I looked up the “Rock Chalk Chant,” on Wikipedia. It is famous (as you’ll read) and beloved. Teddy Roosevelt called it the best chant/yell in college sports. Enjoy!!
History of the University of Kansas Rock Chalk Chant
The chant was first adopted by the university’s science club in 1886. Chemistry professor E.H.S. Bailey and his colleagues were returning by train to Lawrence after a conference. During their travel, they discussed a need of a rousing yell. They came up with “Rah, Rah, Jayhawk, Go KU”, repeated three times, which later became “Rock Chalk Jayhawk, KU”.
By 1889, “Rock Chalk”—a transposition of chalk rock, a type of limestone, that exists in the Cretaceous-age bedrocks of central and western parts of the state as well as on Mount Oread, where the University is located, which is similar to the coccolith-bearing chalk of the white cliffs of Dover—later replaced the two “rahs.” Those responsible for the change are unknown, with Bailey himself crediting the geology department, and others an English professor.
Kansas troops have used it in the Philippine-American War in 1899, the Boxer Rebellion, and World War II. In the 1911 Border War football game, over 1,000 fans gathered in downtown Lawrence to listen to a “broadcast” of the game by telegraph and participated in cheers including the Rock Chalk.
In the 1920 Summer Olympics, Albert I of Belgium asked for a typical American college yell, and gathered athletes replied with the chant.
Former United States President Theodore Roosevelt called the Rock Chalk chant, the greatest college chant he ever heard.
This tale requires an explanation of how Ed and Jeanie Morningside
got the millions of dollars that their daughters inherited.
Although they had been respected Letongaloosa citizens for decades,
Ed and Jeanie never had two nickels, much less a dollar, to rub together. They needed every penny that came in to pay the rent, put food on the table, and buy clothes for the family.
Then, against 14-million-to-one odds, they won $378-million
in the national lottery. Suddenly, accompanied by a whole lot of fanfare, Jeanie and Ed and their two daughters, Minnifred and Winnifred were rich.
At 7:15 a.m. every morning Minnifred Morningside-Suggs sat at her desk grading papers and sipping tea from her favorite artesian mug. Unless she had an early morning appointment out of the office, nothing in Minnifred’s life ever changed. This Tuesday morning was different.
Instead of going to her 8 a.m. Tuesday staff meeting, Minnifred said “hi” to Hanger Duggins and his crew at Letongaloosa International Airport and then flew to Kodiak Island to visit Winnifred and to enjoy some much needed time away. That’s when things got, well, freaky.
It was a few weeks later and Minnifred and her husband, Reggie, were having dinner at the diner in downtown Letongaloosa. Reggie had just picked Minniefred up from the airport. Reaching for the
bread, he said : “You act diff’rent.”
Minnifred had been regaling him with stories about a shiny Republic RC-3 Seabee seaplane she in which she had flown to her sister’s cabin; the ice fishing excursion on which she caught the biggest fish the locals had ever seen, and the polar bear swim she had completed in record time. Reggie thought the stories were interesting, but he had never seen Minnifred so animated. She was usually quiet, reserved, and didn’t add much detail in the infrequent stories she told.
Reggie continued to stare, and Minnifred pretended she didn’t notice the “diff’rent” comment and the puzzled look on his face. She kept talking a mile a minute about her Alaskan adventures. Still more puzzling to Reggie was Minnifred’s insistence on sleeping in the guest bedroom.
Something happened a few days later. It was the first round of judging in the Feature-Palooza Competition for Young Writers. There were more than 550 entries, and a group of teachers and business professionals had assembled in the newsroom of the Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle to read the entries, critique them, and choose a contest winner.
Garrison Storm, Letongaloosa’s lead meteorologist noticed Minnifred’s peculiar behavior. Minnifred had always been a stickler for proper grammar, diction, usage, and syntax. Folks in town tolerated her correcting them in conversations because they were awed by her knowledge of English, and because Minnie was generous with her money. Despite her wealth she had begun teaching public school the year she graduated from college.
Garrison noticed Minnie’s grammar goof immediately but he dismissed it, thinking he must have heard wrong. But when she goofed again and seemed actually happy about it, Garrison was perplexed.
As they heard her speak, others in town were too.
Meantime, folks in Kodiak couldn’t believe their ears. Winnifred, the winsome spinster, who had always regaled them with bright and cheery chatter, had suddenly become terse and taciturn. Worse,she had begun to correct their grammar and made unfavorably comments on what she labeled their “syntax.” People in Kodiak had no idea what “sin” she thought them were guilty of.
A few days later, Winnifred and Minnifred sat together in an airport coffee shop in Vancouver, British Columbia.
