The Students, Work and Recreations 141
that he had gathered them in the dark, and that pumpkins would do to eat just as
well as watermelons. But he had the money and kept it. We had the experience, and
never bought any more in the dark.
After the boys got into the new dormitories the steward was
instructed to see that no food be carried to the rooms except for sick
A rather amusing incident in connection with the dining room was
the movement set on foot by Professor John Armstrong for giving up
the use of coffee soon after he came to the Institute in February, 1835.
After the subject had been discussed for some time the students had a
meeting on March 14, 1835, to hear what could be said in its favor. It
was shown that its use as a beverage was recent, dating from the
seventeenth century, and to it was traced the degeneracy of Italians,
Turks and Englishmen. On the other hand the beasts of the field,
including lions, which drank only water had retained their ancient
vigor. Man alone had degenerated. "Here it was shown that coffee had
had a large share in consummating this mischief. It was also declared
that the use of coffee produces many other diseases dominated
nervous, and that palsies are not infrequently traceable to the use of
the same beverage." The result was that twenty-six students resolved
to renounce coffee and substitute therefor molasses and water, asking
that a separate table be given them, while ten others "formed a society
for the use of pure water." They pledged themselves to continue the
experiment three months, but whether they held out is not recorded.
The molasses and water society was headed by Elisha Burns and H.
K. Person, while J. C. Dockery and George Washington headed the
pure water group 24
Returning now to the means President Wait used to develop the
manly qualities of the young men under his charge it should first
23 Proceedings, p. 29, July, 1837.
24 Biblical Recorder, April 22, 1835. Brooks, Diary under date of March 28,
1835. "Met in the Academy and heard a very interesting speech delivered by Pro.
Armstrong relative to the use of coffee. Came to the conclusion to abandon Its use
for the space of three months and substitute molasses and water in its place."
Brooks's next minute says that he had a headache in consequence.