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How pure is pure enough?
The first story I found on the members of this student organization at New York University was in the Syracuse Journal. It had all the earmarks of an elaborate joke. But then I came upon a longer, much more detailed story in the New York Evening Telegram and discovered this was serious business, at least to a small number of young men on the NYU campus.

It's difficult to imagine that anyone, much less a college's best and most famous football player, would put himself in the position of having to explain when and how often he kissed a girl and that he would risk humiliation in an effort to remain a member of an organization that believed in purity, but apparently saw no value in forgiveness.

Then again, maybe NYU's Jack Weinheimer was simply 1921's version of Tim Tebow, whose personal beliefs and his willingness to share them sets him apart from most athletes.

New York Evening Telegram

N. Y. University’s Band of Unkissed Students Due for Rough Sledding
DECEMBER 7 – The college business is not what it was before the war.

And if certain seniors who wear the letters of New York University have their way, it never will be.

For be it known that this little band of Greek and Latin jugglers – there is but a handful of them as yet – are out to banish the customs, habits and traditions which have been a part and parcel of student life every since the first campus was staked out

And if they are successful in their enterprise, the rah-rah boy of the future will be so properly behaved and so restrained in poise and action that the leading debater of the Bide-a-Wee Literary Society of West Nyack will appear like a roustabout by comparison.

Possibly this new idea is an offshoot of the disarmament gathering at Washington, for it is the intention of the reformers to scrap, for a ten year period or longer, the famous college boy of song, story and fact.

The Purity League
The first steps in the endeavor to bring about a sort of millennium among the student body of the well known local seat of learning were taken a few days ago when a few carefully selected seniors from New York University formed what they term the Class of 1922 Purity League.

An important step was the choice of a presiding officer, and in an endeavor to name a student whose deportment and example would be such as to impress other students and cause recruits to flock to the standard of the reformers, Jack Weinheimer, supposed to be the only unkissed senior on University Heights and captain and clever right half back of the college eleven, was the unanimous pick of the charter members.

The choice, it was felt, was a particularly happy one, for if the husky player who did the big things in the recent clash with Trinity was willing to set an example of all-around purity there was no reason why others should feel backward about joining the ranks of the crusaders who were determined to make college life one continuous pink tea.

Step No. 3 was to determine the principles of the league, and these were fixed upon as follows:

First – To treat the fair sex with a considerable degree of reverence.

Second – To eschew all forms of gambling.

Third – To regard the imbibing of intoxicating liquors as a dangerous voice to be curbed at all times.

Fourth – To regard profanity as an unnecessary use of language.

Fifth – To abstain from smoking.

The charter members were, in addition to Captain Weinheimer, Jack Adams, Alfred Gunney, Willeth Macomber, Thurber Bierce, Edward Weatherdon, Sidney Adelstein, Elias Perlman, Frank Goefler and Ralph Walker.

Gets the Razz
When the announcement of the Purity League, its objectives, its desire for additional members and the fact that it was to meet twice each month for a check-up to see if the members remained pure was noised about the campus, the freshmen, while discreetly saying nothing, placed their tongues in their cheeks, but the other classmen gave the reform movement three hearty laughs, and then some. This was followed by a gift of a bottle of soothing syrup, a bolt of baby ribbon and a copy of “Alice in Wonderland,” sent by express, and then the student body sat back and waited for the league to blow away.

But the purity boosters refused to quit, and gradually it was noised about that, should the reform move gain sufficient strength, the freshies would not be disciplined for smoking on the campus, refusing to salaam in the presence of a senior, and that they might escort their best girls when and where they pleased.

In addition, the hazing would be toned down to compelling an offending freshman to do nothing worse than eat four chocolate sundaes in succession and chew gum each afternoon for a week, and that the university yells would give way to Christmas carols from now until after the holidays.

This did little to boom the stock of the purity boys, and it began to look as if they would have to do something radical to prevent their reform child from passing away when a bombshell was fired from the Philistines that forced the Purity League right back in the center of the limelight.

