Story of the Jinx

Excerpt from The History of Fairmount College by John Rydjord

Alumni JinxFollowing its 41 to 3 victory over Fairmount (now Wichita State University) in 1912, the Moundbuilders made a limestone slab on which the score of that glorious game was inscribed. On this sinister slab was pictured a smug black cat wearing a black bow tie, and below the cat, the score that humiliated Fairmount. The memorial became a tombstone, and “the most sacred possession of Southwestern students.” It was set up in a pseudo-serious ceremonial, with appointed officials burying Fairmount in a black and yellow coffin. The “preacher” gave a most “heart-gripping” sermon. The Southwestern College yell was substituted for prayer. The students were given a final look into the coffin, which contained a skull, possibly a bovine skull from the laboratory. Then came the torchlight parade, after which the students, according to their “inalienable right,” stormed a theatre without paying.

After Southwestern defeated Fairmount 29 to 7 in 1913, several loyal Fairmount students, led by Harold Chance, made a midnight raid on the Hoodoo cemetery and “spirited” away the slab with the record of Fairmount’s defeat. The word “spirited” was appropriate. Shortly after the obnoxious stone had been stored in Fiske Hall (on the Fairmount campus), the boys in the dorm were afflicted with smallpox. The memorial stone was a hoodoo, a jinx. Then the memorial was relegated to the library. Southwestern students, unhappy about the loss of their memorial monument, broke into the library, rescued it, and took it back to Winfield. But they did not return it to the Hoodoo cemetery; it was placed in a secret spot, safe from the pilfering fingers of the Fairmounters. That depressing memorial had caused so much distress and so many defeats that it would be the duty of loyal Fairmount fans to remove its evil influence.

1915 Jinx Rescue TeamThe conflict over the Hoodoo slab became a sort of cause celebre. (S. Carnot) Brennan, (J. Linn) Beebe, Red Davis, and others made several nocturnal reconnoitering expeditions to Winfield. Lincoln LaPaz and Miss Phil Hanna went to Southwestern and posed as prospective students during registration in 1917. They pretended to be the children of a wealthy oilman from the Augusta area. Their father had insisted that they go to Southwestern College, they said, and here they were registering. They did not pay their fees but said that their father would write out a check for the whole amount. They appeared to have plenty of spending money and treated the students to ice cream. Then they said that they had heard a jolly good story about a Jinx and wanted to know what it was all about. In apparent innocence, they asked to see this powerful stone which had jinxed the Fairmounters. Completely taken in, the Southwestern students showed them the stone in the college vault. While Miss Hanna asked dumb questions, LaPaz “cased the joint” and discovered a ventilator shaft to the vault that could be sprung from within. Then they all went out and had more ice cream at the expense of the two “wealthy” greenhorns from the oil fields of Augusta.

The Fairmounters wasted no time. The next night a group of Fairmount students drove to Winfield. Worried over a couple “spooning” in a parked car, they hid in the shadows until midnight. LaPaz knew his way to the ventilator, lowered himself to the floor, sprung open the lock, which opened the safe, and opened the door. The treasure was there. So back to Fairmount came the flying squadron with the Jinx in their possession. The raiders waited for chapel to assemble on Monday; then the “disheveled, tattered, and haggard men struggled up the aisle bearing a huge stone and singing Fairmount shall shine.” Pandemonium broke loose. Never in the history of Fairmount had there been a more exciting chapel. It was contagious; all class conflicts were forgotten and the whole of Fairmount was united into one jubilant and rejoicing melting pot. Even the faculty reacted with unprecedented glee and “jigged with joy.” Arthur Hoare, that dignified and dutiful dean, lost his cool and is reported to have said: “I don’t give a hang if we don’t have school for a week.” That “give a hang” was surely a bold euphemism for stronger words. The Jinx was safely stored in a bank vault. Fairmount would no longer have to fight “against the uncanny, inexplicable, enervating, and baleful influence of the Hoodoo.”

The twelve boys and girls who participated in the purloined Jinx escapade were students of distinction on the Fairmount campus, and they organized the Jinx Club. The club was a secret group and a source of school spirit, possibly on the sinister side. The 1919 Parnassus published a picture of the club, with Lincoln LaPaz in the center, his pompadour hair raising in great waves as if it were charged with electricity. It also pictured the Hoodoo tombstone with its humiliating score of 41 to 3.

1961 Kissing the Jinx

Yet, the possession of the diabolical Hoodoo failed to protect Fairmount from its traditional foe at Winfield. After the war, President (Walter H.) Rollins felt that peace in Europe should be followed by peace in Kansas. He suggested that the Hoodoo memorial be made an annual trophy for the winner. But the Fairmount Jinx Gang would share it with no one. It must be destroyed.

Before meeting the Mounduilders in the fall of 1919, Fairmount fans took the sinister stone to a place on the Cannonball Highway, west of Wichita, and blew it to bits with nine sticks of dynamite. It was to no avail. Southwestern defeated Fairmount 20 to 0. LaPaz, or “Link” as he was called, could only give the lame excuse that one of the sticks of dynamite must not have exploded. In 1920 neither team scored. In eight years, half of the Shocker-Builder games had ended in a scoreless tie, and in 1923 the score was 13 to 13, a jinx number for both. A copy of the original Hoodoo memorial was restored by Southwestern in 1921.

The Jinx Through the Years

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