What was the College like “back in the day?” For many of us, it’s very hard to imagine. Reading old articles from years past and listening to professors’ stories can only give us a limited idea of what life was like for the students before us. But for some Ephs, memories of the College were accessible throughout their lives in our favorite form of a time machine – our parents. Several current children of alumni of the College painted us a picture of what the purple bubble was like for their family members using their best anecdotes. Through the stories that their parents have passed down to them, we get a glimpse into the College of old.
Kerry Hensley ’14 says her father, Michael Hensley ’75, loves recounting the tale of how his friends pranked him one finals week at the College. Michael Hensley bunkered down in the science library all day and night to prepare for his upcoming exams, and it was very late when the girl he was studying with suggested they go grab a pizza. He initially declined the offer, claiming he couldn’t go because he had too much work, but the girl finally convinced him to leave the carrels for a little break for some pie. When they were done eating, she told him she was sure she forgot something in his room and asked if he would let her in to go get it before he returned to the library. “When he opened the door everything was gone,” Kerry Hensley said. By then it was one or two in the morning and all his floormates were cracking up, gathering around him, and Michael Hensley was getting angry. “Think,” his friends encouraged him, “or just go back to studying, and it’ll come to you,” they said. He made his way back to the library only to find that all his stuff was waiting for him there in an exact replica of his room.
Hensley’s father was by no means the only person on campus at the time subject to mischief. Chloe Snow ’16, also has a father who had his share of pranks, except he wasn’t on the receiving end. “My dad [Jeremy Snow ’83] lived in Morgan,” Chloe Snow said, “and at night, he and his friends used to play a recording of wolves howling on fancy speakers facing out the open window.” Another thing they liked to do was fill garbage cans with water and prop them up against their friends’ doors so that when their friend opened the door, the trash can would fall forward into their dorm room, spilling its contents and flooding the floor. Once, the troublemakers glued one of their friend’s toiletries to the ceiling of their shared bathroom, and their friend couldn’t find it for days.
Chris Greeno ’14 also had funny stories of pranks his father, Edward Greeno ’82, did while attending the College. “My dad was kind of a goofball and got into a fair amount of trouble while he was here,” Chris Greeno said. He remembers the story behind a photo of his father and his father’s friend in front of a cinder block wall. His father built and mortared bricks two-thirds of the way up and in front of a doorway to a room in what is now Willy A, trapping his friend in for “a few days,” Chris Greeno said. His father was also fond of sling-shotting water balloons across Frosh Quad and remembers fondly the days when he and his friends kept a keg running and refrigerated in their hall in Dodd Circle. Though his were the days when the Log was a bar and students as young as 18 could drink legally, some things remain the same. Chris Greeno’s father and mother’s first date was at Images, the same cinema on Spring Street today.
Also like today, Junior Advisors (JAs) were involved in the mischief, too. Annabel Coleman ’16 said once when her uncle, Nicholas Osborne ’84, was a first-year, Osborne’s JA was mad at him and took revenge by leaving a severed cow’s head in her uncle’s bed. Instead of admitting defeat, Coleman’s uncle got back at him by tracking down where his JA was, tearing off bits of the severed cow head and throwing the pieces through the open window into the room and at the gathering of people the JA was with at the time.
Like Greeno’s parents, the parents of Molly Leonard ’16, James Leonard ’82 and Story Leonard ’84, also met at the College, and like the rest of the fathers in these stories, Leonard’s father participated in his own share of troublemaking. “He and his friends lived in what is now Pratt 3,” Molly Leonard said, “and they used to use a funnel and fill up balloons with water and shoot them through the window with a giant slingshot and rubber band at people walking up and down Mission Hill.”
One of James Leonard’s friends was a girl involved in many extracurricular groups and was very well-known on campus. One beautiful, sunny day, she was leading a tour of the College in her usual outfit of Lily Pulitzer when James Leonard threw a water balloon at her. “She knew who it was immediately,” Molly Leonard said, even though her father and his friends ducked as soon as they saw her look up. Unfortunately for Molly Leonard, who lives in the neighboring entry Armstrong 3, Mission Park windows are outfitted with screens, so it looks like Molly Leonard and other Ephs will have new, original stories to tell their kids from their time as students at the College.