World War I Memorial Door

On Memorial Day, May 30, 1924, University President Rev. Matthew Walsh dedicated the World War I Memorial at Notre Dame before saying a military field mass in front of it.  The memorial is an addition to the east transept of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart designed by Notre Dame architects Francis Kervick and Vincent Fagan.  The professors also designed Cushing Hall of Engineering, Howard Hall, Lyons Hall, Morrissey Hall, and South Dining Hall.

GNDL 28/29: Basilica of the Sacred Heart – Vincent Fagan artists' rendering of the World War I Memorial Door, c1923.
Vincent Fagan artist’s rendering of the World War I Memorial addition to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, c1923.

The cry for a memorial for Notre Dame’s contributions to the Great War began shortly after armistice in 1919.  The memorial initially was going to have inscribe all 2500 Notre Dame active students, alumni, and faculty members who served.  In that number were two future University Presidents who served as chaplains during WWI – Rev. Matthew Walsh and Rev. Charles O’Donnell.  In the end, the tablets only list the names of the 56 who sacrificed their lives in the war.

GHOP 1/08: Basilica of the Sacred Heart exterior World War I Memorial Door before the installation of the statues of St. Joan of Arc and St. Michael the Archangel, c1930s-1944. The statues were placed in 1944.
Basilica of the Sacred Heart exterior World War I Memorial door before the installation of the statues of St. Joan of Arc and St. Michael the Archangel, c1930s-1944.  The statues were placed in their nitches through the campus statue project in 1944.

The Notre Dame Service Club worked diligently to raise funds for the memorial through dances, Glee Club concerts, and general petitions in Scholastic.  Notre Dame formed a post of Veterans of Foreign Wars in January 1922, which then took up the efforts.  The VFW disbanded in 1923, as there would be few veteran students left on campus to keep the post going.  They had hoped to have the memorial complete by the end of their run, but it would still be another year before it would be finished.

A moulded Gothic arch in deep reveal frames a pair of oak doors with twisting iron hinges. Each door contains a tiny opening with a list of stained glass, one carrying the emblem of the Tudor Rose and the other a Poppy.  (Scholastic, May 1924, pages 232-233)

In January 1923, a special committee of Notre Dame’s VFW post approved Vincent Fagan’s design for the memorial to be a new side-entrance to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the idea favored by University President Walsh (see sketch above).  Scholastic noted that “[t]he design is beautiful and appropriate and will add charm to the campus as well as ‘hold the mind to moments of regret'” (Scholastic, March 24, 1923, page 677).

These [sic] is a splay on the outside of the doors and in the masonry of the arch to carry the names of the soldier dead.  The stone lintel above the door bears the inscription:  “In Glory Everlasting!”  Over the lintel is a carved panel with two strong eagles supporting a shield bearing the university seal and it is surmounted by the Chi and Rho of Christ’s monogram:  The eagles carry in their claws a ribbon which reads “God, Country, Notre Dame.” (Scholastic, May 1924, pages 232-233)
In the splayed sides about waist high are two projecting corbels on each side [the military figures].  Every Memorial Day these corbels will support the altar table for the military Field Mass offered up for the repose of the souls of those whose names are inscribed above.  Flanking the deepness of the door itself two buttresses rise, shaping themselves into niches with tracery toward the cap.  Over half way up they break back, leaving a supporting ledge for a statue of St. Joan of Arc and St. Michael, one on each buttress.  From these ledges there are raised shields bearing the fleur-de-lys and the sword, while high across the facade of the porch from buttress to buttress we read: “Our Gallant Dead.” (Scholastic, May 1924, pages 232-233)
When the memorial was finally dedicated on Memorial Day 1924, it wasn’t quite yet complete.  However, it would be finished in time for Commencement.  At the dedication, President Walsh remarked,

 The real purpose of a memorial, from the Catholic point of view, is to inspire a prayer for those we desire to remember.  It is very proper that this memorial should be a part of the Church of Notre Dame.

No one who knows Notre Dame need be told of the spirit of loyalty and faith that has animated this university from its beginning.  We should imitate our dead in that they have shown us the lesson of patriotism.  If only the people of America would follow their example there would be no discrimination because of race or creed.  When Washington said that religion and morality are the basis of patriotism he gave us the definition to every patriotic move at Notre Dame.

It is to the boys of the World War and to the men of the Civil War that this memorial is dedicated.  Let us ask God that this memorial will not only be beauty in stone, but also a reminder to pray for the men to whom it is dedicated.
(Notre Dame Daily, May 21, 1924, page 1)

Inside the doors is a small stone-lined vestibule leading into the church and lighted by two narrow lancets of leaded antique glass bearing medallions of warrior saints. The Memorial is the result of the faithful efforts of the Notre Dame Veterans of Foreign Wars and the cooperation of the university. Its design and construction have been in the hands of Messrs. Kervick and Fagan of the architectural department, and a new spot of interest is created in the northwest comer of the main quadrangle. (Scholastic, May 1924, pages 232-233)

For many years, the memorial door was the natural place to hold mass on Memorial Day and other military occasions.  With the changes made to altar placement with Vatican II and the academic year ending well before Memorial Day, this tradition has gone by the wayside.  The memorial remains an important corner of campus and the “God, Country, Notre Dame” inscription is often quoted today.

