1948 - 1949

Director: David A. Field

  • President: William Harris
  • Vice President: George Sorg
  • Secretary: Dorothy Drake
  • Treasurer: Winfield Oppegard
  • Gymnastic Chairmen: William Foland
  • Best Act: "The Skyscrapers" (Perch Pole) - Gordon Zollinhofer and Chuck Finch
  • Best Female Trouper: Kathleen Larcome
  • Best Male Trouper: Tom Bolgiano

New Destinations

Gymnastics Team

In its third year, the Gymnastic Team began to enter competition with other colleges.  The first of these competitions took place on February 18, 1949, at Durham, against Duke and Georgia Tech. 

Getting transportation to the meets was one of the problems Mr. Field had to overcome.  He was able to get some help from the Athletic Department, although the means of transportation was anything but comfortable.  As Chuck Pinckney explains,

"The college had a couple of 1946 Packard 8-passenger limousines which they used for transporting the smaller teams.  They seated six comfortably, with two pull-down jumpseats.  Since there were always nine of us traveling, the odd guy sat on an upturned suitcase and we'd rotate every hour or two.  When we stopped for a meal or a pit stop and all nine of us came piling out of that car it looked like a clown act."

Nevertheless in its first meet, the team, led by Chuck Pinckney who took first in flying rings and horizontal bar, won soundly with a score of 50.5 to Duke's 14.5 and Georgia Tech's 14 before a crowd of 4000 spectators.  The Gymnastic Team also took the District of Columbia's First American Amateur Union (A.A.U.) Gymnastic Championship in March.

The team hosted the University's first intercollegiate meet on March 26, 1949, once again against the Duke Blue Devils, and once again earning a victory.

A successful season by any account, yet despite these victories, the Gymnastic team still was not given what it sought most - varsity status.



"Why lift cold iron bars when membership in the Gymkana Troupe will enable you to pick up an attractive young lady instead?"
David A. Field, Acrobat Magazine, May 1949

With its shows containing ever more variety and with the increase in interest among the student body, Dr. Field launched the third year of the Gymkana Troupe by establishing a new managerial system.  One Senior Manager, two Junior Managers, and four Sophomore Managers were added to the Gymkana hierarchy.  The responsibilities of these managers included arranging transportation to shows and emceeing shows, as well as coordinating lighting, music, and numerous other aspects involved in running a gymnastics group and putting on performances. 

The goal of this third Troupe seems to have been to outdo the efforts of the 47-48 Troupe with the addition of everything from unicycling, roller skating and stilt walking to slack wire and the Spanish web. 

One of the riskiest acts added that year was the "Iron Jaw" in which Conrad Yunker held himself suspended from a rope by biting down on a bit.  Another variation was for Conrad to hang by his legs from a trapeze and hold up someone else on a lower trapeze using the same bit.

That year the Troupe made plans for twenty-two off campus performances in five states (Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York) during its road show season.  One performance took place at Oneonta High School in New York, David Field's alma mater.  The schedule also included two television appearances (WOIC and WMAL Television). 

In addition, the Troupe had six performances (half time, at carnivals, etc.) on campus during its road show season.

Again the Troupe ended its third season with the Home Show in Ritchie Coliseum, this time on two nights (April 12th and 13th) in order to accommodate an even larger audience. 

A new twist added to this Home Show was the inclusion of a common theme to bind all of the acts together - "A Day at the Beach".

"The date of this story is the summer of 1965.  Joe Terp, class of '49, tells freshman Moe Twerp, class of '69, of the trips to Ocean City during his college years.  One summer in particular, he recollects, the Gymkana Troupe's day at the proverbial playground for the University.  You are invited to hear Joe's reminiscing at the table in the corner of Jackson's Night Club."
1949 Home Show Program

The men on parallel bars became the "Life Guards".  The Pyramids act was "Sand Castles".  Ladders became the "Fire Brigade". One of the highlights of the show was when Conrad Yunker, in a variation of his "Iron Jaw" act, used a pulley to slide down a one hundred foot wire stretched across the Coliseum, againsupported only by the grip of his teeth.

The tradition of having a theme as a sort of overall story for the Home Show would continue for many years thereafter.