All Terps are familiar with the bronze statues of our mascot Testudo that dot the campus, as well as the brown, furry Testudo who entertains the crowds at athletic and other campus events. Then, of course, there’s also the gaily decorated turtles that remain from the university’s 150th anniversary celebration in 2006 sprinkled here and there, including the UMD Archives’ very own “Champions All” here in Hornbake:
Many members of the campus community even know that the real Testudo, the live diamondback terrapin that was used as the model for the original bronze statue, the one that stands in front of McKeldin Library, has been taxidermied and mounted on a board and resides in the University Archives.
But perhaps the most amazing representation of Testudo was the mobile version known as Testudo II.
This crazy creature, constructed in 1965, was the brainchild of the Student Government Association. The Executive Committee was looking for ways to increase school spirit on campus and allocated $3400 from SGA’s annual budget to fund the project. Some members of the campus community initially objected to the cost, deeming the project a waste of money, but student leaders pushed ahead, and Testudo II made his debut at a pep rally and bonfire on December 3, 1965, the night before the annual football game with rival Penn State and the home opener for the men’s basketball team vs. Wake Forest.
He made his first appearance on national television the following day at the football game, when he rode around the track inside Byrd Stadium at halftime.
Testudo II was 15 feet long and approximately 6 feet high, and his shell measured 10 feet across. The firm Art Designer’s, Inc., in Arlington, VA, constructed the terrapin, which was water-proof, using a Triumph TR-3 roadster as the base. They chose this vehicle since it was lower to the ground than a Volkswagon Beetle or a Fiat, the original possibilities, and had a better frame and acceleration.
Following his December 1965 debut, Testudo II continued to appear at local events like Homecoming and even traveled on the road with the Terps, appearing, for example, in the Oyster Bowl parade in Norfolk, VA, in 1968 and the Peach Bowl parade in Atlanta, GA, in 1973.
Unfortunately, we have not been able to determine the fate of this fabulous creation, but we assume he disappeared sometime in the 1970s. If any of our readers know what happened to Testudo II, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave us a comment here on Terrapin Tales.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic to re-create this amazing Testudo? Come on, students in the Clark School of Engineering, we challenge you to make this happen! We bet you could even get some support from Maryland Athletics…
October 15, 1971, was a landmark day in basketball history, not only for the University of Maryland but also for colleges and universities across the country. Practice for the 1971-72 season officially began at the stroke of midnight on October 14, and three minutes later, UMD head coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell had his team out in Byrd Stadium to run a mile around the stadium’s track.
Lit by the headlights of a few cars and under the watchful eyes of a small group of fans, future Maryland stars Tom McMillen, Len Elmore, and John Lucas and their teammates took off around the track, trying to beat the clock by running 1.5 miles in under 10 minutes.
Coach Driesell, wearing a cowboy hat and smoking a big cigar, cheered the players on and watched their times carefully. Asked about the consequences a player would face if he did not complete the distance in the required time, Driesell answered “If they don’t, they run it each day until they do [but] during the day. I ain’t getting up this early again.”
This initial midnight run has since evolved into a nation-wide celebration of the first official day of basketball practice, known today as “Midnight Madness.” Many of these events are now regularly televised, including the Terps’, though few are held at the witching hour. The annual fall event usually features dramatic player introductions, a scrimmage, and a slam dunk contest. In recent years, women’s teams have also begun to participate, sharing equal billing with their male counterparts. Hard to believe that this ‘hoopla’ began with a chilly time trial in the middle of an October night 47 years ago.
The “Midnight Mile” returns this year the night of October 15, as the 2018-19 Terps join students at the Kehoe Track and Field Complex for a midnight run of their own. More details about this event can be found here. Come on out and help them mark this special day in UMD Men’s Basketball history!
This is the first in a series of blog posts the University Archives will be featuring as part of the commemoration of the 100th season of Maryland men’s basketball with our colleagues in Intercollegiate Athletics. Visit the #Terps100 website for more information about and to participate in the celebration.
Follow Terrapin Tales throughout the season for additional features on landmark days in Maryland men’s basketball history. Next in line is Sunday, December 2, when we mark the 63rd anniversary of the first game in Cole Field House.
