I was introduced to Josh Morrison ’16 in Frosh Council, where we served as representatives for neighboring entries. Little did I know how involved he would become over his time so far at the College – from the College Garden to the marching band, he’s joined its most unique clubs. I sat down with Morrison and got a lesson in gardening, southern history and mason jar culture at the College.
How did you first get involved in Parsons Garden?
I was scrounging around for summer jobs after freshman year, and I vaguely wanted to be involved with the Garden, but I’d never gotten around to it. The Garden was kind of this random thing I applied to, it was run out of the Zilkha Center as a summer internship. That summer was a lot of different stuff: growing everything, weeding, watering, planting new beds both here and at Mount Greylock, where we helped some high-schoolers ’cause they have their own garden. Now, it’s more of the same, though over the summer there’s only like one or two people so you’re working a full time job – I worked 40-hour weeks. During the school year, partially because of the seasons, there’s less to do and less frequent [involvement].
I remember the Garden’s Turn Up for Turnips party. That was your idea, right?
I’m pretty sure that was my idea, based on the obvious pun of when are turnips going to be this relevant again. So then I Photoshopped a couple Miley Cyrus posters and we ordered what ended up being 37 pounds of turnips from a local farm. The lady who dropped them off was like, “What are you going to do with them?” and I was like, “Oh, you know, we’re going to try and cook with them and show people that the turnip is a good vegetable.”
So what did you end up doing with them?
We made some food with them but then it was just basically a party with turnips there. I had a turnip necklace, we did turnip carving – turnip jack-o-lanterns – then dancing and music and stuff.
And turnip cups that we drank turnip smoothies out of, from what I remember.
Yeah, that’s true.
What other parties have you hosted?
I co-threw a Beyoncé party for the [Queer Student Union]. It was just after her new album came out, so we projected the entire album onto a wall in the common room and watched.
You’re quite the party animal!
It’s funny, I don’t drink, and I don’t party a lot, but I enjoy making parties that are a little different in that they’re kind of weird, as you can tell from what has been brought up.
So you worked at the Garden the summer after freshman year. What did you do last summer?
I did an independent history research project. I took [the class] History of the Old South and I was talking to one of my family friends, who grew up in the tail end of segregated south. He asked if I’d heard of Mary Boykin Chestnut, whom I’d vaguely heard of, and he was like, “Yeah, she’s an ancestor of ours; have you read this biography of her?” I’m like, “No,” so then he passes me this biography off the shelf. I open it up and I’m flipping through it, and into my lap falls an original 1874 letter by her! He’s like “Oh yeah, we forgot about that, we haven’t seen that in like 30 years.” She’s famous-y. She’s historically famous, so if you do southern history, you’ve heard of her because she wrote a really influential diary from the Confederate side. She was a very rich, very elite, educated woman during the Civil War, and was best friends with the wife of the president of the Confederacy. So she and her husband, [who] was a general, were kind of schmoozing in the Civil War. I spent all summer researching it. And also looking at culinary history, which is an interesting subfield that’s starting. I’m going to end up turning this into a thesis.
That’s really cool.
Yeah, I have all these recipes by this woman written in her handwriting and from newspapers, and figuring out what the hell people ate. I made some of the recipes, and they did not work very well. It’s weirdly hard just because a lot of the recipes are very piecemeal – it says “some flour,” or my favorite is “put mace spice on as much as will fit on the side of a penknife.” It’s like, what do you want from me?! The make-up of flour was also different.
Do you cook outside of that?
Yeah, I recently led jam-making in Dodd for the garden. I left my mason jars in Dodd Kitchen for one night and boom, all gone. Not with the jam – I got the jam. I was going to make more, conceivably, but apparently mason jars are precious commodities. I didn’t know that. 15 mason jars, boom. We used these really good wild grapes that grow in Hopkins Forest’s garden. There are wild grapes here, which are really good. They’re more tart, but they’re very small, so we didn’t use them.
You’re also in the Moocho Macho Moocow Military Marching Band – do you have any funny stories from being a member?
Last year, during Winter Carnival, the marching band was going to play the Olympic theme [song] for the “Opening Ceremony” where we walked down from Paresky to the bonfire below the tennis courts. Someone told me the wrong time, and suddenly I’m getting [these texts], “Josh, where are you?!” I’m like, “What?” and they’re like “Come here, we’re all waiting for you!” So I run over, get my trumpet, get there and there’s all the [Williams Outing Club] people, the whole marching band and all the hangers on and, like, [President] Adam Falk standing there with the weird Olympic torch. They’re all waiting on me, and I’m like “LOL” because I’m not that important to the marching band or to others.
What’s something I don’t know about you?
This is always what I use when I get forced into those weird ice breakers: I cannot see in 3D, I’m living in a 2D world. The connection wasn’t there [in my eyes] when I was born. [Doctors] tried, failed [to repair it], so I don’t know what 3D looks like. So a 3D movie is a big waste of my money. I literally don’t know what 3D is. It’s really funny because if I’m talking to someone, they don’t know I’m talking to them – especially if they don’t know me, but even if they do know me – so they’ll look over their shoulder to see if I’m looking at someone behind them. And in seventh grade, I had a teacher who had a lazy eye, and every time he did that I’d do the same thing to him, and I was like,w “Goddamn it!” So that was funny. You know if you put your finger in front of something and you blink into the other eye it moves in the background? I can do that without closing my eyes. I can switch eyes so I’m only looking through one or the other without closing my eyes. It just means I can’t see in 3D, which sounds disconcerting but apparently is not a requirement for the state of North Carolina to give you a drivers’ license.