Wednesday, April 9, 2008


I don't know what brought this to mind just now but as I thought about it, it caused me to start to giggle and to get a bit teary simultaneously. Since I missed the deadline for International Woman's Day by a month I'll post it now rather than wait 11 months!
For the benefit of those not up to date on such things, streaking was a phenomenon of the '70's. It was 'running naked in public places', often at a sporting event or a televised situation, it was basically to draw attention to those participating though not necessarily for any political or social reasons. Throughout my life I worked at a major university and during that period I had a close affinity with many of the students in the Art department, there was a group there that took the name 'The Art Dept. Students Association,' I'm not sure why they chose that dumb name or what they stood for but they decided to have a streak.
The class schedule for the university was classes from 9-12 and 1-4 leaving 12-1 open as a lunch break, there were about 33,000 students at that time and many would congregate in the university quadrangle for lunch on the grass.
I was the director of media for the university but that didn't deter my friends from inviting me to join them, instead I chose to be the official photographer of the event.
They assembled in an art dept classroom just before noon and shed their clothes, there were about 15-20 in the group, all male except for one who was a good friend of mine, Robin, an illustration major. Robin was not by contemporary standards attractive, she was short and fat and not fair of features, but she had a wonderful personality. The plan was that they'd run en-masse as a unit moving fairly swiftly and capitalising on the surprise element of streaking through the lunchtime crowds.
They stood waiting for the campus bell tower to chime noon and when it did they set off out of the door onto the campus with Robin bringing up the rear. There were hundreds of students sitting on the lawns and exiting classes as they emerged, and as soon as they were spotted there was a huge cheer and students stood up and applauded as they raced past. The plan was to run downhill to the university bookstore, do a lap around the the bell tower and then return to the art dept, in total about half a mile. As they progressed poor Robin had a hard time keeping up, she fell further and further behind so that as the group started to return to the Art dept. she was still puffing and gasping and heading towards the bookstore, totally alone. I'd positioned myself at several locations throughout to photograph them but as they raced past me on the return lap Robin was nowhere in sight. Finally she staggered into view to an enormous round of applause and cheering from all the students, she came puffing up the hill having a very hard time of it but she was determined to finish in style. As she reached the quadrangle the entire student body rose and lined the path and applauded her as she staggered the final yards and into the art dept building. Even though she was the last to finish and though she endured the embarrassment of running almost entirely alone and totally separated from the pack she was the star of the day; If anyone there that day remembers that event, poor dumpy unattractive and heroic Robin will be the first image that they recall.


Blimpy said...

I love the idea of "streaking" - it reminds me of a more innocent time. . .

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