Ferber decoded: 4

I came across the following turn of phrase in Chapter 13 of So Big. Dirk has matriculated at Midwest University (one of the few Chicago places that Ferber fictionalizes in the novel, it being an amalgam of Northwestern and the U of Chicago), and has befriended an Unclassified student, a woman in her thirties. The U catalogue describes them:

Persons at least twenty-one years of age, not seeking a degree, may be admitted through the office of the University Examiner to the courses of instruction offered by the University, as unclassified students. They shall present evidence of successful experience as a teacher or other valuable educative experience in practical life… They are ineligible for public appearance… [emphasis in original]

Aha, an early reference to what we would now call academic eligibility. But we’re not necessarily talking about playing football. A number of the Chicago Alumni Magazine from 1907 describes what a public appearance can entail:

Public appearance is defined as any inter-collegiate contest, or participation (1), in an oratorical, dramatic or musical exhibition; (2), in the official management of any other exhibition; or (3), in official service on any publication under the University name, in connection with which any admission or subscription fees are charged.

In another passage, we witness the evolution of pronunciation. Goethe Street in Chicago is pronounced in any number of ways by the locals (including something approximating the original German), GOE-thee being popular, but I’ve never heard this one:

Mrs. Emery was interested in the correct pronunciation of Chicago street names.

“It’s terrible,” she said. “I think there ought to be a Movement for the proper pronunciation. The people ought to be taught; and the children in the schools. They call Goethe Street ‘Gerty’; and pronounce all the s’s in Des Plaines. Even Illinois they call ‘Illinoise.'” (ch. 15)