October on Campus

Sign 2nd CD2004-03-03


There are few things as pretty as the leaves on campus in October. Everywhere we look the colors of fall are especially brilliant this year. If you were on campus this week you would see that in addition to the usual gold there are spectacular reds and every shade of orange and yellow you might imagine.  As I understand it, the tremendous rains that we had in Central Indiana this summer have really created the most beautiful fall display in memory.

In thinking about the leaves on campus, I was reminded of this iconic picture by one of our best photographers, Paul T. Mielke [W1942]. Paul was not only a loyal son, but a long serving member of our mathematics faculty. Lucky for us too since he most usually had a camera around his neck. Paul’s picture of the second sign at the corner of Wabash and Grant is full of autumnal gold. It really gives the viewer such a warm feeling for Wabash. Copies of this photo hang around campus and it never ceases to delight me to see it.

While looking for Paul’s picture, I also found this lovely picture of the first sign.

Sign 1st CD-2004-03-01

Taken in the morning by W. Norwood Brigance, a member of the faculty in the Speech Department, it is also a great fall picture and was used on the cover of the 1948 yearbook. The various colors and the shadows really make this a delightful photo, and I love the movement of the student, head down and off to his class. This sign, the first to occupy that space, was created by Byron Trippet to “dress up” the entry to Campus. The Indianapolis alumni thought that the corner was a disreputable first look at Wabash. And looking at old photos, they weren’t wrong. The grass was overgrown and, unlike today, no flowers. So Dean Trippet was charged with the task. I love his choice of a sign and the simple statement it carries, “Wabash College, Founded in 1832, A Liberal Arts College for Men.” Then and now, the same is still true. Most Wabash men are more familiar with the wooden signs like the one in Paul’s picture and there was some consternation when the last wooden sign was removed in the early 2000′s. Yet it is true to say that the current sign on the corner more closely resembles the original.

In each season the corner is planted with a succession of magnificent flowers, they do really dress up that space. As a welcome to Wabash the corner does just what it was intended to do and that welcome is caught by these beautiful old pictures.

All best,

Beth Swift


Wabash College


The tradition continues…

Flag AD-2005-25

It’s homecoming!

The story of 103 years of homecoming at Wabash is full of rituals, traditions and passion…passion for sport, passion for victory, but most of all a passion for this special place.

Football came to Wabash in the late 1880’s, the fans wanted a special cheer and a team color. One student suggested heliotrope and another replied, “Heliotrope, hell! We want blood!”

This Indiana championship team was the first to wear the scarlet.



And this is a scrap of the first scarlet ever worn!


At the start of the 20th century football fever gripped the nation and colleges began hosting homecoming weekends.

Driven by the Chicago Alumni Association, Wabash’s first homecoming football weekend was in 1912.

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The Roaring twenties saw Homecoming firmly established. House decorations, stunt night, bonfires, dances and chapel sing all came into being at that time.  Homecoming as we know it was here to stay. The Sphinx Club came in the 20’s too. In December of 1921 a group from Wabash travelled to IU and brought back the Sphinx. The club quickly assumed many duties at Homecoming, as they still do today.

Old wabashLO

Chapel Sing, known in the past as Freshman Sing, was more of an individual ordeal as it was every man for himself. Note too in this picture of the 1930s that the freshmen are all wearing their “pots” or beanies. All the freshmen are being closely watched by the members of the Senior Council who served as judges for the sing.

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The homecoming bonfire was a big deal and the gathering of the materials for the fire sometimes led to trouble with our neighbors. It seems that any old fencing, odd bits of lumber and the neighbor’s old outhouse were all fair game for the scavengers!

Homecoming 1952 SLD-2004_1048

Over the years the traditions have changed, freshmen no longer wear their pajamas and gone are the pep rallies at the Courthouse.

But the floats, that don’t, the queen contest, the banners and chapel sing all continue.


