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April 07, 1925 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1925-04-07

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Flames Shoot and Hot Grate Glows
While Sharp Satire Grins
at High Dignity

By Emery P. Wall
An evening of care-free enjoyment,
a few hours of levity, a disregard for
things sacred, an opportunity of mak-
ing capital of the idiosyncrasies of
others, and no chance of coming
through unscathed-that in a word is
Michigan's annual Gridiron banquet.
Fun makers have found the occasion
suited to their needs. The fun makers
are those who, obeying that axiom,
"A little laughter now and then----"
have condescended to step off the
high and mighty places lopig enough
to take the prescribed tonic.
The Gridiron banquet is one of
Michigan's many near-traditions. It
is the stripling among famous dinners.
the juvenile among classic functions.
The Gridiron banquet is only in ;.s
third year. But two others have pro
4:eeded the one scheduled for OJis
On a theory similar to that which
states that man's life is not reckonedf
bV how long he lives but rather by
how much lie lives, however, the Grid-
iron 1.anquet claims prestige among
the school functions. Two year, of
(ridaion banquetting have been as at
core, the contention is.
<Trle banquet is for the purpose of
gettit g tIe school amid state notables
together for a "broiling." The in-
tation :sI. contains the names of t e{
iw.st 1rominent fa, uhy men, a fewl
town celebrities, state neispaper men.I
business men and politicians, and ,a
limited number of students. Tz'o
function is sponsored by Sigma Deit,
Chi. professional icainalistic frater-
1iRy, and is primarily an event in
which the members of the "fourth es-
tate" are in prominence.
famed After National Function
The function is planned after thek
fashion of a similarly named banquet
in Washington, sponsored by the Press'
club there, and which is attended by!
the national notables.
At the start of the banquet here two
years ago the name caused no little
confusion. In a college town "grid-
iron" naturally means a football
field, and thus the announcement of
the first banquet was interpreted by

many as an event where the athletes
were to be honored.
The banquet, rather, gets its name
from the "broiling" administered
those who have gathered at the tables.
The personal thrusts which are made,
becoming the butt of an embarrass-
ing joke, the impartial razzing of
present characteristics or past ac-
tions--these are the things that com-
bine to furnish the "roasting" on the
proverbial gridiron.
EJ1itm jdhs
One of the most popular methods of
procedure at the banquet is the read-
ing of epitaphs by various members
of the party, each standing on his
chair to proclaim his virtues, as seen
by others. The epitaphs are written
by the committee in charge and placed
in sealed envelopes. The epitaphs
cannot be read by the person previous
to the time lie mounts his chair. Con-
sequently, his first reading is to the
assembled notables, and as the epi- I
taphs usually are most unfavorable,I
his surprise is an additional burden tol
be borne.
It is customary to give one favorable
epitaph, and this comes as the com-
plimentary word of the evening. The
epitaph is a bit of high-sounding;
writing expressing gratitude for cer-1
tain acts. It is awarded in apprecia-
tion of work which in some way
benefitted the University. Favorable
epitaphs have been (given in past;
years to E. J. Ottaway, editor of the
Port Huron Times-Herald, and Donal1
Hamilton Haines, formerly instructor
in journalismand now editor of the
Michigan Alumnus.
Oil Can Presented
The presentation of the oil can to
the smooth speaker who makes wise1
men gullable by his presentation is+
also one of the features of the dinner.I
The oil can is dressed up for the oc-
casion, with fit trimmings. It re-1
mains in the possession of the recipi-i
ent until he has a chance at the fol-J
lowing banquet to rid himself of it.
But it forever bears his name, hand-
somely engraved.
The oil can was first presented toi
Prof. William D. Henderson, head of
the "distension department," for his

abilities to carry the University gos-
pel outside of the corporate limits.
Professor Henderson rid himself of
the trophy with credit last year when
it was awarded Prof. Thomas Reed, of
the political science department.
The presentation speech last year
was one of the high lights of the ban-
quet. Professor Henderson, inspired,
did his work in poetry. It was, by his
own admission, a rather hybrid com-
position, a cross between the work of
Robert Frost and Eddie Guest.
Announcement of the recipient of
the oil can is made only by the one
with the presentation speech. As his!
talk is none too complimentary, and
usually general enough to make the
majority of the Gridiron nights a bit
uneasy, the affair marks one of the
high tension periods of the baniquet.
Skits, speeches and specialties are
also employed to adrginister the
"roasting" for the evening.
The right of defense is reserved to
those who are attacked, and some of
the best fun of the evening comes
when the tables are turned on some
aggressive joker and he is made to
carry the burden of his words turned
against him. This puts spontaneity
into the function and keeps it from
becoming a "cut and dried" affair.