The attack from without was nothing less than a letter penned by Sidney Joseph Crowley, conceded to be New York University’s handsomest senior, which criticized the members of the league, pronounced them fakers and that the alleged model boy chosen president was anything but.

Puts Match to Powder
An absract from Crowley’s letter reads:

“I have personally seen Jack Weinheimer, your ‘unkissed president,’ kiss a fair young lady of my acquainntance on more than one occasion, and, also, I never have seen Weinheimer without a pipe in his mouth. Why, only yesterday Weinheimer borrowed some pipe tobacco from me and, if I remember correctly, he swore at me because I did not have a match to offer him.

“I don’t mind giving a man credit where credit is due, but Weinheimer has no right to belong to the Purity League, and I dare him to deny my statements, which, incidentally I can prove with the aid of a certain young lady to whom he did not show “aloof reverence.’

“If the league members really are after an unkissed senior to make their president, they could pick no better man than Ralph C. Walker, one of the charter members, who, I understand, has been kissed but once, and then not of his own volition.”

This promptly started something at the university, and all of the students who were not members, and never intended to be, took sides, and the debate waxed fast and furious. Walker, who was proposed for Weinheimer’s job, came out in favor of the league president, and made public the following letter to Crowley:

“Weinheimer is the logical president of the organization. Most of the other members will admit that they have been led into osculation, either while young or off their guard, for one reason or another. I have been kissed only once, and that was at a party, in my freshman year at the N. Y. U. The hostess had arranged a kissing game, and I was forced either to pay the forfeit or be discourteous to my hostess.”

This epistle, no doubt, should have settled matters. But it didn’t. In fact, the factions grew more bitter in their discussions, and finally so many students insisted that, as a purist, Weinheimer was a sham and should be replaced by another whose past was above reproach, that the League members felt called upon to announce a special meeting to consider the case.

President Ousted
In the midst of Sunday’s snowstorm the little band of reformers braved the elements with all the hardihood of the ancient Puritans when bent upon similar clean-up tasks and made their way through puddles and over drifts to the headquarters of the organization, where for hours they debated the question, “Is Weinheimer or isn’t he?”

Finally a majority determined that as a Purity Leaguer, Weinheimer was a good football player. He was ousted from his post as president and Walker was chosen to fill the position. Careful consideration of the new president’s qualifications caused his fellow members to give him the hallmark of 99-1/2 per cent pure. The first president then left the meeting without making a statement, but his act was accepted as his resignation.

On Monday at the request of Weinheimer, the Purity League held a special meeting during the lunch hour to permit the former head of the organization to make an explanation and advance his request for reinstatement to membership. Weinheimer pleaded guilty to some of the things charged against him, but vowed on his stack of class books that he never had been kissed since he entered the university, either forcibly or otherwise.

But although his oratory was 100 per cent, he had admitted that he had transgressed the rules of the Purity League, and his plea for reinstatement was turned down, although his members of the organization did so with tears in their eyes. The application of other students for membership also were turned down because investigation of their college past had shown that one had smoked a cigarette and another had kissed two girls at a party.

Right now it looks as if there was going to be some rough sledding before the membership of the Purity League is increased to that of a corporal’s guard.

About the only thing in the Syracuse Journal story that wasn't included in the Evening Telegram piece was this closing sentence:

"Members of the league are also hunting for an unkissed professor to take into the league, but they admitted that this was perhaps asking too much."

As for Jack Weinheimer, he remained at New York University for many years as an assistant football coach. In the 1920s NYU football teams held their own against – and often beat – such teams as Tulane, Penn State, Missouri and Georgia. In 1973 Weinheimer was inducted into New York University Hall of Fame. He is described as a football and baseball star, coach and administrator.

But I'll bet it was years before people stopped ribbing him about his association with the Class of 1922 Purity League and his reputation as the "only unkissed senior on campus." I hope his sense of humor was as strong as his sense of purpose. No doubt he was an admirable person.

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