There are many great stories in college and university lore about kidnapping the mascot of a rival school, e.g. the Army mule and the Navy goat or USC’s theft of UCLA’s Victory Bell, among many other tales. Believe or not, our beloved Testudo was not immune from this phenomenon too!
The first Testudo statue was revealed on the afternoon of June 2, 1933, when a 400-pound replica of a Diamondback Terrapin was presented to University President Raymond A. Pearson by Ralph Williams, President of the Student Government Association (SGA). The original memorial, created at the Gorham Manufacturing Company in Providence, Rhode Island, was placed on a brick and stone pedestal, funded by donations from the SGA, outside of Ritchie Coliseum. Major Howard C. Cutler, the architect who designed the Coliseum, finalized plans for the base initially drawn by D.C.-area artist Joseph Himmelheber.
The Testudo-nappings began not long after the dedication. According to a short article from the September 23, 1958, issue of the Diamondback, Testudo was stolen from his perch outside Ritchie Coliseum twelve times in fifteen years, between its unveiling in 1933 and 1948. This blog post explores the more memorable kidnappings of Testudo from his perch outside Ritchie Coliseum, before the statue was filled with cement and relocated outside the football stadium in 1951.
The statue was first stolen on May 28, 1934, on a Monday night, the last day of the semester. At 8 AM the next morning, SGA President Warren S. Tydings and Ralph Williams, former SGA President who presented the memorial to University President Pearson, ordered a search. The thieves left “J.H.U.” painted in green on the statue’s base, hinting that the thieves were from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. University Vice President Harry Clifton “Curley” Byrd called Johns Hopkins’ auditor Henry Iddins, informing him of the theft. Through information obtained from a state policeman, the search party learned that the thieves, “who looked like college boys,” may have stopped at a gas station in Berwyn, where one thief acquired iodine and a bandage for an injured finger. Later in the afternoon, administrators were tipped off by a phone call from a University of Maryland student, informing them the statue was located at a Johns Hopkins fraternity house in the 3100 block of North Calvert Street. Ralph Williams called Baltimore Police requesting a search of the fraternity, to no avail. By the time the UMD search party prepared a trip to Baltimore, the statue had been found in front of a dormitory at Hopkins, surrounded by roughly sixty Hopkins students. The crowd was questioned by Iddins, who then demanded that the students return the statue. “Fun is fun, but this is carrying it too far,” Iddins said, adding that the statue “must have cost several thousand dollars–and is a beautiful piece of work.” University of Maryland authorities echoed similar sentiments, suggesting that the theft “transcended the prank stage.” While Johns Hopkins administrators suggested that the thieves, if caught, would be expelled, Hopkins Dean Edward Berry also said he did not expect the thieves to be identified.
Baltimore Sun – May 30, 1934
Diamondback – June 1, 1934
Testudo was stolen again by Johns Hopkins students early Saturday morning, May 17, 1941. When Maryland students discovered Testudo missing from his perch at the Coliseum, they immediately gave chase to the fleeing Hopkins students. After an unsuccessful pursuit, Maryland students alerted Baltimore Police of “the crime of the century,” who then notified Johns Hopkins officials of the theft. This time, Hopkins administrators found the bronze Terrapin locked up at the Homewood athletic field, where Hopkins students planned to bring the terrapin onto the field during intermission of a lacrosse match between Hopkins and the University of Maryland the next day. Instead, the Hopkins administrators sent Testudo back to the University of Maryland, much to the chagrin of their students. According to one Hopkins student, “about a hundred of us, certain that we’d beat the Marylanders this afternoon, got in autos and trucks and went to College Park last night to do something about that Terrapin.” For better or worse, by the time this gang of Hopkins students arrived, Testudo had already been taken by another group of “about fifty.” Police, searching for the terrapin, stopped the gang of Hopkins students several times, but, without Testudo, they were let go. “When we got back to Homewood,” one student said, Testudo was “on the steps of Levering Hall. So we locked it up and decided we’d pull it on the field this afternoon and give it back to its owners.”
