The question on traying, or sledding with cafeteria trays, proves to be slightly trying. Traying is a time-tested tradition on campus, but it’s difficult to get specific about the origins of this unorganized and half-heartedly discouraged pursuit. The other half of the administration’s heart doesn’t want to be a downer about this well-loved activity. (Plus, as Joe T. ’89 says, “The more they said not to do it, the more we wanted to.”) Thanks to a note from Anne N. ’58, we can tell you that traying goes back to at least the 1950s. Anne wrote to us to find out if today’s students still fly down Bascom Hill with trays from Der Rathskeller. They do, assuming there’s snow. You can also find students cruising the slopes near Elizabeth Waters Residence Hall. If you’d like our unsubstantiated theory, we figure students took to traying when the UW Toboggan Club’s 600-foot chute down Observatory Hill was dismantled in 1937. It had to go to make room for Liz Waters — and to keep students from rocketing down a concrete slide at 60 miles an hour onto frozen Lake Mendota. But the joke is on Liz Waters Hall: its dining room lends most of the trays now used to continue the UW’s sliding tray-dition.
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