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


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