Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Snowstorms and Cross-dressing

Snow at the University of Wisconsin, 1958
(click here to read previous story:

Dinon's transcript proves that he did well at college, showing that he graduated with honors.  But from the stories he tells, it's clear that he also had a lot of fun along the way.

"The University of Wisconsin is very hilly, and when we had a snow storm, we liked to get on the hills and make them really icy to slide down before the maintenance crew came out with the sand and the shovels," Dinon said.  "I had an early class, so I’d just get up a little earlier and we had a BALL sliding down the hills.  As more guys and gals slid down the hills, it became more icy and it was really fast!"

He also said, with a wink and a smile, that he went out on a lot of dates with a lot of girls.  When the occasion was there, some of those dates were enjoyed at the college's school dances.

"We oftentimes had different contests for king and queen of a dance or something like that, and we’d put on skits to try and attract people watching the skit to vote for them.  There were several people vying for the same honor of the king and queen," Dinon said.  "One year, they were [vying] in the place where we were eating, and one of the guys took a tray and he put a bunch of silverware on it, and then partway through the skit he emptied that tray on the terrazzo floor, and it made a racket.  A lot of people interpreted the noise that, he was going along, just watching the skit, and he wasn't watching, and then he dropped the stuff on the floor accidentally.  Everybody just laughed about that.  But it was on purpose and it had its effect, that’s all we were worried about.  So, it was fun."

But it was the antics of the Haresfoot organization that amused him the most, even as just an outside observer.

Haresfoot actors backstage: Feb 27, 1961
"Haresfoot was an organization of men only, and annually they always put on a show over a weekend where they’d have the chorus line, like The Rockettes, y’know, and the guys would dress up as women and get wigs and so on and ... y'know ... stuff their braziers ... and they were good," he said.  "[Haresfoot] was a good organization and some of the guys were quite creative in using that for something else ... and one of the fraternities decided that they’d like to play a prank on their fraternity president."

A big dance was coming up ... and one of the guys had a buddy in Haresfoot.

The fraternity members went to the president's girlfriend for help pulling it off.  "Just before the dance, tell him you're sick," they said, "Since he's the president, he'll have to have a date, and we're going to fix him up."

The day of the dance arrived, and the president received a call from his girlfriend: she was too sick, he'd have to find someone else to go with.  Now he had to scramble to find a suitable available girl at the last minute.  "We've got a girl for you," his fraternity brothers said.  "She's in the dorms, we'll give her a call and set you up."  The president agreed, and arrangements were made for his date to meet him at the fraternity house.

"When the fraternity president came downstairs after dressing for the dance, well, here’s this girl, standing at the fireplace, kind of leaning on the mantle and really nice-looking, and, well, he was really pleased.  So they go to the dance together and, oh, he has a good time," Dinon said.

Like a gentleman, the president walked his date back to the girls' dorm after the dance.

"Now the practice at the time was to give the girls a curfew, the University thinking that if you control the girls, you control the guys ... it’s not quite true, but maybe largely so.  So, on Fridays and Saturdays the curfew was 1230 or something like that," Dinon said.  "So then it comes the time, because of the curfew, to take his date back to the dorm so she can get in.  Well, everyone kisses right at that time, right before the girls go in the door they kiss them goodnight."

So, the president - still oblivious - tells his date what a nice time he had, and leans in for a goodnight kiss ...

" - and then the date whips off his wig – so that you could see he’s a guy – then he SPLITS down and gets out of Dodge!"

A Haresfoot production: 1946
Dinon began to laugh.

"The fraternity president - he didn't know what to do!  Because he realized he’d been HAD," he said, laughing.  "That was REALLY funny."

There were plenty of other gender-bending pranks that the Haresfoot boys loved to pull as well.

"On another day, some of the guys were swimming naked in the pool," Dinon said.  "Well, a couple of the Haresfoot guys got dressed up and walked into the pool area.  And, the other guys SPLIT, man, they couldn't get out of the pool quick enough to get away from these 'girls' walking along the pool!  And then, they walked into the shower area – I mean, it was CHAOS until they revealed that they were from Haresfoot.  It created quite a stir at the time ... but, it was funny, it really was funny."

Their fun contrasted against the events of the outside world: in June of 1950, the end of Dinon's freshman year, the Korean War began.  Each year, more young men, like those from Haresfoot, graduated from The University of Wisconsin ... and, in so doing, lost their college deferment and were drafted.  

Which is exactly what happened to Dinon in 1953.

(Next story: Graduation)

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