Monday, March 25, 2013

Who Made Spring Break?


In 1958, Glendon Swarthout, an English professor at Michigan State University, overheard his students buzzing about their Easter-break trip to Fort Lauderdale. In that more-ecumenical era, students typically shuttled home to attend church services with their parents, but now word was spreading of another kind of spring break. Swarthout decided to tag along so that he could observe the rituals (pool-hopping, pith helmets, beatnik jazz) and capture the lingo (“beaucoup beers,” “schizoid,” “babyroo”). Upon his return, he dashed off a novel about coeds who cruise the beach and “play house” with boys from other colleges — a 1950s version of “Girls Gone Wild.” In a nod to the Easter season, he called his book “Unholy Spring,” but Hollywood executives persuaded him to change the title to “Where the Boys Are.” The result was a blockbuster book that was spun off into a movie — marketed with the phrase “spring vacation” — as well as a Connie Francis song.  

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