The Secret History of Squamish
“Rouse up, O Young Men [and Women] of the New Age! Set your foreheads against the ignorant Hirelings!
William Blake quoted in Theodore Roszack’s The Making of the Counter Culture
“I don’t know exactly what you do,” a bemused T. Dwayne McCay observed to a group of Florida Tech alums at the 2018 halftime homecoming game, “but I’m glad you’re here.” Florida Tech’s president was not the only one unclear about the ragtag assembly Squamish “brothers” who had assembled to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Squamish’s founding. For five decades, Florida Tech’s Squamish has wrapped itself in mystery. The “brothers,” who are both male and female, have made a tradition of scrupulously covering their tracks. Recalling the halftime encounter with Florida Tech’s rocket scientist president, Bob Fechner, who pledged Squamish in the 1980s, chuckled. “Squamish,” he explained lifting high a beer bottle in a traditional Squamish salute, “is a global organization spreading disorganization.” From its inception, this group of Florida Tech’s students have embodied an “intentionally ridiculous set of expectations.” In 1968, Squamish’s founding signaled the arrival at Florida Tech of what the historian Theodore Roszak later characterized as “counter-culture.”
The Origins of Squamish
The idea for Squamish hatched in a dorm room in Davidson A Dormitory at Rutgers University in September 1965. Bill Moore, who served as Squamish’s first “Grand High Pooh Bob” at Florida Tech, remembers that during a late-night New Brunswick “bull session,” picking up the June issue of MAD Magazine. Idly, flipping through the pages he came on a three-page description of a “43-Man Squamish” team. “For years,” the article’s authors declared, the nation’s educators have been howling about the evils inherent in such big-time sports as football and basketball. They contend that there’s too much professionalism, that not enough boys have a chance to participate, etc. But no one has really lifted a finger to correct the situation until MAD’s Athletic Council went to work… A Squamish team consists of 43 players: the left & right Inside Grouches, the left & right Outside Grouches, four Deep Brooders, four Shallow Brooders, five Wicket men, three Offensive Niblings, four Quarter-Frummerts, two Half-Frummerts, one Full-Frummert, two Overblats, two Underblats, nine Back-Up Finks, two Leepers and a Dummy.”
The idea for creating Squamish was born at that moment. Moore and his fellow devotees to the wisdom of Alfred E. Neuman (the “E” stood for “enigma) envisioned Squamish as an alternative to the dominant Greek social organizations at Rutgers. Moore recalled that he and Squamish’s co-founders made the rules up as they went along. First and foremost, unlike the Greeks at Rutgers, there would be no hazing.
Squamish Comes to Florida Tech
In September 1968, Moore transferred to Florida Tech. He came to Melbourne because he wanted to get involved in the space program. In 1968, Countdown College showed none of the turmoil associated with college life in the late 1960s. “Flower Power,” tie-dyed shirts, and anti-war protests lay in the future. Jerry Keuper, Florida Tech’s founding president, made it clear that Florida Tech’s administration would not tolerate the protests that were happening on other campuses. “F.I.T.,” Keuper told the entering freshman class and transfer students, “is a no-nonsense school. You are here to learn, observe. You are not here to coerce.” Keuper had no idea of what lay in store.
In the ten years since its founding in 1958, Florida Tech had undergone phenomenal growth. More than 1200 students registered for classes for the fall quarter of 1968. The large number of new and transfer students, however, produced a crisis. There were not enough dorm rooms. Two weeks into the fall quarter, the St. Augustine Record reported that Keuper and William Rose, director of student activities, had negotiated an agreement with an underutilized motel located at what was then known as Cape Kennedy Regional Airport. Ed Foster, Melbourne’s airport director, confirmed that eighty Florida Tech students would be housed at the airport. As a transfer student, Bill Moore was assigned one of the motel rooms.
