At the U.S. Naval Academy, this is the week of pep rallies, elaborate papiermache sculptures, serenading the superintendent with fight songs, transporting seemingly immovable objects with the irresistible force of bare hands, and the incessant expression of a simple message: "Go Navy. Beat Army."
That is the battle cry across the campus. As the members of the Brigade of Midshipmen approach a feast of turkey, they know Thanksgiving week is not complete until the Corps of Cadets, their Army counterparts at West Point, N.Y., are made to eat a banquet of crow.
"Go Navy. Beat Army." The phrase reverberates through dormitory corridors and dining halls, by loud word of mouth and placard. It is printed with shaving across the windows of Michelson and Chauvenet Halls, the modernistic science and math classroom buildings that border Tecumseh Court. It is on the lips of everyone from the supperintendent to the lowliest Plebe.
In the rotunda of bancroft Hall,the massive residential and boarding center for the Academy's 4,300 Midshipmen (it has five miles of corridors), huge banners and ingenious projects produced by each of 36 150 person companies are on display.
All celebrate Navy's stubborness on the playing field, as characterized by its goat mascot. The symbolic object of derison is Army's mule mascot, which all Navy men are convinced is really an ass.
Even though many Mids refer to their school with bemused affection as "the uncollege", it remains one of the great bastions of "old college spirit" in its pristine form. As at West Point, this is the week when it is most in evidence here.
Some of the hoopla is sophomoric, but most is good, clean, often clever fun. It builds to a crescendo when the Brigade and the Corps march into Philadelphia's John F. Kenndy Stadium at 2 p.m. Saturday for traditional ceremonies that help keep the Army-Navy football game one of the most stiring spectacles in collegiate sports.
The most outrageous prank of yesteryear (Navy's planting of the Cadets' section of the stadium with aromatic limburger cheese, for example, or Army's announcing its kidnaping of the goat with fullpage ads in The Washington Post and New York Times exclaimingd,"Hey Navy! Do yopknow where your 'kid' is today? The Corps does.") have for the most part lost favor.
By agreements of the leaders of the academies attempts to kidnap each other's mascot during the week before the game were outlawed. However, a plot by midshipmen to capture the mule was foiled in mid-October.
For that rid, a group of Mids chartered a plane and flew to Wesrt Point, where they had quietly arranged with a farmer to rent a horse trailer. They got as far as the precious mule's barn, but they tripped an alarm and were apprehended as they sneaked past a pile of hay at their wouldbe victim's stall. Call the illfated caper "Foddergate".
"I think there has been a conscious attempt by both schools to amke the Army-Navy week festivities nondestructive," Midshipman Art Athens, Brigade Commander, said today as Mid lunched on chili dogs, perhaps intended to inspire a performance worthy of topranked Texas.
"You still get the painting of buildings, but people are smart enough to use water soluble paint. We may send a plane over West Point dropping 'Beat Army' leaftlets, and there will be sheet posters and pep raillies every night".
The information usually disseminated at "chow call", before noontime formation uniform, menu of the meal, names of officers on watch, and so forth, as well as what Mids call 'The Days,' the number of days left to the ArmyNavy game has been simplified this week.
"All the guys say are what the uniform is and 'Beat Army,'" reported Deputy Brigade Commander John Aclin. "Nobody wants to know the rest of the stuff." Everyone knew today was "Hat Day" When Mids were excused from wearing their regular caps and encouraged to substitute any headgear of their choosing. Even a Catholic chaplin, Cmdr. Charles Murray, traded his dress cap for a Tartan plain tam o'shanter complete with pom pom.
The variety ewas astounding. There were more or less conventional hats, golf and ski caps, straw boaters, fedoras, 10 gallon stetsons, Russian babushkas, bowlers, beanies, berets, top hats, Sherlock Holmesstyle forenafts, cycling and baseball caps, Mickey Mouse ears, and at least one Indian Headdress.
The hats of every trade imaginable were trotted out, from the white stovepipe of a french chef to firemen's helmets and construction workers' hard hats, all ornamented with store bought buttons or handlettered slogans: "Go Navy. Beat Army."
Tuesday is "T-shirt day", when Mids will don "Beat Army" jerseys with a "Star Wars" theme depicting like Skywalker as a victorious Mild Lording a sword over Darth Vader, rendered as a vanquished Cadet. The design was the result of a contest among the Academy's Companies, and 4,800 were sold in three days.
Before lunch in the cavernous, T-shaped Bancroft Hall Wardroom, Midsclanked silverware against dishes chanted slogans and sang fight songs. Later the cheers were orchestrated, resonating with a kind of encho effect. One group would pound on the table and shout "Go Navy," signaling their fists rhythmically and respond, "Beat Army."
Even the top brass gets involved in the show of esprit de corps or rather, esprit de brigade.
Adm. Isacc KIdd, commander in chief of the Atlantic Forces, was here today to present medals at a lunchtime ceremony. Afterward he said:"I want to leave you with just one thought. When I was privileged to play football for Navy (1939 41), we were able to beat Army three straight years." He paused for effect then added, decisively "I expect nothing less this weekend."
"This is pretty calm today," Athens said. "It increases exponentially. Tuesday is the Big day because the first and second (senior and junior) classes start Thanksgiving leave after classes Wednesday."
The official pep rallyafter several days of impromptu ones is 7:15 Tuesday night. A massive bonfire follows. The ninghtly makeshift rallies have been highlighted by the moving of various heavy objects, including the airplane (an A4 "Skyhawk") that normally rests in front of Hasley Field House. Some 80 Mids carry it halfmile between there and the place of honor in Tecumseh Court, facing Bancroft Hall, that it customarily occupies before big games. Nearby, the famous statute of the Indian Tecumseh originally the wooden figuredhead of the U.S.S. Delaware, which was brought has gotten a fresh coat of warpaint to show readiness for battle.
The rallies usually include Rear Adms. Kinnaird R. McKee and James A. Winnefeld, the suprindent and Commandant of the Academy. "We go their houses, stand under the windows and lead cheers until they comeout and join us," Aclin said. "Officially, the only time we can go 'overthe wall' into town and have a rally is when the admiral leads us."
McKee used to complain he was invariably carried by a tall Mid on one side him an uncomfortably cockeyed ride. This year that has been corrected. "We take along a laundry cart on wheels," Aclin said, "and he rides in that."
Each company submitted projects, built primaruly with plebe (freshman) labor, ranging from banners to intricate scenec involving sophisticated sculpture and electronics. The best will be taken to Philadelphia.
One of the favourites is a papiermache mule hung in effigy on a gallows labeled, "Hang It Up, Army." Another is a model Polaris submarine with blinking lights and missile silos that reveal the scores of Navy's victories the last four years. A "Star Wars" scene has a Navy spaceship, commanded by a goat, shooting an Army satellite complete with flashing lights, music and sound effects. All the projects bear appropriate slogans, but one sums up the theme best. It says, with simple eloquence, "Kick Mule."