Pushball contest, 1915
There are many proud
traditions of Iowa State University, and while many of them are still
with us (Traditions of Iowa State), some have faded and passed away...
Before there was a VEISHEA...
The first VEISHEA celebration was held in 1922 with the theme of "Iowa
State on Display." This all-college event combined in one long weekend
the various divisional festivals which had been celebrated separately up
to that time.
The Agriculture Carnival was first held in 1912. It was patterned after
a popular event at the University of Missouri which resembled an old
fashioned county fair. The first celebration incorporated a parade,
greased pig contest, baseball games, sorority relay races, and a
carnival on the pasture grounds east of campus. The day closed with an
evening movie showing. The city of Ames entered into the spirit of the
day, and businesses were closed in the afternoon so all could attend.
The Agriculture Carnival was held annually in May until 1915. No
Carnival was held from 1916 through 1918. The event was re-established
in 1919, as the beginning of a weekend that included vaudeville shows, a
debate with Kansas State, a track meet, and a dance in State Gym. The
Carnival was held in 1920 and 1921 and then was absorbed into the
VEISHEA celebration in 1922.
Beginning in 1908, the Engineer's Campfire was the Engineering
Division's major event during the fall. It was held on a Friday evening
in mid-October, and all Engineering classes were dismissed for the
afternoon. The location was the "North Woods," which was the wooded area
north of the railroad tracks. The first year included a faculty-student
football game (the students won), a three-legged race, music, and
bonfires. Throughout the years, supper was hot dogs, coffee and apples.
Doughnuts were sold by the students of the Home Economics Division and
midway-style booths provided entertainment during the afternoon. Voting
also took place for the "Engineer's Lady," who would later have the
honor of knighting inductees into the Engineering honorary society, "The
Knights of St. Patrick." In the evening there were skits, dancing,
movies and the "campfire." The November 1921 Iowa Engineer describes
this part of the festivities:
"While supper was being eaten the first campfire was lighted…The
campfire was constructed of railroad ties piled nearly 30 feet high with
the outside covered with movie films and the interior of the crib filled
with paper, straw, and boxes. After supper the participants wended their
way back to the main grounds, finished the rounds of the stands, and
listened to a concert given by the college band. When the first fire had
burned down the second campfire was lighted and the fireworks were
started. The glare of the fireworks and the blaze of the fire could be
seen from all parts of the campus and the town. The fireworks banked and
whizzed for nearly an hour portraying the Niagara Falls in gorgeous
colors, and many other beautiful features in the midst of the flare of
rockets and candles."
The Engineer's Campfire was held annually through 1929. Declining
revenues—and the impossibility of predicting October's weather—prompted
a change to an "Engineer's Carnival," held in the Memorial Union.
Excursion Day and the Harvest Home Festival began in 1898 to introduce
the work being done at the college to the people of the state of Iowa.
Excursion Day was held the last weekend in September or the first
weekend in October. The railroads had special excursion trains for the
trip to Ames, and the first celebration drew 6,000 people. All
departments were open to visitors. The military battalion drilled on
central campus, accompanied by the college band. A livestock parade was
followed by a program featuring music and speeches by the Governor and
other distinguished guests in a large tent on Central Campus. Some years
featured a football game and the 1906 program included women' s
basketball and field hockey.
Excursion Day was held from 1898 until 1906. It was dropped for 1907 and
1908, then held again in 1909. After that time, the Chicago and
Northwestern Railroad would no longer furnish trains at special rates to
come to Ames, and the fall festival was not held again.
May Day was held each spring in honor of the women of the senior class.
Weather permitting, it was held on Central Campus, with State Gym as an
alternate site in case of rain. The May event was initiated by Winifred
Tilden, an Ames native and 1903 Mount Holyoke graduate who came to Iowa
State in 1904 as an Instructor in Physical Culture. Miss Tilden would
have observed and participated in similar "May Fetes" at Mount Holyoke,
where a May Festival was held each year from 1901 to 1949.
