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Symbolic Marietta

The Symbolic Marietta

Sitting atop Erwin Hall like a crest on a bird, the great clock tower has become a symbol for Marietta College since the building’s construction in 1850.

Though none are as old or as timeless as Erwin’s tower, there have been many unofficial diplomats of Marietta College throughout the past 175 years—from "The Rock" in front of McDonough to the various literary publications of students and faculty.

Just before the turn of the 20th century, the green space fronting Fourth Street became the resting place for a Civil War cannon believed to have been used in the fighting at Buffington Island during the time of Morgan’s Raid. "The historic fieldpiece did not remain where the class of 1898 placed it," wrote the late Marietta College historian Arthur Beach in his book, "A Pioneer College." "After figuring in many student pranks, it was buried on the college campus. A few years ago its location was discovered and it was dug up and had an honored place in a Home-Coming Day procession. It then disappeared again and is now reputed to be in the possession of one of the fraternities."

The late Vernon "Dan" McGrew ’49 added another possible explanation for the cannon’s sudden 1942 disappearance in his book, "In the various branches of useful knowledge." "Some say it ended its days in a World War II scrap-metal drive."

Ceremonies such as Matriculation and Commencement are time-honored traditions in which both students and faculty formally celebrate incoming freshmen and the successes of the departing senior class, respectively. Though not formal, but equally as memorable for many students on campus are the late-night paintings of "The Rock."

The mass of concrete came to the College in 1999 via a forklift hauling it from the banks of the Muskingum River. Then Dean of the McDonough Center for Business and Leadership, Dr. Steve Schwartz challenged students to find something in the community that could be brought back to campus for students to paint or decorate. Leadership students Andrea Nay ’99 and Megan Staley ’99 came across the hunk of concrete near the Harmar footbridge and the College arranged for its transport. Since then, students have transformed the once-bridge pier into a message board and expressive outlet for enthusiasm and activism, as it was Dr. Schwartz’s original intention.

Another notable symbol on campus for many decades has kept many students watching their step. The cast of the College’s official seal, which once was set in the steps fronting Dawes Memorial Library and is now at the entrance of Legacy Library, has sort of a reputation. Some believe that treading on the seal will add an extra year to your education at Marietta College.

Student- and faculty-produced literary works have been popular outlets on campus since the first edition of The Student Oracle was created in 1845. It was the first attempt at a student newspaper and, unfortunately, no copies of this short-lived paper have ever surfaced. Less than a decade later, The Marietta Collegiate Magazine debuted as the College’s first literary magazine, with the first editors including Charles R. Dawes, Henry M. Dawes, Charles D. Mansfield, Alfred T. Goshorn and John F. Follett. This subscription magazine, which first hit the press in 1854, was nicknamed "Maggie" and survived through 27 editions.

In 1859, The College Censor, Marietta’s first humorous magazine, was produced by students. One of the advertisements listed the College’s sale: "Marietta College for Sale. Having become insolvent, this antique College, rats and mice included (the common appellation of the Academy students), will be sold to the highest bidder on the 32nd day of March at the door of the Court House. This fine institution is situated immediately south of the President’s cow lot." The retort publication, The MacDuff was created the same year as a way for students and faculty who were targeted by Censor to strike back at its editors. It was hardly a volleyball match between the papers as MacDuff ceased to exist after one press run.

The Marietta Collegiate Quarterly was first published in 1865-66 and survived four editions before folding. The next publication, which debuted in November 1872 as Marietta Olio but changed to The College Olio a year later, was a joint effort between the literary societies of Alpha Kappa and Psi Gamma. At first it was a literary magazine but in 1914, under the leadership of newspaper giant and then-President George Hinman, it became a biweekly newspaper. Dan McGrew explained in his history of the College, "After being renamed The Record for only 1917-18, the name was again changed to The Blue and White in 1919. The new issuance resembled a newspaper more than any predecessor…By 1930 the two forms were combined into a weekly (occasionally) newspaper called the Olio (The Blue and White name for the paper disappeared forever), with occasional but diminishing use of ’literary’ material." This publication waned during World War II but found new life on Oct. 13, 1945 when it reemerged as The Marcolian, which is still in production.

In 1878, the Class of 1880 published the first yearbook, which they named The Mariettian. At a cost of 35 cents per copy, the first editors wrote in the premiere installment, "We have designed that it shall occupy a sphere entirely separate from the Olio catalogue, or any other publication of the College, that it shall be to the fraternities, literary societies, rowing association, what the catalogue is to the College. We hope it will recall college life at Marietta when we have ceased to have chapel for dessert at breakfast," The Mariettian was renamed The Mariettana in 1890 and remains today as an annual publication.

First making its debut in 1914, The Orphan was a humorous literary magazine that went dormant until the early 1930s. Dan McGrew wrote about the publication, which cost 15 cents per copy. "Short jokes were still a staple, but there was more—satire of campus figures and foibles, imaginary dialogue placed in the most unlikely mouths, lampoons of faculty and prominent students, occasional cartoons with homegrown punch lines. There is a feeling that the staff worked hard to convey originality to recast old jokes to the local stage." Its last laugh came in 1933.

The Criterion was a literary magazine that debuted in 1937 but took a break during World War II. When it reemerged at Marietta in 1945, it came with the new name, The Broadhorn. Then it was changed to Pulse in 1954—a name that stuck, with the exception of the one year it was called Marpio. One interesting fact about Pulse, which its editors referred to as a literary magazine rather than a humorous one, was that President Bay Irvine ordered a 1954 issue of the publication confiscated and destroyed because he and many others considered its content to be in bad taste.

Beyond the visible and tangible reminders of Marietta College, the annual performance of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah strikes a cord in the hearts of all who have heard the chorus of 60 to 100 perform during the holiday season. This tradition dates back to 1926 when the newly hired Assistant Professor of Music Gerald Hamilton, who Dan McGrew described as a "human bumblebee," took to the task of organizing the Marietta community to perform the Christmas portion of the oratorio.

GI SMITH