"In a recent issue of the Virginia Tech Magazine, you suggested that some of your readers would like historic or nostalgic items. This is a rather comprehensive 'item' you may or may not care to share. In 1912, I was born in a house near where Schultz Dining Hall now stands on the V.P.I. campus. Most of the college personnel lived on campus then. My father, Professor Horatio S. Stahl, taught biology there. Commencement was a special time. There were band concerts every Sunday afternoon for a month. Colored lights were strung across the Big Walk (the wide walk from the quad to the Mess Hall; cadets marched to all meals). There were cadet parades on the Drillfield. Then came the big day of the Sham Battle. People came from all over the surrounding country--on horseback, in wagons and carriages, or walking--bringing their lunch. The two cannons that graced the quad were brought down to the Drillfield. Amid smoke and loud fury, a battle was fought between cowboys and Indians, the U.S. Army and the Mexicans, etc. Every year the opponents were different. Rat parades continued for many years. Freshman (rats) were paraded through town decked out in as little as possible: paint, shoe polish, reams of toilet paper, newspaper skirts, underwear, etc.--even barrels and boxes. This was an annual event everyone turned out to see. For many years, all cadets had to attend church on Sunday. Those excused--Catholics, Jews, (there was no Catholic church or temple in Blacksburg then), and those too sick to go to church--had to remain in their rooms. Cadets were marched to their respective churches, and roll was called before and after church to see that no one skipped. The officer of the day checked on all who did not attend services."
Julia Stahl Ballentine (CHEM '33)
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Correspondence should be sent to: Editor, Virginia Tech Magazine, 102-C Media Building, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061. The fax number is (703) 231-4943.
Virginia Tech Magazine Volume 17, Number 2 Winter 1995