Iowa State's first May Day was held May 18, 1907. It was sponsored by
the Women's Athletic Association, an organization created for the
promotion and control of women's athletics. Profits from May Day paid
for equipment for women's basketball, golf, field hockey, and tennis as
well as medals and letters for letter sweaters.
In the early years, May Day had an Elizabethan theme and featured dance
groups like "Ye Merrie Milk Maydes" and "Ye Floral Maydens." Later
productions included the "Spirits" of Scholarship, Judgment, and
Leadership and "Blue Book Imps" and "Geometric Figures." Each year a
senior student was chosen "May Queen." May Day was incorporated into the
first VEISHEA celebration in 1922 and continued as a part of that
festival through 1933.
St. Patrick's Day
The first St. Patrick's Day celebration was held March 17, 1910.
Beginning at 8:30 in the morning, members of the Civil Engineering
Society paraded around the campus, wearing tall top hats and pushing
their flag bearer in a wheelbarrow. The group paused for a program of
songs and speeches on the steps of Beardshear Hall. They then proceeded
to downtown Ames, where they were addressed by Mayor Parley Sheldon. In
the afternoon, the Civil Engineering juniors played baseball against the
seniors—the seniors won, 13-10. Roller skating and a banquet brought the
day to a close.
Though St. Patrick's Day began as a day of entertainment, by 1913, it
was also serving the function of an open house for the Engineering
Division. Each department had a display. Outstanding senior engineers
were inducted into the Knights of the Order of the Guard of St. Patrick,
an engineering honorary. The inductees were "knighted" with a slide
rule, by the "Engineer's Lady" who had been selected by a student vote
at the Engineer's Campfire during fall semester. St. Patrick's Day was
celebrated from 1910 until 1921. The Knighting of the Guard of St.
Patrick was incorporated into the VEISHEA ceremonies from 1922 to 1926
and then the ceremony was added to the Engineer's Campfire festivities.
CHEERS AND YELLS
In the early years of the college, there were not only yells used at
athletic events, but also class yells. The first graduating class, 1872,
used a yell written by the wife of one of their members, Ida Smith Noyes
(Class of 1874):
Hip Rah! Rip Rah!
Who are we?
First and best of I.S.C.
The I.A.C. Student (forerunner of the Daily) noted on May 20, 1895 that
the following had been adopted as Iowa State's official yell:
Rah! Rah! Rah!
Hip! Hah! Rip! Rah!
A 1914 publication, I.S.C. Pep contains a number of yells used for
Now let's have a good old A-M-E-S!
A-M-E-S! Rah, Rah!
A-M-E-S! Rah, Rah!
State College, Ioway!
Is it One?
Is it one? No!
Is it two? No!
Is it three? No!
Is it four? No!
Is it five? No!
Then what is it? Six!
Nine Rahs for the Cyclones!
Rah, rah, rah!
Rah, rah, rah!
Rah, rah, rah!
Cyclones! Cyclones! Cyclones!
Rif Raf Ruf
Rif, raf, ruf,
Rif, raf, ruf!
Pretty hot stuff.
From 1874 to 1934, each class had a name and a motto. The class of 1886,
christened the "Diggers" had a motto of "A posse ad esse" ("From
Possibility to Reality"). The 1894 class, the "Gourds," were "Always
Climbing." The 1896 class, the "Ishkoodahs" was headed "To Stars Through
FIVE POUND PARTIES
When Iowa State women got pinned or engaged, they would sometimes keep
it a secret until they could have a "Candle-Passing." Anonymous
invitations were sent out to sorority sisters or house members
announcing the event. When the time came, everyone would sit in a circle
and pass a lit candle from person to person. If the hostess blew out the
candle on the second pass around the circle, it meant she was pinned. If
she blew it out on the third pass, it meant she was engaged. A five
pound box of chocolates was shared for pinnings, a ten pound box for
engagements. On occasion, the candle-passing was followed by a serenade
at the residence of the pinmate or fiancée.
