Every year, just before Easter, when colleges on the eastern seaboard pause for spring vacations, the sunny islands of Bermuda play happy host to thousands of collegians in a halcyon College Week that lasts for 28 days. Although students come and go for various parts of this four-week celebration, the islands are habitually sold out, down to the last spare room that can be temporarily wheedled from an island householder. The climax comes at the end with Rugby Week, which was the whole show when the tradition of Bermuda College Week was started in 1935. Teams from Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton and others in the East take on British service teams, local Bermuda teams and each other. The activities off the Rugby field move at just as fast a pace. Students compete in weekly tennis and golf tournaments on the islands' magnificent courts and courses; they sunbathe, splash in the surf, play in volleyball tournaments and elect a new Miss College Week in Bermuda each week; they form coveys of sightseers on buzzing motor bikes which are the principal means of transportation for tourists on the islands; they throng the shops on Front Street in Hamilton to buy devalued-pound bargains in cashmere and Shetland sweaters, madras Bermuda shorts and blazers. Once a week they converge at a Front Street pier to board an old Mississippi River steamboat, the Chauncey M. De Pew, for a two-hour cruise to the township of St. George, where the colony was first settled in 1612, and the fort of St. Catherine to see the Gombeys, brilliantly costumed native dancers. At night some students switch about and entertain others. Like the Yale Whiffenpoofs last year, they may appear thrice nightly at the Castle Harbour Hotel, yet be fighting it out on the Rugby fields again the next morning. All of this activity is supervised by the Bermuda News Bureau, which assures the continuity of operations by regular winter visits to colleges on the mainland where pictures are shown from previous years. After all, it's a pretty safe bet that the collegian of today will be tomorrow's honeymooner.
Frolic in the surf at Elbow Beach is midday warm-up for Wendy Mirick of Briarcliff Junior College, Lawrence Goodyear (left) and Lee Ault, both Yale '58. Wendy was candidate for Miss College Week in Bermuda contest.
Selection of a Queen is weekly highlight. In 1955 four Miss College Weeks were selected from candidates rounded up from sunbathers on Elbow Beach. Judges included His Worship, the Mayor of Hamilton.
Golf tournament puts collegians up against duplicates of world-famous holes. Pete Nisselson, the Yale sophomore who won, drives at Mid-Ocean.
March 26, 1956
Bikes and tennis are part of never-ending activity. Tennis is organized in tournaments at Elbow Beach Club. Cyclist is Mary Johnson of Sweet Briar.
A new sport is skin-diving with air lungs. Bermuda Divers Jeanne and Park Breck instruct Herb Franck of Tufts and Toni Colby of Smith before their first underwater exploration of Bermuda's reefs.
Rugby practice on coral beaches conditions Ivy Leaguers for scrums with British, Bermudian, Canadian and U.S. Navy sides. Trophies are given to both collegiate and national teams.
Rugby for real produces Harvard victory over Dartmouth for 1955 collegiate championship on the Bermuda Athletic Association field before gallery that includes British Regimental Band.