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Sub-Frosh and "Beanie" Days
Once off the Lehigh Valley train or the Greyhound bus - not many freshmen owned a car or flew into Ithaca in those days - we Freshmen ‘44's encountered the tedious University drill known as “Registration.”
Beanie-clad, we could not help but be singled out in Barton Hall as neophytes, newcomers, “wet behind the ears.” Sitting in Schoellkopf en masse during a Saturday football game - and as we recall, attendance was sort of expected if not mandatory - we sat FAR below the upperclassmen in the Crescent, but right in front of the cheerleading squad who did their weekly best to instill - in us - the words, if not the spirit, of many of our legendary Cornell songs. We heard “Davy” for the first time - a form of early-on outdoor brain-washing.
For some 300 of the 1,660 of us who entered Cornell in September, 1940, as the Class of 1944, there was an even earlier pre-Registration “Get with it!” three-day gathering called “Freshman Camp.” Who was selected to attend this overly athletic jamboree at this camp and how they were selected are beyond this writer. We slept in cabins on the east shore of Keuka Lake and, for starters, we quickly got to know each of our three other roommates quite well.
Suffice it to say that we played, competed, swam, rowed, hiked, and biked and ate like trenchermen during the day. At night after dinner we were eager and apt pupils during the sessions at which our upperclassmen counselors led us in Cornell songs and cheers and told us impossible-to-believe fabrications about Cornell lore, co-eds, tough courses, co-eds, Proctor Manning, and, or course, co-eds.
For awhile - if one dismisses the all-too-frequent prelims to which we were subjected - freshman life was great! Our 1940 football team rolled along undefeated that first Fall and we happily sat in the stands beanie-clad . . Would you believe that we were ranked No. 1 in the nation by the Associated Press coaches poll at that point? No small wonder, we had won 18 straight, beating Penn State, Ohio State, and Syracuse each twice during that same run. And then. . then came the unexpected reality show of its day, the Fifth Down.
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