Each year a new class of freshmen learn Old Wabash and learn also to love this special place. The tradition continues…

 All best, 
Beth Swift, Archivist
Wabash College

Sir Conner of Wabash – a REAL knight!

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Letter head of the Belgian Draft Horse Corporation from the files of the Ramsay Archives at Wabash College.


While researching in the Wabash Magazine, a short note about an alumnus knighted by the King of Belgium caught my eye. Intrigued, a little digging turned up a Wabash man with a passion for horses who lived his entire life in Wabash. Of course that is a bit of a trick, since he was born and raised in Wabash, Indiana. This town, and its county as well, are named for the river which runs through them.

Short side note here, you may ask why Wabash College is not in Wabash, Indiana? The answer is simple, when our college was founded this entire area was known as the “Wabash Country” as all the streams in this part of Indiana drain to the Wabash River. We are in Crawfordsville as that was where Williamson Dunn had land to donate to this audacious startup.

Back to our Wabash man. James D. Conner, Jr. was the son of a prominent lawyer and the first boy to graduate from Wabash High School.  He came to Wabash College as a member of the 1876 “Centennial Class.” While here Conner lived and boarded on Wabash Avenue. That he was ALL Wabash did not go unnoticed as the college gossip column in the student magazine of the time noted the oddity too.

Conner intended to follow his father into the law and at commencement his speech was on a legal theme, “The Genesis of our Republic.” Following graduation Conner returned to Wabash, Indiana and in that same year, 1876, he passed the bar and went to work with his father. Conner junior was a highly successful attorney and it was through his work as a lawyer that he became familiar with the Belgian draft horse as a special breed. An entry on the Find a Grave website [] gives much more detail taken from A History of Wabash County, Indiana [Clarkson Weesner, pub. 1914, pp 495-496]. According to the short biography it was through his work for a client that he first became aware of the Belgian draft horse. He was so taken with these horses that he established the first registry of the breed. In 1887 he created the Belgian Draft Horse Corporation for the purpose of registering these magnificent horses. As Mr. Conner said himself in a letter from December 8, 1937, he served as the Secretary Treasurer of the, “Belgian Draft Horse Corporation of America, the only place in the United States where a pure bred Belgian draft horse can be registered.” That association continues today, it is still the only place to register such a horse and it is still headquartered in Wabash, Indiana. Here is a link to their website:

These horses are evidently quite impressive and it was as a reward for Conner’s protection of the breed that King Albert of Belgium honored Jim Conner as, “a Sir Knight of the Order of the Crown of Belgium” in 1928.

Horses weren’t his only love, he also organized the Wabash County Historical Society. It seems Sir Conner kept busy his whole life. In the same letter from  1937 Conner notes, “I am 84 and working harder than I ever did.” When he died at the age of 87, Conner left behind a legacy that has survived for over 125 years.

An amazing legacy, what a life for Sir Conner of Wabash.


All best,
Beth Swift
Wabash College
Crawfordsville, Indiana

Wally in the Army

Don Cole (W1952)

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  Last month’s post about the creator of Wally Wabash promised a look at Don Cole’s good work after leaving Wabash. Cole has a talent for finding the heart of the matter and bringing that out in his cartoons. Cole and his creation which he called the “Caveman”  went off to the army together. What resulted is a witty look at army life through the eyes of a private.

Drafted just following Commencement, Cole was inducted into the Army in September of 1952. In no time at all Cole made his mark on the army, as an illustrator in the visual aids section of the MP Board. He created a new character, MP Dooty, which was featured in many training pamphlets and in a regular monthly cartoon panel in the Military Police Journal, circulation 20,000. This is a photo of Cole at his desk in the army.

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From the Wabash Bulletin of June, 1953 we have the following interaction between Dick Banta, the Editor and Don Cole. The exchange starts with Banta’s description of Cole’s work at Wabash:

 For his contributions to college publications he created a “Caveman” figure which was accepted by his contemporaries as the true rendering of the typical Wabash Man – a character in no way reminiscent of the Man of Distinction – who is now, as Cole will tell us, in the army too.

