WKU Library faculty, staff, and students celebrated Halloween with the annual potluck party and costume competition. The winners of the costume competition are:
Most Traditional – Jennifer Wilson – Minnie Mouse
Best Face Painting – Allison Sircy – broken strings marionette
Most Creative – Bryan Carson – Pimp
Most Original – Glenda White – One Night Stand
Best Cartoon Character – Crystal Bowling – Captain America
Best Book Character – Lesley Montgomery – Mary Poppins
Best Store Bought Costume – Laura Bohuski – Renaissance Lady
Mammoth Cave was and continues to be one of the outstanding scenic attractions in America. It was Kentucky’s first tourist attraction and visitors have been coming since 1816. Many guests stayed in rustic cabins or at the Mammoth Cave Hotel, which was at one time, considered a fine hotel. It was destroyed by fire on December 9, 1916. A newspaper article from the Louisville Times reported: “Mammoth Cave Hotel Destroyed By Fire, Historic Structure Caught Fire From an Unknown Source Early Saturday Morning. The original Mammoth Cave Hotel, a part of which was built in 1811, was entirely destroyed by fire, of unknown origin, which started at three o’clock this morning, consuming the hotel in two hours. All the registers of the hotel and cave, which contained perhaps the greatest collection in existence of the autograph signatures of famous men and women of this country and other parts of the world, were destroyed. The registers of the Mammoth Cave and the Mammoth Cave Hotel, which in part were more than a century old, contained the names of such famous personages as the late King Edward of England, Jenny Lind, Edwin Booth, the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia, and Don Pedro of Brazil.”
The Hotel and cabins were also the background for many photographs. James Davis Rodes is shown posed on the infamous and also well photographed donkey. In our photographic collections, a donkey shows up many times with many different people. James was the son of Judge John Barret Rodes and Elizabeth Hines Rodes. Sadly, he died at an early age in 1914. (Note that some of the Mammoth Cave Hotel registers were not destroyed and are in the Manuscripts Division of the Department of Special Collections.)
To access finding aids for these Mammoth Cave collections, a part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives holdings of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about photographic holdings.
Elizabeth Woods’s Equator crossing certificate
The custom of holding strange initiation rituals to commemorate a seaman’s first crossing of the Equator dates back several centuries. WKU graduate Jean E. Keith, later a historian for the Corps of Engineers, wrote of his experience in October 1943 to his French teacher Marjorie Clagett. “My head is completely innocent of hair. . . by reason of having crossed the Equator,” he reported, part of a “quaint custom among us sailors to mutilate each new one who does so.” For two days, he and other newbies–“Pollywogs”–suffered at the hands of the “Shellbacks,” veterans of the crossing whose job it was to oversee the appropriate torments for their successors. Highlights of the initiation included crawling through a gauntlet of fire hoses shooting salt water, bobbing for hotdogs in a bucket of mustard, and enduring a patch of tar smeared on the scalp and “rubbed in good” down to the neck. After another dousing by fire hoses, the “Royal Court of King Neptune” officially elevated the Pollywogs to the status of Shellbacks.
Equator-crossing ceremonies are also observed among civilians. During a cruise to South America, WKU foreign languages teacher Elizabeth Woods received a certificate from “Neptune, the Great God of all the High Seas,” declaring her “duly initiated into the mysteries of Our Realm.” Referring to the customary mock trial before Neptune’s court, she noted that afterward the condemned “is flung unceremoniously into the swimming pool.” One hopes the 73-year-old Miss Woods merely witnessed and did not suffer this indignity.
After crossing the Equator and the International Date Line on a single trip, Lt. Col. Belmont Forsythe obtained a unique souvenir: a “Short Snorter,” a $1 bill signed by fellow travelers including, in this case, U.S. Senator and Kentucky Governor Albert “Happy” Chandler. The holders subsequently identified themselves to each other by producing their Short Snorters; if one was unable to do so, he owed the other either a $1 bill or a drink.
Belmont Forsythe’s Short Snorter
Click on the links to access finding aids for these collections, part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives holdings of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections. For more of our collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.