Homecoming through the years
When you’re a current student, it’s really easy to only associate homecoming with
football booze, booze, and more booze. And despite how truly awesome booze might be (I wouldn’t know, I’m just a wee lass of 20 years), it completely disregards the importance of welcoming back alumni and examining at old traditions along with the rich history of our school.
Spectator recently launched an awesome way to access our archives—well, a fraction of them. And, to be honest, some parts of our history are pretty cool. Even the ones that involve school spirit (which Columbia once had, evidently) and sports.
Back in 1958, to celebrate Columbia’s 11th annual Homecoming, there was not only a super fancy ball, but also a Homecoming carnival. Apparently, the steep price of $3.75 was enough to drive people away from buying tickets to the carnival and made the idea of bringing a date quite unappealing.
Queens were apparently all the rage in 1953. Homecoming Queens, that is. Confused by the fact that Columbia wasn’t coed until 1983? Well, all it took to be Homecoming Queen was to be the date of a Columbia College student and attend at least one Homecoming event. The Barnard girl in me wants to object to this for all sorts of reasons, but maybe I’m just jealous—that’s what all the stereotypes tell me to feel, right?
Some of Spectator’s coolest stuff, though, hasn’t made its way online yet—it only exists in the yellowed pages in our back room.
The first-ever Homecoming was held in 1948 on Oct. 16. The Lions took on an unbeaten Quakers team and ultimately fell, 20-14. Homecoming festivities included the first of what would eventually become an annual ball. According to the Oct. 16, 1948 copy of Spectator (which was published on a Saturday?), the Homecoming Ball was held at John Jay Hall to honor President and Mrs. Eisenhower.
But some of the coolest history comes from even before the idea that Homecoming existed. On Dec. 4, 1933, the football team was invited to the Rose Bowl to play Stanford. A day later, the Light Blue accepted Stanford’s invitation and on Dec. 19, the team departed on a four-day, cross-country journey to Pasadena.
In the Dec. 19 copy of Spectator, then-head football coach Lou Little wrote a final message to the Columbia community:
I want to say that the team can be counted on to put forth a good game of football at Pasadena on New Year’s Day. I have never allowed myself the luxury of predicting a victory for a team coached by me, and naturally in an important game of this kind I will make no exception. However, I promise that Columbia will play a spirited game.
Fortunately for Little, the Lions came out on top, beating the favored Stanford team, 7-0. According to the Jan. 3, 1934 copy of Spectator, the odds weren’t on the Lions’ side. Even the weather was against them—team was greeted by a torrent of rain in Pasadena. The Lions scored in the first half, on a 17-yard run, stunning Cardinal fans in the stands. Apparently, the Lions were just as stunned as Stanford.
It was a battered crew which withdrew jubilantly to the locker room after the tilt, but one, which by all the standards of the great gridiron sport, fully deserved the triumph so cleanly won.
Although the football team might not be overflowing with checks in the W column this year, it’s certain that what we do have plenty of history—all you have to do is look. And who knows what will happen next.
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