Candy was also distributed to commemorate other events. Jelly bean
parties were thrown when a woman became an "official" coed after being
kissed under the Campanile at midnight. Lemon drop parties were given by
seniors who had passed through their college career at Iowa State
without achieving "official" status, or who had not become pinned or
engaged before graduation.
From 1916 until 1934 red "prep caps" or "freshmen beanies" were required
attire for freshman class members. In the spring, the caps were burned
in a bonfire during a "moving up" ceremony, when the freshmen officially
became members of the sophomore class. By 1934, the wearing of hats on
campus had passed out of fashion, and the "prep cap" tradition was
THE GREEN GANDER AND THE EMERALD GOOSE
The Green Gander began publication on April Fool's Day, 1915 with the
slogan "Every man's got at least one good laugh coming. Maybe you'll
find yours here." The campus humor magazine was published by the men's
journalism honorary, Sigma Delta Chi. The magazine was an immediate
success, with a mix of jokes and anecdotes poking fun at prominent
university and community figures. However, women were not permitted on
the Green Gander staff. In response, a group of female journalism
students established a women's honorary, and began publishing their own
magazine, the Emerald Goose. The Emerald Goose was so successful that
the men capitulated, and the two magazines announced their "marriage" in
the February 1922 Valentine issue.
The combined publication continued to publish on a quarterly basis.
Though the price never exceeded twenty-five cents, the magazine was
financially successful, and allowed Sigma Delta Chi to fund scholarships
with the profits. But as time went on, the magazine's humor became more
and more suggestive, and by the 1950s, "pin-up" style poses of female
students were a regular feature. Though it was tremendously popular with
the student body, the Green Gander was an embarrassment to
administrators, who received frequent off-campus complaints about its
contents. It also created an awkward situation for the Journalism
Department—the professional standards they hoped to instill in their
graduates were not evident in the magazine. In 1959 the editorial board
decided that a change had to be made. The November 1959 issue featured a
request for reader comment on the new style, and such articles as
"Disturbed? Student Counseling Service May Help YOU" and "Marriage and
College—How is it Done?" Reader response was swift—the new editor was
hung in effigy on central campus. One letter published in the April 1960
issue suggested, "The last copy of the Ladies Home Journal contains more
humor than the last Gander." Though the April 1960 issue billed itself
as the "Humor Edition," the damage had been done. On October 4, 1960 a
joint meeting of Sigma Delta Chi and Theta Sigma Phi voted to cease
publication. The October 6, 1960 Iowa State Daily reported, "The members
agreed that the financial risk of another ‘clean' issue was too great to
justify the perpetuation of the Gander ."
Literary societies were the earliest organized student activity at Iowa
State. The Philomathean Literary Society was formed during the first
term of college instruction in the fall of 1868. The Crescent Literary
Society and Bachelor Debating Society were established in 1870, followed
by the Cliolian Literary Society in 1871. Later groups included the
Welch Eclectic (1888), Phileleutheroi (1890), Pythian (1894), Forum
(1907), Quill (1908), Beardshear (1907), Delphian (1909) and Pierian
(1914) Literary Societies. The societies met on Friday nights to hear
speeches and debates presented by the membership. All had passed out of
existence by the early 1930s.
The first four literary societies (Philomathean, Crescent, Bachelor, and
Cliolian) were responsible for the publication of the first student
publication, The Aurora. Though primarily a literary magazine, it also
carried local news and advertising. The first editor was Milliken
Stalker, who later served as the first Head of Veterinary Medicine at
Iowa State. The Aurora was published from 1873 to 1893.
The 1862 Morrill Act establishing the Land Grant colleges, included
mention of military instruction: "the leading object shall be, without
excluding other scientific and classical studies, and including military
tactics to teach such branches of learning as the legislatures of the
states may respectively prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and
practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits
and professions in life."
Military Science instruction was made available at Iowa State in 1870,
when General James L. Geddes, already in charge of dormitories and food
service, was also named Professor of Military Tactics and Engineering.