Diamondback – May 20, 1941
Testudo was stolen several times in 1947. In the first instance, Johns Hopkins students captured the terrapin in May before the national championship lacrosse game. Sidewalks on the Johns Hopkins campus were painted by individuals who believed Maryland would beat Hopkins in the upcoming game. In retaliation, Hopkins students traveled to College Park and stole Testudo. As many as 25 Hopkins students were caught, “scalped,” and held hostage by University of Maryland students until Testudo was returned.
Later that same year, Testudo was stolen on Halloween night by University of Maryland students who resided in West Virginia. According to news accounts, on the evening before the theft, a student asked a police officer about the penalty for stealing Testudo. “Don’t know,” the officer replied, “it has never happened to a Maryland student.” In this case, Testudo was not painted or damaged, but temporarily removed and left “camouflaged in the greenhouse shrubbery.”
Only a month later, Testudo was stolen again from his pedestal outside Ritchie Coliseum, this time by students from Loyola College. Maryland students, less than excited by this specific kidnapping of Testudo by Loyola students, cited a lack of an athletic rivalry between the two schools as the reason for their indifference to his disappearance. In this case, Testudo allegedly attended a Loyola pep-rally and spent an evening on “The Block” on East Baltimore Street in downtown Baltimore. He was returned undamaged and without Loyola’s colors painted on him. Loyola students also sent a letter back with Testudo, thanking University President Byrd, for his “generous hospitality” in loaning them the statue and even wrapped Testudo in a blanket for his trek back to College Park.
After the abundance of kidnappings, Testudo was moved from his perch outside of Ritchie Coliseum into storage in the General Services Department on the east side of Route 1 for several years. Upon the completion of the new football stadium at the University of Maryland in 1950, Testudo was brought out of storage, relocated outside of the new stadium, and filled with cement to prevent future thefts. Seeking a more central location for the statue, students requested that it be moved to the front of McKeldin Library, where Testudo has resided safely since 1965.
A star was born 85 years ago today, June 2, 1933! As part of Class Day festivities celebrating the graduation of the Class of 1933, our beloved “real Testudo” completed her final task and unveiled the original bronze statue created in her likeness that stood in front of Ritchie Coliseum. But what led up to all this hoopla?
Athletic teams at the Maryland Agricultural College/ University of Maryland had had various nicknames over the years–the Farmers, Aggies, Old Liners, even the Ravens at one point–but the university had never had a mascot. Members of the Class of 1933 decided they wanted to correct this and worked with then-Vice President Harry Clifton Byrd to choose the appropriate animal and create the first bronze representation. While the students diligently gathered the necessary funds, Byrd wrote the owner of the Holland Sea Food Company in Crisfield, MD, his hometown, asking him to send
one big Diamondback Terrapin of Maryland variety, and not one of those that come from North Carolina. I want it to use as a model for a sculpture
When this beautiful creature arrived in College Park, SGA President Ralph Williams took her off on a train trip to Providence, RI, to meet up with sculptor Aristide Cianfarani for multiple modeling sessions. The Gorham Manufacturing Company, led at the time by former UMD quarterback Edmund Mayo, created the statue and dispatched it to College Park, where our plucky terrapin participated in the unveiling.
The original statue stood in front of Ritchie Coliseum, but, at 300-400 pounds in weight, was subject to frequent turtle-napping by rival schools. When university officials tired of tracking down the missing bronze and arranging for its return, they filled Testudo with cement and steel rods, bringing its total weight to approximately 1,000 pounds, and permanently attached the piece to its base. They also decided to move Testudo to a more secure location, and, after several shifts, positioned the statue in front of McKeldin Library in 1965, where it remains to this day.
The popularity of this university symbol has led to the creation of additional replicas, located across the campus. You can find Testudo near the information desk in the Stamp, at two different spots in Maryland Stadium, at the top of the south stairs at Xfinity, on a brick pathway at the Riggs Alumni Center, and now in the Robert L. and Gertrude M. Edwards Courtyard at Van Munching Hall.
So when you pass one of the statues today, give Testudo’s nose a vigorous rub for good luck and wish our beloved mascot “Happy Birthday!”
