A pig in Congreve

It's spring at UNH in 1928 and young men's fancy turns to...

Polly Morton

Congreve Hall, home of spring shenanigans in 1928 at UNH.

In the spring there is a lot of energy arising in young male college students, like the maple sap running out of trees, and most of this energy is funneled into mischief.

Raffi sings to children:

    “When you wake up in the morning
       and it’s half past five
     And it’s just so great to be alive
     What do ya’do?
     What do ya’do?
     What do ya’do?
     You brush your teeth
     You brush your teeth
     You brush your teeth.”

But college boys sing,

    “We find a prank to do
     We find a prank to do.”

One spring night in Durham my freshman year of 1928 when I lived on the ground floor of Congreve Hall, they planned and carried out such a prank. About 11 p.m. I heard men’s voices and squealing on our floor.  Men’s voices! I grabbed my robe around me and opened the door.  A terrified little pig was being chased up and down the corridor by men yelling “catch him, catch him.”

Officer Bourgoin...ready for?

Opposite me, the open stairway was crowded with girls in all kinds of clothing – pajamas – slips – short night gowns – hair in flattened curls held in place with bobby pins. Some looked mad, eyes narrowed, lips closed up tight, a few crying for the poor scared pig. Some laughing.

Then the housemother pushed through the crowd.  “I’ve called the police!” she yelled over the din.  She meant she’d called the policeman.  There was only one in Durham. Everyone was on friendly terms with him.

Now the male voices cried, “Grab the pig and out we go.”

Someone caught the small pig by the hind legs, held him upside down, and then gathered the squirming, squealing animal in his arms, and they all rushed out the door.

All the astonished onlookers started to return to their rooms, voicing loudly their reactions.  I heard, “Did anyone recognize anyone?  They’ll be expelled!  That dear little pig – how cruel” – and more.

The housemother had one more announcement.  “Come to my parlor tomorrow morning and give me the name of any you recognized.”  No one went.  No one was expelled.  No one knew anything about a pig.  The dorm girls thought it was great fun.  Men!  In this dorm!

(Rye Reflections would like to thank Mylinda Woodward of the UNH Milne Special Collections and Archives for the wonderful photos she made available to us for Polly's articles of life at the University of New Hampshire between 1928 and 1931.)

(This article first appeared in A Pig in Congreve and other stories of a growing university.  A Journey with Me Book, Newbury, N.H. 2001.)

May, 2007