“What an excellent time!” said Minnifred, who was waiting for a flight home to Letongaloosa.
“A blast!” said Winnifred, who was booked on a later flight to Katchikan, Alaska. From there she’d catch a seaplane to Kodiak.
“We must do this again soon,” said Winnifred.
“Indubitably,” said Minnifred.
My wife Emmaline is one no nonsense, “just give me the facts,
please,” kind of woman. You won’t find Emmaline running on the
gerbil wheel of fad or fashion, much less giving heed to folklore
traditions. So it was with some consternation that I found myself in the
car (with Emmaline at the wheel as usual) driving to the city to buy a
statue of St. Joseph
We had decided to put our house on the market with an eye to
moving to something smaller, with fewer stairs. Before we signed a
sales contract and way before the for sale signs went up, Emmaline
got word from her good friend Rosalie that if we were serious about
selling our house we had better seek the divine assistance of St.
“You have to bury a small statue of St. Joseph upside down in the
front yard,” said Rosalie. “If you do that, your house will sell fast.”
Rosalie had told Emmaline to try We Believe Books, a Christian
store on the outskirts of the city. We drove around awhile and then
spotted “We Believe,” in a strip mall.
“Hi folks,” said the man behind the counter. “It’s a blessed
“Indeed it is,” said Emmaline. “Especially if you have a statue of
“A statue?” the man asked.
“Well, actually small figurine of St. Joseph.”
“We don’t carry figurines,” he said.” Would a book mark do?”
We have some nice St. Joseph bookmarks.”
“No. It has to be a figurine.”
“Then I’m sorry, I can’t help you.”
“Is there another religious store close by?”
“You could try Light and Knowledge over on Linden Tree Road.”
Emmaline asked how to get there and the man gave her detailed
directions. After driving around for half an hour we found ourselves in
a in a rough neighborhood. Emmaline pulled up to a rundown
“See if the clerk knows where to find Light and Knowledge,” she
The clerk was in his early twenties. He had a silver nose ring and
a nickel-sized ivory plug in each ear lobe.
“I’m looking for Light and Knowledge,” I said.
The clerk straightened up. His right hand moved slowly out of
sight under the counter.
“I’m all out,” he said.
“I’m all out, man. Come back later.”
My confusion turned to insight. I felt a chill.
“Oh yeah, right. Okay, man,” I said. I backed toward the door.
“Did the clerk know anything?” asked Emmaline.
“No,” I said
Twenty minutes later we were in a less stressed part of town. We
passed a church. Six or seven women and a pastor were chatting on
the front steps. Emmaline pulled to the curb.
“Ask if they know where it is,” she said. “Hi, folks,” I said. “We’re
looking for the Light and Knowledge bookstore on Linden Tree
Road.” The pastor came to the car.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I have no idea. But Salvation Now
Bookshop is up the street three blocks.
The woman behind the counter at Salvation Now was tall and
“We’d like to buy a small figurine of St. Joseph, “said Emmaline.
“You don’t want Salvation Now, you want Light and
Knowledge,” said the woman.
“Right,” I said, “on Linden Tree Road.”
“Yes,” she said.
“Is it far?”
“About twenty blocks. My sister Ginger owns it. My name is
Sheila.” Sheila handed me a sheet of paper with a map showing
how to get from Salvation Now to Light and Knowledge.
“You must have lots of requests for St. Joseph figurines, why
don’t you stock them?” I asked.
“Ginger and I both wanted to stock St. Joseph figurines, but we
decided to do “rocks, scissors, papers” and let the winner have an
exclusive on them,” she said. “Ginger won. I got exclusive rights to St.
“What does St. Redondo do for people?” I asked.
“He brings customers to yard and garage sales,” she said. “You
hide him carefully in the worst, most useless, item you have. I’ve
heard of St. Redondo yard and garage sales that have nothing left
less than half an hour after they began.”
We thanked Sheila, and followed her map to the Light and
Knowledge Book Store. The St. Joseph figurine came in a little box
that had instructions on how and where to bury him to insure a quick
We haven’t sold our house yet, but Emmaline says St. Joseph is
working on it every day. Meantime she’s planning another trip to the
city. Emmaline wants to buy a St. Redondo figurine to use in the
garage sale we’re going to have before we move.
Dr. Larry Day is a retired foreign correspondent turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase on Amazon.
As a teenager I worked on a farm one summer. I used to talk to an old guy after work. He was hard of hearing. When the old guy didn’t hear me , but didn’t want to acknowledge the fact, he would say, “That’s no joke,” after my remark.
But some of the time I WAS telling a joke.
Dr. Larry Day is a retired journalist turned humor columnist. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales from the Fourth Dementia is available at Amazon.com