Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Georgia Tech's Freshman Rat Caps

Whereas RATS Week must be a relatively new “tradition”, the little yellow rat caps have been around GT for ages. You may have read where all freshmen were required to wear the rat caps constantly during the fall. They could take it off if Tech beat Georgia (back then the game was played the first Saturday of December). Otherwise freshman had to wear the cap until Christmas break.

Back when I was a freshman in 1977, we only had to wear the caps to football games. Freshman had to sit in the Rat Section, the wooden West stands closest to the field. Any freshmen sitting in the Rat Section without caps were verbally harassed. Freshmen were instructed to write “The Good Word” on the back of the cap.

My best buddy Don Lott and I would always sit together, wearing our caps. As good Baptists, we wrote “To Heck With Georgia” on the back of our caps. One game an upperclassman saw this and screamed at us. We made the correction for the next game.

Before games upperclassmen would chant “rats on the field!” until the freshmen ran out to form a tunnel for the team to run through. The band would line up across the field, forming the top of the “T”. Then the upperclassmen would chant for the rats to “get” the other team’s mascot. If a couple of freshmen bolted ranks and chased the mascot, the stands would go crazy. If not, the upperclassmen would chant “damn poor rats!”

Nowadays the wooden Rat Section is gone, and few students are seen wearing rat caps. The exception is the band. When the band is shown on TV, sometimes you’ll spot a bandmember in their rat cap.

In addition to The Good Word, freshmen are to write the score of each football game on their cap. Losses are to be written upside down, and ties sideways. On the underside of the bill (which shows since rats must wear the cap with the bill flipped up) you write RAT, your name, major, and expected graduation year. Co-op students are to draw a circle around the top button.

I still have my rat cap. Google “Georgia Tech Rat Cap” and you’ll see tons of photos.

When we were freshmen, freshman orientation was called FASET: Familiarization and Adaptation to the Surroundings and Environs of Tech. A nice upperclassman showed us around the campus, and showed us where all fraternity houses were. At night he took us to several bars. One was just down the road from SPdL, and another was Manuel’s. It was during FASET that I met Steve Norman and Fred O’s friend John Rose.

COMPUTERS: About all I’m good at it is untangling wires and turning things on and off. But sometimes with these newfangled computers, I don’t even know where the switch is. Especially Apple computers, and iPods and iPads and the like. My family loves them. I’m decent with the desktop, but Saturday was the first time I messed with an iPad. I didn’t do much.

Now we have an “extra” iPod. I could use it to take pictures and listen to books, and have the Bible on it for church. But whenever you see someone at church, you never know if they have a Bible app or if they’re just checking text messages.

Our modem at home isn’t as fast as it’s supposed to be.

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