Next month, January 2018, marks the fiftieth anniversary of the historic battle between the nationally renowned Yorguls, of which I am one of the proud founding members, and our arch rivals, the Fever House, in our battle for dominance in the Winter Carnival Games held annually on the campus of the University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse.
The Yorguls were still reeling from the devastating news that their candidates for the Winter Carnival King and Queen were recently disqualified from the competition despite their enormous lead in student votes over all the other contenders.
What happened was really unprecedented in so many ways. During the introduction of all the Winter Carnival King and Queen candidates at mid-court, during the halftime of a home basketball game, the Yorguls candidate for king, Mr. Neal St. Bernard urinated at the center jump circle and their queen candidate, Hannah St Bernard, attempted to bite the nose of another contestant when she bent over to pat Hannah’s head. Everyone knows you just don’t put your face in another dog’s face. It just isn’t a smart thing to do; and poor Neal, he was just a puppy and got too excited and was unable to contain himself.
But we weren’t going to let that injustice keep us down. All week long the lead changed hands for the all-school trophy between the two campus rivals. The Fever House won best ice sculpture and the Yorguls responded by winning the tug of war competition and it was now down to the last event, the human pyramid where twelve people knelt on top of each other to form a pyramid.
The Fever House did it in a record time of fifteen seconds. It surely did not look good for the Yorguls.
Before the Yorguls started we huddled up and decided this was going to require some of our well-known trickery. It would take some ‘Shape-shifting,” if you will, to beat the time set by the Fever House.
We walked to the center of the field and it seemed like the entire student body was standing around for the final moment of the week-long competition. Nobody thought the Yorguls could pull it off. Fifteen seconds beat by five seconds the next best time recorded by the Kappa Lambdas earlier in the day.
The whistle blew and the Yorguls went to work, shape-shifting in front of the entire student body and the Winter Carnival committee, forming our pyramid in an unprecedented five seconds.
The crowd went wild and some of the Yorguls were unable to contain themselves as they ran around pumping their fists in the air yelling, “We are number one.”
But wait a minute. Hold onto your sombreros folks. The Fever House filed a grievance putting the final outcome in question. They said the way we formed our pyramid was illegal, to which we adamantly disagreed. They said you had to form the pyramid with all members kneeling but nowhere in the Winter Carnival Rules was this stated, so we just laid down, one on top of another, forming a perfect, if not flat, pyramid. By all accounts, we won, or so we thought.
After debating the issue, the rules committee came down against the mighty Yorguls for the second time in one week – overturning what was truly two events that we won and giving the Winter Carnival Trophy to the incontestably inferior Fever House. The members of the Yorguls were able to put this disappointment behind them and all became model citizens of this great country of ours. And whatever became of Neal and Hannah, our St. Bernard Winter Carnival King and Queen Candidates? Well, I can’t say they had “pups” together, but they both lived out their lives in separate happy home environments. When a group of us Yorguls ended up getting drafted into Uncle Sam’s army, we had to find a new home for Neal the friendly Saint Bernard and he ended up living out his life at a friend’s farm in Grafton, Wisconsin. Hannah stayed in LaCrosse with the Yorgul’s neighbors who originally owned her.
(The newspaper article is from the Spooner Wisconsin newspaper and was written after we had entered the army. It isn’t entirely accurate, just like many of the stories told about the remarkable and distinguished Neal St. Bernard.)