Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Life of a Rutgers Man in the [Eighteen] Seventies

With the attempted 2013 changes to the first verse of the 1914 lyrics to "On The Banks of the Old Raritan" still fresh in everyone's mind, it's a great time to revisit Howard N. Fuller's (RC, '74) hastily-penned 1873 version which gives a quick contemporary sketch of a Rutgers man's progression from freshman hazee to sophomore hazer to junior card player to senior maiden slayer. 
It's amazing the first and last verses made it from 1873 to 2013 completely unchanged (only the chorus's "my boys" became "my friends" with co-education) while verses II through V couldn't even make it past 1914. The original central verses were unfamiliar to me, but it's amazing how fresh and alive (and politically completely incorrect) they feel.

My father sent me to old Rutgers,
And resolv'd that I should be a man;
And so I settled down,
In that noisy college town,
On the banks of the old Raritan.
On the banks of the old Raritan, my boys,
where old Rutgers ever more shall stand,
For has she not stood since the time of the flood,
On the banks of the old Raritan.
As Fresh, they used me rather roughly,
But I the fearful gauntlet ran,
And they shook me so about
That they turned me inside out,
On the banks of the old Raritan.
I passed through all these tortures nobly,
And then, as Soph, my turn began,
And I hazed the poor Fresh so,
That they longed for Heaven, I know,
On the banks of the old Raritan.
And then I rested at my pleasure,
And steered quite clear of Prex's ban,
And the stars their good-bye kissing
Found me not from euchre missing,
On the banks of the old Raritan.
And soon I made my social entrĂ©e

When I laid full many a wicked plan,
And by my cunning art
Slew many a maiden's heart,
On the banks of the old Raritan.
Then sing aloud to Alma Mater,
And keep the Scarlet in the van;
For with her motto high
Rutgers' name shall never die
On the banks of the old Raritan.
Let's sing (loudly) the original first verse at the beginning and end of Saturday's Homecoming game, though we probably won't be singing about all-night euchre players with wicked plans to haze first-year students and become serial slayers of the hearts of many women. It is interesting though that while many schools have replaced "freshman" with the gender-inclusive "first-year student" in the 21st century, the gender-neutral "Fresh" in verses II and III here could be politically correct today (though the first-year hazing and fearful gauntlets and tortures probably less so).

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