Seen here is the 1970 edition of the Bates shoe toss — also known as the shoe date — on the lawn in front of Alumni Gym during orientation.
In a nod to modern times — women’s lib! — the traditional roles were reversed in 1970, with women grabbing from the pile of men’s shoes.
For most of its existence, which dates to the 1930s, the shoe toss was held not on campus but off, during the entering class’s Stanton Ride to the countryside. It went like this: Each woman tossed a shoe into a pile. Then the guys held a race to the pile and grabbed a shoe, doing so with high zeal if they had scoped out a specific shoe belonging to a specific foot. Each half-shod woman was sought out, and the result could be anything from a future marriage (see “A Lady’s Day,” page 32) to a painful day of uncertain conversation for those on the shy side.
“The poor guy who found my shoe was small in size, stuttered, and was feeling more out of place than I was,” recalls Florence Dixon Prince ’52, who came to Bates from a small Cape Cod town. “He left Bates after a year.” What a way to find a solemate.
In its first issue in September 1970, The Bates Student noted that the first-year males already had long hair and that both sexes had a “sophisticated” air. The freshmen got along easily, the reporter noted, adding that even a longstanding tradition like the shoe toss “seems unnecessary.”
The scribe was prophetic. The 1970 toss was, in fact, the final one.