Occasionally, history does repeat itself. In another late-night “bull session,” Moore remembers telling his motel-mates about Squamish. They were enamored with the idea. The group decided to launch a 43-man Squamish team. New traditions emerged. At Rutgers, a Squamish pledge was required to carry a pumpkin at all times during their probationary period. At Florida Tech, as a tribute to the Sunshine State, pledges would be required to carry a grapefruit. During the next few weeks, Moore and his motel buddies formulated a list of requirements for those wishing to join Squamish.
The “Barefoot” Boys
Housing students at the airport motel, however, proved problematic. Ed Foster, the airport director, had not objected when the students installed a pool table and pinball machine in the motel’s lobby. Two weeks after classes had begun, Foster had had enough. The Florida Tech students were treating the terminal building as “a big living room and are walking around barefooted.” One of the local car rental agencies demanded that the pool table and pinball machine be moved from the motel’s lobby. William Rose, Florida Tech’s director of student activities, issued a stern memorandum reprimanding the students for their “Tom Sawyer tactics.” “F.I.T. students,” he wrote, “given the privilege of occupying such dormitory plush quarters at the airport cannot go barefoot at any time!” The unshod Florida Tech motel students, in general, and the newly formed Squamish brothers, in particular, ignored Rose’s directive. In fact, they escalated their response. They began walking around the airport lobby barefooted in bathrobes. Some, it was rumored, were seen carrying grapefruits. In December, Ed Foster announced that the motel would no longer serve as a Florida Tech residence hall.
Evicted but Undaunted
Moore, his roommate Dophus “Jim” Harp, Wayne Stevenson, Rich Waters, and Thomas Neville who formed the cadre of the first generation of Squamish brothers, found a new home in Indialantic. The brothers rented in rooms on the second floor of a building that housed a furniture store located on Fifth Avenue. Some of the brothers (and by the early 1970s there were women in the organization) joined the Indialantic Volunteer Fire Department. Melanie Keuper, Jerry Keuper’s daughter, joined Squamish. Given her father’s passion for palm trees and the university’s botanical garden, Squamish made protecting the “Jungle” the focal point for the organization’s activities.
A gnarly palm spathe from the “Jungle,” in fact, became the centerpiece of one of Squamish’s most hallowed traditions. Each week the Squamish brothers honored one of their compatriots with the right to carry the Thomas Neville Frullip to classes. Neville, who was one of the founding members of Florida Tech’s Squamish, was respected for his prodigious ability to sustain a consistent line of “B.S.” Squamish paid tribute to the Neville Frullip or “wisdom stick” in the organization’s signature tee shirt which displayed Squamish’s core values: “Beer, Brotherhood, and B.S.”
Other traditions emerged. Pledges were required to contact and acquire the signature of all previous brothers. The Apollo lunar landing prompted the addition of a set of questions to the pledging process such as “If it is 7:00 pm in New York City, what time is it on the moon?’ The “Brothers” established a drum circle in the “Jungle” (the university’s botanical garden).
A Half-Century of “Beer, Brotherhood, and B.S.”
Fifty years after its founding, Squamish endures as an active force at Florida Tech. Bill Moore graduated in 1970 with a B.S. degree in electrical engineering. Moore would go on to earn two master’s degrees from Florida Tech in E.E. and Engineering Management. David Hughes, who served as one of Squamish’s first pledge masters, remembers the friendships that formed in Squamish. At the halftime in the 2018 Homecoming game, T. Dwayne McCay* thanked Moore, Hughes and all of the brothers in Squamish for their fifty years of service to the university by raising more than $50,000 for an Annuity Scholarship, protecting the botanical garden, and, yes, bringing a whiff of the “counter-culture” to Florida Tech. Surely, William Blake, who was known for his visions, must have had Squamish in mind when he declared “Rouse up, O Young Men [and Women] of the New Age! Set your foreheads against the ignorant Hirelings!”
*Note: It is rumored that the Squamish alums plan to present President T. Wayne McCay a Thomas Neville Lifetime Achievement Award.
Acknowledgments: I am indebted to Squamish Brothers William Moore, David Hughes, Deborah Heystek, Melanie Keuper, Micki Collins, Bob Fechner, and Don Charnasky for their guidance.