From the Argives: Massive Water Fight Strikes Clark Hall 50 Years Ago Tonight

“The Argus was also cited as a possible instigator for suggesting to one freshman early in the evening that a riot would be useful for filling up extra space in its pages.”

If you’re in Clark tonight, take a minute and pour out a water bottle on the north stairwell. Maybe pour out a whole handle of water. It’s the least you can do to commemorate the ferocious water fight that raged in the dorm on the night of Sunday, September 30, 1962—50 years ago tonight.

According to a story on the front page of the October 2 Argus, the commotion began around 10:30, shortly after President Kennedy’s address concluded on television, when “hoots and gobbles flung from the upper floors of Clark were met with blasts from record players and sirens.” Twenty minutes later, about 75 freshmen banded together and began the historic Siege of Clark as upperclassmen cheered from the library terrace. (Note that Clark only years later became an all-frosh dorm.) Meanwhile, a dean of students “watched grimly as Jim Dooney ’63 tried to comfort him with remarks to the effect that ‘it can’t last much longer,’ as water, wastebaskets, soggy toilet paper, and foul screams continued to rock the sandstone walls of Clark Hall.” It’s probably a good thing the parents’ listserv wasn’t around in 1962.

Perhaps the most scandalous claim alleged that the Argus was behind the mayhem; one freshman reported hearing an Argus editor remark “that a riot would be useful for filling up extra space in its pages.” Not so, the rest of the newspaper’s editors responded. They said they probably wouldn’t bother printing the story anyway. For the sake of this post, it’s a good thing they did. If any alums from the 1960s can clarify these shocking allegations (or explain precisely what “hoots and gobbles” are), I’ll be checking the comments.

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Since the creases in the paper make it difficult to read the second page of the article, here’s a transcription:

“…spiced with verses of Mickey Mouse and blasts from record players. The water battle, which set on shortly after the conclusion of President Kennedy’s address over TV, was attributed by some to the need for taking out aggressions previously occupied with immediate rushing. The Argus was also cited as a possible instigator for suggesting to one freshman early in the evening that a riot would be useful for filling up extra space in its pages. Argus editors categorically denied this accusation, indicating that the story of the riot would probably not be printed anyhow.”

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