GNDS 5/11: Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart World War I (WWI) Memorial Door, 1925.
GNDS 5/11: Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart World War I (WWI) Memorial Door, 1925.Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart World War I Memorial Door, 1925.
GDIS 29/02: Memorial Day Ceremony held outside of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart's World War I Memorial Door, view from above, 1941/0530.
Memorial Day Ceremony held outside of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart’s World War I Memorial Door, view from above, 1941/0530.
GPUB 06/39: Three ROTC students, one member of each military branch (Navy, Air Force, Army), standing in front of the World War I Memorial Door of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, c1960s-1970s.
Three ROTC students, one member of each military branch (Navy, Air Force, Army), standing in front of the World War I Memorial door of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, c1960s-1970s.


Notre Dame Daily
GNDL 28/29
GHOP 1/08
GNDS 5/11
GDIS 29/02
GPUB 6/39

Main Quad Cannons

On May 22, 1896, the United States Congress approved the Disposition of Condemned Cannon, Etc., which provided the Secretaries of War and of the Navy the authority “to loan, or give to soldiers’ monumental associations, posts of the Grand Army of the Republic, and municipal corporations, condemned ordnance, guns, and cannon balls which may not be needed in the service of either of said Departments” (Annual Reports of the War Department, 1903).  In December 1899, Notre Dame GAR Post 569 filed a petition with the Secretary of War to acquire two cannons for campus.

Commencement flag-raising ceremony on Main Quad with the two Civil War cannons, c1930. Hurley Hall is in the background.
Commencement flag-raising ceremony on Main Quad with the two Civil War cannons, c1930. Hurley Hall is in the background.

With the help of Indiana Representative Abraham Brick, Notre Dame requested a ten-inch Columbiad cannon from Fort Winthrop in Massachusetts and a ten-inch seacoast mortar from Fort Morgan in Alabama.  After about six months of back and forth, the Fort Morgan mortar became unavailable.  It is unclear if the deal fell through because getting the mortar to Notre Dame would be too expensive or if they simply took too long figuring out the logistics.  Consequently, the request was changed to an eight-inch seacoast howitzer from Fort McHenry in Maryland.

Statement of Guns, Howitzers, and Mortars on Hand at the Various Forts. F.H. Wurzer in the House of Representatives sent this list on 04/23/1900 to Brother Paul for him to pick out two cannons for Notre Dame.
Statement of Guns, Howitzers, and Mortars on Hand at the Various Forts. F.H. Wurzer in the House of Representatives sent this list on 04/23/1900 to Brother Paul for him to pick out two cannons for Notre Dame.

General William Olmstead of Notre Dame GAR Post 569 inquired about the history of the gun at Fort Winthrop.  Ordnance Sergeant Joseph R. Neaves responded that he didn’t think it had much of a history – it came to Fort Winthrop in the late 1850s or early 1860s and that it probably was never fired since it wasn’t mounted (UPEL 87/05).

The cannons arrived to Notre Dame sometime before September 22, 1900, when they are first mentioned in Scholastic.  The article recounts how football manager John Eggeman went looking for his billy goat during a storm, and “[a]fter a long search, John discovered the goat trying to eat one of the cannons down near the post-office.  Of course this was a bluff on the part of the goat” [Scholastic, 09/22/1900, page 59].

George T. Hanlon laying on a cannon on Main Quad, c1910s.
George T. Hanlon laying on a cannon on Main Quad, c1910s.

The cannons were located next to the flag pole, which then was just west of Hurley Hall.  While they were a prominent part of the landscape, they didn’t garner much attention in the student publications.  Due to their location, they stood as sentinels during flag-raising ceremonies.  In later years, it became tradition for the graduating head cheerleader to lead one last college yell from atop one of the cannons during the flag-raising ceremony at Commencement.

Commencement - Graduating head cheerleader Al Perrine leads the traditional last yell from atop one of the cannons as the class flag is raised on Main Quad while clergy, faculty, and students are gathered around, 1941/0601.
Commencement – Graduating head cheerleader Al Perrine leads the traditional last yell from atop one of the cannons as the class flag is raised on Main Quad while clergy, faculty, and students are gathered around, 1941/0601.

In 1942, Notre Dame donated the cannons to a scrap drive to support the war effort of World War II, thus returning them back to the United States military and putting them back to work for a new war.

Scholastic issue October 16, 1942, page 11: Articles featuring the Notre Dame donation of the Civil War cannons to the St. Joseph County scrap drive during World War II (WWII); Mr. George McDonald of the United Steel Workers of America speaks to the Law School; and Professor Eugene Kormendi designing a new statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Scholastic issue October 16, 1942, page 11: Article featuring the Notre Dame donation of the Civil War cannons to the St. Joseph County scrap drive during World War II (WWII)


UPEL 79/03
UPEL 87/04-12
GNDL 8/01
GNDS 9/15
GDIS 46/03

Annual Reports of the War Department, 1903 (

Universal Notre Dame Night

Alumni Association president John Neeson inaugurated Universal Notre Dame (UND) Night as a means for alumni to connect with their alma mater without having to travel to campus for Alumni Reunion.  The first UND Night was held on April 24, 1924, and more than forty Alumni Clubs gathered in their respective cities.  As part of the night’s entertainment, the Clubs tuned into a radio broadcast with speeches by University President Rev. Matthew Walsh, President of the Board of Trustees Albert Erskine, and Football Coach Knute Rockne.  Fr. Walsh spoke about “the university’s plan for expansion, the unyielding observance of the traditions, the spirit of the present day student and the alumni influence in retaining that spirit in after years.”  Rockne talked about the importance of athletics and the high standards for student athletes at Notre Dame [Alumnus, May 1924, page 243].

