The Great Silverware Caper: Pranks and Antics of Cobber Coeds

Old Main almost had a different name.

April Fool’s Day is a common occasion for antics, and Cobbers have used this day to their advantage for a number of shenanigans. One such example is the Discordian – the April Fool’s issue of the Concordian student newspaper. This issue first appeared in the 1950s, but the publication had a spotty history until the 1970s. During the 1970s and 1980s, the issue appeared biannually, with one publication close to April Fool’s Day. In the last two decades, the Discordian has been an annual issue for April Fool’s and uses humor to depict the life of Cobbers.

Perhaps the most famous, or infamous, April Fool’s joke at Concordia was the Great Silverware Caper in 1961. Students filched dishware and silverware from Dining Services, transported them to the library, and set the tables in what was the North Reading Room (now the Fishbowl) during the middle of the night. The next morning, place settings were ready for 120, leaving little dishware in Dining Services to feed hungry Cobbers waiting for breakfast. This prank was so unique that The Forum newspaper covered it on numerous occasions. In 1981, the class of 1961 returned for their 20-year reunion. The reunion breakfast was held in the Fishbowl to commemorate the greatest prank in Concordia’s history. After two decades of silence, the eight Cobbers that conducted the prank were revealed and received absolution from Joe Knutson, former Concordia president. The Forum again covered the story, naming the students and describing how the prank was conducted.

The antics of Cobbers extend beyond April Fool’s jokes. One such example is the Bogstad’s Bog protest in the fall of 1966. On Sept. 28, 1966, Concordia’s Board of Regents decided to rename Old Main to Bogstad Hall in reverence of the man responsible for its creation (former Concordia President Rasmus Bogstad). Fond of the Old Main name, students reacted to this decision in protest. On the evening of Oct. 16, 1966, more than 500 students gathered at Prexy’s Pond to proclaim that Old Main shall remain. As a form of nomenclature retaliation, students asserted that Prexy’s Pond should be renamed Bogstad’s Bog. In February 1967, President Knutson declared a motion to reinstate the name of Old Main, which took effect after the Board of Regent’s April 1967 meeting.

These examples are just a few illustrations of the imaginative minds of Cobbers. Other examples abound such as using ramps and shopping carts to launch into Prexy’s Pond, releasing chickens in the library, and running about campus in scuba diving gear. Two things can be counted on in the Fargo-Moorhead area: (1) floods and (2) creative college students.

– Contributed by Lisa Sjoberg, former college archivist