Old Gold and Black

April 14, 1922


Perhaps an old Shifter haunt just off the north end of the old campus.

Site Editor's Note: From an age where "secret orders" took on sinister veils, it is refreshing to read Cash's take on The Shifters--a member of which order he no doubt had become--who had as their chief rite of passage the bumming of cigarettes from their fellows. So much Shifting would apparently take place at Wake Forest in the ensuing three decades that the Grand Potentate of the Shifters would buy up the campus lock-stock-and-barrel and shift it ninety miles down the road to Winston-Salem. Yet, since 1922, we have learned much of the veil that these little "coffin tacks" place upon their partakers when the results are viewed from within the shadow box--though obviously not unknown then too. Running laps--a better fraternal initiation, perhaps--and cheaper--for today's Shifters. The only good thing nicotine can do, when the tobacco is made a little wet, is to relieve the bite of the sting of a bee. Remember that on the trail. It works. One day, perhaps, we will buy the little buggers strictly for external use.


Starting on the western coast of this country, the "Loyal Order of Shifters" has spread like wildfire to country and city alike, and this peaceful campus has finally been invaded by the mystic hordes, yea, verily, even by a mighty army of the brotherhood.

What is meant by the word "shifters," what are the secrets, benefits and objectives of the noble order? Would that one could enlighten those who have not yet become members, but it cannot be, for it seems that the ties of fraternalism have bound the "shifters" into one unit, and not a word will they tell one unless he has sworn to take the initiation and to divulge the mysteries of the shrine to no one but the initiated.

But mystic as it is, there seems to be no doubt of its popularity, for in the space of five days its membership has increased from one man to two hundred and ninety-nine (this has been ascertained from the secretary to the high potentate), and their motto is "A 100-per-cent Shifters' student body." The brothers haunt the drugstores from morn 'till night, successfully inducing others to affiliate themselves with a mighty army which is marching from coast to coast. And it is indeed a moment of rejoicing in the camp when the strong arms of the brotherhood are opened to embrace another member to its bosom.

Then it is that both benefits and drawbacks of the organization may be seen,--the newly initiated is escorted into the interior of the nearest drugstore or soda fountain, and as the members of the initiation committee file by the counter it is seen that each one is presented with a pack of cigarettes, an Eskimo pie, etc., whichever his palette may prefer, all of which are evidently being paid for by the new member. Business in one of the village drugstores has increased so greatly in volume since the advent of the Shifters that the proprietor has found it necessary to increase his force of "soda-jerkers," while in all of the stores the daily orders for cigarettes and ice cream have been doubled.

It seems that the Shifters are here to stay, and the breasts of our cigarette "bums" are made glad, for since becoming members it is no longer a problem for them as to where their daily supply of coffin tacks will come from, for they have only to mutter a few mysterious words to a fellow-Shifter, and lo! seemingly from out of the very skies appear the articles he desires. Thus it can readily be seen that instead of being termed a "dead-beat" or "bum," he is lifted to a higher level of respect in the eyes of his fellow-men, for he is a noble "Shifter."

Time alone can tell the finish of this fine and loyal order, but certain it is that it is flourishing and prospering here, and living on the fat of the land, and slowly, but surely, one can see the orders of Flo's and Yellowdogs, which were so popular here in the not-far-distant past, receding and giving way to the newest of all orders, both national and local, "The Shifters of America."

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