Universal Notre Dame Night Banquet held by the Alumni Club of New York City at the Hotel McAplin, 1932/0418
Universal Notre Dame Night Banquet held by the Alumni Club of New York City at the Hotel McAplin, 1932/0418

UND night was a smashing success and it quickly became a signature event for the Alumni Association.  For many years, the celebrations utilized radio broadcasts to connect anyone within reach of the radio signal to Notre Dame.  Other times the Alumni Association distributed films for the Clubs to watch.  Universal Night was also an opportunity for Alumni Clubs to hold elections, honor members, and connect with fellow alums living in the same geographic area.

Program from the Universal Notre Dame Night, 1928/0423
Program from the Universal Notre Dame Night, 1928/0423

The Alumni Clubs still celebrate Universal Notre Dame Night today, but it is no longer technically “universal” in that the events are not held on the same night.  Alumni Club schedule dates that are convenient for them.  UND celebrations still are a way for alumni to connect with the University as Notre Dame administrator, faculty, and staff are invited as keynote speakers.  UND Night remains an important annual event for Alumni Clubs worldwide.

Universal Notre Dame Night event in Washington Hall, broadcast by WGN radio, 1951
Universal Notre Dame Night event in Washington Hall, broadcast by WGN radio, 1951


PNDP 70-Un-01
GNDL 26/10
GPHR 45/1377

Bookstore Basketball

Bookstore B-Ball Tournament Finals
The Basketball Bible (The King James Brogan Version) lists 3 virtues: faith, hope, and the greatest of these, the charity stripe.  If you like Hoosier Hysteria, you’ll love An Tostal’s Bookstore B-Ball tourney.  It’s a single elimination tourney with the finals being played on Frivolous Friday.  A lot of the all-star players (including Chuck Taylor) are already conversing about what type of shoes to wear. — 1972 An Tostal Program

The Notre Dame Bookstore Basketball Tournament began in the spring of 1972 as part of An Tostal.  Organized by students Vince  Meconi and Fritz Hoefer, the first tournament only drew 53 teams, but it became an instant classic.  Inspired by standard pick-up game rules, the structure of Bookstore Basketball has changed slightly over the years, but the spirit of competition remains true to its core after all these year.

Bookstore Basketball game scenes with fans on the roof of the old South Quad bookstore, c1970s
Bookstore Basketball game scene with fans on the roof of the old South Quad Bookstore, c1970s.  During the 1977 finals, the number of spectators on the roof of the Bookstore caused the roof to cave in.  The finals were then moved to courts behind the Joyce Center to accommodate the crowds with bleachers.  After Rolfs Aquatic Center was built, the finals were move to Stepan Courts in 1984.  The finals are currently played on the courts by the new Bookstore.

Bookstore Basketball is a single-elimination, student-run, outdoor tournament, drawing hundreds of five-person teams.  The games are played to 21 points and early rounds are self-refereed.  In 1983, 512 teams competed and the Guinness Book of World Records deemed it the largest five-on-five outdoor basketball tournament in the world, a title Bookstore Basketball still touts today as the number of teams continues to grow past 700.

The tournament’s name, coined by alumnus Jimmy Brogan, is derived from the courts behind the old South Quad Bookstore, now occupied by the Coleman Morse Center, not from any involvement from the Hammes Bookstore.  The courts were also a parking lot, so they came with particular hazards – from manhole covers to standing water.  With the popularity of Bookstore Basketball, it was only natural that courts accompany the new Hammes Bookstore when it opened in 1998.  To accommodate all of the teams, games play day or night, in all weather – sunshine, pouring rain, or under a blanket of snow.

Observer article regarding registration for the first annual Bookstore Basketball Tournament, 1972
Observer article regarding registration for the first annual Bookstore Basketball Tournament, April 10, 1972

Athletic abilities vary widely among the teams, from varsity athletes to players who have barely picked up a ball.  For many teams, Bookstore is all about the creativity and potential notoriety of team names and costumes.  Crazy team names have always been an important part of Bookstore Basketball.  Usual themes among the names are puns, innuendos, trash-talk, self-deprecation, celebrities, and current events.  The following is a selection of names over the years:

  • One Guy, Another Guy, and Three Other Guys
  • Dolly Parton and the Bosom Buddies
  • Hoops I Did It Again
  • 5 Guys Even Dick Vitale Wouldn’t Watch Play Basketball
  • We’re Short but Slow
  • 5 Girls Who Got Cut from the Cheerleading Squad
  • Bobby Knight & the Chair Throwers
  • Picked Last in Gym Class
  • Unlike Tiger Our Rebounds Don’t Text Back
  • Weapons of Mass Seduction
  • Time-Out, I’ve Lost My Pants
  • We Make the Ladys Gaga
  • By George, We’re Good This Year

Every year teams push the envelope of the names.  The student commissions were originally responsible for censoring anything potentially offensive and were generally vigilant about the policy.  However, some names have slipped by the censors over the years.

See Mary Beth Sterling’s book on the history of Bookstore Basketball to see the full listing of teams from 1972-1992.  More recently, student Scott Frano has written a guide to choosing a name, with examples from the 2013 tournament for ND Today.  The full listing of teams and seeds for the current year can be found on the Bookstore Basketball website.

The idea of costumes for teams probably came from the Jocks vs. Girls basketball games played during An Tostal in the 1970s.  The members of the men’s varsity basketball team would play a team from Saint Mary’s College while wearing boxing gloves to help level the playing field.  Some years the jocks add to the ensemble – “various dresses, hats, false boobs, aprons, jock straps, and whatever else Chris ‘Hawk’ Stevens and his cohorts could find to don in order to further entertain the crowd” [Sterling, pages 12-13].

Bookstore Basketball Game Scene - Tom Keely's Team, 2002/0415
Bookstore Basketball Game Scene – Bootney League All Stars vs. Cuidado Piso Mojado, 2002/0415.  The members of Cuidado wore large cardboard caution signs on their backs, which proved difficult to defend against, but also difficult to maneuver.  The All Stars easily won the first-round game 21-1.

Bookstore Basketball is open to the students, faculty, and staff of the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, and Holy Cross College.  Women compete in the tournament alongside the men, but there is also a separate women’s bracket, which was established in 1978.  Notable members of the administration, faculty, and staff have participated with as much gusto as the students.  University President at the time, Rev. Edward “Monk” Malloy fielded the team All the President’s Men.

In 1978, Rick Telander wrote an article on Bookstore Basketball for Sports Illustrated, giving the tournament national coverage.  The idea of a such a tournament piqued the interest of a number of other colleges and universities.  The coverage also drew the attention of the NCAA, which declared that current basketball players were ineligible to play Bookstore Basketball because of its competitive nature.  Notre Dame protested the ban of student-athletes from participating in a student-organized event, but were eventually unsuccessful.  Since 1979, varsity basketball players could only compete if their eligibility had expired or if they hadn’t dressed for the season. Bookstore rules only allows one varsity basketball player per team.  Football players can only number three, unless mixed with a basketball player, in which case a team can only have one of each.

Bookstore Basketball Game with Football Coach Lou Holtz and player Tim Brown on outdoor courts, April 1987
Bookstore Basketball Game with Football Coach Lou Holtz and player Tim Brown, April 1987

While it may seem unfair to compete against varsity athletes, many students welcome the challenge.  As alumnus Ken Tysiac recounts, “I think most students, if given the choice between losing by two points to some no-names and losing by 20 to LaPhonso Ellis’ club, would choose the latter.  It gives them something to remember the tournament by, and maybe something to tell their grandchildren” [Sterling, page 9].  Besides competing with campus celebrity, here’s also the thrill of potentially defeating a team with varsity athletes and coaches.  While teams that reach the finals tend to have varsity athletes, a number of championship teams had no varsity athletes on the roster.

Since 1995, Bookstore Basketball has partnered with the Notre Dame Alumni Club of Jamaica to raise money for Jumpball.  Jumpball aims to teach fundamental life-lessons to children of Jamaica through the game of basketball.

Notre Dame Magazine
GPUB 16/32
GPHR 35m/10475

Look out for the Manhole Cover: A History of Notre Dame’s Bookstore Basketball Tournament, by Mary Beth Sterling

“Look out for the Manhole Cover,” by Rick Telander, Sports Illustrated, 05/15/1978

“Bookstore Basketball XXXI: Crazy Costumes Take the Court, All Stars drive through road signs on way to victory” by Kerry Smith, The Observer, 04/16/2002

“How to Name Your Bookstore Team,” by Scott Frano, ND Today

“That Would Make an Excellent Team Name,” by Rick Reilly, ESPNMagazine, 03/27/2010

“The Censored List,” run by Carroll Hall alumni

Sunny Italy Cafe

“You can’t call yourself a true son of Notre Dame, unless you’ve hopped off the bus at the end of South Bend Ave. on a freezing  winter night, made your way across Hill Street to the shadowy, little alley that leads down over sand and snow to Niles Avenue, and finally found yourself at the friendly doors of the Sunny Italy Cafe — known more affectionately to the student trade as Rosie’s.”
Scholastic, 10/15/1948, page 18

Sunny Italy Cafe at 601 North Niles Avenue in South Bend was originally called the North Niles Avenue Cafe when it opened in 1926.  Two Notre Dame students found the hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant in the early 1930s, became regulars, and befriended the owners Tony and Rosie Vumbaca.  The students nicknamed the place “Rosie’s” and spread the word to their friends.  Before long, Rosie’s was the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights.  By the 1940s, between 100-500 Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students would dine at Rosie’s on Friday night.

People dining at Rosie's Sunny Italy Cafe restaurant, 1946.
The crowd at Sunny Italy Cafe, 1946.

Jimmy and Josie Bamber bought Rosie’s in 1940.  While they renamed it Sunny Italy Cafe, the nickname “Rosie’s” stuck with the students, faculty, and alumni for decades to come.  The popularity of the restaurant enabled the Bambers to renovate their restaurant in 1947, expanding the dining room to seat 150 customers.  They catered to the Notre Dame students, staying open late on movie nights and offering lunch and dinner specials (65¢ and 85¢, respectively in 1948).

