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The Joke's on You!

College pranks . . . they’ve been around since before the very first student walked across the Union Seminary campus in 1856. They’ve been depicted in movies like Animal House and Van Wilder and written about in books like If at All Possible, Involve a Cow: the Book of College Pranks by Neil Steinberg andPrank University: the Ultimate Guide to College’s Greatest Tradition by John Austin. They range from simple practical jokes to well-thought-out and carefully executed schemes.

In the last issue of The Albright Reporter we asked alumni to send us their college prank stories. From the simple to the complex, here
are some of Albright’s finest.

The Post-It Note Present: It was our lead resident assistant’s 22nd birthday, so Kathleen Peightel ’09, Stephanie Skrocki ’09 and I decided our “gift” to him would be to cover his dorm room door from top to bottom with brightly colored Post-it notes. I guess we were bored at the time, but he was really surprised when he came home and saw it. - Rachel Caminsky ’09

The Masked Statue: In the summer of 2000, four Albright students were staying on campus. In the middle of the night, we roamed around campus and found the door to the Center for the Arts propped open. So we decided to go in and check out the building at night. We found the theater prop room, so we borrowed a mask, walked across to the Chapel and placed the mask on Jacob Albright. We took some pictures, but ran off when we heard security coming. Unfortunately, the next morning the mask was gone. I think security confiscated it. - Anonymous ’02

Prank War: In the spring semester of 2006, Liz Polley ’07 and I moved into Smith basement. We started a prank war with Brian Johdos ’08 and Ryan Baumuller ’08. One evening, we waited until 3 a.m. to strike. Once we were sure that they were asleep, we covered the door jamb with duct tape. Later in the semester, after they refused to grant us admittance into their room, we filled an empty detergent bottle with water, crept to their door, and slowly flooded their room. Aware of our attack, Johdos climbed out their basement window and back into the building to chase us down the hall and up the stairs. - Kellie Connors ’07

The Smith Hall Switcheroo: It was a Thursday night, and two of our good friends, Mandy Bairstow ’08 and Tina Discepola ’08, were leaving “...it is nearly impossible to tell the student-athletes from the students for the weekend. So, we decided to do something hilarious to their room. We photographed everything in their room and moved every single item to the other side. Every book, picture and wire was photographed so that it could be put in the same spot on the other side of the room. This task took longer than originally expected! Once we were done we waited until Sunday evening for both roommates to arrive back to campus to see our handy work. They were not so thrilled. They never moved the room back because it was just too much work! - Ryan Baumuller ’08

The Water Balloon: As I think about our prank, it brings a devilish grin to my face when I recall living in Albright Court (all male at the time) as a freshman in 1963-64.

On lovely seasonal nights in the fall or spring, guys would “hang out” on the sidewalk in front of the dorm, probably watching “the girls go by.” My roommates and I decided that the group made a primary target for a water balloon, but no ordinary water balloon…a prophylactic filled to capacity, making it the size of a huge watermelon! It was so large that it required three of us to carry it to the window and send it flying down from the fourth-floor front window of our apartment. It hit the shoulder of one of the bigger guys standing in the center of about 15-20 others, and it was so powerful that it knocked the guy to the ground and splattered water on every single one of them!

Unfortunately, the prank backfired. As the wet crowd looked up to locate where the balloon came from, and we all ducked to hide, one of my lesser-intelligent roommates reached up to close the window. We were spotted. The mob stormed our apartment and threw every one of us in a cold shower with our clothes, watches, wallets, etc. all getting wet. A good time was had by all. - Gary S. Wasserman, D.O. ’67

A Retaliating Attack: In 1953, when Jim Harring ’52 and Len Buxton ’52 were roommates in the Seminary Building (now Teel Hall), a group of students there decided to get back at Jim and Len for all the pranks they had played on them that year. One evening, while the two theological students were off campus delivering sermons at churches some distance away, the remaining students cleared everything out of their room. The items were taken to the other end of the dormitory, where they were set up in one of the classrooms. The bedroom-classroom remained that way for several days until Dr. J. Arthur Heck, then-president of Albright, ordered Harring and Buxton to put it all back.

Not to be outdone by their classmates, Harring and Buxton set up the grand finale. Several nights later they lined up 50 large balloons over a stream of lighter fluid the entire length of the cement floor hall. At 3 a.m. they set them off, each balloon loudly bursting as the burning lighter fluid quickly reached it. Not knowing what happened, but fearing that World War III had broken out, only a few ventured out of their rooms, certain that those responsible were retaliating for the earlier act upon the “two most innocent boys in the school.” - The Reverend James L.
Harring, D.Min. ’52

The Pig Roast: In the spring of 1951, a group of students decided to have a pig roast. So, some of these students went to the Poor House to select a pig. Unfortunately, the person chosen to stun the pig used the blade side of the ax and created a bloody mess. The pig was hoisted onto the shoulders of a large football player and carefully carried away.

