Sunday, November 19, 2006

Scenes from Old Nassau: Bonfire! 

For the first time in twelve years, Princeton's varsity football team beat Harvard and Yale, which to many alumni is more important than winning the Ivy League championship (which it also accomplished Saturday afternoon against Dartmouth). On the rare occasions we win the H-Y-P "championship," we burn a bonfire on Cannon Green in back of Nassau Hall. Back in the day -- meaning the 1950s and earlier -- the undergraduates would "requisition" an outhouse from one of the local farms and put it on the top of the pyre. Today they construct a facsimile of an outhouse.

The band led to the torches to the fire, and Princeton's usually subdued president Shirley Tilghman gave a rousing address in which she cheered the "total domination" of Princeton's football team (gratifying to hear, even if Cornell alumni might beg to differ). Apparently the crowd burned John Harvard and Handsome Dan in effigy, but we didn't see them from our vantage point at the Nassau Hall side of the pyre.

The photograph above is courtesy of The Daily Princetonian. For better or for worse, I took the photographs below. They appear in chronological order. As usual, click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Your blogger, in front of the inchoate bonfire

The football team on the steps of Clio

The first flames lick the outhouse

The TigerHawk family enjoys the blaze

Flames lick the outhouse

The flames light the back of Nassau Hall

Whig in the glow

And a bonus shot from Princeton's victory over Dartmouth on Saturday afternoon...

Even Ivy League football players kneel in prayer after a great game.


By Blogger sammy small, at Sun Nov 19, 04:42:00 PM:

Nice to be able to celebrate with a bonfire. Now here's a real bonfire.


By Blogger SR, at Sun Nov 19, 07:35:00 PM:

All that CO2 and soot. Shirley T. must have been having a cow. All that and a prayer too? Holy Tigers!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Nov 19, 10:17:00 PM:

While we all understand the tendency of Princetonians (or whatever one calls someone who goes or went to Princeton) toward that delusional, I believe Princeton only shared the Ivy title with Yale. Your post suggests Princeton won the title outright, but that is not the case.  

By Blogger geoffrobinson, at Sun Nov 19, 11:15:00 PM:

I would just go to Triumph to celebrate if I were in Princeton. But burning stuff seems cool too.  

By Blogger Christopher Chambers, at Mon Nov 20, 01:05:00 AM:

"Burning stuff seems cool, too." I love it!!!

Actually I was giving out a Princeton book prize at one of the harsher city high schools in DC last week and the Yalie there was telling me we wouldn't beat Dartmouth. Huh? Anyway, he was pretty cool. We both had a wonderful time ragging on the freshly scrubbed young Southern yuppie from Washington & Lee, who had a first name like Riley or something typically patrician and Virginian. What was the W & L book prize--a bio of Robert E. Lee! Wonderful! This was Benjamin Banneker High in DC. Hmm...I guess when he journeys to Bashevis Hebrew School to bestow an award on a deserving member of the Class of '07, he'll tote of copy of "Himmler: the Early Years."

But I digress...I'm happy for the Tigers, and I'm wearing my orange and black tie to the coffee shop tomorrow.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Nov 20, 07:57:00 AM:

What is it with the papers calling it a share of the title? Isn't there a tiebreaker and didn't we beat Yale. I realize that this isn't the NFL, but a simple rule like this should be reasonable.

During my era as an undergrad, '63-'67. bonfires were a regular occasion.

CC: Shouldn't we swamp the WaPo with demands to include Ivy league standings for football, basketball, hockey, and baseball in the sports section? There's probably a higher concentration of Ivy-Leaguers in the DC area than anywhere else outside of NYC or Boston.

JLW III '67  

By Anonymous BIRD OF PARIDISE, at Mon Nov 20, 10:42:00 AM:

I,ll bet those bonfire get the enviromentalist wackos upset you know how weird their can get around the idea of fires unless its SUV lot or sawmill on fire otherwise these greenuts oppose fires even if its to keep you warm  

By Blogger ScurvyOaks, at Mon Nov 20, 11:11:00 AM:

Thanks for the post and the pics, Tigerhawk. It was a great season for the Tigers.

ScurvyOaks '84  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Mon Nov 20, 01:49:00 PM:

Scurvy: What club? Did we know each other?  

By Blogger ScurvyOaks, at Mon Nov 20, 02:30:00 PM:

TI, but I joined senior year, so we did not overlap there. You look familiar, but I don't think we knew each other. I was a sports writer (and ultimately sports editor) for the Prince, covering squash, rugby, and, at various times, football, soccer, track, cross country and even hockey.  

By Blogger Fausta, at Mon Nov 20, 03:32:00 PM:

Darn, I missed it!  

By Anonymous BIRD OF PARIDISE, at Mon Nov 20, 09:59:00 PM:

What ever became of that BURNING MAN FESTIVAL that the wackos were always holding there in southern california i mean that was a realy wacky event  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Nov 22, 12:05:00 AM:

Burning Man is still going strong, held every Labor Day weekend. It started in San Francisco, then moved to the Black Rock desert of Nevada, a few hundred miles NE of SF.

TH, thanks for the bonfire pictures! I envy you being there. Ah, Cannon Green engulfed in flames -- what a sweet sight. Tigers rule.

'85 in San Francisco  

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