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Crazy College Kids From The Past

from The LA Times

In an era of USC-UCLA pranks, one stood out. Sixty years later, its mystery is solved

by Zach Helfand

USC prankstersFrom left to right: Dave Visel, Mike Loshin, Wally Karabian, Jerry VanWert and Steve Marienhoff. (Photo courtesy of Maria Aparicio)

A septuagenarian professor and former USC student, having caught wind of a forthcoming story in the Los Angeles Times, recently sent a cryptic email to the newspaper.

Sixty years ago, the professor, Dayle Barnes, belonged to an organization at USC called the Trojan Squires, which pulled off one of the most memorable in a long line of pranks in USC’s rivalry with UCLA. For the game at the Coliseum in 1957, UCLA’s student section had planned a series of card stunts. The UCLA students were to hold up placards that would combine to form Bruins-friendly words and pictures.

Except when the students actually did hold up their cards, they had been altered by a band of USC saboteurs. In each stunt, the unwitting UCLA students revealed a different pro-USC message. It caused such a stir that Sports Illustrated wrote about the prank — without interviewing its creators.

Barnes wrote in the email that reporting about the prank’s creators would be a “tough assignment” given “the complete secrecy with which the clandestine group of Trojan Squires” operated.

He explained that though he was part of the Squires, the prank was conceived and executed by a small, elite unit within the organization, operating under deep cover. Barnes didn’t know their identities.

“That is not to deny, however, that more than a few of that year’s membership were eminently qualified, by background and personality, successfully to conduct a covert assignment,” he wrote.

The mystery endured among the dwindling population of USC and UCLA alumni who keep score of such pranks. There would be no answer for 60 years.

Until now.

[ click to continue reading at LAT ]

Posted on November 14, 2017 by Editor

Filed under Los Angeles, Mirth | | No Comments »