By Jim Harmon/Missoula Current

Camels, cookies, coaches and clairvoyance headlined the year on the University of Montana (aka MSU, at the time) campus in the fall of 1937. Oh, and let’s not forget Sam Caras’ parrot!

All that, and so much more, filled the columns of the Montana Kaimin.

Sophomore Bill Mallory (Class of ‘39) was quoted, in an advertisement for Camel cigarettes, as saying, “When I’m at the table, Camels are right there with me too. Yes sir! I’ll hand it to Camels for keeping digestion in trim.”

In the same ad, Polly Pettit, declared: “I smoke Camels and my nerves stay unruffled. I don’t want irritating habits.” Indeed!

The Montana Kaimin, November 23, 1937
The Montana Kaimin, November 23, 1937
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Meantime, Panhellenic Council members dropped what they were doing to dash to a “special, important meeting” called by Acting Dean Mary Elrod Ferguson, only to be told she “was busy and would see them in the proverbial moment.”

Then, when she finally emerged, it was only to declare: “Oh, I can’t hold a meeting now. I have to go home and make cookies.”

The Kaimin also announced new assistant Grizzly football coaches appointed by Head Coach Doug Fessenden.

Among the “aides” were a couple of fellows named Jiggs Dahlberg and Harry Adams. I wonder whatever happened to them?

The Montana Kaimin, September 24, 1937
The Montana Kaimin, September 24, 1937
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In the classroom, Associate Professor Edward M. Little described to his students the latest experiments in the field of “telepathy and clairvoyance,” convinced that the field “may have some basis in fact.”

He held up “recent research by Dr. R. C. Line of Duke University (that) indicates that both telepathy and clairvoyance may, in some cases, be possible.” Specifically, Mrs. Line would have people trying to guess “marks on cards, hidden from the subjects.”

“The results,” said Professor Little, “have been astonishing in that the percentage of recognition or guessing of marks has been far above that of probability.”

And, then there was the parrot.

It seems the campus theater group, called the Masquers, had borrowed Sam Caras’ pet parrot, named “Pal,” for their performance of “The Royal Family.”

Pal was “the handsome green parrot who decorates the Garden City Floral Shop.”

Well, Pal became sick during his time with the theater group, and there was concern that he might go to that brightly colored parrot-paradise in the sky.

The Montana Kaimin, October 8, 1937
The Montana Kaimin, October 8, 1937
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At first it was thought that perhaps Pal didn’t like the cold weather, when he was transported from place to place, but Margaret Miller, the “property mistress” for the production, quickly dispelled that notion.

“No,” she told the Kaimin, “it wasn’t a cold” that had Pal in such a pickle. She had made certain to “cover his cage with a blanket to protect him from drafts.” But parrots have to have special food, and some smart alec put something in his cage!”

She found that there were “some carrots and cake-crumbs on the bottom of the cage (and) I have come to the conclusion that carrots and cake-crumbs don’t agree with parrots.”

“We were scared silly,” said Miller, as Pal “hovered between life and death. Poor Sam!”

Poor Sam, indeed! Sam Caras quickly began giving his chatty companion “special parrot medicine – psorra, rice and milk and chamomile tea.”

He told reporters, “Parrots are very particular animals. They don’t just get sick and die. I hope he’ll pull through, but it will be four or five weeks before you can tell.”

No follow-up story could be found, but I choose to believe Pal recovered nicely and lived a long, colorful and healthy life. The end.

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