A few months ago, the University Archives received a very special addition to our collections: a copy of the original song, the “MAC Cadet Two Step.” It is the oldest published UMD song, dating from 1897! The only other copy of it that’s known to exist is at the Library of Congress, and the song is among the oldest pieces of copyrighted music in its collections.
The song was written by Ira E. Whitehill, an accomplished Maryland Agricultural College student and member of the Mandolin Ensemble. The student-run club was created in the 1896-1897 school year, but it really didn’t hit its stride until Whitehill, the only member of the original group who returned to campus the following year, assumed his role as director that fall. His “quick musical insight” allowed him to assemble the highest quality musical talent from among the cadets, aiming to create a group that would be an “honor to the college and to themselves.” That year, the ensemble was lauded by the Reveille (the MAC yearbook) as a “remarkable advancement” from the previous year’s attempt.
Whitehill went on to compose many other songs, including the comedic “College Hash” and the “Reveille March and Two-Step,” which was written to honor The Reveille yearbook. Both songs were featured in the commencement exercises of 1899.
The most recent performance of the “MAC Cadet Two-Step” took place in 2015 at L. Richmond Sparks’ retirement concert. You can listen to the lively tune here. Another very special rendition was part of the half-time show at Homecoming in 2008, celebrating the band’s 100th anniversary; you can find this on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/0UWZcm_LGBs.
Ira Whitehill’s dedication to his craft and his school set a precedent for future student-run organizations. He not only built a lasting example for future installments of the Mandolin Ensemble, but he also created a wonderful piece of University of Maryland history that will now remain on campus for many years to come.
If you asked the first 100 fans you meet in Maryland Stadium “Did the Terps ever take on an Ivy League team on the gridiron,” probably the vast majority would respond, “No.” They would be surprised to learn that Maryland did indeed face off with Yale, Princeton, and Penn a total of 18 times, beginning in 1919 with a game against the Yale Bulldogs.
Terps’ losses far outnumbered their wins–vs. Yale (2-8-1), Princeton (0-2) and Pennsylvania (1-4). Their most lopsided loss came against Penn, 51-0, in the 1940 match-up. The last time Maryland played against an Ivy League team was in 1941, losing again to Penn, 55-6. Terps have never taken on Columbia, Brown, Cornell or Dartmouth.
The University of Maryland Archives recently received the 1930 handwritten diary of Ruth M. Finzel (Class of 1931), of Mt. Savage, MD. In it, she shares her experiences as a co-ed in the College of Education, living in the newly constructed Alpha Omega Pi house on College Avenue and as an active participant in the Y.W.C.A. and women’snon-varsity sports, such as tennis, basketball, bowling at College Park lanes, and soccer. The University Archives staff has transcribed the diary and will be sharing excerpts from Ruth’s chronicles in future blog posts.
We begin with May Day, a popular spring tradition that played an important role on campus during Ruth’s era. May Day festivities (1923-1961) were first established by Dean of Women Adele Stamp. They included an elaborate pageant with costumes, a theme such as “Nursery Rhymes, “Neptune, Ruler of the Sea,” “Rip Van Winkle,” and “Famous Lovers,” dancing around the Maypole, and the crowning of a queen and her court. The junior women worked many months creating the handmade invitations and costumes to honor the seniors.
Ruth and her AOPi sorority sisters attended numerous rehearsals on the lawn starting in April to prepare for the occasion. Their heightened interest was inspired by the fact that her sorority sister, Evalyn Ridout (Arts & Sciences, Annapolis, MD), was to be crowned May Day Queen. All the junior women spent many hours creating the handmade invitations and festive costumes that captured the Zingaree, the Gypsy theme for the year.
1930 May Day invitation and program
May Day program pages
The morning of May Day began with rain but fortunately cleared in time for the ceremony. Pictured here, Queen Evalyn Ridout is accompanied by her four attendants:
Left to Right:=
Alice (Curry) Nourse, Educ., Davidsonville, MD, Kappa Kappa Gamma
Isabel Dynes, Home Economics, Chevy Chase, MD, Alpha Ypsilon Chi
Isabel (Izzy) Bewick, Education, Cumberland, MD, Kappa Delta
Roberta Harrison, Education, Washington, DC, Chi Omega
“Rained off & on but finally cleared up so we had May Day. It was a gypsy theme and fairly good. Evalyn Ridout was May Queen with Izzy Bewick, Isabel Dynes, Curry Nourse, & Roberta Harrison as maids.
