Looking back at nearly 100 years of archived publications, The Highland Echo no longer seems like a newspaper. Instead, it becomes a living, breathing testament to the past. Its pages tell a story of victory and camaraderie, passion and tradition from throughout the college’s history. Among the college’s many rituals that have arisen over its lifespan, no symbol resonates as strongly in the hearts of students as the celebration of our return every year to the college that has become our home.
Homecoming at Maryville has inevitably been a cause for typical celebration events from autumn night dances to alumni walks to the annual parade. However, much has changed since the humble beginnings of this collegiate tradition. In the first issue of The Highland Echo, there is no mention of a planned celebration, no parade and no dance. Instead, the fervor and spirit of the students dictated their actions. The front page of the inaugural 1915 issue details the events following Maryville’s first home game of the season with the University of Chattanooga:
“On Monday night, Nov. 1 over 300 loyal rooters of M. C. fell in line on the hill for one of the most spectacular shirt-tail parades ever witnessed in Maryville, celebrating the victory of Maryville over Chattanooga. Led by a band they marched down town, gave a big snake dance up Main Street, circled in front of the movies, and gave yells for the team, the coach and for the college.”
The enthusiasm of the team and its supporters did not stop there. The 11 players then made their way into the Gem Theater and “enjoyed some of Charlie Chaplin’s capers” before “every fellow secured a box, a barrel or something that would burn” for the big bonfire on college hill.
Once at the bonfire, dancing and shouts invariably stirred up again to the tune “We hung Chattanooga to a sour apple tree.” As the fire was reduced to embers, yells were given once more for each member of Maryville’s winning eleven, the captain, the coach and Maryville’s president at the time, Dr. Samuel Wilson. The parade and bonfire done, the merriment moved to the home of Wilson himself, as could only be expected. The gentleman of the team and other campus boys were then entertained with a spirited lecture from Wilson and another professor of the college. Last but not least, in true Maryville College tradition, the young gentleman made sure to pay their respects to the game’s most important patrons:
“Of course the Co-eds were anticipating a visit, so the fellows, quite naturally it seemed, gave them a big snake dance and some yells, and the girls replied very heartily with cheers for the team. After singing, ‘Good night ladies,’ the parade disbanded with yells for ‘On to Tusculum.’”
Though the events and the atmosphere of Maryville’s homecoming in 1915 were far different from our own, the sentiment and the spirit were doubtless the same. Clear from the exploits and exaltations of our proud predecessors is their sharing in Maryville’s strongest tradition: an unshakable belief that this college is both deserving of our pride and undoubtedly our home.