A fun excerpt of college trouble and mischief from the letters of 19th century college student Thomas S Russell, showing just what trouble college students got up to in those years:
"I shall begin with giving you a specimen of the scrapes, tricks, and sprees with which the present term has thus far been filled to overflowing. One morning recently, one of our outhouses were found to have been metamorphosed during the preceeding night into a barber’s shop for Freshmen by the following process. A sign belonging in the village, with “Refreshments” in large capitals on it, had been procured + by sawing off the first two and last two letters, as made to read “Freshmen” This was fastened to the building in a conspicuous place— To finish the matter, a large barber’s pole was procured and fastened in a vertical position to the roof— So that the meaning of the whole evidently was, “Freshmen shaved here”-- This may serve as a very good specimen of College practical joking— And her I must say, although it be not very flattering, to the body of which I am a member, that students, at least in this College, often are guilty of paltry contemptible tricks, which no gentleman would ever commit— for instance— A few days since, a poor old man came from Belchertown, Eight or Ten miles distant, with a load of choices apples “Expressly” he said “for the Collegians.” Instead of treating him as his silvery locks at least required, they spilt his apples, unbuckled the harness, and carried on at such a rate, that the old man was obliged to take refuge in flight. For the honor of the College, let it be said, only some Twelve or Fifteen, but a short time since were detected in pilfering a walnut grove by the owner— (pilfer is rather too strong a term to use, as the students at this season have always hitherto been free to take what walnuts they pleased from the grove, + that without any complaint). He immediately procured the Services of a lawyer, whom by a note through the post office, informed each of the deliquents that unless he immediately called at his office + settled, there would be a legal process issued against him— This raised a breeze at once— The offenders declared they never would settle, and the lawyers avowed they should, or he would prosecute— No decided action has yet taken place and probably the prosecutor will “back out” — But whether he does or not, he will abundantly rue the day that he meddled with the students— right before last a body of some Fifteen or Twenty assembled before his house, and all the noises that mortal ear ever listened to were certainly heard then— Groans, hisses, cries of “Walnuts!” “Boltwood”! (the owner’s name) formed a jargon of sound, which the inmates of Pandemonium might envy."
(November 1st, 1839, addressed to TSR's father Levi Russell in Mendon, NY)
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