21 Photos That Show What College Frat Life Was Like 50 Years Ago

Last month I was sitting in front of a fire on a snowy day in the Catskills when my dad blew my mind with a photo slideshow on his laptop.

He — somewhat casually — revealed a treasure trove of photos that had recently been shared with him that captured dorm and frat life at his alma mater, Lake Forest College in Illinois. The zip drives contained hundreds of behind-the-scenes photos taken by his TKE fraternity brother John McDonough back in 1964.

Click here to go right to the photos >

TKEs (Tau Kappa Epsilon) at Lake Forest College back then were best defined for what they were not, according to my dad. They were not jocks or preppies. He insists they were “all-around guys: campus leaders, good students, good singers.”

I reached out to McDonough to find out more about the photos. He told me he used an East German single lens reflex camera called a Practika. He also said he used a cheap strobe flash that he’d recently bought which flashed at 1/1000th of a second (that’s why you can see actual drops of water frozen in time in some of these photos). McDonough photographed alot of events around LFC back then, but went on to a long career as a journalist with the Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, Advertising Age and DownBeat Magazine.

These photos from 1964 (and a few from 1965) show what college and frat life was like at the time. Looks fun. There’s not much studying going on (reminds me of my college days in that respect). Take a look. And by the way, my dad Richard appears in only one of the photos. You’ll have to guess which one…

A guy shows off booty from the annual bra and panty raid.

TKE party in the basement of Nollen Hall on campus. Somebody is getting wet.

Same TKE party in the basement of Nollen Hall. Food and refreshments provided.

TKE party. Dancing. No tie required.

TKE lounge in the basement of one of the dorms. Don't really know what's going on here.

TKEs watching television.

Fraternity pranks with a mannequin.

The TKE jug band.

Yes, that's a TKE paddle hanging from his face.

Water fight: caught in the act.

This is what your standard double room in the dorm looked like in '64.

Forrester Day's popular pie eating contest.

Pie eating contestant on Forrester Day.

That's a lot of pie.

Another water fight.

TKEs watch the Senior Girls Serenade. During the annual event, frats took turns singing outside girls' dorms.

Senior Girls Serenade. More water fights.

Water fight preps: seniors came prepared with rain jackets.

TKE rush party from 1965.

TKE pledge dance in 1965. That's my dad's friend Andy.

The guy responsible for all these photos, John McDonough, is second from the left.

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