The typical long lines to get a table at Sunny Italy, 1948.
The typical long lines to get a table at Sunny Italy Cafe, 1948.

An obvious choice for Italian Club meetings, Sunny Italy also hosted many other student organization meetings and banquets.  In 1955, the Academy of Political Science sponsored a banquet with Paul Butler, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, as speaker.  In 1961, Republican Congressman Melvin E. Laird of Marshfield, Wisconsin, spoke at the Young Republican Spring Banquet.

People dining at Sunny Italy, 1948.
The packed dining room at Sunny Italy Cafe, 1948.

In 1976, Scholastic reported that Notre Dame students made up 40% of Sunny Italy’s business.  However, by this time, the tradition of students going to Rosie’s en masse began to wane.  Today, Sunny Italy is still in its same location on Niles Avenue and is run by the same family all these years later.

Kitchen staff at Sunny Italy Cafe, 1948.
Kitchen staff and waitresses at Sunny Italy Cafe, 1948.
Dome yearbook 1941:  Feature on a typical Friday night at Rosie's
Dome yearbook 1941: Feature on a typical Friday night at Rosie’s

Dome yearbook
Sunny Italy Cafe: About Us


The Traveling Father Sorin Statue

In the lobby of Sorin Hall stands a bronze statue of Father Edward Sorin.  Sculpted by Ernesto Biondi, the larger version of this statue greets visitors on Main Quad and was unveiled on May 3, 1906.  Left in the care of the Sorinites, who are no strangers to college pranks, the smaller statue had taken to wandering off by the early 1950s.

Sorin Hall residents carrying the statue of Father Sorin through campus, November 1962.  The statue had just returned to campus after a lengthy disappearance.
Sorin Hall residents carrying the statue of Father Sorin through campus, November 1962. The statue had just returned to campus via a helicopter after a traditional disappearance.

In January 1953, Scholastic reports that the statue had gone missing just before the Christmas break and that the Student Senate resolved to find the statue.  “Although traditionally a wanderer on the ND campus, Father Sorin’s present disappearance has lasted so long that concern is arising that it may be a permanent one” [Scholastic issue 01/16/1953, page 13].  Shortly thereafter, postcards and letters began coming in from the statue from destinations far and wide.  In some, Sorin claimed to have attended some of the year’s most important events such as Dwight Eisenhower’s Inauguration, Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation, and Josef Stalin’s funeral.  The mystery persisted and the culprits did not crack.  Just before Commencement 1953, the statue arrived at Main Circle in a cab to a cheering crowd.

Alumnus Camillus Witzieben later admitted to being the culprit, along with the help from a few friends.  Witzieben was a resident of Alumni Hall and found the statue in the snow as he dropped Christmas cards off at the post office (now the Knights of Columbus Building).  In stead of returning the statue to Sorin Hall, Witzieben and friend August Manier decided to extend the statue’s travels.  They buried the statue in a sand trap on the Burke Memorial Golf Course south of Alumni and Dillon Halls and later moved it to Manier’s girlfriend’s house in Chicago until its triumphant return.  In the meantime, their military friends sent the postcards from a variety of destinations around the world.

In 1955, Sorin’s “annual trip” was to the Kentucky Derby.  He sent a telegram to Notre Dame saying “that he ‘lost it all on Nashua’ and was ‘returning home’ that night at 8 o’clock.”  Sorin Hall Rector Father Cady was a good sport as the statue returned once again by car to Main Circle:  “the loud-speaker blared forth such appropriate tunes as ‘My Baby’s Comin’ Home,’ ‘Happy Wanderer,’ ‘Take Me Back,’ and ‘Dragnet.’  Father Cady, rector of Sorin, signified his approval of the whole affair with a request for ‘The Finger of Suspicion Points at You‘” [Scholastic issue 05/13/1955, page 16].

While the statue probably never went further than a Chicago basement, the fabled journeys of Fr. Sorin took a life of their own:  “I’d heard stories of seniors who took the statue around the world with them and sent back pictures of Sorin posed beside European landmarks, such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Tower of London.  I’d heard he’d even had an audience with the Pope, and that he’d returned of the back of an elephant,” said alumnus Pat Williams, Class of 1963, in a 1984 Notre Dame Magazine article.  No doubt that Williams heard some tall tales, but he was inspired to be a part of this kidnapping tradition and Sorin inevitably went missing again in the fall of 1962.  Sorin’s return during Homecoming Weekend was the most elaborate of all:  dangling from a helicopter and met by Sorinites in togas and chariots (see photo above).

Williams admits to taking the statue with him to South Carolina after graduation.  He then transferred the statue to fellow alumnus Gene McGuire in 1966, who took it home with him to Denver.  Rev. James Burtchaell heard of Sorin’s whereabouts and demanded his return to campus.  McGuire conceded, and Burtchaell secured the statue in 1972 and held onto it for ten years, while rumors and stories about the statue continued to float among the students.  Sorin Hall rector Rev. David Porterfield learned of the statue in Burtachell’s possession.  Porterfield wanted it returned to Sorin Hall, but both he and Burtachell worried about continued antics of the Sorinites.  During the hall renovations of 1983, Porterfield came up with a fool-proof solution:  “workmen filled the hollow statue with concrete and connected it to a solid wooden base with steel rods.  The rods were the soldered to the floor in Sorin’s main corridor, where the legend began so many years ago” [Peralta, page 10].


