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The (Violent) Auburn Snow Storm of 1973

snow on haley
Good eye, ye who obsess over within-a-year fashion specifics in photos—this wasn’t 1973, but 1981 or so, when Old Man Winter brought more weapons-grade material to the top of Haley Center. But it probably looked just like this.

Six inches of snow?—Bliz, please. Twenty years earlier, 8.5 record-setting inches fell on Auburn, nearly three inches more than Blizzard of ’93 produced on the Plains. It was Feb 1973 and it was wild.

Snow started falling at 9:37 Friday morning. “By 10 a.m., the campus was white,” wrote the Plainsman. Auburn didn’t dismiss class until noon. State troopers closed the roads into town (except the one the Florida basketball team somehow made it in on).

But it’s the snowball fights that really set ’73 apart. We’re talkin’ frat on frat violence, ice bombs launched from the top of Haley Center and crushing coed umbrellas, snow boulders rolled into the streets to block traffic… and hey, actual bullets may have been fired at some football players! COLLEGE!

From the Plainsman:

Placing giant snowballs all the way across the street between Sewell and the tennis courts, the students dared cars to go through, bombarding those who made it with snowballs.

All went well until the occupants of a 1958 Pontiac yelled for the students not to throw any snowballs at them. Of course, a barrage of snowballs followed.

The mad driver jumped out and pointed a .38 at the crowd. Some players who couldn’t see the gun kept throwing snowballs, despite yells to stop from the more ‘enlightened’ ones. Then the gun was raised in the air and all ‘panicked.’ Luckily, the driver got into his car and drove off.

Of course the men went back to throwing snowballs. ‘We probably wouldn’t have stopped even if he had shot a guy,’  a member of the group joked.

It keeps going.

Two cars later a student driver jokingly pulled out a rifle after being bombarded by the Sewell brigade. ‘He just held it but you should have seen all the guys run,’ laughed one student.

Still not learning their lesson, it took another man stopping and reaching under his seat to stop the men from their ‘playing.’ “We didn’t even wait to see what he was reaching for,’ continued the student. “We all ran to the dorm.”

Those fun facts only made it into the story about halfway down.

1973—when snow on campus was a bigger deal than guns on campus.

This photo by Ralph Allen doesn't show the gun incident referenced in the Plainsman article. But dang if it doesn't look like it.
This photo by Ralph Allen doesn’t show the gun incident referenced in the Plainsman article. But dang if it doesn’t look like it.

You can check out some great campus photos of the snow, including the score of the 1972 Iron Bowl artfully rendered atop the main Auburn University sign at the entrance, here and here.

Related: Auburn students turn friend’s car into Batmobile during Blizzard of ’93.


Keep Reading:

* Shug Jordan’s houndstooth hat is prized possession of former Auburn coed who caught it after ’69 Iron Bowl, claims it predates Bear’s
* 78 never-before-seen photos of the Kopper Kettle explosion of 1978
* Rare candids of Pat Sullivan at the 1971 Heisman banquet
* That time Green Day played an Auburn house show
* The G.I. Joe from Auburn
* Two campy degrees of separation between Auburn and Swamp Thing
* I Survived the Kopper Kettle Explosion and all I got was this T-shirt

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About Jeremy Henderson

Jeremy Henderson is the editor of The War Eagle Reader and co-host of Rich and Jeremy in the Mornings on Wings 94.3 FM in Auburn. Follow him on Twitter: @wareaglereader / @jerthoughts / @RichandJeremy

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