Geddes was a veteran of the British, Canadian and United States Armies,
and had served with distinction in the Civil War. All able-bodied male
students drilled both with their class and with the complete college
battalion once a week. Over time, the military requirement was reduced
to the freshman and sophomore years, but was compulsory for all male
students until Fall of 1962, when a voluntary program was adopted.
The annual freshman-sophomore pushball contest was held at Iowa State
from 1909 to 1927. There is no documentation for the years of 1918, 1919
or 1926, so we are unsure if contests were held in those years. The
contest appears to be an institutionalized version of the "class scrap,"
a frequent occurrence in the early years of the college. By 1906, the
"scraps" had become fairly violent, and hazing was becoming a serious
problem. In 1907, a college-sponsored freshman-sophomore tug of war was
held at a local pond. Another was held the following year, but
on-campus, in a trench dug near the athletic field. In 1909, the first
pushball contest was held, using a pushball borrowed from the University
of Iowa. During this time period, there were also interclass contests
for the men in track, football, basketball and baseball. Women competed
in basketball and field hockey.
Despite these institutionalized methods to work off inter-class rivalry,
hazing continued to be a problem. In 1910, Acting President Edgar
Stanton held a convocation for the class of 1913 on the hazing issue.
After a stern talk, he asked those who agreed to quit hazing to stand
up. Though everyone at the meeting rose in agreement, within weeks the
rivalry had erupted again. Ten students were suspended for several
weeks, and to redeem these men, every freshman and sophomore had to sign
a pledge stating that they would never participate in hazing again. A
new tradition, the "glad hand for preps," was initiated, and hazing
Up until the early 1960s, graduating seniors were fair game for dunking
in the Memorial Union fountain or the pool in the courtyard of the Food
Sciences Building. Unfortunately, a student was injured on the pipes in
the Union fountain, and for some years the fountain was drained after
VEISHEA to discourage the dunking practice.
White Breakfasts were observed in the women's residence halls from 1918
through the early 1960s. Originated by a Lyon Hall housemother, they
were held the last Sunday before the holiday break in December. The
residents dressed in white and carried lighted candles. A caroling
procession started on the top floor of each dormitory and proceeded to
the dining rooms, where a special breakfast menu was served.
THE VARSITY "A"
In the early years, Iowa State was frequently referred to as "Ames" and
the letter awarded to varsity athletes and participants in the Women's
Athletic Association was an "A" rather than an "I" until 1929. Two early
pep songs were entitled, "Fight, Ames, Fight."
Fight Ames Fight
We're a bunch of loyal boosters for our Alma Mater Ames,
Best college in the U.S.A., the one that wins its games,
We're here to help the Cyclones, with our yells and spirit too,
Just watch them while they buck the line, and see them go right thru.
Now a Cyclone's mighty dang'rous when it strikes a western field.
It tears up ev'rything in sight, what's in its way must yield!
Now watch OUR Cyclones "clean them up" in football, wrestling, track!
They do not know what ‘tis to fail, for fight they NEVER lack.
Fight Ames, oh fight you warriors tried and true,
Fight Cyclones fight, we're proud of you,
For when you fellows take the field you start in right.
Before you're done the game is won for you can fight!
Fight Cyclones fight and we will win this game.
Fight fellows fight, fight all the time!
You're got the "rep" and "pep" boys, so keep on fighting,
Fight Ames! Fight all the time.
Words and Music by Charles F. Bassett, Class of 1921.
Arrangement by Marion Lucille Bassett.
Copyright 1920 by George S. Bassett.
Fight Ames Fight
Words by S. Minnich
Arranged by Rosalind K. Cook
Fight Ames fight, fight Ames fight,
Fight for Ames with all your might,
For the glory of old I.S.C.
Swing along, sing a song,
With a spirit big and strong,
And our fighters will win victory.
For its fight, fight, fight for the good old I.S.C.,
Winning great glory and fame.
And where'er we go, they will always know,
That our fighters are fighting for Ames.
Compiled by Becky Jordan, Reference Specialist