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Century At Stanford

By Catherine Peck

100 Years Ago (1899)

A horseless carriage appeared on campus for the first time in September. W.L. Elliott, who built the vehicle, drove from Oakland to pick up President David Starr Jordan and Professor A.W. Smith for a trip to Lick Observatory, near San Jose. In 1901, fearing the effect of "devil wagons" on horse-drawn buses and liverymen's carriages, Jane Stanford banned automobiles from campus roads. The prohibition was relaxed in stages after her death in 1905 and eliminated in 1914, when trustees finally allowed autos on Palm Drive.

Chaparral, a magazine of student wit and persiflage, made its first appearance in October. The inaugural cover featured a caricature of "Chappie," a jester outfitted with cap, bells and hammer. Beginning in 1906, the magazine was published by the Hammer and Coffin Society, founded the night before the great San Francisco earthquake.

Stanford launched its two-year graduate degree program in law. Previously the law department had offered only basic courses and the degree of bachelor of arts in law. The Law School was established in 1908, and in 1924 the trustees designated law an exclusively graduate-level program.


75 Years Ago (1924)

Glenn Scobey "Pop" Warner arrived in September as the new football coach. Among his innovations: the double-wing formation, the crouching start, the huddle and protective headgear for players. The team was undefeated going into Big Game. Hampered by the absence of star fullback Ernie Nevers, '26, who had a broken ankle, the Cardinal scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns and squeezed out a 20-20 tie. Next stop: the Rose Bowl.

Unaware of the student tradition of leaving books and other items on the window ledges of the Main Quad, someone collected everything in sight and sent the load to the lost-and-found office. It took six hours for the secretary to identify items and notify owners.


50 Years Ago (1949)

Wearing the crimson Stanford PhD hood he had earned in 1938, J.E. Wallace Sterling was formally installed as the University's fifth president on October 7 at Frost Memorial Amphitheater. He had assumed the office six months earlier, on April 1, and served until 1968.

Big Game was broadcast nationwide on radio for the first time. Red Barber called the plays as Cal swamped Stanford, 33-14.


25 Years Ago (1974)

An important collection of letters and manuscripts by Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck was given to the library by Steinbeck's friend and former campus roommate, Carlton Allyn Sheffield, '23. Steinbeck left the University without graduating.

Professor Paul J. Flory received the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his research on giant molecules, or polymers -- the building block of modern plastics.

Stanford won one of the most exciting Big Games ever. Cal seemed headed for certain victory when the Bears scored a touchdown with 26 seconds left, giving them a 20-19 edge. But quarterback Guy Benjamin, '77, quickly moved Stanford to the 50-yard line, and Mike Langford, '76, kicked a field goal with two seconds to go.

On average, new graduates of the Business School received three job offers and commanded a salary of $16,377 a year.


Catherine Peck, '35, writes this column on behalf of the Stanford Historical Society.

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