by Anna Holshouser-Belden
Quite possibly one of Oberlin’s oldest student-run publications is the Hi-O-Hi, a treasure trove of photographic evidence of student life dating back all the way to 1890. With bold covers contrasting black-and-white interiors, its thick volumes catalog everything from athletics to the advent of Splitchers, and contain nude centerfolds that rival those of the publication in your hand or on your device right now. A trip to the Mudd archives uncovers a multitude of Hi-O-His revealing how much (or little, depending on your perspective) has changed about everyday life in the buildings we inhabit today. I took it upon myself to leaf through the yellowing pages so that you – dearest reader – don’t have to leave the comfort of your current location, and I picked out some highlights along the way.
My trip down the rabbit hole of vintage yearbooks began when an alumnus I interviewed for another article loaned me of a copy of the 1969 edition of the Hi-O-Hi, and I was struck by the book’s resemblance more to a photography exhibition catalog than any yearbook I got in high school. The bright yellow cover gazes right back at you, with a giant bloodshot eyeball spread out across it. The inside of said front cover is decorated with a miniature reproduction of a Wilder bathroom wall adorned with Photoshopped graffiti, displaying everything from an argument on the college president’s validity, to an equation reading Sex=f(u)n. The inside of the book gets even better…