Tide Hop, March 1974

Tide Hop, March 1974

Photo Illustration / Kylie Cowden

Rebecca Rakowitz

While some may find news about streaking to be offensive, nothing could have been more offensive to the Alabama community than a Crimson White editorial criticizing the seemingly untouchable Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. And so for this week’s Tide Hop, we look back at the March 7, 1974, edition of the CW – an edition of nudity and blasphemy.

Streaking News #1: Streaker mistreated: Judging by the regularity of streaking stories in the 1974 Crimson White, a streaking epidemic of sorts seemed to have taken over both The University of Alabama campus and campuses nationwide.

On the front page of the edition ran a story about a streaker who was allegedly mistreated.

University student Richard Day was streaking through the Martha Parham parking lot midday one day, wearing only a wrist watch and carrying his wallet, when he was “apprehended” by a man.

“Witnesses who saw the incident…said the man grabbed Day by the hair and dragged him towards a parked Volkswagen.”

Witnesses found the incident to be quite upsetting. Not the nudity, but rather the “manhandling.” In fact, they told The Crimson White they planned to testify on Day’s behalf at his trial. 

Streaking News #2: Girlfriend streaker debut: To find another story about streaking in 1974, all a CW reader had to do was flip the page.

“His hometown honey makes her streaker debut on college stage,” read the headline of the page two story about a University student whose long distance girlfriend streaked at her college.

“Last week, freshman Howard Josey got a call from his father,” the story said. “ ’Have you read today’s Birmingham News?’ he asked, and then proceeded to break it to Howard that his girlfriend had become a nationally known streaker.”

Howard’s “hometown honey,” Laura Barton, “streaked to national prominence” when, after a play, she ran across the stage of her campus’s theater in nothing but a ski mask and sneakers.

According to the CW, an Associated Press photographer was at the show and took a photograph of Barton that was wire-photoed to publications all over the country.

“Laura was probably inspired by the wide coverage of the memorable ‘streakfest’ held at her guy’s alma mater, suggests Josey,” the article said. “‘But I really don’t know why she did it.’”

When speaking of the “streakfest,” the article was likely referencing an article from the Feb. 21 issue headlined “ ’Streaking’ beats out panty raids as top fad.”

“No ifs, ands, or butts about it,” the article said. “Streaking has come to The University of Alabama.”

The article noted several instances of streaking on the University campus and other campuses nearby.

According to the March article, Barton hadn’t spoken to Laura since the incident.

“I just don’t know what to say to her,” he said.

Streaking News #3: In the next edition, a Crimson Tide baseball win was outshined by streakers on the field.

“Streakers invaded Thomas Field Saturday afternoon when two nude men leaped over the left-centerfield fence, shook hands with Birmingham Southern left-fielder Steve Mayer, and departed through an outfield fence,” the article said.

The incident happened during the fifth inning, which the article thereafter referred to as “the inning of the streakers.”

Blasphemy toward Bear: A bold editorial ran in the edition with the headline “Bryant’s denouncement of equal funds for Women’s programs narrow-minded.”

“Criticizing Bear Bryant in this school would be equivalent to criticizing God at a Southern Baptist Convention – the consequences might be devilish,” the editorial said. “But the much-laureled Coach…has finally come up with a defensive play which is purely offensive not only to women athletes but to women in general.”

The Editorial Board felt it was both sexist and economically detrimental for the Bear to oppose equal funding for men and women’s sports. Addressing potential fears the Bear might have over funds being cut from the football team, the editorial suggests that cuts could be made in areas that were just “wasteful spending” as it is.

Bringing up further sexism, they suggest that “ridiculous programs” like Bear’s Girls, “which reek of female exploitation,” be cut. 

“It seems that the sports department and the University as a whole should be ashamed that a male athlete chooses this school over others not because of the high scholastic standards or fine sports programs of the school but because an attractive female body was paraded before him at a reception.”