A leap back in time: How life on the Bluff has changed since 1957

Courtesy of Gumberg Archives The old issues of the newspaper were filled with many advertisements, some of which are less relevant to Duquesne students today.

By Jamie Crow | Staff Writer 


Mid-November 1957 was a very busy time on the Bluff. Veterans Day events, Greek life rushes and Homecoming festivities filled the Thanksgiving month with an air of excitement. There was also a meeting held with an anti-Communist group, as well as plenty of Marlboro advertisements to embody the nifty-fifties.

Courtesy of Gumberg Archives
The old issues of the newspaper were filled with many advertisements, some of which are less relevant to Duquesne students today.

All Duquesne students were invited to attend the annual All-American Conference of National Organizations to Combat Communism over a two day period from Nov. 15-16. The conference was held so that students and their fellow Americans would know the ways to combat and learn the methods of communism in countries like Italy and England and at home in the United States, as well. A focus was given to spirit and pride in facing communism, and banding together was seen as important. The ‘50s were a rampant time for communist efforts, with the Red Scare taking up much of the decade. Seeing that Duquesne played an active role in fighting against the communist efforts only emphasizes communism’s effect on the country at the time.

The members of the Gamma Phi fraternity planted a sugar maple tree in honor of Veterans Day, memorializing their brothers who gave their lives to fight for the country. The tree was planted across from the campus bookstore, with an inscription stating that the tree was to memorialize the fallen brothers of the Gamma Phi fraternity.

Courtesy of Gumberg Archives
The 1950’s saw a boom in consumer culture, as manufacturing was no longer reserved for WWII-related goods. Innovative cars were a product of this.

Here at Duquesne, Greek Life still remains a large part of the social scene. During this time in 1957, the fall recruitment events were coming to a close, but not without a little fun first. Members of various sororities were required to go through some ridiculous hoops in order to be initiated at the end of recruitment. The Alpha Phi Omicron recruits had been forced to wear beanies and knee socks for the whole week, while the Sigma Phi Delta pledges were carrying decorated pizza pans and wearing exposed blue and white garters for the week. At the end of the week, the pledges became sisters during their informal initiations, also known as “hell night.” Recruitment ended much in the way it does today, with the formal initiations rounding out the rush events.

Homecoming happened a little later than it does for current students, with the festivities happening in December rather than October. Homecoming was recently instated at Duquesne when this issue of The Duke was published, and the 1957 homecoming promised to be the best one yet. The festivities included a parade with floats, a dance following the game, decoration of the dorms, a pep rally and a slogan-banner contest held between the dorms. All of the events were coordinated by SGA, and the crowning of a homecoming queen was announced for the year, as well.

“If all goes well as planned, and the organizations and students cooperate, this year’s homecoming will be hard to beat,” The Duke wrote.

Here’s to hoping that the festivities were truly one for the books.

By now we all know that advertisements for cigarettes are a bit of a taboo, especially for college campuses. That wasn’t the case, though, in this issue, where the Marlboro Man took up most of page three. The Marlboro Man, cigarette in hand and sporting a suspicious hand tattoo, stares directly into the faces of readers with the caption, “A lot of man . . . a lot of cigarette” under his photo. On page eight, yet another cigarette advertisement took up part of the page, this one for the Lucky Strike brand. Their slogan, “Light up a light smoke — light up a lucky!” boasted its message across the bottom of the page. It was up to the readers of The Duke to decide their favorite brand of cigarette to enjoy between classes.