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During the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s, when Sigma Nu was mentioned, two things came to mind; our acknowledged reputation for being the most close knit fraternity campus, and “VIKING”.  Now, there are 1,000 Viking stories and, realistically, Viking could be a website in and of itself, so this section is just intended to provide a feel for what the event entailed.

Viking was rumored to have been conceived in the mid 1950’s.  That early Viking saw Viking dates arrive on horseback, but aside from a change in transportation mode, the Viking parties of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s carried on many of the traditions seen at Viking I.

Viking was arguably the best known and most highly anticipated of the campus fraternity parties.  Fiji had “Fiji Island”, The Delts had “Great Pumpkin”, The SAE’s had “Paddy Murphy”, but none came close to Sigma Nu “Viking” in terms of planning and execution.  There was also a story floating around that Epsilon Nu’s Viking Party was voted among the “Best College Parties” by Playboy Magazine in the mid 1970’s.

In our era, Viking always took place in the fall and planning began almost immediately after the Social Chairman drafted the schedule of events for that fall semester.  A Viking Chairman was selected and committees were formed to take care of boat building, cave construction, logo/t-shirt design, invitations, decorations, kerosene torches/letters, wind-dings, rack-shack, and Bota bag procurement.

Several weeks before the event, an Active was selected to gather up and secure all of the razors in the House.  This was to promote the growth of Viking beards or, in many cases, Viking stubble.  There was to be no shaving in the weeks leading up to Viking.  It was imperative to look barbaric.  The Bics, Gillettes and Norelcos would be locked away for safe keeping and returned after the party.

We had several talented artists in the House over the years, and they were assigned the task of creating a logo for Viking.  The logo would be used on t-shirts and invitations.

Viking T-Shirts

Invitations took place in an interesting way.  Although the guys would extend personal invitations to their dates, the “formal” invitation was a poster board hand crafted by one of the House artists.  A separate poster board would be created for each dorm or campus dwelling housing one or more of the invited Viking “Wenches” or “Goddesses”.  The poster would be placed in a prominent spot in the dorm/house for all residents to see.  The invite might read something like: “The Sigma Nu Vikings expect the following wenches to put on skimpy Viking furs and ready themselves for pick up at 7:30 sharp in the main lobby of Hamilton Hall…”  The names of our dates would be spelled out below.

Side Note:  One of the best pimps on record occurred during a year when Viking fell on the same evening as the Delts’ Great Pumpkin party.  Our friends the Delts went around to all of the dorms and, from our poster board public invitations, recorded the names of all of our Viking invitees.  They then issued personal invitations to all of our dates stating that they were “...cordially invited to come across the street and join the Delts at the Great Pumpkin Party after your Sigma Nu date had passed out at Viking”; very funny.

The Boat Committee required an early start.  The Viking Boat would be the evening’s mode of transportation.  Constructed on a flatbed hay wagon obtained from a local farm, the Viking Boat was a marvel of engineering.  Carefully designed and constructed, the process would take a bit over one week.  Ultimately, we would pull the boat to one of the women’s dorms (Hamilton or Richards) where our dates had gathered en masse, and load them aboard the boat for a ride back to 300 N. Tallawanda.  Construction of the Boat would take place on the south side of the House.  In the final days nearing completion, members of the Boat committee would sleep on board to thwart the perennial threat that the Sigma Chis would set the boat ablaze during the early morning hours if left unprotected.

The Viking Boats circa 1979 and 1981 (Yes, that is an "Ode to the Moose" head at the Bow of the 1981 ship.)

The Cave was another engineering feat.  A large 40’ x 40’ tent-like structure was erected on the back patio.  Inside one would find stalactites and stalagmites and a variety of shrubbery obtained from the local woods.  The Cave also contained a makeshift pond filled with about 6” of water and a lot of dry ice.  When lit with strategically placed flood lights, the Cave became an eerie entryway to the party room in the dining area of the House.  The guys also managed to strategically place rocks and stepping stones throughout the pond to set a pathway on which to walk.

The dining area of the House became an extension of the Cave.  Decorated with painted sheets, shrubs and other paraphernalia, the area appeared quite rustic.  Usually we would hire a band (Does anyone remember “Roger and The Human Body”?) and the band would set up along the north wall of the dining room.  Wing-Dings (mini chicken legs and wings) would be fried up and served by one of the members of the kitchen staff, the bones just cast aside when the meat had been eaten away.

Ratz Shows Off Some Viking Wall Decor

In the week leading up to Viking, the guys would scramble to find the perfect Viking costume.  For many, it meant a trip to the Hamilton Goodwill or Salvation Army resale shop to search for old, faux fur coats that could be cut up to create the traditional Viking vest and skirt.  For others, a simple trip to Kmart for some furry bathroom carpeting would do the trick (we’re not talking Project Runway here).  The only decision left was whether or not to go “commando”.  The girls were on their own, but also scrambled to find appropriate Viking togs.  The women were told that to comply with Viking tradition, only a limited amount of material could be used to construct a Viking outfit.  The theory was, if the rule was followed, one’s Viking date would show up in nothing but a fur bikini.  Alas, Miami women were pretty shrewd and failed to buy our ruse. 