members of Sigma Delta Chi, and due
to the rather inadequate presentation
of all but one, have since been assign-
ed to Mimes. The acts were 'writtenf
by Donal Hamilton Haines. The first
"Philosophical Cannibalism" brought
six University professors, of ranking
importance and among the assembly,
together on a deserted island. Their
conversation served to bring out their
class room characteristics.
Another of the skits was "Dodging
Violets" and aimed directly at Coach
Fielding H. Yost, director of athletics,
who was flayed for his publicity cam-
paigns. The skit was afterward in,
demand by an alumni group, refusal
being made on the ground that the
spirit of the Gridiron banquet only
made possible its presentation and
that it would not fit in any other
Gov. R. A. Nestor, of North Dakota,
was in attendance at the inaugural
gathering of the Gridiron Knights,
and gave a short talk which put just
a slight bit of seriousness into the:
Last year the second Gridiron ban-

which the University was appealing
for money. The act was managed by
John Bromley, '25, with parts taken
by Lionel Ames, '24, Alvin Tolle, '27,
and John Buchanan, '27. During the
course of the act the toes of many
were stepped on.k
Another of the features of the even-
ing was the presentation of a wet
towel to "wettest," newspaper. The
presentation was claimed as the cul-
mination of a careful study by a com-
mittee, headed by William Stoneman,
'25, who awarded the towel to a rep-
resentative of the Detroit News to
take home with him.
The work of T. Hawley Tapping,
alumni field secretary, was given a
gentle series of thrusts during the
course of the evening. Telegrams
were brought in from small unheard-
of western towns telling how an alum-
ni meeting there was addressed by
the field secretary, each one of the
telegrams being signed by Tapping.
Thrusts Well Received
Past success of. the Gridiron ban-

The skit of the evening was a farce fun it has created. If the on-par
enacted in the governor's office in feeling outlived the banquet, the his-

quet was in the hands of a committee quets has been due, largely, to the
headed by Ralph Smith, '24. Invita- manner in which the jokes have been
tions were cared for by Hyde Perce, received. Despite the personal nature
'26, while Philip Wagner, '25, was in of the jokes and thrusts, they are
cha.ree of entertainmenL The ,. r..

tory of the function would be cut
short while its pages were few.
Again The Oil Can
Only one joke is supposed to outlive
the occasion and that is the possession
of the oil can. This the recipient!
must keep until the next banquet
gives him the opportunity of ridding
himself of it. Meanwhile, he is con-
stantly reminded of the occasion on
which it came into his possession.
Further, his name, neatly engraved on
the trophy is a permanent record of
his faculties.
When the oil can was first put into
circulation the rule was laid down
that it had to go into the class room
on the following day, if it were pre-
sented to a faculty member. This
rule at present is at best doubtful.
The Gridiron banquet stands as the
only place where faculty, students and
state notables mingle. Formal gather-
ings where all three elements are in
attendance are many, but one faction
dominates, or a few chosen members
of each group are scheduled to take!
the center of the stage.
The meeting of the Gridiron Knights
is formal only insofar as matter of
dress is concerned. From the stand-
point of procedure it is the most in-
formal meeting in the year.
Jerusalem, April 6.-A farm school
for Arab boys and a high school for
Jewish children will soon be estab-
lished at Tulkarem and Jerusalem, re-
spectively, with the funds of the $500,-
000 bequest of the late Sir Ellis Ka-
doorie, a Jewish philanthropist of
Shanghai. Both schools will bear the
name of the donor, who bequeathed
one-third of his estate to the British
government to be spent by it on the
provision of schools in Palestine or
Althoughtseveral of the other be-
quests of thebwill were for institu-
tions for the benefit of Jews, no such
provision was made with regard to
this particular gift. The British gov-
ernment acepted the bequest, and de-
cided that the funds be spent in Pal-
estine. In view of the terms of the
will, it has not felt itself justified in
limiting the expenditure to schools for
the Jewish population exclusively.