Cole’s Uncle Sam gave him the nod soon after Commencement. Wondering what might have resulted from the impact of a union between the Armed Services and a Phi Beta Kappa cartoonist, we wrote to ask him for a BULLETIN contribution which would report on Cole in the Army. This is his reply:

 Dear Editor:

So they finally found something for you to do around Wabash – besides drinking coffee in the Scarlet Inn. I’m sending you some drawings I whipped up in my spare time. And I hope they are what you wanted. You might be interested to know that I am now an illustrator in the Visual Aids Section of the MP Board. The Board handles the doctrine and training of the Military Police Corps.

As you can see by one of the drawings I sent – I am doing a monthly comic panel featuring one MP Dooty who is none other than the old CAVEMAN with an MP uniform. Happily enough this character caught the eye of some top brass in the MP corps and they are planning to feature him in film strips and pamphlets for training Military Policemen. I am working on one of these pamphlets at the present – it’s called ON PATROL WITH MP DOOTY. The comic panel appears, as I said, monthly in the Military Police Journal (circulation 20,000), and the guy seems to be getting popular.

I was inducted Sept. 2, 1952 and took my basic training with an MP company. And just after Christmas and after some fancy talking I got a permanent assignment with the Board. I consider myself quite lucky and I’m well satisfied with my present lot. I’ll be even more satisfied after May 23rd for on that date I am to be wed to Miss Sonja Hartzell, (my last year’s Pan date).

Best regards,

Pvt. Don Cole.

These images are Cole’s report as printed in the Wabash Bulletin of June, 1953.

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 And look at that last cartoon. There is Wally Wabash in his MP uniform keeping company with his creator Don Cole. I hope you have enjoyed this look at Wally’s further adventures. Truly, Don Cole is an artist with a talent for cartooning!


All best,
Beth Swift
Wabash College
Crawfordsville, Indiana  

A cheery gift

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Look at this beauty which just arrived this morning! This bumper sticker is a gift of Charles O. Hardy [W1955] and it was delivered by Jane Hardy, his daughter. You may recognize Jane’s name as the newly tenured Assistant Professor of Spanish in the Modern Languages department. Jane and her husband Peter Mikek, [Associate Professor of Economics] are both on the faculty. It was awfully nice of Jane to bring this to the Archives. I love the pure red cheeriness of this sticker and, of course, that cheerful fellow Wally Wabash as created by Don Cole [W1952].

Here is a little more about this great cartoonist which was pulled together for a display a few years ago.

Cole 1950YBDon Cole (W1952)

Wabash has a long tradition of famous cartoonists. Perhaps most dear to students of a certain age is Don Cole. Graduated magna cum laude, a Phi Beta Kappa and with a first in comprehensives, Cole was a scholar with a wicked pencil. His Caveman covers of the early 50’s are a real peek into college humor of that time. He gave us that irrepressible WALLY WABASH. Created in 1948 for the Caveman, Wally was a hearty fellow, surviving even the deep sixing of that publication. Since that time, Wally has been a busy fellow. Money from the sale of Wally notebooks sent the Glee Club on their European tour of 1967. At one point he was on each piece of letterhead at the college and traveled the world on official Wabash flight bags.

Here are a series of Wallys that Don created for the 1956 yearbook. They really show student life in all its richness.

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The terror of all new freshmen, back in the day when blowing the words to “Dear Old Wabash” might earn you a stylish new “W” haircut.



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Wally in a class out in front of Center Hall. Is that legendary Professor of Classics Jack Charles behind the pipe?


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Wally at the round table of the Scarlet Inn is making his point!


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Wally in Chapel listening intently to the words of wisdom, mandatory attendance meant that not all students were as engaged as this good man.



