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Homecoming 1975

Now that’s a Homecoming bonfire:

100 Tier Bonfire.png.jpg

The Class of 1979 distinguished itself in its freshman fall of 1975 with an achievement that will never be equaled: a 100-tier bonfire. The following year the College limited the height of the fire.

You’ll note that there are no ropes around blaze, nor S&S officers, nor running ‘shmen for that matter. In my freshman year we didn’t run around the bonfire, nor did we think to touch the pyre — those “traditions” came later.

The fire also burned more brightly back in the day. Really. The College would recycle discarded railroad ties — ones deeply impregnated with hot-burning creosote, a tarry preservative that combusts much more vigorously than the newly-cut, green-wood ties that are used today — and the whole structure would catch fire very quickly. I don’t know that touching the fire was even possible when that much heat was being thrown off. Observe how far away from the center of the Green the crowd is in the above picture.

Addendum: This photograph was taken from the top of the Hanover Inn by my recently deceased classmate Charlie Rowe ‘79. To die at age 59 is too young.

Addendum: Back in the day, building the bonfire was a week-long task, but on Thursday I watched a pair of College-employed engineers lay out the structure. As in so many other areas at Dartmouth, the adults have taken charge.

Addendum: Security loomed large over the small bonfire last night: there were multiple Town of Hanover Fire Department vehicles on the Green, four large spotlight installations, an inner perimeter to keep running freshmen away from the fire, and an outer set of massive, water-filled bollards to keep the crowd away from the freshmen. Oh, the worry.

Bonfire 2016.jpg

There is no truth to the rumor that each undergraduate had a dedicated babysitter on hand to prevent trouble of any kind.


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