Posted in Stories

A few fraternity memories

A recent Zoom meeting with a bunch of college fraternity brothers brought back a flood of memories from four decades ago. I had to write these down before I forget them.

The first involved Joe, a somewhat whiny and annoying brother, who lived in a back room on the second floor of the house. I am not sure what inspired me, but one day I suggested to my friend Gary that we nail Joe’s bedroom door shut, and then rappel out the window. This is not as far-fetched as one might think. Gary was a rock climber, had the necessary rope and harness, and as house manager, I had a hammer and nails.

One day, while Joe was in class or out somewhere else, Gary secured a rope on a radiator and hung it out a third floor window. Gary then used some big old nails to permanently attach the door to the frame from the inside. He rappelled out the window, ran back up to coil up the rope and the project was complete.

I wasn’t there when Joe discovered that he couldn’t open his bedroom door. I so wish I was. All I got to see was the smashed in door when he apparently threw all of his weight against it, breaking the door and frame to get in. It was well worth the cost and effort to replace that door!

A second memory was a lot bloodier, much less entertaining and very vivid. It happened in the kitchen where Bob and I often washed and dried dishes after supper. Don’t ask me why, but one night we decided that it would be fun to stab empty milk jugs with carving knives, like swashbucklers. It’s really not that easy to do. The knife isn’t sharp enough and the jug isn’t heavy enough to actually slice through. However, on one attempt, the knife caught the edge of the counter, Bob’s hand slid up the handle, and sliced through a few of his fingers. I don’t think it hurt that much, but there was a good amount of blood. That blood sport not only required a trip to the emergency room, but also some follow up surgeries so Bob did regain full use of his finger. No, we never tried that again.

A few other miscellaneous memories that sometimes flash through my mind:

  • Tossing an old refrigerator and sofa off the back porch
  • Parties that featured live bands, before the days of DJs.
  • “Blinkey” and trashcans of water dumped off the roof onto the pledges
  • Gary teaching me how to play guitar
  • Road trips to see Rocky Horror Picture Show with bags full of toast, rice, water, toilet paper, and playing cards – and absolutely trashing the theater
  • Eating BLTs and rare roast beef in front of some of the more kosher Jewish brothers – and of course, pizza during Passover
  • Coming and going via the fire escape through a third floor window outside my room
  • Drinking some of the worst beer I ever had in my life from a keg far past its prime

I have so many vivid memories of my fraternity brothers from over forty years ago. The bond of the sphinx, as we called it, is strong indeed.

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