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The 1961 International Intercollegiate Turtle Tournament

It’s hard to know quite what University of Adelaide Student Representative Council members might have made of this 1961 missive from University of Detroit Student Council President (and Head Turtle Keeper) Bob Bowen:

International Intercollegiate Turtle Tournament Invitation. From UAA Series 1433.

(To magnify click on image)

Part of the University of Detroit’s Spring Carnival (equivalent perhaps to our Prosh), the Turtle Tournament was apparently widely publicised across the United States via wire services, network television and magazines.

Whether the Adelaide SRC considered entering a turtle we don’t know. The letter of invitation certainly shows signs of having been passed through a significant number of hands, suggesting it was a source of some amusement. Perhaps the SRC didn’t have a turtle, or a dollar, or there were concerns for the welfare of the poor creature over the 10,000 mile journey to and from the big event?

Running of the International Intercollegiate Turtle Tournament, 1961. From 'Tower 61', copyright University of Detroit Mercy Special Collections.

The Tournament, if you’re interested, went ahead as scheduled on May 1, 1961 and was won by a Red Cross Board entrant unpromisingly named ‘Disaster’.  An account of the event can be found in the University of Detroit’s 1961 yearbook, along with a variety of other views of US college life in the first year of the Kennedy Presidency.

Should you wish to contrast the concerns and culture of University of Adelaide students of the era, the fully digitised collection of 1961 On Dit papers are available here.

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2 Responses

  1. arthur says:

    1961 was my first year of Uni (Adel.). Stunts and Prosh were all the rage.

    My contact with Detroit was in 1970 when I joined Uni of Detroit (Michigan) Geographic Society so that I could have a cheap chatered flight fron Detroit to London. The plane was on old Boeing 707 which leaked and as we circled over Gatwick for an hour waiting to land in heavy rain we had to raise our umbrellas to keep dry. (The airline was called ‘Scottish Caledonian Airways’).

    • Andrew Cook says:

      I’m glad you made it down ok.
      From the same SRC collection as the above I found some pamphlets from the mid-late 1950s outlining the costs of international flights. At this time air travel was still very much a luxury – too expensive for most. It was a big deal for students to travel to an international event, let alone a turtle…