Life at Calvin College, 1920s – J.Timmerman

     The last year I roomed at the dormitory. …I wanted to be a part of that beehive for one year at least. The Calvin dormitory was a home away from home for about eighty students. Except for their common religious background, they were as piquantly varied in personality, capabilities, and attitudes as any group I have ever been associated with. They were almost all Dutch, but the Dutch are not noted for monotonous unanimity. …There were the ultrapious who seemed already poised in the prestige of the pulpit, and there were the bed-wreckers, the room-dishevelers, and pranksters.

One preseminary student imported little bombs the size of golf balls, and another presem dropped them from the third floor to the first, where they erupted like thunder. All ate the food, but one offered this concluding prayer: “Lord we thank Thee for this food. Some enjoy it, but we do not know who they are.” …Telephone pranksters had fun calling up strangers: one called up a Pole on the west side and told him he had a hundred sheep to take to the market and offered the man a job. Two students went to a naive gentleman and told him they were collecting money for the victims of the moth inundation of Vladivostock.

…Pranks on the campus ranged from amazing ingenuity to the edge of cruelty. Prior to one chapel session, some students planted carefully timed alarm clocks; as the speaker began his address, they went off a few minutes apart from various places in the chapel. The statue of Moses at the door of the chapel was an irresistible target. Sometimes he wore a cap, then scarves and vests; and sometimes a hat and cigar stuck in his mouth. Coats were thrown on him as students hurried into chapel.

Through a Glass Lightly-TimmermanJohn J. Timmerman reflecting on his years at Calvin College in the 1920s, as found in his Through a glass lightly (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), pp.31-32.

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  1. […] where Timmerman describes in detail his own experience of life at Calvin as a student. Today we pick up where we left last time, as he gives us a glimpse of the college as a […]


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