The Holidaze Post

Posted by Jenifer Monger on December 12, 2012 in

Just for fun, we decided to mine the archives for some of those interesting items that don't quite fit into our usual posts. Instead, we selected some gems that convey a campus mood or a mindset if you will! So this year we asked, what do we have that speaks to "winter, or holiday break?"

To some, it’s a long-awaited reprieve from homework and exams - a time for family and friends.  Generations of students have anticipated the end of the fall semester with thoughts of rest and relaxation, mixed with generous amounts of fun and frolic. A December 19, 1885 article in The Troy Polytechnic advised against enjoying the holiday break too much, warning that “usually, the more fun a man experiences, the less he is inclined to study when he gets back to his books.”  However, that never stopped Rensselaer students from enjoying themselves before, during, or after the holiday, as seen in a snowball fight engraving from January 1884!

For many members of the campus community, the focus this time of year is holiday cheer.  Christmas activities and décor highlight the season, including parties, concerts, and gift-giving.  Post-World War II “polywives” even shared tips on sprucing up their barracks-like apartments with holiday greens in the Ren'wyck News.  For many years Campus Carols were a major event at the Field House; now the Institute holds a holiday concert at EMPAC.


And then there is… winter.  Brrr.  In spite of its harshness, we all find ways of coping with and/or celebrating the season.  Whether huddled up with a book, watching the RPI Holiday Hockey Tournament, or enjoying the snow, we manage to plow through the break, until January arrives and a new semester begins. Such is the cycle of campus life!


Whatever your predilections, we hope you enjoy the break.  See you next year!

Jen, Tammy, John, and Kitty


Jeff Miner
Fri, 12/14/2012 - 10:07 Permalink

Note the object in the hand of the "master of the sleigh" in the snowball fight engraving. Starter's pistol or the real thing?

In reply to by egglel

Jen Kuba
Fri, 12/14/2012 - 10:39 Permalink

We have recently discovered the details behind that pistol Jeff, thank you for pointing it out! Accompanying this graphic on the preceding page of the scrapbook, a description of the evenings events between the freshman and sophomore classes describes the annual sleigh ride and banquet of the freshman class. This event is usually marked by a struggle between the classes. The objective is for the sophs to prevent the freshman from enjoying the event at all! So from 5 p.m. the evening of January 12, 1884 into the early morning hours the next day, students traveled from Troy to Menands to Albany, with a seemingly large amount of trickery taking place. In the end, the report from one of the local newspapers is as follows: "During the melee the driver of the second the employ of...the liveryman, fired three shots into the crowd, one of the bullets passing between the first two fingers of the right hand of Albert DeCastro, one of the fighting "sophs." This put an end to the struggle. The affair was reported at the second precinct police station."

Susan D'Entremont
Fri, 12/21/2012 - 14:07 Permalink

Great post! Love the warning that “usually, the more fun a man experiences, the less he is inclined to study when he gets back to his books.” Not that this warning would have any effect on my kids, who are already disinclined to study. I must admit that it is harder to go back to work after a vacation.

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