This column has covered a lot of Hillsdale gossip sources, but a look into the archives shows that we are only scratching the surface of the college’s historic tea.
On May 3, 1956, The Collegian first published the column, “Thru the Keyhole.” This scintillating news source delivered the information that everyone was dying to hear. For example, on Oct. 5, 1956, the column read, “Swain’s Lake was the site of the Delt Sig picnic, for members and their dates. There was music, dancing and a ball game. No one would tell me who played or who won.” That is some fantastic journalism.
The author followed that statement up on Oct. 12, 1956, opening the column with, “‘No news is good news,’ is a phrase I’ve heard often. But after the digging that goes on for social news, any news, to me, would be good.” A gossip column with no gossip is a tough sell.
However, I think “Thru the Keyhole” was just selling itself short. On Oct. 12, 1956, the column delivered this news: “More results from the mental ability tests were received in the past week. One fellow looked sadly at his results, then extended his hand to the fellow next to him and said, ‘Shake hands with the only guy with a negative I.Q.’” Do not worry sir, my personal experiences have proven that you are not alone in that bracket.
On Dec. 5, 1957, “Thru the Keyhole” began with this question: “Indigestion, turkey, parties, indigestion, parties … does it sound familiar?” I can’t say that it does, but then again my popularity has never been so great that I was invited to numerous Thanksgiving parties the month after Thanksgiving.
On March 19, 1959, the column read, “The Delts held a party at the house Saturday night. Returning for the weekend were Wally Balloo, Joe Disboro, and Dale Rile. Harry Schwartz had a date for J‑Hop! (Last time, Harry, better save this one.)” First of all, I’m happy for you, Harry. But let us not let that distract us, because I simply cannot believe that Wally Balloo is a real name.
As most gossip columns do, “Thru the Keyhole” had a high readership. On Jan. 7, 1960, The Collegian reported that 45 out of 73 freshmen consistently read the column.
In fact, the column became so popular that on Oct. 12, 1956 “Thru the Keyhole” launched its first and only contest. “Enter the new gala THRU THE KEYHOLE contest. Just finish this sentence in 10,000 words or less: “I read THRU THE KEYHOLE because …” Maybe it’s because you enjoy nothing at its very best. Maybe it’s because you can’t read. Whatever your reason is be sure to enter the contest.” Author: stop with that false modesty. You know you were the most sought after news source of your time.
What was the prize of the contest, you may ask? The column says, “Think of the grand prize — a gold bound volume of THRU THE KEYHOLE.” What a collectible.
“Thru the Keyhole” survived three years before its last piece of gossip was spread. On March 3, 1960 the column lost its spot in The Collegian. However, not to worry. The campus couldn’t survive long without its tea, and “Thru the Keyhole” was soon replaced by yet another gossip column.