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Snowball Fights, Davidson College Style

by | Dec 16, 2017 | Davidson History

Photo of a more recent college snowball fight courtesy of the Davidson College Archives.

Snowball fights are nothing new on the Davidson campus.  Here is an article published in the March 1870 edition of the Davidson Monthly.

“The ordinary dull routine and unbroken monotony of college life proved itself on the 23rd of February susceptible of some variation.  A stranger to the place would have thought that some mistake had been made in our Hostetter’s almanac, and we were celebrating as Washington’s birth-day the 23d instead of the 22nd.

Mother earth had been covered with snow by the kind elements the night before, and it appeared to the sedate students and sober book-worms a good idea to petition the Faculty for a holiday; with the avowed purpose of hunting rabbits, “and so forth.” (From the diversity of pursuits engaged in we presume that the great number subscribed to the latter qualification.) Much to the surprised delight of the petitioners a formal answer came to the effect that the doctors, in consideration of the tempting opportunities afforded their disciples for recreation, would suspend recitations for the day, with the proviso, however, that the former should be furnished something like a tithe of the spoils of the latter.  In consequence of the tickling of ears caused by this information, the cool air was rent with shouts, and the campus reverberated with vibratory waves in the air set in motion by many a stentorian lung.

But we have gotten a little ahead of ourselves in our enthusiasm.  Before we were relieved of suspense by the considerate response above referred to, the impetuosity so natural to human beings of our tender years led about “three score and ten” to divide themselves equally into parties, and prepare for a snow contest. A line was accordingly drawn (with something like the same idea with which Mason & Dixon’s was laid off) which was to keep the contestants from a hand-to-hand encounter.  The first hard, well pressed ball was succeeded by dozens and the fight began in earnest.  Words will not suffice to tell of the whitened locks, bruised noses and eyes, dirty faces, sprained limbs, and saturated garments, which were consequent upon many a brave, well-sustained charge.  Never did Knight for fair lady in the ages of chivalry lay lance in rest with a firmer determination to do or run.  Neither side gained the victory, and, much to the delight of the poor fellows who had many a time and oft been overcome by brute force, and placed not too gently into an earthy couch, the hitherto contending parties united in one – and, horror! made at the lookers-on with a most terrible yell. Well, it need not do extraordinary credit to the dignity of the disconcerted spectators to tell how, Seniors and Fresh together, skedaddled to a place of refuge…

I will close by saying that seven innocent hares were sacrificed to the day’s amusements – and for aught I know graced the boards of our worthy professors, according to Art. I, Agreement.”

Nancy Griffith

Nancy Griffith lived in Davidson from 1979 until 1989.  She is the author of numerous books and articles on Arkansas and South Carolina history.  She is the author of "Ada Jenkins: The Heart of the Matter," a history of the Ada Jenkins school and center.

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