Nation Will Give
Prizes To Writers
In Essay Contest
The Nation, political publication, is
offering prizes of two hundred dol-
lars to university or college students
who submit the best account of ex-
perienice in the field of labor and the
interpretation of the industrial sit-
uation involved, after spending next
summer in some industrial or agri-
cultural pursuit. To quote the word
of its publishers, The Nation "wants
to encourage American college men
and women to see capital and labor as
they meet in the mills and mines, and
not as text book abstractions."
The judges of the contest, which
will actually take place next fall,
after the students have submitted
their reports, include Oswald G. Vil-
lard, editor of The Nation, Jerome
Davis, of the Yale Divinity school,
Yale university, and William H. Johns-
ton, president of the International
association of machinists.
The competition is open to grad-
uate and undergraduate men and
women who continue their studies
next fall. All contestants must have
worked at least two months next sum-
mer in somerindustrial or agricultural
pursuit as regular laborers. Manu-
scripts cannot be more than 4,000
words, the winning accounts to be
Published in The Nation, and must be
submitted not later than October 15,
1925. Winners will be announced and
prizes awarded in December, 1925.
The publishers suggest that each
manuscript be a record of the ex-
perience of the contestant together
with his personal interpretation of the
the industrial situation which con-
fronted him or her.
The first prize will be $125, the sec-
ond $75, and the third $25.
Ann Arbor Sixth
In State Building
Ann Arbor, with a record of $127,000
worth of new buildings, under con-
struction, stands sixth among the
cities in the state for building pro-
grams so far this year, according to
figures issued at, the office of George
Sandenburgh,tcity engineer.
The five cities with greater totals.
than Ann Arbor for the periodtare:
Detroit, Grand Rapids, Highland Park,
Saginaw, and Jackson.
City Engineer Sandenburgh is of the
opinion that the local figures for
March will considerably swell Ann
Arbor's total.

Started in 1923 1V' C ft
The first Gridiron banquet was the mainder of the committee was made
culmination of a number of years of up of Thomas E. Fiske, '25, Paul Ein-
proposals. It was in 1923 that a de- stein, '25, and Robert Tarr, '25. Paul
cision was made to attempt the pro- Wa tzel, '25L, was toastmaster.
ject. Sponsored by Sigma Delta Chi, A long list of telegrams from those
the entire organization worked as a o were unable to attend the meet-
committee to assure the success of the ing furnished almost as much enter-
first undertaking. Credit is equally tainment as the other features of the
divided for the starting of the function dinner. The list was headed by Chase'
and, if to rest anywhere, would be S. Osborne, former governor, who all1
with Herbert Case, '23, president of but burned the wires leading from
Florida where he was at time time.
the organization that year.
More than 100 professors, editors Records show that Lieutenant-Gov-
and business men were in attendance ernor Thomas Reed was the "speakerj
at the initial dinner. James Stevens, of the evening." This is not exactly
'23, was toastmaster for the occasion. an accurate statement, as the banquet
One of the specialties at the first has no real head-liner. However, the
banquet was the gasometer which re- state official filled the place of Gover-
corded the volume of "hot air" which nor Nestor the year before in giving
the speakers were giving. The grad- the necessary tone of sincerity to the
nations on the instrument, which re- banquet.
sembled a huge thermometer, were to Tile Cream luff Speech
indicate how the speech was progress- George Walch, speaker of the house,
ing. When the speaker made a point, furnished a good share of the fun
the indicator would jump a few during the evening by his "political
notches higher, and if he became too speech." Walch advocated the aboli-
vociferous, he would be apt to ring tion of cream puffs, making an earnest
the bell, appeal in a fashion that served to
The Skits show how trivial many talks on feign-
The skits that year were given by, ed issues may be.

mostly forgotten when the guestsI
leave the banquet halls.
The privilege which served to make'
the banquet uncomfortably warm
serves also to keep it from boiling
over, for the privilege is recognized
as extending only over the period of
the evening. Many of the epitaphs, l
which might well be harmful if car-
ried outside of the hall, are there'
looked on lightly, things to be enjoyed
for the moment and forgotten. Like-
wise, the skits are matters for the
Gridiron Knights only, and while re-
ports of them circulate, their actual
presentation and harsh words are con-
fined to the banquet hall.
Another element that has helped to
make the affair a success is the on-par
;eeling between those attending the
event. Any one at the banquet is apt!
to be the recipient of unfavorablel
co'nnent or the butt of a joke. The
dignity of a faculty member or state
officivl is more or less apt to break
down when he stands up on his chair
and reads an epitaph which may be
highly uncomplimentary.
But here, again, the element that
goes to make the Gridiron banquet
also stops short before it destroys the

111[ Q-.,4

a.aawi. 7 owa n c;a ja c. as r. y

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