Went to the Chorus recital with Marguerite & Helen & nearly had hysterics over a woman who sang.”
We post this today, on the 86th anniversary of this special day in Ruth’s life, and encourage you to check back for future snapshots of this era in UMD history! Enjoy these additional photos of Zingaree and the gypsies.
37 is for the number of sections on (the original) Testudo’s shell
Testudo, we all know him. Whether as the mascot who tirelessly cheers our sports teams to victory, or the subject of statues and artwork throughout the campus and the College Park area, or maybe even as the dapper guy on the right asking out three sorority sisters at once, he is a constant presence in our lives at the University of Maryland. But did you know that the University Archives at Hornbake Library has the preserved remains of the real-life diamondback terrapin who served as the model for the Testudo statues, like the one in front of McKeldin? This treasure is the subject of today’s post!
Our story begins in January 1933, when Harry Clifton “Curley” Byrd, then an assistant to University President Raymond A. Pearson, wrote a letter to the Holland Sea Food Company in Crisfield, Maryland, his hometown. Byrd instructs Mr. Holland to send:
“one big diamondback terrapin of Maryland variety, and not one of those that come from North Carolina. I want it to use as a model for a sculpture.”
The impetus behind acquiring this turtle originated with the Senior Class of 1933, which wished to leave behind a terrapin statue as a class gift. Consequently Dr. Byrd purchased “Archbishop,” aka “Archie,” (soon to be re-christened Testudo) and sent him on to Providence, Rhode Island, to be modeled in bronze by the Gorham Manufacturing Company under the direct supervision of Maryland Agricultural College Class of 1904 alum — and former quarterback — Edmund C. Mayo. “Archbishop” traveled overnight on the train in the company of Senior Class President Ralph Williams, who was also responsible for bringing “Archie” back alive to participate in the statue’s dedication.
According to the May 27, 1933, issue of the Old Line student magazine, Mr. Mayo, now president of Gorham Manufacturing, produced the statue at cost, after Aristide Cianifarani made a model of the live terrapin in clay, based on designs by Joseph Himmelheber. The base of the statue was a separate gift from the Student Government Association, and was likewise produced at cost by Bunt Watkins based on designs by Major Howard Cutler, who had previously designed Ritchie Coliseum, where the statue was to reside.
As to the reasoning behind the gift-giving, the unsigned article continues:
“The memorial has been erected for two purposes. First, it will perpetuate the symbol that the University has adopted, and second, it is to serve as an award to the class winning the annual Freshman-Sophomore struggle. The name of each victorious class is to be engraved each year on a bronze plaque on the base of the memorial, for ten years. After that, bronze plates will be placed around the top of the base, to perpetuate the conquering classes in name at least.
The bronze Terrapin is five feet long, twenty inches high and three feet wide. The original, who measures ten inches, will help unveil his own image on June 2.”
On the day of the big reveal, “Archie” was again called into service. As reported by the Diamondback, “with a string attached to the cloth covering the bronze image and tied about his neck, he ambled off at the precise moment and unveiled his image.”
Unfortunately, the strain of his duties and a particularly hot summer proved too much for Testudo née Archbishop, and he died shortly thereafter. Again, the Diamondback reported, “Dr. R.V. Truitt, head of the Zoology Department, has kept ‘Archie’s’ remains in a state of preservation and now the S.G.A. has essayed to finance the mounting of the terrapin so that he may repose in the Coliseum to arrest the curious gaze of future generations of Maryland students.”
“Archbishop” no longer lives at Ritchie Coliseum, but instead enjoys a quieter after-life, preserved in a humidity-controlled case in a vault in the University Archives at Hornbake Library.
