I did a doubletake on reading this in my Ives biography. Speaking of Yale, which Ives attended, Jan Swafford writes (pp. 105)–

“Tradition ruled college life, from the weird ratcheting Greek Cheer of the football stadium, taken from Aristophanes’ The Frogs (BREK KEK KEK KEK! KOAX! KOAX!), to the structure of student-run activities, to the ceremonies of Ivy Day and graduation.”

Joyce also quotes the Frogs’ cry on first or second page of Finnegans Wake. Could he have been thinking of Yale? (Ostrygods gaggin fishy gods…) From what I can gather from the Yale Daily News, the cheer began in the 1880’s and disappeared in the 1960’s. Ives entered Yale in 1894. Listen to this glowing account of his success there (Swafford pp.104):

Yet Ives blazed through Yale as one of the most visible and popular men on campus, finally to be singled out as one of the ‘geniuses’ of his class. In his grief and emptiness [on the recent death of his father] he directed himself outward rather than inward. The system of achieving campus success was Byzantine, but Charlie mastered it, made his connections, and sailed to glory. As he had before and would time and again in the future, he would, with little overt sign of ambition, percolate to the highest rank of whatever endeavor he involved himself in.

Note, however, that this success did not extend toward academics, and grade-wise Ives was a below-average student.

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