By Neil Kiely
In a previous issue of the News, I asked if there was any truth to the rumor that the term Hoggers, which subsequently became the mascot of the school, was a term created by members of the Class of 1970. I have been pleasantly surprised by the many responses I have received — some of which I can actually print in this column.
By the end of this column I am sure that you will agree that the Mount Hermon Class of 1970 did in fact spawn the term Hoggers. Although there is some discrepancy as to the exact time and place of the origin, there is enough commonality in the stories to be convinced of the facts.
Peter Huntsman writes that the answer to the question is an astounding “Yes.” He recalls that some of the ‘cooler members’ of the class (Peter says that at the time he was somewhere between a ‘nerd and a dweeb’) were looking at an old ski poster hanging in a classmate’s room. It sounds like it might have been Hogback Mountain (I used the term ‘mountain’ very loosely; a small ski area located about 25 miles from campus). One of these ‘cool’ guys exclaimed: “The school is the Hog” and as far as Peter is concerned, the rest is history.
In short order, hog-like nicknames became a big part of the Class of 1970 to include Bruce “Hot-Hogger” Berk, Jim “Rabbit Man of Hog” Eckart, Tom “Mongoose Man of Hog” Kaster, Collins “Mantis Man of Hog” Lein and George “Bush Man of Hog” Turner.
Peter recalls that Tom Green was the first person he actually heard yell Go Hoggers at an athletic event.
Bruce Berk and Vitz Chute both sent confirmation that that they felt strongly those members of our class were responsible. Vitz seemed to think that it began in the Cottages, possibly sophomore year, when someone looked at the Chapel as a symbol (use your imagination) and since it was the center of campus and a high precipice, the term Hog was created.
Over time the nickname of the school was shortened to simply The Hog so it was natural that those attending The Hog would be termed Hoggers! One name that comes up consistently as either an instigator, one of the creators or someone who could shed some light on this subject is Eugene “Geno” Ward but I have not been able to reach him.
As things evolved, Bruce and a few others remember the Hot Hogger Award (apparently I never won!) becoming a much anticipated weekly tradition. Bruce remembers carving a wooden totem where the weekly winners name would be carved. I am having a bit of difficulty getting a handle on exactly who picked the weekly winner. I also don’t know what one did to qualify for this honor but I don’t think I will pursue it much further at this point, if you get my drift. If you have any further insight into how our class helped create Hoggers, please contact me.
From Don Melson:
“I remember you (Gene Ward) as the first person to coin the term The Hog and Hoggers during sophomore year.”
From Steve Chiasson:
“The story has the ring of truth to it. I’m not sure we can ever nail this down with 100% certainty, but I’m 100% certain that nobody else can make a stronger claim.”
From Hap Shadler:
“My first memory of the Hog or Hoggers goes back to a JV baseball bus ride in 1969. We were all bitching about what we could or cold not do at Hermon at the time and we came around a bend and you could see the campus in the distance. Dixie Witzel who was always a good wit and sarcastic as hell yelled out, ‘There she is, Mt. Hog.’ From other class comments, Dixie probably wasn’t the first to coin the term – but the first time I heard it. The term definitely started out as a derisive nickname for the school. It amuses me that it went from that to a term of endearment.”
From Gene Ward:
“So, here’s my take on the origin of the term Hogger. It was sophomore year and a group of us were in Room 403 of Overtoun. Don Melson, Bruce Berk, myself and a couple of others were shooting the bull. A comment was made about how tightly the school has us scheduled so we wouldn’t get into trouble. I remarked, “Yeah, we’re like little hogs being prodded from one place to the next. We’re just little Hoggers.”
From there, the class collective took it over and it spread until the school was known as The Hog and we were its Hoggers.”
In our junior year Lincoln Baxter and I (along with sophomore drummer Hud Bunce) formed the First Hog Blues Band. We didn’t have the cachet of the Silent Cheer, but we played at a number of school events and for a time had a regular gig at the Berkshire East ski area in Charlemont. I recall writing a song, now lost in the mists of time, called “High on the Hog.” And I still have an old American Tourister suitcase (used to carry mics, etc) with “FHBB” scrawled on it in blue magic marker.
“true piece of Hog memorabilia”