The Way Back: Greek Parody

At the turn of the century, Greek organizations ruled the roost at UT. In turn, this led to a string of parody fraternities, the most prominent being “The Rustic Order of Ancient and Honorable Rusty Cusses.” The group formed in 1902 in Room 8 of B. Hall, which at the time was known as the poor boy’s dormitory. Like other anti-frat frats such as the “Moo Cow Moos” and “I Felta Thi,” the Rusty Cusses pilloried the pretensions of “effete old-line fraternities.” According to the Cactus, B. Hall was their “barnyard” and  officers included “cotton weigher,” “cow juicer,” and “plow shaker.” Like the Moos and the Feltas, the Cusses fizzled out, fading from the pages of the Cactus by the 1920s.

Practically, the Rusty Cusses helped students from rural backgrounds to make friends, goof around, and deflect the perceived snobbery of their Greek counterparts. At the same time, their “proudest boast” was their newness, and that they didn’t need to trace their lineage back to East Coast entities. Committed to being a “moving power in the university,” one senses more than a little nascent Texas exceptionalism in the Rusty Cusses.

Credit: The Briscoe Center for American History


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