No Time for the Blues

In August of 1905, the editor of The Hudson Valley Times asked YMCA official Walter J. Carter to write a few words about Silver Bay. Here are two excerpts from Carter’s letter that give us a glimpse of an earlier time.

“Last night the [YMCA] Institute, which is quartered in a separate building from the hotel called ‘Forest Inn,’ being all robed in spotless white, gave the guests of the hotel a midnight serenade, about 75 participating in the parade. Tonight we are to enjoy a corn roast. No time for the blues at Silver Bay.”

“Every time a fellow of the Institute or one of the faculty takes the boat for home, the whole Institute gathers on the dock and amid yells, songs, good byes, prayers, and songs again, he steps aboard. Then he is given another favorite yell and as the boat pulls out we all join in and sing ‘Blest be the tie that binds’ and ‘God be with you until we meet again’ and our friend who we have only known for a few days but whom we all have learned to love, has gone from our view but is not forgotten.”

The “yells” of which Carter writes would be described as “cheers” today. The first documented yell came during the first intercollegiate football game, Princeton vs. Rutgers, 1869. The Princeton “rocket cheer” went “Siss, boom, ahhh!” followed by “Princeton!”

Every college had its own yell. Yale’s yell was fairly simple: “Rah” nine times followed by “Yale!” Students at Colgate chanted, “Yell high! Yell great! Rah! Rah! Colgate!” (Within colleges, each class had its own yell. For instance, the class of 1892 at the U. of Rochester yelled, “Rah-rah-rah. Zoo-zoo-zoo. Hi-yi-yi. Ninety-two!” and the class of 1893 replied, “Boom-a-la. Boom-a-la. Zip-ra-ree. Whoop it up for Ninety-three!”)

But to get back to the dock at Silver Bay, there were YMCA yells. Two yells from the Washington D.C. chapter went as follows:

Rickety-rax-quoax-quoax,
Rickety-rax-quoax
Who-ra, Who-ra
Y.M.C.A.
Washington, Washington, Washington

S-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s
Boom ! ! ! ! !
Cuckoo
Washington.

Here are three from the Cleveland YMCA:

Oska wow-wow, wisky wee-wee
Olay muck-a-la Cleveland Y.M.C.A. – – – – WOW.

Slap jack – cracker jack – switch back – clear the track;
Tub of mud, bucket of blood, ka thud, ka thud, Gypsy WOW.

With a vim, and a snap, and a sparkle, and a bubble,
And a rubble, rubble, rubble, and a sis, sis, boom,
And a boom, boom, bah,
Cleveland, Cleveland, Rah, Rah, Rah!

And a generic YMCA yell:

What’s the matter with ‘Father Cook’?
He’s all right!
He’s a lulu! He’s a Cook-oo!
He gets there every time!
We all rejoice with a hearty voice,
To see him get there!
WHO?
Father Cook.
Who says so?
Everybody.
Who’s everybody?
US!

One can only imagine the din at the dock as a departing official attempted to leave.

* * *

“Silver Bay,” The Hudson Valley Times, September 7, 1905

YMCA yells from Social Activities for Men and Boys (1916) by Albert M. Chesley, YMCA, Washington D.C.

* * *

An afterthought: When it was Bryn Mawr’s turn to cheer on a YWCA College Day at Silver Bay, one wonders if they sang out their sports yell, which goes as follows:

“Anassa kata, kalo kale. Ia ia ia Nike. Bryn Mawr, Bryn Mawr, Bryn Mawr!”

Translated from the Greek: “Queen, descend, I invoke you, fair one. Hail, hail, hail, Victory.”

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