A "dyke" was a nighttime noisy disruption, similar to a calathump in volume but targeted in a spirit of boisterous good humor at those students who were "addicted to calico," or "going to see the girls."
A "dyke", named either for the artist Van Dyke or from the Greek work δειχνυμι (deiknumi, "to point out"), generally consisted of a large, rowdy crowd taking the "victim," typically a student going to visit young ladies in town, to the Rotunda porch, where he is asked to make a speech. The students will not allow the victim to speak, if he attempts, but drowns out anything he says with applause. Once they have had enough fun, they escort him to his destination unharmed.
Charles W. Coleman, Jr., as reported by Patton, described being on the receiving end of a "dyke":
Suddenly the still crisp atmosphere was pierced with a hideous cry. Dyke! From the deep shadows beneath the arches, out of the alleys, and, in short, from every conceivable direction surged a crowd of students shouting like mad, blowing tin horns and waving torches above their heads. A cold chill traversed my backbone with lightning rapidity, and my first impulse was to step back into my room, the door of which I had not yet closed, but Will and Walter held me firmly by the arm. Will chuckled softly. In an instant the cause of his heretofore unaccountable behavior flashed upon me. With a nervous grin and a ghastly effort at pleasantry I turned my face towards him and said "Et tu, Brute!" He laughed and clutched my arm more securely than ever. By this time was collected before my door a screaming hallooing laughing mob, more hideous to a collegian in a swallow tail coat than the Reign of Terror was to the royal family of France. There was nothing left for me to do but literally grin and endure it. Closely pinioned, a half dozen torch bearers circling around me, the rest of the crowd gathered behind me, I was borne off along the centre of the lawn at a brisk trot. The torch bearers went before, the players on instruments followed after; in the midst were the dykers playing with coal scuttles. And oh! those horns. The very bull of Bashan would have fled ignominiously before them. On we went, our ranks swelling every moment. I was marched to the Rotunda steps; six torch bearers took their places in a line on either side of me; a double line of torch bearers formed from the porch to the foot of the steps. The muscles about my mouth were attacked with a twitching that was exceedingly unpleasant, not to say embarrassing. The order was given for silence and the removal of hats, and Walter, in a stentorian voice. announced me as the orator of the evening.
References[edit | edit source]
- Patton, John Shelton; Doswell, Sallie J. (1900). The University of Virginia: Glimpses of its Past and Present. p. 68. http://books.google.com/books?id=O3Q9AAAAYAAJ&lpg=PA67&ots=jT53SRtz_a&dq=calathump&pg=PA68#v=onepage&q=calathump&f=false.
- "Social Life at the University of Virginia". Lippincott's Monthly Magazine: A Popular Journal of General Literature 40: 100-102. July 1887. http://books.google.com/books?id=07MRAAAAYAAJ&lpg=PA101&ots=_1tqH6qdht&dq=%22dyke%22%20%22university%20of%20virginia%22%20horn&pg=PA101#v=onepage&q=%22dyke%22%20%22university%20of%20virginia%22%20horn&f=false.