“Upon the relatively rare occasion of a heavy snowfall, monstrous snowball fights which shattered many window panes were de rigueur on West.”
— Robert Durden’s description of student life in the ‘30s from The Launching of Duke University, 1924-1949.
In the winter of 1935-36, Shannon “Shank” Holloway gathered enough of the rare white stuff for at least one snowball. In the photo below, he’s with best friend Jennings “Jay” Fast, both of whom graduated in 1936 from the School of Religion, whose name was changed to The Divinity School in 1941.
Holloway and Fast were members of the Chain Gang, so named because they stayed in touch through chain letters. Upon receipt, each alumnus added news to the ever-longer letter and sent it to another. Esdras Gruver D’37 served as archivist, filing the letter and usually beginning the next. The group also met for reunions, including its 50th celebrated at Duke during the 1987 Convocation.
Though there are no archival photos as proof, it’s possible that some of the Chain Gang joined pre-game pep rallies for the Duke football team, which was winning under the leadership of Coach Wallace Wade. In 1935, the Duke team had bested rival UNC with a 25-0 victory, upsetting the Tar Heels bid to the Rose Bowl.
According to Durden’s history, wearing pajamas to pep rallies for the Iron Dukes “was all the rage in 1936.”