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Club Man Wally was a real joiner. We have a couple of these charms in the Archives. Worn on the belt, each club had a different charm or key.


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There are several more Wallys, but Commencement Wally represented the highest achievement and the goal of all students past and present. With his lambskin in hand Wally is ready to face the outside world just as his creator did.

Next time I will share more of Cole’s brilliant cartooning after Wabash. In the meantime, you might be interested in this former post with a witty take on student life:


All best, 
Beth Swift, Archivist, Wabash College
Crawfordsville, Indiana




The circus is in town

Lichtenstein circus picture not datedSometimes in the spring things get a little silly on campus. It seems like the warm sun just brings out the kid in all of us. But there was a time when there was a real circus on campus. The Royal Lichtenstein Quarter Ring Circus visited Wabash several times in the 70′s, 80′s and 90′s. Here is the best photo of all that I have seen. It really shows the delight of the audience members, young and old.

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This Bachelor article from April 14, 1978 gives us a little background on this interesting touring group. And clearly they were a hit at Wabash based on the frequency of their return performances.

And, whether or not it is officially a circus, on some warm sunny days here on campus, the mall is hopping with life – students and faculty who stop to chat with one another, Sphinx Club members doing air raids and Career Services taking their show to where the students are found. Yes, on a warm spring day it feels a little like the circus has come to town, which means not long now until commencement!


All best, 
Beth Swift
Wabash College


April 22 at Wabash

Hello Wallies and Wabash enthusiasts,

For future reference, I will be posting informative bits every week or so (and not every single day) due to the difficulties of identifying interesting facts/situations through Wabash historical documents for each day.  That being said, it has been a great experience being able to look through these documents and expose myself to things I did not know previous to this endeavor.  Let’s get started:

In light of it being Earth Day today, I would like to celebrate this holiday by shedding some knowledge about how some students reacted to something called “Low Carbon Day” seven years ago.

April 19, 2008: On this day, Wabash students protest against Bon Appetit’s “Low Carbon Day,” an event to recognize the significance of Earth Day which resulted in the removal of products that produce emissions.  The average weekday at Sparks Center fed 200 students; that day, they only fed 50.

Now, here is today’s interesting fact:

April 22, 1999: Delta Phi, a fraternity that only consisted of 5 members and was unrecognized by the college, voted itself dormant and suspended its operations.


Hopefully you all have found these informative bits of Wabash history interesting and informative.  Be sure to look at next week’s post to learn something about what is now the 1832 Brew.

In Wabash,

Graham Redweik ’16

A day of giving…




Today is the day!

I just gave online – it is super easy.


In honor of ALL the women who have served Wabash well throughout her history!


A small gift to honor those women who have, for the whole of the history, sacrificed and struggled to make Wabash what she is today!

Here are the ways that women serve/have served Wabash:


Those who work or have worked here, whether faculty or staff.

Our first ladies who never stop working for Wabash.

The wives of our alumni and trustees.

The wives of faculty members.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, the mothers of all of the Wabash men in history.


Your good work, many sacrifices and love for this unusual place are a key part of the strength of Wabash.


4.22 is a great day for Wabash College! A group of alumni leaders will give $142,200 to the Annual Fund if 2,200 people Stand T.A.L.L. and make a gift TODAY. I made my gift. If you believe in the College’s mission, join me by making a gift today.



George Kendall – a Giant AND a Gentleman


George Kendall and his good friend Insley Osborne [W1906]

George Kendall at left and his good friend Insley Osborne [W1906]

For this blog posting I would like to share with you the story of a giant in our history. As with last month’s post, these remarks are largely taken from the Chapel Talk I gave in the spring of 2013. In Archives work there is a concept that lots of copies, kept in separate places (and in this case in different formats) keeps things safe so it seems to me that sharing this content via a blog might just be a good idea.

