Thomas Wolfe on the UNC-Virginia Game

The eve of the UNC-Virginia football game is also a good time to revisit Thomas Wolfe’s classic student essay, “Ye Who Have Been There Only Know,” published in the Tar Heel on December 13, 1919. Wolfe writes of his fond memories of the annual trip by train from Chapel Hill to Richmond, where the two teams often met in the early 20th century. A few inspirational quotes from the piece:

“On to Richmond!” Thanksgiving after Thanksgiving daring would rise that challenge, and the day before the game would see an entire student body migrating. Frantic preparations everywhere, pleading letters to dad, wholesale borrowing from everybody.

When twilight comes, the long train moves slowly out of Carrboro, to University, to Durham and then North the railheads clicking “On to Richmond, On to Richmond, On to Richmond.” Somehow there is an air abroad that catches men’s enthusiasm. From one end of the train to the other, there is feverish delight.

Was the scene for us or against us? Too often against us. And yet while the bitterness of defeat or the flush of victory is vivid. We know that whatever the result the game was worth while. Stength, cleanness, swiftness, all have been dramatized before us.

Here’s the full article, from the digitized archives of the Daily Tar Heel available on

Not the same old song!

University Songs and Yells

Tired of belting out “I’m Tar Heel Born,” “Here Comes Carolina,” “Carolina Victory,” or “Aye Ziga Zoomba”? Try these ones out. They’re from when UNC’s biggest rivalry was with the boys (yes, both schools were all male back then) from one of the mounds of conceit. And tomorrow UNC-Chapel Hill faces the University of Virginia in their 115th meeting on the gridiron.

TUNE: “I’ve Been Workin’ on the Levee” [Presumably the same as “I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad”]

Rub it in to old Virginia
All the live-long day;
Rub it in to old Virginia
Just to take the ball away.
Don’t you hear the whistle blowing
Third down and twenty yards to make.
Don’t you see we have ’em going;
Virginia, you’re a fake

TUNE: “Everybody Works But Father” [If you don’t know the tune, “I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad” seems to work for this one, too!]

Everybody scores but Virginia;
She can’t score at all.
Carolina’s got her going,
Won’t let her get the ball.
Ruffin makes a touch-down,
And Wiggins, too, they say.
Everybody scores in Richmond
But old Va.

TUNE: “Navajo” [Warning: This song may not be suitable for younger voices or ears!]

We’ll go to Richmond on Thanksgiving Day,
We’ll go five hundred strong,
We have a little game of ball to play,
We’ll take the team along.
We’ll tear up Virginia’s line into bits,
Wipe up the field with gore,
Stay in the game till U. Va. quits,
Win as we won before.
And after the game is won
We’ll blow in Virginia’s “mon.”

Gloth, oh Gloth, oh list to our song,
Virginia’s no worse than she was before.
You keep quiet and hear N.C. roar,
To ——- with your “wah-who-wah.”

When U. Va. is yelling “wah-who-wah”
You see her line give way,
Then U.N.C. will answer “sis-boom-bah,”
Carolina wins the day.

We’ll make you punt and we’ll make you kick,
Then smash right through your guards,
We’ll make you drunk and we’ll make you sick,
And go through for fifty yards,
Then you’ll hear Carolina yell,
“Virginia has gone to —-.”

Gloth, oh Gloth, oh list to our song,
We know you think that we treat you wrong.
We play ball while you play ping-pong.
To —- with your “wah-who-wah.”

-From “University Songs and Yells 1908-1909”, Cp378 US c.3

A Cool “Then and Now”

One of our photographic archivists, Elizabeth Hull, recently emailed the following link:

I’ve seen this black-and-white photograph a hundred times–if I’ve seen it once, and I always knew it was in North Carolina…but I never bothered to find out where or if the building still existed. Now that I know, I feel a field trip to Person County coming on.