On Ben's Farm

'Nako Lives!'

One day in Fall 1968, a cheerful welcome sign hung over the entrance to the office of George B. Nako, a new professor in the English department. His walls were decorated with diplomas, English 401 theme papers and watercolor prints labeled "Albanian Art." None of this was particularly unusual except that the "office" was located under a stairwell on the lowest level of Hamilton Smith Hall.

Nako's office showed evidence of student conferences: two swivel armchairs, an empty cigarette carton and an ashtray (in those days, "smoke free" meant chewing tobacco). His office hours, however, were at the unconventional time of Sundays from midnight to 3 a.m., which might explain why the professor himself was never around. One student left a note reading, "Mr. Nako: Do you exist?"

Word of the ephemeral Professor Nako spread quickly, and with each passing day, the number of spectators who stopped by his office increased. Midge Hayden Smith '71 began to check the office daily for new literary masterpieces. Students desperate to add his class went so far as to cross out names on the seating plan, including actress Mitzi Gaynor and comedian Pat Paulson. He received at least three offers of marriage. A student who wanted to audit his class tried bribing him with a pass to Canobie Lake Park. It was all very odd: A freshman, Diane Perry-Mann '72, wondered if this was typical UNH behavior.

Some students left compositions to be graded; they were promptly returned, but the comments appeared to be written by five different people. Could the professor have multiple personalities?

An article in The New Hampshire speculated that Nako was a frustrated freshman, based on the "semi-literate comments and irrelevant observations" he wrote on English theme papers. The unflappable Nako sent in a response, thanking them for the story but pointing out that they forgot to include his picture. He also submitted an editorial entitled, "How to Solve the World's Problems," which, unfortunately, did not.

A few resented the elusive professor and his office. One student complained that Nako's office occupied a niche that had previously been "one of the best make-out spots on campus." Some left messages such as, "Nako is alive and drunk on the 10th floor of Stoke." But those who believed professed their faith by writing "Nako lives!" on blackboards and posters.

Students who hoped to register for his spring classes were disappointed, however. When they returned from winter break, Nako's office had disappeared. The office goes down in the UNH history books as the longest-running student prank, and to this day, the question remains—who was George B. Nako?

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