  • Scholastic
  • Dome yearbook 1963
  • PNDP 10-So-01
  • PNDP 109-Phil:  “The Father Sorin Caper,” by Camillus Witzieben in Love Thee, Notre Dame, published by the Notre Dame Club of Philadelphia, 1987
  • “The Pilgrim Founder: ‘Father Sorin’ returns to campus after three decades of touring,” by Elizabeth Peralta, Notre Dame Magazine, Late Winter 1984, pages 9-10


Decoration Weekend

A lot of hoopla surrounded Football Homecoming during the 1920s through the 1960s.  Events for the weekend usually included alumni reunions, a dance, a pep rally and bonfire, a parade, and hall decorations.  The decorations were often elaborate, constructed solely by students on a very limited budget.  A healthy dose of competition with trophies hanging in the balance added to the excitement of the hall decorations.

Some years had a theme, such as “The Spirit of ’76” was used in 1964, celebrating 76 years of Notre Dame football.  Often, the themes revolved around the opponent for the Homecoming game, such as “Wreck Tech” when Notre Dame played Georgia Tech in 1953.  Below are some examples of Homecoming decorations through the years:

Students putting up decorations on Badin Hall for Football Homecoming Weekend, c1930s.
The decorations feature a drawing of coach Elmer Layden and text that reads “Notre Dame Fights.”


Football Game Week – Students constructing hall decorations for Morrissey and Lyons Halls for Homecoming, 1957


Football Game Day decorations on Sorin Hall with banners that read
“We Got Army’s Ass, Now We’ll Get Navy’s Goat,” 1965.


Students constructing a Leprechaun figure on South Quad for
Homecoming decorations, 1965. Below is the finished product.


Football Game Day decoration of a large Leprechaun on South Quad,
smashing a shillelagh through a Navy battleship, 1965.



Dome yearbook
GBBY 45F/4958
GNDS 23/18-19
GPUB 47/62


Joseph Casasanta

“When four rows of Glee Club singers chant a Notre Dame song; when columns of blue-uniformed bandsmen play and march to Notre Dame music — then we forget the ubiquitous campus grinds and gripers, and we hike along, down the line, cheering her name, and glad that Irish Backs are marching” [Scholastic, 03/14/1930, page 689]

Born into a musical family, Joseph Casasanta naturally became involved with the music organizations as a student at Notre Dame, holding leadership positions in the Glee Club and the Marching Band.  Before he graduated in 1923, Casasanta joined the faculty in teaching piano and as an assistant director of the University Band.  While music had long been taught at Notre Dame, there were no programs leading to a Bachelor of Music degree until the 1920s.  It is believed that Casasanta was the first student to earn such a degree at Notre Dame.

Portrait of Marching Band Director Joseph Casasanta, c1933

After graduation, Casasanta remained at Notre Dame, moving up to director of the Music Department until 1942.  He also led the University Band, the Glee Club, and the Orchestra; and he founded Notre Dame’s Linnets and the South Bend Symphony.  Casasanta’s most enduring legacy came from the songs that he wrote for Notre Dame, many of which have been in the repertoire of the Glee Club and the Marching Band since their debuts.

Inspired by the cadence of the football team, Casasanta and his brother-in-law and Notre Dame Architect Vincent Fagan wrote Hike, Notre Dame in 1923.  Scholastic reported that “About a year ago many of us felt the need of a new college song – ‘The Victory March,’ it was thought, was in danger of becoming too trite.  Our constant desire to sing our appreciation of Notre Dame demanded another melody.  As a result ‘The Hike Song’ was composed” [Scholastic, October 1923, page 102].

Alumni Michael and John Shea wrote the Victory March in 1908 to fill the void of a stirring Notre Dame fight song.  They felt their contribution was “amateurish” and they hoped that future students would build upon their initiative to create something even better.  Rev. Michael Shea recalled that “Ten years after my ordination, I heard the ‘Victory March’ for the first time while on a visit to Notre Dame.  How it came to its present exalted condition, I do not know.  The coming of Mr. Casasanta was evidently the realization of our hopes, and to him I express my hearty appreciation of a good work admirably done for the best University in the land” [Scholastic, 07/30/1930, page 529].  Casasanta’s arrangement of the Victory March is the basis for what the Marching Band and Glee Club still perform today.

“When the Irish Backs Go Marching By,” by Joseph Casasanta, c1930

On Down the Line came in 1925 and the students quickly embraced it in the repertoire of collegiate songs and cheers at the football games and pep rallies.  The Glee Club also sang these songs at concerts, on radio broadcasts, and for recordings, which helped to solidify their national popularity.

Notre Dame, Our Mother, whose lyrics were written by University President Rev. Charles O’Donnell in March 1930, debuted at the premiere of The Spirit of Notre Dame on October 7, 1931, and was quickly adopted as the Alma Mater.  At the end of the halftime show of the last football game of the 1931 season, “the people in the stands [were] requested to stand at attention for the playing of ‘Notre Dame, Our Mother,’ in memory of the late Knute Rockne” [Scholastic, 11/20/1931, page 9], and thus, another tradition began.

