Monday, April 25, 2005

Ancient Royal Order of the Goat

The Ancient Royal Order of the Goat

Motto: Any Idiot Can Fire a Man.

In my time at Babson only the prospect of a morgue in Forest Hall has generated more questions from undergraduates than the Ancient Royal Order of the Goat. Without Greek letters, Latin mottos, or other chapters, this was Babson’s homegrown “secret society.” According to a note in a 1941 Babson Institute Alumni Bulletin the “Order” was founded before 1926. Dean John E. Millea was the “Most High and Exalted Goat” or “Imperial Goat” whose fertile mind came up with this society. “The privilege of membership in this organization is limited to the desires and whims of the Imperial Goat, thereby making our membership very exclusive.” The newly initiated received a blue and white badge or ribbon. Any more details about the group seemed to have stayed with the members. (I should say here that I would be delighted to speak with any former member of this august group.) It is an odd secret society that identifies its members in the Babsonian and the Babson Institute Alumni Bulletin. But members were not identified every year. Whether there were years when no new person was selected or whether these people simply went unnamed is not clear. Since Millea was involved in the alumni association insertion of new members names into print would have been relatively easy. The order ceased when John Millea was commissioned at the beginning of WWII and he left Babson for the duration of the war. After the war he took a position at Northeastern University.

The questions remain “What was the purpose of this organization” and “What was the criterion for selection.” The earliest reference I have is from the 1927 Babsonian where men are named and an example of why they were selected is offered. One wants to know “if we get a holiday when we don’t go on a factory trip.” Another is selected “for trying to sell Millea a casket.” A third was selected “for insisting that Los Angles has a harbor and a big 600-foot map.” The men at Babson before WWII were slightly older than students here today. Many had been at other schools before coming to Babson Institute. They had a sense of humor about themselves. I believe that the name says it all. These were men who, in some way, got Millea’s “goat.” Through some audacious or silly action or for reasons known only to Dean Millea, men were picked for his particular attention. Whether it was a complete goof or whether it was a way of keeping an eye on those who he felt needed more attention is not known. It is known that the last members were selected in 1942.

Many of the questions about the “Goats” suggest an interest in forming a current group. This was a personal project of one man. It was not designed to exist beyond him. To those looking to recreate the “Goat Club” I would ask: Why not form your own “secret society?” I have heard that there have been a couple of groups here in recent years. Care to tell me about them?

One last thing. While researching this group I found a photograph of something called “Skull and Dagger” from 1928. It lists 16 members and is not mentioned again. Who the heck were they?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Skull and Dagger is a student theatre society at San Diego State University. It was founded in 1923 and it is the oldest club on campus.

December 16, 2005 at 1:11:00 AM EST  

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