[Ads-l] Zoom Schwartz... (1966)

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Apr 21 14:29:21 UTC 2020

The Quad-City Times in May 1965 refers to a Lewis Sears from Moline who was attending Williams at the time. He could have brought it back.  I know I brought the game back from Pennsylvania to a much smaller town in Iowa in 1980.
From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Monday, April 20, 2020 11:37:36 PM
Subject: Zoom Schwartz... (1966)

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Subject:      Zoom Schwartz... (1966)

There's a "tag"-style drinking game commonly known as "Zoom Schwartz
Profigliano," though the third word has many variants. Wikipedia has a page
that currently gives anecdotal evidence from the 1970s.


The earliest reference I've found is from the Williams College student
newspaper in 1966, though the game only goes by "Zoom-Schwartz" there.

The Williams Record (Williamstown, Mass.), May 3, 1966, p. 2, col. 1
Today's "dawn patrols," characterized by drinking games and methodical
basement destruction, have little in common with the storied meetings of
the people of the night. They came singly or in pairs, met with a muttered
greeting, drank hard and long and silently, and slouched away at dawn.
"Whales' Tails" and "Zoom-Schwartz" would have been offensive to their
somber dignity.

Interestingly enough, the game is described later in 1966 played by
students at an Iowa high school (though not, presumably, with alcohol
involved). The game isn't explicitly named, but the three key commands are
given, rendered as "zoom," "schwartz," and "perfigliano."

Quad-City Times (Davenport, Iowa), Oct. 23, 1966, p. 14C, col. 5
If you happen to meander past Room 66 at Bettendorf High School and you
hear what sounds like a language course in Swahili, the Growl staff is
probably just putting together another issue of the paper, and playing
their answer to Trivia.
The rules are complicated, but hilarious especially when instructing
newcomers in the fine art of "sweep-zooming."
Four or five seniors and a few juniors assemble in, a circle during break.
A leader turns to "nobody" point blank and says "zoom!" The zoom-ee then
becomes a somebody. The somebody may then sweep-zoom a nobody (one who
hasn't previously been zoomed), or "schwartz' his zoom-er.
If he chooses to sweep-zoom a nobody the game continues; however, if he
decides to schwartz, he may not sweep a schwartz. That is considered a
mistake. (A mistake is shown by painting an elbow at the one who has
committed the blunder -- using one's finger to point is also a mistake).
After the schwartzing move has been executed, the schwartz-ee may either
zoom a nobody, or "perfigliano," the player who has been perfiglianoed has
no other choice but to say zoom to the individual who has perfiglianoed
him. The zoom-ee then sweeps a zoom to anybody and the cycle begins anew.

A 1971 book written by students at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts gives
the name of the game as "Zoom Schwartz Perphigliano" (again, presumably a
non-alcoholic version).

Rory Cowan and Lee Phillips, _A Sigh of Change: The Greening of Deerfield
Academy_ (1971), pp. 74-5
One small group started playing "Zoom Schwartz Perphigliano" and in short
order we had all twenty people sitting on the floor in a large irregular
circle. I overcame my amazement to explain the rules to the group. Almost
everyone had trouble at first with the complexities of the simple game but
eventually most of the guests caught on and were caught up in the spirit
and humor of the whole thing.

By 1973, "Zoom Schwartz Profigliano" was common enough across North America
that it could be used as an in-joke in the student paper at the University
of Victoria in British Columbia and as the name of a singing group in
Milwaukee. And at Stanford, the name of the game could already be used as a

The Martlet (Univ. of Victoria), Mar. 15, 1973, p. 14, col. 5
Way ahead in the voting for Teammate of the Year were Chris Hall for
Basketball, Scott Munro for hockey, Jim "A.P." Wenman for rugby, and Zoom,
Schwartz, and Profigliano for three man beaver shooting.
Green Bay (Wisc.) Press-Gazette, July 19, 1973, p. C11, col. 1
When I saw the ad for Zoom, Schwartz and Profigliano, I thought to myself,
"Any group with a monicker like that must think it's got something special
to offer." Sure enough, Zoom, Schwartz and Profigliano does perform a cut
above the ordinary. Named after a Milwaukee drinking game, the five-member
show group is performing this week at The Victorian House.
Stanford Daily, Sep. 26, 1973, p. 2, col. 3
Finding the drinking age to be 18, the Bandsmen ordered an unending stream
of pitchers and proceeded to Zoom, Schwartz, and Profigliano themselves
into inebriation. (Those last three Albanian words are the name of an
arcane drinking game and Band Puberty Rite.)

There are plenty of examples from later in the '70s, but I'll leave it


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