When the Irish Backs Go Marching By debuted in 1930 at a time when the “Fighting Irish” moniker was still somewhat influx, as Scholastic noted with tongue-in-cheek:  “The dispute over ‘Irish’ as applied to our varsities seems to be at an end; the name of the song has commemorated in lyrical history the 1929 activities of those doughty Celtic side-steppers—Carideo, Schwartz, Elder, Brill, Gebert, and Mullins” [Scholastic, 03/14/1930, page 689].


Alumnus Magazine, December 1968-January 1969, page 42:
Obituary of Marching Band Director Joseph Casasanta, 1968.


Notre Dame honored Casasanta at the 1932 Commencement Exercises.  Deeply touched by the honor, Casasanta wrote his appreciation to University President Charles O’Donnell and said in part, “Whatever I have done, I owe all to Notre Dame.  She has always been and will always be the source of all my inspiration, love, and joy” [UPCO 1/77, June 15, 1932].  Casasanta passed away in December of 1968, but his music has become an indelible part of Notre Dame’s identity and has endured throughout generations.



UDIS 103/04
GDIS 2/17
UNDR 10/04
100 Years of the Notre Dame Victory March (1908-2008)



“Is it better to have ‘skived’ and been caught, than never to have ‘skived’ at all?” [Scholastic, 09/15/1888, page 68]

If students in the 1880s-1930s maintained a Domer Dictionary, “skive,” “skiving,” and “skiver” would be among the common terms in Notre Dame vernacular.  While “skiving” could refer simply to cutting class, it generally had a heavier connotation of a French leave from campus with dangers of getting caught.  Since curfew was in place during these years, “skivers” at Notre Dame would sneak out of the dorms at night and headed into town without permission.

A student “skiving” out of a Corby Hall dormitory window, 1914-1915

Once in town, students would frequent popular hangouts such as Hullie and Mike’s Cigar Store or Jimmie and Goat’s restaurant or take in a vaudeville show at the Orpheum Theatre.  The typical punishment for skiving seems to be demerits, which students could work off with manual labor such as shoveling snow.

Skiving was so common-place it was often the subject of short stories, poems, Scholastic news items, and tall-tales of the alumni.  The following sonnet was published in the 1913 Easter issue of Scholastic (page 382):

Sonnet on the Skiver

WHAT is a skiver? He is one that knows
Each alley, lane, and back street in town;
To him the campus scenes are dingy brown,
And all routine of class is driest prose.
His is the poet’s spirit that arose
Triumphant o’er the prefect’s sternest frown,—
That hies him off, to view a game, a gown.
To eat at Mike’s, or see the nickel shows.

‘Tis true a haunting fear lurks in his eyes.
And drives him oft within the handy door.
‘Tis true he’s never known to win the prize
Of scholarship—or e’en acquire its lore.
What will he do when life’s great tasks arrive?
Prophetic voices answer, “He will skive!”

W. H.

Dome yearbook 1920:  Floor plan of Sorin Hall with the best routes for skiving


GMIL 2/08

Notre Dame Mascots

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the idea of mascots and team names at Notre Dame was very fluid.  Team names often changed from year to year, team to team, game to game.  Sports writers used a number of monikers, ranging from Catholics, Hoosiers, Rockmen, Ramblers, etc., sometimes varying within a single sports article, until Fighting Irish began to stick in the 1920s.  Mascots were often seen as good luck charms and Notre Dame had a revolving door of them until the 1930s.  Minim student Willie Robb was the mascot for the 1895 baseball team [GMLS 5/01] and Irish Catholic actress Sally O’Neil served as mascot for the Notre Dame vs. Southern California (USC) football game in 1926 [Los Angeles Times, “Another View of Charley Riley,” 12/05/1926].

Animals, and dogs in particular, were often used as early mascots.  A September 22, 1900, South Bend Tribune article recounts the menagerie of personal pets used as mascots:

“Dad Moulton, Manager Eggeman, and Pat O’Dea Have Pets.

If Notre Dame is unsuccessful on the gridiron this fall, it will not be due to a lack of mascots, and if there is anything in variety of mascots Notre Dame will be successful.

When Dad Moulton arrived his train was a menagerie, made up of two trick dogs and canary bird — one of the dogs, a hairless Mexican, Dad intends to use as a hoodoo for opposing teams in conjunction with a black and white billy goat Manager Eggeman received from Fort Wayne.

The goat is of the stock yards variety with a records of having eaten two shirts and a pair of shoes in one morning.  He has already shown a bellicose disposition — but under the care of Moulton, who intends to train him, he may be taught to save his combativeness for the opposing team.

Not to be outdone by the trainer or the manger, [football coach] Pat O’Dea intends to send to Colorado to a friend of his who has pet kangaroos.  With this aggregation of animals, the kangaroo hurdling hedge fences, the goat bucking the line and the dogs doing tricks on the side-lines, Notre Dame should present a terrifying appearance to any antagonist.” [PNDP 3020-m-01]

An American Bulldog named Mike shows up throughout William Schmitt’s scrapbook.  Schmitt was part of the 1909 Western Championship Football Team and it could be inferred that the team considered this dog a mascot.  In Natural Enemies, author John Kryk mentioned that Notre Dame Coach Frank Longman owned such a dog (page 64), so it would make sense that the team would embrace Mike.