A few days before the event, the guys would begin to formulate “Rack-Shack” rankings.  Back then, no one slept in their rooms.  There were six rack rooms in the House that served as sleeping quarters.  Believe it or not, we would fit four sets of triple bunk beds into a standard room in the House, creating a 12-man rack room.  Rack-Shack was a Vegas style, odds-making project.  Residents of each rack room were “ranked” 1 through 12 as to who would be the first to arrive in the rack room on Viking night with his wench.  The Rack-Shack rankings were posted on the door of each rack room for all to see.  (In my many Vikings, this author was never able to crack the top 10, and that included my brief stint in the God’s Little Acre, 6-man rack room)

The night before the event, 6 foot tall E-N and V-I-K-I-N-G letters would be constructed out of wood, covered in burlap and soaked in kerosene along with a few torches the seniors would ultimately carry to light the parade route to and from the dorm where we would meet our dates.  The letters would be staked up in front of the House for future use.

On the day of the event, the guys would put the last minute touches on the Boat and the décor.  A mad dash was made to the kitchen where the guys would borrow large cooking pots and pans to use as the vessels that would serve as the holding tanks for whatever creative Viking punches the guys would conjure up.  The guys would fill their Bota bags and the drinking would start.  The afternoon kicked off with the guys going from room to room sampling the concoctions created by their Viking brothers.  A few guys would make “pillaging” runs through some of the nearby women’s dorms until it was time to depart the House en route to Hamilton Hall to pick up our dates.

Since the entire Chapter would be participating in the Boat journey, this left the House unprotected and vulnerable to sabatoge by the Sigs (there was a bit of spite between our fraternities because we consistently kicked their tails in interfraternity sports, stole their girlfriends on a regular basis, and broke a few windows in their house during a 1976 snowball fight).  So, we recruited our neighbors from Delta Upsilon to watch over the House while we out gatheing the wenches.  In return for this favor, the DUs were given a few t-shirts and were welcome wander the House sampling the Viking punches created by the guys.  Upon our return back to the House, the DUs joined us in a toast and then graciously retired to their own house. 

At the “bewitching hour”, the boys would gather outside to ready themselves for the journey up Tallawanda and over to Hamilton Hall.  We would meet outside for one group toast, and christen the Viking Boat.  Traditionally, en route the dorm, the seniors would climb aboard the Boat and the underclassmen would man the rope used to pull the Boat along its path.  The Boat would then be launched and guided by Oxford police escort up Tallawanda, through the center of campus past the Beta Bells and Elliott and Stoddard Halls, a short right on Spring Street and left on Oak to the dorm where we would literally pick up our dates.  The boys would commence what was known as “The Viking Chant”.  Sounding a bit like the palace guards from the Wizard of Oz (only tougher), the guys would begin a repetitive, heavy bass toned, “Ohhh, Oh.  Ohhh, Oh.  Ohh, Ohh, Ohh, Ohh, Ohhhh!!”  Interlaced could be heard “The Viking Call”; “Rape, Pillage, Plunder!!!!”

Our Viking Boat ritual was pretty well known, so it drew a rather large group of spectators along the Boat’s route.  Being benevolent souls, our guys would squirt Viking punch from their Bota bags into the open mouths of the thirsty crowd along the parade route.  Generally, we would pause for a brief “rest stop” on the Beta Bells and then we would make our way past Elliott and Stoddard where residents had prepared for our Boat’s passing by loading up with water balloons and launching them from third story windows.  Those halls were smart enough to batten down the hatches, but inevitably some Sigma Nus would find their way into the dorms for a bit of friendly retaliation.

                                           Viking Boat, 1982.....Viking Torchbearers, 1979

Eventually, we would arrive at our destination where our dates had gathered en masse.  Most of the girls had attended pre-Viking “fire-up” parties and were already pretty well primed for the evening.  The underclassmen would line the sidewalk outside the dorm’s entryway as the seniors made their way into the dorm’s meeting area where they would seek out their dates, throw them over their shoulders and carry them out to the Boat.  They would have to pass by the awaiting throng of underclassmen who would give a nice slap on the a** to each exposed tush that passed by.  The underclassmen would then go through the same process of finding their dates, throwing them over their shoulders and carrying them out to the Boat.  The girls were gently placed aboard the Boat for their journey back to 300 N. Tallawanda.  The underclassmen maintained the responsibility of pulling the Boat back to the House, while the seniors walked along side.  Senior House leaders and Viking committee chairmen were given the honor of carrying the lit, kerosene soaked torches to light our way back the Tallawanda and Vine.

Upon arrival back at the House, in a grand ceremony, the large EN VIKING letters would be set on fire and the boys would kneel and pray to the Viking Gods.  It was an awesome spectacle. 

The guys would meet up with their wenches and make their entrance into the Cave, eventually arriving inside the house.  Many a Viking and Viking date were known to fall into the treacherous Nordic waters of the Viking Cave.  Inside, each Viking and his Goddess would be greeted by Mom Reaves, dressed in full Viking regalia.  Mom loved this “official” function.  Once inside, the party would commence, wing dings would be served, dreams of improving one’s Rack-Shack rank would take place, and it became a real question as to who would make it through the entire evening without hurling.  Events occurring during the balance of the evening will be left to the readers’ imaginations and in the memories of those who road the Boat.  “What Happens at Viking Stays at Viking”.  Some things are still considered “Sacred”.

Amazingly, the post-Viking clean up was completed before brunch was served on the following day.  It was an entire House effort, and no matter how hung-over one might be, clean up would take place before the food was served.  And, believe me, a nice greasy brunch was the only way to cure a Viking hangover.