In the days preceding last Saturday's Ivy League showdown with Princeton, it was quite clear that Yale football had found a more subdued, though by no means obscure, position on the campus. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday most people were thinking about two things: the presidential election and the mid-term hour exams. You would have searched the campus in vain for a football player with a Y on his chest or a sign that exhorted the team to BEAT PRINCE-TON. Whatever attention could be spared for the coming game was devoted largely to getting a pretty girl organized for the weekend.
This, of course, was not the case out on the practice field during the two hours in the late afternoons when the Yale team was getting ready. Quietly, almost patiently, the Yale squad in its freshly laundered practice uniforms labored through the infinitely painstaking preparation that modern football requires for each new game. Over here, the interior linemen were learning the new assignments they would have against Princeton's unbalanced line. Over there, the backs polished the timing on their old plays and worked up a few new ones, particularly off the L formation that Olivar used a few weeks earlier on Dartmouth. The ends drilled on pass patterns. Every 20 minutes or so a horn blew, and the players switched to the next assignment on the mimeographed practice schedule for the day.
There was none of the loud, forced pep favored by many coaches on the theory that the boredom of practice can lead to indifference. "We just don't have time for it," Olivar said. "And besides, I don't think you can build up a lot of enthusiasm before a game unless it is there naturally. If it's there, what's the point in flaunting it? Also, you run the danger of building your team to a peak before the game arrives."
Riding back to the campus after practice, Captain Pyle said he had no worries about the team's desire. "We want this one very badly. We still have to get even for the last time we played Princeton in the Bowl two years ago. Those 50 points they ran up against us still hurt." Halfback Kenny Wolfe agreed. "All I saw were a lot of Princeton uniforms going by," he recalled. "It ought to be different this time."
By Friday the Yale campus, a russet-brown spread of grim Gothic architecture, began to acquire the feel of a football weekend. Tweedy young ladies were arriving in droves. The standard campus uniform of baggy cotton trousers and loafers or dirty white bucks was giving way to gray slacks and tweed jackets, blazers and shoes and even neckties. The sound of singing groups drifted out across the Old Campus. Someone hung a piece of white muslin out of a Branford College window and on it were the letters: HATE PRINCETON. Visitors, looking not unlike the Yale men, were wearing orange-and-black buttons that said: BEAT YALE.
It was already dark by the time the team got back from practice on Friday evening. Coach Olivar summoned the players into a room at Ray Tompkins House for a last run-through of the movies of last year's Princeton game. He pointed out some egregious errors for the umpteenth time. "Start popping them with your shoulder when they give you the five-finger clutch," he told the ends. Pop them, and they'll stop pestering you. It's perfectly legal."
After the team's Friday night supper there was a short pep rally on the green just outside Berkeley College. The band and the cheerleaders whooped it up, and perhaps a thousand students and their dates sang and yelled and applauded as some of the senior members of the team were introduced. Captain Pyle told the gathering, "Stick with us and we'll do our best."
It was a cold night with the temperature down in the low 40s, so most people stayed inside. Through the windows of the lighted rooms you could see the cocktail parties in full progress, preceding the various fraternity and college dances. Over in the Davenport College common room a small group was giving a reading of Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood prior to a banjo concert. The tables down at Mory's were filling up.
Next morning, a cloudless blue sky lay over New England and the temperature rose into the 50s. On the lawn of Pierson College the Haunt Club was staging one of its pregame gin-and-juice parties with bagpipers in full regalia for background music. But otherwise the campus was strangely quiet, the fraternities and colleges nearly empty. Most people were out on the playing fields around the Bowl several miles west of the campus, watching the Rugby, soccer and freshmen football games with Princeton and starting their tailgate cocktail parties and picnics. As far as you could see, there was row on row of cars and in amongst them a countless thousand pregame parties—old grads, undergrads, nongrads. For Yale it was the big party of the year.
The Bowl was nearly full by kick-off. Fifteen minutes and 31 seconds of playing time later, when Singleton rolled out to his left for Yale's first touchdown, most of the 62,528 people who bought tickets had found their way to their seats. It was a crowd that reminded you of the days of Albie Booth. As the first score went up, three-quarters of the mob became slightly hysterical with joy. There is nothing like a touchdown to wipe away the Ivy League reserve, and that afternoon there were to be six of them by Yale and three by Princeton. Dink Stover and Frank Merriwell never heard more noise. Nor did Albie Booth nor Larry Kelly nor Clint Frank.