Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Black Knight

According to popular legend, in the early 1900's, within the confines of the old classrooms in the Brick, sat an old iron stove with a small statue of a black knight affixed to the top. This knight stood proudly atop his perch, with sword and shield, two iron arms with which to hold them, and two sturdy legs with which to stand. Around this stove huddled a group of students, whispering and conniving amongst themselves. Not many days later, the old stove was seen making its way along the Kanakadea, drifting quietly away from it's former home. The Iron Knight, however, made its way into the possession of two students, one of an even class number, and one of an odd. Somehow, the knight was commandeered by the even classes, and declared "the Iron Knight of the Even Numbers", a mascot for the classes.

The odd classes fought fiercely, through attacks and trickery, to capture the Even's mascot, but were unsuccessful for many years. However, in 1922, the class of 1924 made the foolhardy decision to take the Iron Knight out into the bright of day, to pose for the class photo. At 10:15 AM the class of 1924 stood, posed and smiling with their mascot, in front of Kanakadea Hall-but the peace of the moment did not last. The odd class men, hearing of the knight's exposure, attacked, and began an epic battle, capturing the knight, and bringing the battle to the banks of Kanakadea creek. There, the knight was lost in the fray, and found again by a member of the odd, who brought the battle back to Main street. Meanwhile, the class of 1924 had enlisted the help of the freshman class of 1926, who loyally threw themselves into the battle raging along Main Street. In a stroke of brilliance, Junior Edward "Soupy" Campbell gained possession of the Iron Knight, and slipped him into his trousers. Feigning injury, Campbell was escorted off the battlefield (by two of the enemy, nonetheless!), and brought to the Delta Sigma Phi house, which had been converted into a makeshift hospital for the wounded. Soon afterwards, the battle was called to a truce, because of the concern for the welfare of the football players. The Iron Knight was in the possession of the even classes- but he did not escape unharmed. An arm was lost on the battlefield, and the odds had gained possession of the other, along with the base, legs and shield.
There is a fantastic poem that appeared, along with a photo of the missing limbs, in the 1931 yearbook, that went as follows:
The Black Knight,
The Even classes proudly boast,
Of a mascot, brave,
a relic of an old black stove,
Long since in its grave.

The evens still are prone to laugh
At our oddity
But we retain the part which means

This duel ownership was caused
(Some perchance know not)
Some years ago by a class fight-
Each a portion got.

Each Junior Class receives in stealth
Trophy treasured.
One a legless knight now guards:
One a knightless leg.

This skirmish was only the beginning of the Iron Knight's travels. Soon after this fight, the knight was hidden, only to be found in 1935 in an old bank in Hornell. The finders quickly hid it once again, after photographing their find, and it was not found again until 1938. Over and over, the tradition of its finding and hiding was continued. It is possible that some of the documented cases of the Iron Knight may be impostors: sometime during the thirtys, the odd classes produced their own mascot, a similar statue of King Alfred, which has continually been confused with the Black Knight of the Evens. The real Iron Knight was missing for about 38 years, but was returned to campus in 1977, during the reunion. For about 27 years, the knight resided first in Herrick Memorial Library, and then in Powell Campus Center. However, in 2005, the campus center was broken into during the night, and the Knight was stolen. Let us hope that with luck, the knight may make an appearance in the near future, and once again take its place as the mascot it once was.

Works Cited
Alfred University in the 1890's: Honors Seminar, Fall 1996. Herrick Memorial Library.

McCord, Jean."Black Knight Returns". Herrick Memorial Library, 2005.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps some mention of the efforts to recover the lost knight could be added. Lenka Clayton did some interesting work related to this narrative some interesting reading on the subject to be found here: