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Anthropologists tell us that builders of sturdy monuments are better known than those whose materials were more ephemeral. The Cabin and Trail (C&T) division of the Dartmouth Outing Club presents a case in point.
C&T operates a woodshop where members produce trail signs as part of their trail-maintenance efforts. At some point in time, someone began using the woodshop to turn out tongue-in-cheek award plaques for C&T members. The plaques, located in the basement of Robinson Hall, are inscribed on wooden boards or cross-cut tree rounds. The oldest date from the early 1970s; the newest from the current year.
The awards are distributed informally and run the gamut from the obvious to the obscure. The Road Hazard Award, bolted to a scarred section of tree trunk, commemorates bad driving. The Lunchmeat Behavior Award denotes particularly egregious breaches of etiquette- lunchmeat implying a product of suspicious quality.
Some awards, like the (Double Crump)2 Power Crump Award, require translation. It honors the individual who backs-in club parlance "crumps"-out of an activity. Neither Webster's Unabridged nor the Oxford English Dictionary contains an entry for this sense of the word, but its use may stem from one of its meanings: "to bend."
Although there is no official list of award recipients, Rory Gawler '05, C&T's summer 2003 co-chair, is a true Rosetta stone for the plaques. Among his favorites: the Lightning Chopper Award, for the axe wielder who never hits the same spot twice.
Gawler is a storehouse of club anecdotes dating well beyond his Dartmouth experience. That such anecdotes are remembered may result from maintaining records of such hardiness and heft. Without plenty of wood and access to a routing table, Gawler suggests, much of the C&T's history would not be so well preserved.
By James Donnelly
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