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The Plastic Age

The football season lasted from the first of October to the latter part of
November, and during those weeks little was talked about, or even thought
about, on the campus but football. There were undergraduates who knew the
personnel of virtually every football team in the country, the teams that had
played against each other, their relative merits, the various scores, the
outstanding players of each position. Half the students at Sanford regularly made
out "All American" teams, and each man was more than willing to debate the
quality of his team against that of any other. Night after night the students
gathered in groups in dormitory rooms and fraternity houses, discussing football,
football, football; even religion and sex, the favorite topics for "bull sessions,"
could not compete with football, especially when some one mentioned Raleigh
College. Raleigh was Sanford's ancient rival; to defeat her was of cosmic
There was a game every Saturday. About half the time the team played at home;
the other games were played on the rivals' fields. No matter how far away the
team traveled, the college traveled with it. The men who had the necessary
money went by train; a few owned automobiles: but most of the undergraduates
had neither an automobile nor money for train fare. They "bummed" their way.
Some of them emulated professional tramps, and "rode the beams," but most of
them started out walking, trusting that kind-hearted motorists would pick them up
and carry them at least part way to their destination. Although the distances were
sometimes great, and although many motorists are not kind, there is no record of
any man who ever started for a game not arriving in time for the referee's first
whistle. Somehow, by hook or by crook—and it was often by crook—the boys got
there, and, what is more astonishing, they got back. On Monday morning at 8:45
they were in chapel, usually worn and tired, it is true, ready to bluff their way
through the day's assignments, and damning any instructor who was heartless
enough to give them a quiz. Some of them were worn out from really harsh
traveling experiences; some of them had more exciting adventures to relate
behind closed doors to selected groups of confidants.
Football! Nothing else mattered. And as the weeks passed, the excitement grew,
especially as the day drew near for the Raleigh game, which this year was to be
played on the Sanford field. What were Sanford's chances? Would Harry Slade,
Sanford's great half-back, make All American? "Damn it to hell, he ought to. It'll
be a stinkin' shame if he don't." Would Raleigh's line be able to stop Slade's end
runs? Slade! Slade! He was the team, the hope and adoration of the whole
Three days before the "big game" the alumni began to pour into town, most of
them fairly recent graduates, but many of them gray-haired men who boasted
that they hadn't missed a Sanford-Raleigh game in thirty years. Hundreds of
alumni arrived, filling the two hotels to capacity and overrunning the fraternity
houses, the students doubling up or seeking hospitality from a friend in a