trou (1970)---minor correction

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at UMR.EDU
Tue Dec 26 18:06:20 UTC 2006

A minor point: The meetings I mentioned below were not just for the freshmen; they were for anyone in the student body who wished to attend. I was a sophomore, and I know that my two roomates that year--both seniors--also attended the first meeting.
Gerald Cohen


From: American Dialect Society on behalf of Cohen, Gerald Leonard
Sent: Tue 12/26/2006 9:42 AM
Subject: Re: trou (1970)

    I can say with certainty that the phrase was used already at Dartmouth College no later than the spring of 1960.  I was in my sophomore year (1959-1960), when a bizarre incident occurred involving two or possibly three Dartmouth students: They had traveled to another college (it was probably a women's college) and dropped their trousers in front of a women's dormitory.  I'm not sure what the purpose of this exercise was, but it got them into trouble with both the local police and the Dartmouth administration.

    Perhaps several months before this incident there had been another incident (I forget just what it was), and the very popular dean (IIRC, his name was Thaddeus Seymour) called a meeting of the entire freshman class to provide us some fatherly and administrative advice as to what was appropriate behavior and what could happen administratively if we violated those sage rules.  His talk to us was a highlight of the year.

    Now, with the trousers-dropping incident having occurred, another meeting was called.  I'm not sure who called it, but the person who addressed us was one of the student leaders, and this meeting was but a pale imitation of the boffo performance put on earlier by the dean.  In any case, I clearly recall the student leader starting off the meeting by saying what everyone already knew, viz, that several Dartmouth students had gone to such-and-such college and "dropped trou."  He absolutely, positively used that expression.  This could have been the fall of 1959, but more likely it was the spring of 1960.

Gerald Cohen

The American Dialect Society -

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