Mike the dog as a member of the 1909 Western Championship Football Team

The history of Irish Terriers as mascots contains a number of conflicting accounts.  “Clashmore Mike” is the name that most people today recognize, but there were a number of other other dogs who played mascot in one capacity or another for over forty years.

Alumni Hall relief of an Irish Terrier, c1980s. Photo by Brother Martinus.
In Scholastic’s 03/31/1933 issue, James Fitzpatrick supposed that the dogs are Irish wolf hounds, “but which suspiciously resemble airdales [sic Airedales].” This pre-dates Clashmore Mike, but alludes to the importance that these dogs would have for the next few decades.).
In January 1924, the Notre Dame Alumni Club of Toledo first presented football coach Knute Rockne with a new Irish mascot.  Edward Lynch, a member of the 1909 football team who had its own mascot dog, secured an Irish Terrier for Notre Dame.  Notre Dame Daily ran a contest for students to name the dog and Tipperary Terrence (“Terry” for short), based on the dog’s lineage, was the winning name.

In May 1924, Terry was hit by a car when following two students who were walking on Niles Road, and he died a few days later.  According to the Notre Dame Daily, “the need of a mascot was acute.  All the other colleges in the United States have their mascot supposed to represent in some manner the character of the school.  Terry was given to the school because it was felt that one of his breed was the best standard bearer that we could possibly have” [PNDP 3020-m-01].

The Toledo Club again donated Tipperary Terrence II to Notre Dame in time for the 1924 Army game.  Not much is mentioned of him after that.

Football Coach Knute Rockne holding Tipperary Terrence II, 1924.
Caption: “Head Coach Knute Rockne of the Notre Dame football team with ‘Terry’ the winning mascot, who will be present at the contest with the Army at the Polo Grounds.”  The South Bend Tribune noted, “Rockne regards Mascot Terry as an omen of good luck, and wouldn’t think of starting a game without having the Airedale on the scene of battle.”

Charles Otis presented Notre Dame with Irish Terrier Brick Top Shaun Rhue at the Notre Dame vs. Navy football game in Cleveland on November 19, 1932.  Shaun Rhue was prone to running away and calmly walking in the traffic of busy streets.  He disappeared for good in the spring of 1933.

Irish Terrier Brick Top Shaun Rhue wearing a football helmet, c1932.
Caption: “With affectionate regards to Shaun Rhue and the College of Notre Dame. Best hopes and wishes from Chas. A. Otis.”

In 1935, Clashmore Mike, donated by Chicago breeder William J. Butler, became the official football team mascot.  Notre Dame officials ran with the publicity of this mascot, which is probably one reason as to why he is best know today.  He had his own column in the football programs and bravely battled the Pitt panther, Army mule, and Navy goat.

Clashmore Mike entertained fans with his sideline gymnastics for years until his death in September 1945.  He was buried in Notre Dame Stadium and was succeeded by Clashmore Mike II, who was born Shannon Invader.  After Clashmore Mike II ran away in 1948, James McGarraghy of Chicago presented Notre Dame with Shannon View Mike.

An Irish Terrier dog with handler Joe Dierickx inside the Stadium, c1954.
The Notre Dame Archives has two of the 1950s dog coats in its collections — one in green and one in blue.

This is where the history becomes a bit muddy.  The 1952 Scholastic Football Review mentions Shannon View Mike and Pat and the 1953 Scholastic Football Review calls the mascot Clashmore Mike III.  A 1958 article mentions that Shannon View Mike I “became distinctly anti-social” and “had to be put away” in 1954.  Shannon View Mike II, whose registered name was Shannon View Rudy, came shortly there after.  Shannon View Mike II had a companion Pat (perhaps the same Pat mentioned in 1952), registered Castlebar Caprice, and the two of them produced three litters of pups.  “The first litter was raffled in the 1956 ND Mardi Gras Festival by the Monogram Club” and the other litters were sold to Notre Dame fans.  One male pup was retained by the University.  Apparently there was a Shannon View Mike III followed by Mascot Mike.  Mike III was named on the field during the 1960s.  [PNDP 3020-m-01]

In the 1940s, a human “Irishman” appeared at Pep Rallies, at Media Day, on the sidelines game day, and on the ND vs. Navy football program covers.  In 1960, a “Leprechaun” joined the ranks of the cheerleaders on the sidelines.  Artist Ted Drake designed the famous leprechaun logo, which was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine with new football Coach Ara Parseghian in November 20, 1964.  By the end of the decade, the Terriers had slowly faded into history.  It’s not apparent as to why — some suggest that the last dog either died or became too old and that the handlers suffered the same fate and were never replaced.

Football Game Scene – ND vs. Oklahoma, 1968/0921. Leprechaun with an Irish Terrier

Resurgence for a return to the Irish Terrier mascot began around Knute Rockne’s 100th birthday anniversary in 1988.   Marge Andre of the Irish Terrier Club of Chicago attempted to weed through the conflicting accounts to write a history of the mascot [see also PNDP 3020-m-01 for a printed version from 1988].  The efforts to reinstate the scrappy dog as mascot still exist today, albeit with no success as of yet.


PNDP 3020-m-01
GATH 24/03
GPUB 17/07
GNDL 38/04
GATH 6/71
GPHR 45/2157
GRST 3/22