Many classes that tour the Archives and all visitors to Hornbake on Maryland Day have the chance to count the number of sections on his shell and take selfies with the university’s most famous diamondback terrapin! The campus community is forever grateful for his brave sacrifice. Happy Maryland Day, everyone! Don’t forget to stop by Hornbake and visit the real Testudo!
This is a post in our new series on Terrapin Tales called UMD123! Similar to our “ABC’s of UMD” series last semester, posts in this series will take a look at the university’s history “by the numbers.” New posts will come out twice a month, on Wednesdays, throughout the semester; search “UMD123” or check out Twitter#UMD123to see the rest. If you want to learn more about campus history, you can also visit our encyclopedia University of Maryland A to Z: MAC to Millennium for more UMD facts.
Ritchie Coliseum is a well-known fixture on our campus (see University of Maryland A to Z under letter R). We know the coliseum as one of the many campus venues for recreation and wellness and as the home of our men’s basketball team from 1932 to 1955 –- but it has also hosted historic campus performances! Imagine in 1956 one of the world’s most famous jazz musicians, Duke Ellington, bringing the “Big Band” style of music to the University of Maryland in a spectacular showdown. For the fall 1956 season opener, Ritchie Coliseum hosted a Jazz vs. Classics Pop Concert. As reported by The Diamondback, the cost to students to witness this historic concert was only $1 (that’s just $8.72 today with inflation)!
Duke Ellington is known for elevating the perception of jazz music to spectacular heights. He posthumously earned a 1999 Pulitzer Prize for music “in recognition of his musical genius, which evoked aesthetically the principles of democracy through the medium of jazz and thus made an indelible contribution to art and culture.”  In October 1956, when he came to campus, Ellington was in the midst of a career-making world tour. Only a few months prior to his campus visit, he had performed at the Newport Jazz Festival – an annual music festival held in Newport, Rhode Island – in one of the festival’s most historic performances. You can listen to recordings from that 1956 festival performance via the Internet Archive.
Duke Ellington’s campus performance is just one of the many important and interesting records of campus history found in The Diamondback. In order to facilitate online access to the entire run of The Diamondback, from 1910 to the present, the University Archives is in the process of digitizing the student newspaper from microfilm. Thanks to a successful Launch UMD campaign, we can look forward to accessing these newspapers online in 2016! This post is the fifth in a series about the Diamondback Digitization project written by graduate assistant Jen Wachtel. Check the Twitter hashtag #digiDBK or the DigiDBK tag on the Terrapin Tales blog for previous updates.
If you love political trivia, stay tuned for the next post!
We all know that when you think of Leap Day, you think of this graphic that recently circulated on Facebook:
Here at the Special Collections and University Archives, we have another reaction:
That’s right, another day of the year means another day of The Diamondback!
One hundred years ago today, the M.A.C. Weekly, a predecessor of The Diamondback student newspaper, was abuzz with gossip about an age-old Leap Year tradition. Customs rooted in British folklore held that Leap Day was the one day of the year when well-to-do women could propose to men. Today, a woman proposing to a man is not unheard of – but in 1916 it was taboo and still considered “unfeminine,” even on Leap Day. Please enjoy the ladies’ humorous take on Leap Day traditions, including a recipe for disaster and a poem proclaiming “Go to it girls! now’s your chance…”!
“A Lament” by “Resigned” Letter to the editor
“A Letter” Guest column by a student’s mother
“Advice to the Lovelorn” Romance advice column
Cheer Up, Girls! Poem about ladies courting gentlemen on Leap Day
“Leap-Year Recipe” A recipe for disaster!
“What I Think of Leap Year” by Dorothy Dick
(right-click images to open in new tabs)
Ladies, do you plan to honor tradition and snatch up your men today like the female students from exactly a century ago? What do you think about this custom on campus? Let us know in the comments!
Graduate assistant Jen Wachtel stumbled upon these gems on microfilm in the Leap Day issue of the M.A.C. Weekly as part of the #digiDBK project. We’re looking forward to digitizing all issues of The Diamondback and making them searchable online, thanks to generous donors and our successful LaunchUMD campaign. This post is the third in a series of important and interesting stories from the Diamondback Digitization project. Check back twice a month for future installments!