Campus Humor: The Green Gander

On April Fool’s Day, 1915, a humor magazine was started on campus. The Green Gander was published by the men’s journalism honorary society, Sigma Delta Chi and included jokes and anecdotes that poked fun at prominent university and community figures. Perhaps needless to say, the magazine was a success. Because women weren’t allowed to work on The Green Gander, they started their own humor magazine, The Emerald Goose, which was also a hit. In 1922, the two magazines “married” and published under the Green Gander name.

Cover of the first issue of The Green Gander, April 1915.

Cover of the first issue of The Green Gander , April 1915.

Some examples of the humor in the earlier years of the magazine are as follows:

April 1915:

Waiter: “Sauerkraut, Hungarian goulash, Irish stew or French toast?”

Student: “Ham and eggs. I’m neutral.” (Reference to WWI)

Music Prof. (after recital): “Well, what do you think of my execution?”

Patron: “I’m for it.”

Homecoming issue, 1937:

“Higher Education: Learning to yawn with your mouth closed.”

The Green Gander was published quarterly until its last issue in April 1960. By the mid-1950s, the publication had become more risque, including “pin-up” style portraits of female students. It was still immensely popular with students, but the administration was less enthused. Complaints about its contents were submitted from off-campus individuals, and the Journalism Department was concerned about the lack of professionalism evident in the magazine by its students. Here are a couple of examples of the humor from these later editions:

December 1958 issue:

“I see you are not a gentleman,” scorned the woman on the street corner as the wind swept her skirts overhead. “No,” he replied, “and I see you aren’t either.”

“Love is blind so a fellow has to feel his way around.”

The November 1959 issue of the Green Gander. The cover format was new (and less comical) for this issue.

The November 1959 issue of The Green Gander. The cover format was new (and less comical) for this issue.

The editorial board made a change in 1959, and the November issue of that year had an entirely different – and more serious – tone. Topics in this issue included “Iowa State’s Cultural Opportunities,” “Marriage and College – How is it Done?” and “How to Make a Decision.” It still maintained a somewhat humorous slant, but nothing like before. Readers were not so fond of this new format and hung an effigy of the new editor on central campus. The April 1960 edition made another attempt at humor, but there was no recovery from that November issue. The publication was laid to rest in October 1960.

The final issue of The Green Gander, April 1960. One last attempt at humor.

The final issue of The Green Gander, April 1960.

Much of the information in this post was taken from here, where you can read more about it and Iowa State’s past traditions. Want to read The Green Gander for yourself? Stop in and ask to see some copies (dare I say, “have a gander” at them), call number LD2546 G74x. We look forward to seeing you!

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