On with the story, part of what is so interesting about this giant is that while he had tremendous impact on the Wabash of his time, and of ours too, he is rarely mentioned. Dean George Kendall served Wabash, officially, from 1920 until 1957. Following his retirement, he moved back to the East, but like so many before and after him, even in retirement, he worked on behalf of Wabash for the remainder of his life.

George Valentine Kendall was born in Kirkwood, Missouri on February 14, 1891. His Valentine’s Day birth was the source of his unusual middle name. His parents were upper middle class, both college educated, his father was a doctor. When it came time for George to go to college, he attended Brown University and developed a love of the theater. He appeared in plays during college and served as president of the Sock and Buskin, the theatrical society of Brown. Kendall also spent a great deal of time in other theaters as well. Based on the collection of vaudeville programs in his papers, it’s amazing that he had time to attend any classes. But he must have done and given that he was a Junior Marshall for Brown’s commencement and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, we can infer that he did quite well in his studies. For graduate school he went to the University of Wisconsin where he earned his Master’s degree. He then went on to Columbia where he roomed with Insley Osborne [W1906] son of longtime faculty member Pat Osborne and one of our first Rhodes scholars.

As with so many men of that time, George’s plans were suspended for World War I. In France George served as an artillery instructor and it was there during the war that he met and married Yvonne Guyer, a shy beauty he always referred to as his “Alsatian lass.” Upon their return from Europe, the Kendalls lived in New York where George returned to his studies at Columbia. City life was hard for Yvonne who was more at home in the country. When Wabash was in need of a man to teach English, Insley Osborne recommended his friend George for the position and in 1920 the Kendalls moved to Crawfordsville.

It was not long before George became a valued young member of the faculty. In just three years he was named Dean of the College and served as dean for sixteen years, longer than any other. It is important to understand that at this time, there was only one dean. Kendall was Dean of the College, Dean of Students and Dean of the Faculty – all in one. It was a big job. A faculty resolution offered at this retirement notes that his work was divided among, “no fewer than four members of the present faculty.” He also taught two classes during his time as Dean!

Kendall House - donated by George and Yvonne to the College was the site of many gracious evenings. during the Hopkins administration the Kendalls served as hosts to guests of Wabash.

Kendall House – donated by George and Yvonne to the College was the site of many gracious evenings. During the Hopkins administration the Kendalls served as hosts to most guests of Wabash.

In the 1920’s, under Kendall, there was a complete revamping of the curriculum which gave us our divisional system and comprehensive examinations. A voice of reason, a deep thinker and, perhaps more importantly in this sort of project, a calm and steady hand, it is widely agreed that the lasting success of the “new” curriculum is largely down to Dean Kendall’s ability to get men to work together toward a common cause. Again from the faculty resolution at his retirement we read that his judgment was highly regarded, so much so that it was said that when a committee voted down or modified his recommendations, they did so with feelings of “gravest misgivings and a queasy sense of inevitable miscarriage.”

In his book, Wabash on My Mind, Byron Tippet opens his lovely sketch of Kendall by saying, “George Kendall was the most civilized man I have ever known. Much as I would like to, I cannot do justice in words to the character and personality of this man, to say nothing of the quality of his mind.” It is also in this sketch that Trippet notes that the principal architect of the Gentleman’s Rule was Dean Kendall. From Trippet’s book, “He did not believe in wet-nursing students…He relied on repeated personal conversations with individual students and on occasional informal discussions with student leaders to make the Wabash philosophy work well in practice. When breaches in the code occurred, he dealt with them quickly, firmly and consistently. There were no half-way measures. Suspension from college was the only disciplinary action resorted to. But Dean Kendall did no preaching in such cases, no petty scolding. He was matter-of-fact and business-like, and rarely was there student whimpering. There was no appeal for higher authority from his judgments.”

Trippet credits the Gentleman’s Rule as a distinctive source of strength at Wabash. He says, “It was a philosophy which presupposed that students were adults, not children, that they were able to distinguish between right and wrong, and that they were aware of their responsibility for the consequences of their behavior.”

