Item 02096: A group of students throw someone in the fountain, circa 1975
Hendrix Traditions: It’s well known around campus that on your birthday you should be prepared to get wet because your friends will probably throw you in the fountain, but did you know that the fountain as we know it today is pretty different than the original? As you can see in this picture, it used to be a whole lot easier to throw(or push) someone in because the fountain was sunken instead of above ground!
On one November evening in 1913, shortly after the Hendrix College football team won a match against Ole Miss, Conway’s Front Street was flooded with 200 Hendrix men celebrating their victory. Shockingly, the men were clad only in their pajamas as they paraded down Front Street, singing and reveling with the citizens of Conway. That year, a tradition was born.
In the years following their “famous victory” over Ole Miss, the men of Hendrix College paraded down Front Street every November in pajamas, providing festive and musical fun for the citizens of Conway. After parading through the streets, the Hendrix men would march back to campus and serenade the women at the Wigwam (pictured above). Over the years, the tradition slowly evolved into a “frosh”, or freshmen, initiation rite (pictured above). Although the college tried to start other traditions to phase out the more “burlesque” tradition, the shirttails parade persisted. After Hendrix College merged with Galloway College and the amount of women on campus increased, the parade eventually gave way to a yearly serenade that stayed on campus.
In 1944, the Hendrix community saw a dramatic change in the nature of Shirttails when the men decided to forego pants to march around campus in “only shirttails, shoes and their underwear” to serenade the women on campus (pictured above). It was joked that the pajama pants had become “a casualty of war.” During this post-war era, the men and women of Hendrix began to sing the Hendrix Alma Mater at the conclusion of Shirttails.
To be continued next Tuesday!
Special thanks to Amanda Moore for collecting and compiling many, many years worth of photos and history related to Shirttails.
Shirttails began as an impromptu parade to celebrate a football victory over Ole Miss and has evolved into a dance competition between freshmen. Despite the changes and controversies, this tradition continues to thrive and provide a unique experience that builds a sense of community for the students of Hendrix.
Item 00763: Male freshmen in Shirttails dress before a Shirttails Serenade, 1960
Item 00766: Male freshmen preparing for the serenade stand in the background, circa 1975
Item 00767: Male freshmen in Shirttails dress stand in rows, circa 1975
Item 00768: Male freshmen in Shirttails dress are singing for female freshmen in a dorm, circa 1995
Moore, Amanda. “A Short History of Shirttail Serenade.” Hendrix College Archives. 5 March 2008.