Because the party was to be held on a Friday night, fish were needed for the Catholics who would be attending. So we decided to get the trout out of Sylvan Lake. Of course this was to be done at night. First attempts were made by trying to catch the fish with bare hands and throwing them on the grass. One fellow tried spearing the fish with chrome from a Buick running board. When the fish were finally caught, they were put into paper bags. That didn’t work.

One fellow went to the freshman house (on Union Street), emptied the trash from a canvas container and put the fish in there. But the fish needed to be put on ice.

The large football player’s mother owned a small restaurant, so the fish were taken there and put in the refrigerator. Unfortunately, the mother knew nothing of the pig roast and cooked the fish for the family’s breakfast!

The pranksters were identified and each was called into the dean’s office, one at a time. Each student was fined one dollar for the replacement of the fish, which was about one dozen. No other punishment was meted out to these fishermen. - Frederic “Fritz” Barth ’54

The Tag Board Revolution: In the late‘60s, Albright was “slightly restrictive” with regard to young, independent-thinking female
students. At the time, a female student needed a male student to sign her out of her dorm after dark.

But it was the ‘60s and new freedoms were being demanded by students. Female students were finally allowed to sign themselves out of the dormitory, but they had to hang a name tag on a board located in the lounge so the on-duty attendant could tell which adventurous coed was out prowling about on her own. We were furious with the injustice, but we were told it was for the safety of the coeds. No amount of complaining, reasoning or whining could change the mindset of our fierce protector, the powerful dean of women. She was resolute.

The on-duty attendant in Selwyn Hall lounge was a bland, heavyset woman with an extremely regular biological schedule. At almost the exact time every evening she picked up the newspaper and headed for the rest room. During one of her sojourns, the tag box mysteriously vanished from her desk. We had a dorm lock-down! All the residents of Selwyn were herded into the lounge and brow-beaten about the theft, but no one cracked. Everyone went back to their rooms and things returned to normal, until a new box of tags appeared at “the board.”

We realized at this point that the problem was not the tags, it was “the board.” It had to disappear, too.

Generations ago the lower level of Selwyn was where male students went to have a smoke after a fine meal in the dining hall. And a section of it, partitioned off by a fake wall, also served as the laundry room.

My partner in crime, who I shall refer to as “L,” and I took weeks to come up with a plan. But after taking accurate measurements, timing sojourns and accounting for line of sight calculations, we were ready. No one could be in the hall, lounge, on either staircase or in the laundry room, and nature had to call the attendant away at the precise moment.

When it did, the board and tags were quickly and quietly rushed downstairs and deposited behind the fake wall, completely and forever out of sight.

We ran back up the stairs and casually acted like we were leaving our room just as the tag lady screamed. She bolted out the door and ran straight to the Security Office. Bedlam ensued and the dorm was locked down again.

The dean of women addressed the residents of Selwyn personally. Our rooms were searched. If “the board” was found in your room it was grounds for expulsion. Some girls cried and others were afraid the beer hidden in their closets would be found. But security was baffled. They searched all of Selwyn, but found nothing.

The next morning word about the missing tag board spread. Boards came down all over campus! “L” and I had spearheaded a movement that was unstoppable; a movement that helped to bring more freedom for Albright women. The Tag Board Revolution was just the beginning of big changes for Albright College. - Joan Diffenderfer Seward ’72

Party Like It’s 1987: I was always interested in Selwyn Hall. Architecturally, it’s a fascinating building. Historically, it’s housed everything from residence halls and the infirmary to a dining hall and classrooms. And, it’s allegedly “haunted.”

Friends and I frequently made visits to Selwyn Hall after dark to see for ourselves whether the stories of hauntings were true. It was completely a scientific experiment!

One evening, during a mixer between my fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi, and the sorority Alpha Delta Pi, a few of my fellow explorers and I decided, after much liquid persuasion, that another visit to Selwyn Hall was necessary for our scientific journals. In our previous forays into the notorious third floor and belfry portions of Selwyn Hall, we had seen a variety of Albright memorabilia scattered about, looking as if drifters or squatters had lived there briefly, then moved on without taking their belongings with them. It was a bit creepy, actually.

One of the treasures we stumbled upon was a large plastic trash bag filled with old Albright T-shirts. The shirts read “Party Like It’s Interim 1987” or something like that. There were different sizes and colors—goldenrod, pink and powder blue. We thought we had found a gold mine and that the shirts naturally now belonged to us! How could they sit unworn in dusty old Selwyn Hall? We excitedly grabbed the bag and made a run for it, trekking all the way back to the Woods with our treasure.

The shirts became favors for those at the mixer and those who assisted in the heist. It became a bit of an inside joke to those who participated in the crime, and we proudly wore our “new” 1987 shirts around campus. - Ted Isselmann ’01



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