In February 1958, when we were grad students living in the Hall of Graduate Studies, Charlie…

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In February 1958, when we were grad students living in the Hall of Graduate Studies, Charlie Neff ’61PhD and I wistfully shared our memories of the German “fifth season.” Charlie had experienced it as Fasching in Bavaria; I experienced it as Karneval in the Rhineland. The partying season opened on January 7 and culminated in Rose Monday and Fat Tuesday/Fett Dienstag/Mardi Gras. We agreed that HGS needed a Fasching party. But how to bring it off? In my two-plus years on the HGS House Committee, social events had amounted to Christmas and Valentine’s Day parties, sustained by punch and cookies, held in our elegant first-floor common room, with its monumental fireplace, grand piano, and polished wooden furniture.


The House Committee did not have the budget to hold anything like a Fasching party, and the common room was most certainly not an appropriate venue.

Charlie cast the die: “What do you say we pool our money to bring in a lot of beer, get together some live music, and produce a party ourselves?” Done, and done. On the Saturday night before Mardi Gras, there would be a party in HGS. Beneath our wing of the large dormitory section of HGS was a recreation room of sorts. It housed two ping-pong tables and a sturdy, old, almost-in-tune upright piano.

It could hold at least a hundred people, and we would not have to worry too much about breaking things. But it was dreary: gray concrete floor, grayish-green walls and columns, bare light bulbs. Something would have to be done. Permission and promotion Parties at the residential colleges were usually held from 9 p. m. to midnight or 1 a. m. We applied for a permit taking effect at 9 p. m., but did not mention a closing time. The official document which we received to post in the basement venue read “from 9 p. m. until


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