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A Cheer's Possible Origin Story

Was it 1967 or 1968? Linda Wood Thompson isn’t sure of the year, but it was definitely in the fall, during Austin Peay’s Homecoming celebration.

            “It could have been the fall of 1966,” she said, pausing in her story. “There’s a picture of it somewhere, if I could just find it.”

            So in 1966 or 1967 or 1968, Thompson was a student at Austin Peay State University (or State College, depending on the year), and a Governette with the Governors’ Own Marching Band. Her parents, a proper, well-mannered couple, drove from Nashville to attend that Saturday’s homecoming football game, and as they sat bundled in the stands of Municipal Stadium, they were among the first people, according to Thompson, to hear the school’s now infamous cheer—Let’s Go Peay!

            “I think it was the fall of 1967,” Thompson said. “During homecoming, we used to decorate the dorms and they used different themes. That year, we did 45 records—that was the theme, and every dorm did something record-wise. Cross Hall was the jock dorm, and they built an outhouse because the song ‘Little Brown Shack Out Back’ was a hit.”

            The song, performed by country music singer Bobby Bare, was a lament about a new town ordinance forcing a man to tear down his beloved outhouse. To honor this love story, the Cross Hall residents built an outhouse and wrote “Let’s Go Peay” on the door. Thompson said that’s the first time she ever saw those words together, and throughout homecoming week, Austin Peay students kept repeating the phrase. During that Saturday’s game, someone chanted “Let’s Go Peay,” and within a few minutes, the student section turned the words into a cheer.

            “The reason I remember it so well is because my parents came to that game,” Thompson said. “Dad turned to my mother and said, ‘Are they saying, “Let’s go pee?”’ And mother said, ‘I’m afraid they are Ralph.’ I will remember that forever.”