If you clicked here, than also go here…
By J. Henderson
Photo by B. Ashmore
If you’ve ever taken the time — and who hasn’t — to click on and glance at The War Eagle Reader’s “Stories Wanted” page, you might have noticed a reference to Auburn’s experience with the streaking fad, which began in codified earnest in the winter of 1974. In this regard, Auburn, believe it or not, was surprisingly precocious, its first streak occurring the morning of Feb. 15.
Perhaps you’ve detected a ’70s bent in much of TWER’s content and pondered its juxtaposition with our nimble ‘Net hipsterism. Yes, there’s a reason…
It’s a long, not un-boring story, but during the past two years I have been researching / writing a book pertaining in part to those events, focusing mainly on the cultural environment in which they occurred. I’ve interviewed more people than seems possible but for reasons mostly related to a desired novelty for the book when published, that buried request for stories from those at Auburn during that era was the most I’d here been willing to scratch the itch to spill, however slightly, my accumulated expertise. Until now.
Yes, the cat I’d hoped would remain, for a while longer, confined to the yearbook has been let out of the bag, and pumped full of meth and truth serum and given a bullhorn and a webcam, for the guy I interviewed this time last year, who told me he remembered shooting 8mm footage of the first night of mass streaking out on the old ROTC drill field, not only found the footage but, as I discovered purely by chance, transferred it and recently posted it on YouTube.
And so, there you have it. And so, the days of being coy are over — I am writing a book and this book is going to tell the story of Auburn streaking, among other things, and this book will be wonderful.
I am using this as an opportunity to sound my clarion call, a booming “War Damn Eagle! (Won’t You Please Give?!)” into the eternal Auburn night — if you or anyone you know would like to help in any way, be it with stories, photos, tips, advice, “now-you-should-really-talk-to” referrals, please, please send me an e-mail at email@example.com. I’d be eternally grateful — anonymity is totally fine, but if you want credit, you got it. By no means am I writing some sort of Baby-Boom name-naming tell-all… I’m really just exploring student rules and roles of that period, which was one of very rapid change (particularly for coeds), and I’m trying to use the whats, whens and whys of streaking as one of many windows into that world.
With that said…
… were you at Auburn at anytime within a 5 year vicinity of 1974? How about 10 years? Was anyone you know? Are you in that video? Could you have been? Any thoughts? Opinions? Do you have any Dean Foy stories? Any Dean Cater stories? Anyone see that first streak? The drill field action? Big Blue? The Quad? Was anyone at the Rolling Stones concert in the fall of ’69? Panty raids? Elvis? Beach Boys? Anyone at Punt, Bama, Punt?
Photo by D. Doughtie
Here is a story I wrote for a local Auburn paper back in late 2005, I believe, as the idea was taking shape, when I was innocent (I called it “The Spirit of ’74):
Describing your parents as eternal prudes is hardly more compelling than describing objects three-dimensionally or in terms of color; for most, such a description simply represents an a priori attitude essential to the fact of generation gaps.
Parents wore polyester; parents listened to the Carpenters; parents sucked.
But there are certain things parents did before they were parents, things gathering dust in wire service archives, things tucked away only in yearbooks and the backs of minds because, in a certain sense, there was no place else to tuck them. Things without pants, without waistbands… things without bras or briefs. Naked things.
For several weeks in 1974, along the seasonal borderline of late February and early March, the cheap Thursday night skin flicks at the Tiger and War Eagle theatres in downtown Auburn couldn’t hold a candle to the kind of action you could get for free on the Haley Center concourse, on the old drill field, even the President’s lawn.
That was the year the streaking fad exposed itself to Auburn.
While not its originators, Auburn students were, by all accounts, streaking’s southern ambassadors.
“Auburn…. became a national leader in ‘streaking’. During the next few weeks, the news reports of Auburn’s first streak reached the rest of the nation and a rage of streaking began to fill the country,” reads the 1974 Glomerata, which features explicit pictures of Auburn in the buff, mostly captured by Plainsman photographer Dan Doughtie.
“I think it was partly Dan’s pictures and partly the conservative area,” said then editor of the Plainsman Bill Wood regarding Auburn’s notoriety. “We weren’t the first but equally clearly we weren’t in the middle because the middle of that occurred in the first warm days of spring and we did precede that and by then the media had grown tired of it.”
The Auburn Journalism Department’s Photographer of the Year Award is named in Dan Doughtie’s honor. Doughtie was a freshman in 1974, but it is unlikely he felt like one. It was his camera that immortalized Auburn’s first streak on February 15th, when a naked male student ran down the Haley Center concourse from Thach Ave. and into a getaway car waiting at the Commons.
“About a half an hour before the guy ran, someone called the Plainsman office and said ‘there’s going to be a streaker at 10 o’clock.’ Doughtie said. “I loaded my camera and went up on the concourse and waited and people were sitting around going ‘well, is it going to happen’ and all of a sudden I hear this ‘woo hoo’ and this guy started running down from the light with just sneakers on and a mask and I took a picture where the guy had his leg up so that, as professor Mickey Logue said um… you don’t have any problems with anatomy.”
Former Auburn Athletic Director David Housel was also on the concourse that day. Housel, only five years graduated at the time, was teaching journalism that quarter.
“I was on my way back to the office, but I waited around just in case and sure enough, all of sudden you heard a murmur and then a cheer on Thach Avenue and you turn around and there’s this old boy running. He didn’t seem to be scared; he was just running very confidently through the crowd,” Housel said.
“It was one of those things where you’re thinking ‘well I’ll be damned’. You’re not sure you saw what you saw but you know you did and you say ‘well I’ll be damned. It really did happen at Auburn, that’s just wild.’”.
That first winter morning display prompted an estimated six weeks worth of random streaking on the Auburn campus, including individual as well as group efforts.
“The great story… is the streaking that followed,” said Wood. “This is one guy who runs right down the Haley Center concourse to a waiting car over there by Commons but then there were several nights of mass streaks.”
“For the next ten days, there was more nakedness on the Auburn campus – public nakedness – than ever before,” said Housel.
“It was almost like we were in Scandinavia for a while.”
For a while, the prudes were running nude.