Luther College Chips

In response: “Luther Archives preserve history”

David Faldet (‘79), Professor of English

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I write to correct the cutline of last week’s features story entitled “Luther Archive preserves history.”  The picture shows Luther College archivist Hayley Jackson holding a seamed, brimless cap with a very narrow front visor and a button at its crown.  The blue cap bears the intials “LC” and on the visor someone has written “WENDY.” 

The cutline identifies the object as an “archived Luther College baseball hat.”

In fact, the article pictured is a freshman beanie, part of a fashion that reached its peak in the 1950s, of first-year students at many colleges across the country being required to wear silly hats.  Luther students were freed of this requirement as one of many rights (such as freedom to go out dancing) they came to insist upon in the 1960s.

The beanie was a part of a college-wide hazing ritual that targeted new students.  This headwear allowed older students to pick out a new student even from a distance and, if the mood struck them, have the beanie-wearer buff their shoes, sing a college song from memory, or remain in their seat in chapel until released by permission of their older superior.  It meant that no matter how well-groomed or appareled first-years looked when they emerged for the day, pride in their appearance would get a setback from their required, somewhat ridiculous cap.

The rule stayed in place each fall until a moment at the homecoming football game when all first-years, sitting together in their own section of the rough and creaky wooden bleachers at Nustad Field, were freed of the imposition of those caps.  With a cheer they threw them into the air.  I’m sure Wendy was happy to see hers go.

Wendy’s beanie is a good illustration of what Destiny Crider says of the archives in last week’s story.  The archives allow hands-on connection with “the complexity of … cultures … and the history of the college.”  The beanie pictured is a good piece of physical evidence of the good old/bad old days of our Luther predecessors. 

Signed,

David Faldet (‘79)

Professor of English

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