The Kissing Frenzy

by Betty Peterson Baker '43

This thing known as the Kissing Frenzy began among the faculty on the Weber College campus in 1943. I have never heard of it happening before or since!

It began on a beautiful spring morning at the annual Weber faculty assembly, which was scheduled for eleven o clock. Such a gathering of notable speakers! Men and women who were brilliant in their fields, popular with the students. We were so proud of them. They were a delightful bunch.

Well, the assembly went ahead as planned.

Now, there was among the faculty, a handsome young professor named Thatcher Allred, who was head of the Speech and Theater Arts Department. He particularly enjoyed hearing me sing a number called "The Lass With Delicate Air." He first heard me sing it when I was about twelve years of age. And from then on, whenever his daughter Joan and I were at the Allred home, it was requested that I sing "The Lass" before I could sit down with the Allred family and have dinner. It is a light old English number, full of melody and charm and brilliant coloratura passages, with just enough flirtation.

At the assembly, about thirty faculty members sat in a row upon the stage in stiff-backed chairs, their feet planted firmly in front of them. Then the rest of the faculty sat in the audience on the first four or five rows. That wonderful student body filled the rest of the hall.

Joan Allred, who was sitting with me at the assembly, gave my damp, cold hand a final pat and cheerily shouted, "Go to it old girl; it ll be great!"

I sang "The Lass"! Boy, did I sing it! Right at the finish I took the planned ending we had rehearsed and thought it could have been worse. And then suddenly, the auditorium seemed to explode!

Thatcher Allred leaped from his seat with the faculty in the audience, dashed upon the stage, grabbed me by the shoulders, and kissed me soundly!

"Thank you!" he roared in that beautiful, bass baritone. Almost immediately, President Henry Aldous Dixon jumped to his feet, rushed to the end of the faculty line, grabbed Pearl Allred by the shoulders, and kissed her soundly! Bowing in his most gracious way, he said, "I was not going to see one lovely young woman receive such praise and appreciation, and another go without!"

Then pandemonium broke out with a kissing frenzy among the rest of the faculty. That assembly at Weber College in 1943 was an experience to be remembered.