Bequest – Pocock belt

Title: Pocock belt

General Information about Item:

  • Genre: Material, Customary Folklore
    • Subgenre: folk costume, traditions
  • Language: English
  • Country of origin: USA

Informant Data: Will Kaufman ’20 is a 19-year-old male caucasian light-weight rower from Boulder, CO. He is the middle child between two sisters. He started rowing his freshman fall upon entering Dartmouth. As a walk-on rower, he came in knowing nothing about the sport.

Contextual Data: 

Social Context: As with any bequest, this item is traditionally passed down from graduating seniors to underclassmen on the rowing team who are deemed most fit to receive the object. This exchange happens annually in the spring after the competition season has come to a close. The event involves the whole team and requires presence for several hours, as each senior may give away several bequests, each with a description of the significance of the item and why it goes to the recipient underclassmen. During the process, teammates must wait until they either bequeath or are bequeathed an item. It is a spectacle for the team and is often humorous and emotional. Underclassmen express gratitude through words and little physical contact as to expedite the process. It has been compared to receiving a Christmas present. This specific bequest is passed down from walk-on rower to walk-on rower.

Cultural Context: Bequests are handed down through a line of rowers throughout the years. This line is connected through a common trait (e.g., captainship, knowledge of statistics, heavy weight). The bequest links generations, creating team cohesiveness through history. The bequest indicates a unique importance and role in the team and generally shows that the recipient upholds the values of the team. Rowers wear bequests to exhibit that they are deserving of the honor bestowed upon them.

Item: This bequest is the Pocock belt. It is a strap used to tie down boats now repurposed as a belt. Pocock is a rowing brand originally made by an Englishman working out of the University of Washington. This bequest is passed down from walk-on rower to walk-on rower. This bequest was given to the informant by Widerschein ’17. The belt is thought to have originally been taken from the Dartmouth boathouse. The bequest is worn during meetings and important events such as socials and an end of the year celebration.

Associated media:

Informant’s Comments: Names on the belt are Widerschein ’17 and Kaufman ’20.

Collector’s Comments:

  • The receipt of the bequest resembles a rite of passage. Before the ceremony, the rower is a freshman member. He is then separated from his fellow freshmen as he is called up by the senior. During the transition phase, he receives the bequest and shows gratitude to the senior. He is then incorporated back into the team as a new version (labeled by the bequest) of his old self.

Collector’s Name: Sam Gochman

Tags/Keywords: D150, Dartmouth Light-Weight Rowing, Bequests, Pocock

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