At his memorial, Kendall’s dear friend and former student Bob Harvey said this, “Student discipline was one of his duties, and is was not an easy task in the post-war climate of the rowdy 1920’s. But his discipline was always considerate and understanding. Perhaps it is worth noting here that the first Wabash man Dean Kendall saw,” during WWII, “welcomed him by shouting to George from an upper window of a barracks building. Their reunion was a pleasant one, and it was not marred by the fact that Dean Kendall had earlier booted the young man out of Wabash.”

This view of Kendall is also present in another address for his memorial, Walt Fertig – Wabash man and long-time faculty member in the English department – spoke of George in this way, “He was tall, big-boned, built on a kind of heroic scale, with a beautiful bald head and piercing blue eyes…Immediately, you knew he was a person with whom nonsense or pettiness would get nowhere. Kendall was a powerfully impressive dean.” Fertig notes that he believed in men taking care of themselves and that Kendall’s ideal college was a college for men, not a school for boys.

Kendall was the first member of the faculty to leave Wabash for the military in WWII. After Pearl Harbor, he lobbied a Wabash man, General Charles D. Herron, for a position in the Army. He was sent to the South Pacific where he served on the staff of General MacArthur. Kendall finished the war as a Lt. Colonel. He returned to Wabash after the war as Dean of the Faculty and served as a mentor to the new Dean of Students, Byron Trippet.

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Kendall retired from Wabash in 1957 and moved to Massachusetts to live near an old college friend. In letters from that time he notes that he is determined to, “get clean out of the way.” We can see that this was wise by reading the faculty resolution created at his retirement which notes, “No member of the Wabash faculty has ever carried more responsibility or commanded more respect than George Kendall. The embodiment of urbanity and of unassuming academic and executive efficiency, he impressed generations of students, faculty members, and trustees with his limitless talents.”  It was clear that his was a long shadow. I have often wondered if one of the primary reasons Kendall left Wabash when he retired was to ensure Byron Trippet’s freedom to lead as the new Wabash president. In many letters George wrote after his retirement, there was often a wistful quality, a longing for this place, and yet he knew that if he were around, the thoughts of “What would George do?” might be a hindrance to others as they tried to lead.

Kendall lived for another 15 years after his retirement. By all accounts it was a full and happy retirement with many pleasant visits from friends among the Wabash family. I will leave you with a couple of quick stories gleaned from the letters which came to his widow following his death. One was particularly striking, from a Wabash man who had long since graduated. As the alum tells the story,  he was doing very poorly in his accounting class and wanted to drop it. He also had terrible headaches. Dean Kendall recommended that he have his eyes tested, perhaps he might need glasses. Decades later, this former student was a very successful accountant and head of his state association. He credited Kendall with his lifelong success. The second account came from a former student who had been having trouble making his 8:00 classes. Kendall recommended that the student drink large amounts of water before going to sleep as the need for the men’s room might just prompt him out of bed. This suggestion was so embarrassing to the student that he was never late to class again. And there were dozens like these from men whose lives were changed for the better by the tough, yet fair, Dean of Wabash.

Obviously, there was much more to George Kendall than I can convey here. But in summary, let me just say that Dean George Valentine Kendall was a giant force on campus in his time. He led the faculty through the biggest curriculum change in our history. He crafted the policy which became codified under Trippet as the Gentleman’s Rule. He inspired generations of men with a love for Shakespeare and ferocious loyalty. But perhaps Bob Harvey said it best, “George had a grin like a sunrise on a bright morning. He was urbane. His wife, Yvonne, was a joy and so was their home. He was a great dean in a college which has been fortunate in having great deans. He was a scholar. He was a man of absolute integrity. And he loved Wabash College, literally, until the day he died.”

I hope that you have enjoyed this close look at one of the giants of Wabash College, a man whose influence lingers still.

All best,
Beth Swift
Wabash College



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