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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with I. Beverly Lake Sr., September 8, 1987. Interview C-0043. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Local entertainment in Wake Forest was reliant on the college

Wake Forest University had a profound impact on the town. Lake explains how collegiate sports and especially trains entertained the students.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with I. Beverly Lake Sr., September 8, 1987. Interview C-0043. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

...For amusement, like everything else, our entertainment activities centered around the college. We children would always go to the college athletic field and watch the football and the baseball practices. Wake Forest has always been noted, was always noted I should say, for excellent baseball teams. We used to go up and watch the ball games. The football was not at all good, though we had in our Wake Forest history from about 1918 to 1920. I think the finest football player I ever saw. His name was Harry Rabenhorst. He came from Louisiana. He was a marvelous ball carrier and a most expert punter. So far as I know, he still holds the world's record for the longest punt in an intercollegiate game. Wake Forest was playing what was then called A and M, now called N.C. State, at Riddick Field. The State team pushed the Wake Forest team back to within six inches of the goal line but it couldn't cross. So the ball went over, Rabenhorst stood deep in his own end zone and punted the ball over the head of the State safety man. It rolled all the way, the whole length of the field across the State goal line. The State man tried to pick it up and fumbled it so Wake Forest then fell on it for a touchdown. The only incident of that sort I suppose that has ever occurred. I might say that I think that it's the only touchdown that Wake Forest scored. [Laughter] We had some excellent baseball players. Now, the college had entertainments of various sorts. Traveling theatrical troupes would come and present plays; usually. I would guess, Shakespearean plays in the college chapel which was also an auditorium. We all bought tickets for that. Other institutions, such as the Oxford Orphanage. every year sent its Glee Club over to give a concert for the benefit of the orphange, and we went to that. [Interruption]
Otherwise, the chief entertainment, I suppose, was going to watch the noon and afternoon trains go by. They stopped at Wake Forest--during the noon recess of classes and then in the afternoon after most classes were over. So all the college students would go down to see who was on the train and flirt with all the girls who were on the train, if possible, and generally make nuisances of themselves, I suppose. Dr. Billy Poteat, the President, at chapel one day was urging us to be a little more courteous and dignified to the passengers on the train. He told us, I'm sure he made it up, a good story. He said he understood that the other afternoon, when the afternoon train stopped on a hot Spring day, the windows were all up, and students were crowding around the passenger coaches, outside of course, hollering and raising Cain generally. In a lull in the commotion this elderly lady leaned out the window and turned to her husband and said, "Ransom, we has done got to Dix Hill and all the lunatics is loose!" [Laughter] Well, it was a lot of fun to go down and see who was on the train and where they were going and so on. Then we rode. We had bicycles, and we rode on Sunday afternoons. We children took long walks out into the surrounding country through the woods and had a general good time, boys and girls together. I think that covers most of the events. Of course, we boys as we grew older, say up to the age of 13 or 14, we formed our own little baseball teams. We played makeup teams in Youngsville, Rolesville, Franklinton, and other communities around and had a good time generally doing that.