of ol’ BU, and the class of 2015 has a lot to celebrate. Years of study, focus and passion come together in a 20-second walk across the stage to acquire their sheepskins and cross the threshold into alumni-hood.

Themes related to college life find unique expression in a collection of early 1900s sheet music found in the Frances G. Spencer Collection. We thought it’d be fun to look at a few – including their lyrics! – as we say “adios” to the men and women of ’15.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 10.16.03 AMCover, The Co-Ed Waltzes, by Clara Douglas, 1909

We think the young lady on the cover bears a striking resemblance to one of Baylor’s own 1909 graduates: Mary Elizabeth Walker.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 11.22.53 AMAbout Walker, this was written in the 1909 Roundup:

Mary is a studious Senior, though at times one might question her dignity. She ran for Baylor’s old maid in ’08 and, much to her sorrow, was defeated. She has made a splendid record in Baylor and has won the confidence and respect of her classmates. She hopes to have a red automobile by the time school is out, like the one she saw in England.”

It’s worth noting that the tone of the early yearbooks is often quite comedic, so there’s no reason to think Ms. Walker would actually have her dignity questioned. But we do suspect she saw a red automobile in England; that seems too specific to be contrived.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 10.34.07 AMCover of Lincoln’s College Flag by Heelan and Helf, 1912

The lyrics to this piece indicate that, while other young people pledge their commitment to the flags of their alma maters, young Abraham Lincoln pledged his life to the service of the United States.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 10.12.39 AMCover for And They Say He Went To College, by Moran and Furth, 1907

Lest you think the folks of 1907 gave too much deference to college educated men, check out just the first verse and the chorus of this song from the musical comedy The Orchid.

VERSE
In a Restaurant the other night, the best one in New York
I saw a man who vainly tried to eat soup with a fork
My heart went out in pity, every time his fork would plunge
He didn’t know the right way to eat soup is with a sponge

CHORUS
And they say he went to College,
Where he gained a lot of knowledge
He acted like a lobster with an amputated claw
When a bowl near him the waiter laid
Why he wash’d his hands in lemonade
And they say, they say he went to college
Rah, rah, rah!

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 10.32.02 AMCover, Her Eyes Are Blue For Yale, by Hough, Adams and Howard, 1909

Women don’t make out especially well in the comedic college-related songs of the era, either, as this tune about a girl who’s pledged her love to collegiate beaus of varying hues.

VERSE
Never give your heart just to one
No man’s worth it under the sun
Keep them guessing and they’ll adore you
It’s lots of fun

College days are full of joy
Play the same game with ev’ry boy
The College flirt wears her favorite colors
Combined in one

CHORUS

Her eyes are blue for good old Yale,
Her lips are Harvard’s hue
And her golden hair with a bow of black
Are Princeton’s colors too
She wears Chicago’s old maroon
Ann Arbor’s maize and blue
Because to fifty college men
She’s trying to be true

You may say her heart is untrue
Still what can a pretty girl do?
Why on earth should she save all her charms for
Just one or two

College days are fleeting as Spring
Youth and joy and love may take wing
Still in memory’s tender dreams
Come back to you

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 10.26.21 AMCover, Here Comes A College Boy, by Horwitz and Bowers, 1909

Lastly, here’s a piece about the chaos that attends a college boy’s return to his hometown. Waiters and theater owners beware!

VERSE
Who’s that walking down the street
Rah, rah, rah, rah, rah, rah
Rather young and rather neat
Hip-a Hip-oo-ray!
Walks as if he owns the town
Will he turn it upside down
Spreading news about the town
Here comes a college boy

CHORUS
Oh joy, oh joy! A noisy college boy!
Here comes a college boy
He is his daddy’s joy
Full of knowledge learn’d at college
Boxing, rowing, football knowledge
Now give the college cry
Um-pa, um-pa, ump, oh my
Close the theaters, tell the waiters
Here comes a college boy

VERSE
Who’s that spending money there
Rah, rah, rah, rah, rah, rah
On a lady young and fair
Hip-a Hip-oo-ray!
Who’s that fellow opening wine
Asking ev’ry one to dine
Treating everybody fine
Why, that’s a college boy.


To all our graduating Baylor Bears, we say best of luck in the great, wide world, and watch out for tricky bowls of soup!