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Another College Prank Recalled

There were a couple articles in the July Bulletin that were especially entertaining and refreshing to read. I had the good fortune to have taken a lifelong learning course from Randall Exon [the artist/professor featured in the Q&A] and always enjoy hearing more about him.

But I especially enjoyed “The Great History Hoax of 1959.” It reminds me of the many tall tales from Swarthmore lore. One that I witnessed happened as a result of the confluence of the Folk Festival and the College’s centennial celebration on the same weekend in 1964. That Friday morning, a large flag appeared atop the flagpole. Actually, it was a bed sheet emblazoned with the words “FOLK THE CENTENNIAL.”

When the buildings and grounds people tried to lower the flag, they found it had not been run up the halyard but had been tied in place. It could not be lowered. Steeplejacks were called in to try to remove the offending banner to no avail. They refused to climb the flagpole because it was too old. Finally, the College staff tried running a tree pruner up the halyard. A growing crowd of students gathered to watch the fun. Finally, the flag and the flagpole parted company. The banner fluttered down and was caught in midair by a student. It was last seen fluttering like Superman’s cape as the student made his escape across Parrish lawn.

Bill Belanger ’66
Media, Pa.

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