some lesser-known traditions

Charles Bowen
October 24, 1958, Scholastic #4

Of course *everyone knows about Notre Dame's really important traditions, like the Saturday night blind date pool, and the custom of always writing Student Government with capital letters, but there are others which often escape the notice of the average student (or even the superior or probation student). It really is a shame to see so many following these customs without knowing why, and at the same time missing out on the genuine pride every one of us should take in reflecting fondly on the history of our University.

Accordingly, I have gone to great expense to send a researcher into the archives and bring a few of these treasured tidbits of tradition into the light. I am printing them here for the first time in a single collection. Those who find them inspiring, and you'd better, you ungrateful curs, may order from this column, at special prepublication rates, a luxurious cloth tapestry edition, suitable for framing. These are handembroidered in a convent on the banks of the Danube, on a piece of moldy bedsheet which was actually flapped during an Echo Yell at the first game in Notre Dame Stadium. It is especially designed to harmonize with the tapestry of the Notre Dame Last Supper, available in the bookstore. With no further ado, I present the collection:

I. THE FAR HORIZONS TRADITION: One Saturday evening in 1913, some Notre Dame students, who had just celebrated the telegraphed news of Notre Dame's victory over Army with a lemon phosphate,* were standing on Michigan avenue, when a Pierce-Arrow pulled up to the curb, full of mad, impetuous Central High adventuresses on their way to an ice-cream social. The astonished students were invited to climb in and go along, and although by mutual agreement they refused to talk about it afterwards, a rumor got about that kissing games were not absent from the evening's curriculum. This story has been persistently handed down through subsequent generations of Notre Dame men, and to this day, you can see hundreds of them standing along Michigan Avenue on the curbstone, their eyes straining towards the horizons of space and time, waiting for that Pierce-Arrow, or a reasonable facsimile, to stop.

II. THE ROUND POTATO TRADITION: During the last century, when official notice of Notre Dame was first taken by Rome, our founder, Father Sorin, was asked for a comment. His eyes twinkling, he made the famous Latin comment, "Orbs terrarum tuber mihi est." This is now generally conceded to mean "The world is my potato," (See Professor L. J. Phootnote's recent article in Classical Studies). Unfortunately, however, the University Scribe, Bro. Sabbatical, C.S.C., misinterpreted the sentence and translated it "The potato is my world." Puzzled as the academic community was by this cryptic statement, it was decided by the director of the dining hall that it might be a nice gesture to Fr. Sorin to serve "the potatoes in spherical gobs, as a symbolic representation of the founder's interest. Fr. Sorin, who never paid much attention to such things anyway, never bothered to correct the error, and thus it is that even now, the dining hall would not think of handing out a serving of mashed potatoes before it has been carefully sculptured into a perfect sphere.

III. THE SORIN HALL PORCH TRADITION: Soon after the opening of Sorin Hall (during the reign of Edward II, that was) the rector opened the front door, and, seeing that it was a lovely spring day, gave several blithe skips, followed by a little hop, and wound up on the ground five feet below with a split lip and a broken collarbone. Rising to the occasion (as well as a sprained ankle would permit) he delivered the now-famous ultimatum, "Sorin Hall must have .a porch!" And so it has.

IV. THE ITALIAN RESTAURANT TRADITION: In 1905 the campus idol and favorite of Midwestern sports writers was Salvator Gobbo, the intercollegiate wrestling champion. (This was before Rockne invented football, of course.) At a pep rally one night, Salvator confided to the assembled student body that he found a mouthful of garlic an incomparable aid in breaking holds. This idea was so readily and enthusiastically accepted by the students that the demand for garlic was for some time nearly insatiable, and South Bend became the first city in American history to have 14 Italian restaurants before it had any Italians.

V. THE LAKE MARIAN TRADITION: It is not commonly recognized that Sister Fauna, C.S.C., one of the first of the community at St. Mary's, was something of a scientist, and spent a lot of her time making improvements in scientific inventions. The shape of Lake Marian is a tribute to some of her less notably successful experiments with the wheel. The lake, incidentally, was named during a Spring festival, after (as we all know) Robin Hood's famous sweetheart.

* * *

Sunday afternoon witnessed an epic contest between the junior and senior classes over near the stadium. Nominally the game was between Sorin and Howard; however, neither side was above pooling resources with neighboring halls, and at least one player was cheered from the sidelines by his wife. It was even reported that a couple of Chicago Bears had made their way into the lineup.

Howard fought manfully, but the Sorinites triumphed, largely thanks to the intervention of Buddha. I hope this game will show everyone how clean living pays off.

Great credit is due to the Howard Hall Marching Dozen for their inspired performance before the game and between the halves. The entire hall turned out and gave a stirring demonstration of leather-lunged enthusiasm, while the Sorin rooting section, in sharp contrast to the dewy-eyed freshness of their team, looked on the proceedings with a dissipated leer.

* * *

I have been asked to aid a man who has been living under the Corby Hall porch for the past two weeks in establishing his identity. The only thing he can remember before waking up there is entering the pep rally before the Army game. He has blue eyes and a slight limp. If anyone is missing such a man, will they please notify the Scholastic?

I have also been asked to announce that St. Sophia's School for the Ugly, in Comstock, Mass., would like to arrange a mixer with 73 handsome Notre Dame seniors. The price for the trip is $175, which includes transportation, lodging in a convenient monastery, and mixer with grape punch. Please notify this column if you are handsome.

Several people have requested to have their names mentioned in the Scholastic. Anyone who is willing to send their name and 25c to me (or to John Bellairs, if you like to live dangerously) will be more or less guaranteed that it will appear eventually. The authors reserve the right, however, to choose the context.

* The story of how Notre Dame defeated Army with a lemon phosphate is an intriguing one in itself.


The reference to an intramural football game won by "the intervention of Buddha" is based on the following facts, provided by Bowen: "one of the onlookers from Sorin was encouraged to 'suit up' [i.e., change his shirt] on the sidelines and join the team on the field, which he did late in the game, tipping the advantage to his side. He had been nicknamed 'Buddha' by his friends after a considerable weight gain. His name was, in fact, Richard Phelan, and he is the Chicago attorney who, as a Special Prosecutor, brought down the Democratic House Speaker Jim Wright back in the 80s."