Showing posts with label Oklahoma State University. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oklahoma State University. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

College life in the 1960s: College kids try to kill themselves in a 1961 Chrysler Imperial--but botch the job

I ain't hurtin' nobody. I ain't hurtin' no one.

John Prine

I enrolled at Oklahoma State University in 1966, just as the Vietnam War was heating up. The rules were quite clear. Boys could avoid the draft for four years if they kept their grades up. But if they flunked out, they’d be drafted and probably go to Vietnam.

I still remember some of my dorm buddies who lived with me in Cordell Hall, a four-story neo-Georgian monstrosity located near the ROTC drill field. No air conditioning. Most of us were poor or nearly poor or we wouldn’t have been living there.

I remember Alton and Bobby, two freshmen from southwestern Oklahoma. Alton was from the little town of Amber; Bobby was from the nearby hamlet of Pocasset.  If you asked them where they were from, they both would say Am-Po, expecting you to know that they were referring to the Amber-Pocasset Metropolitan Area.

And there was another kid whose name I’ve forgotten who was clinically shy and morbidly frail. His skin was almost translucent, which gave him the appearance of a young girl. I’m ashamed to say the guys in the dorm nicknamed him Elsie. He never objected.

Everyone liked Elsie, partly because he had something most of us didn’t have: a car. His parents loaned him their 1961 Chrysler Imperial, perhaps the ugliest car ever made. It had all sorts of buttons and gadgets, including power windows, which I had never seen before.

Elsie was incredibly generous with his car and loaned it to just about anyone who asked. One Saturday during the fall semester, Alton wanted to go to Oklahoma City to see his girlfriend, and he asked Elsie if he could borrow the Chrysler. Oklahoma City was 120 miles away, but Elsie offered to drive him there. Several bored freshmen joined the expedition, and six or seven of us piled into the Imperial for the run to OKC.

But Elsie didn’t drive us. Alton insisted on taking the wheel, and when we got out on Interstate 35, he said, “Let’s see how fast this baby can go.” In an instant, we were hurtling south at 120 miles an hour. No seat belts.

I was terrified but I didn’t have the courage to tell Alton to slow down. Then I looked through the rear window, and I saw a Highway Patrol cruiser closing in on us--siren wailing.

Alton panicked when he heard the siren. In a desperate attempt to get his speed down to double digits, he stomped down on the brake pedal and jerked up the hand brake. That definitely slowed us down.

Alton laid down about 100 feet of skid marks, which you can probably still see on Interstate 35. In an instant, the whole car was filled with smoke and the smell of burning rubber and fried brake pads.

We’re in big trouble now, I thought. But the cop didn’t seem concerned about the fact that seven idiot teenagers were apparently trying to kill themselves in a Chrysler. The cop said hardly a word; he just wrote Alton a speeding ticket and drove away in his cruiser.

Am-Po Bobby also had a car, an old Chevy Nova; and every Monday night he chauffeured a bunch of freshmen to Griff’s Drive-In. Griff’s sold tiny hamburgers for 15 cents apiece, and on Monday nights it sold them for a dime. Pooling our resources, we could usually scrape up three bucks, which would buy us 30 hamburgers. We all ate four apiece, and a couple of big eaters would eat five. Oh, we were living high!

One Monday night, we were waiting in Griff’s drive-through lane and Bobby spotted a metal gasoline can behind Griff’s back door. Bobby got out of the car, shook the can, and confirmed there was fuel in it. Free gas! Bobby put the gas can in the backseat of his car, and we picked up our 30 burgers at the drive-through window.

Unfortunately for Bobby, an alert Griff’s employee witnessed the theft and called the Stillwater police. A cruiser arrived immediately, and an elderly officer gave us all a lecture on stealing. He confiscated the gas can and then walked to the back of Bobby’s car to jot down the license plate number.

And what did Stillwater’s finest see on the rear bumper? A sticker that said, “Support Your Local Fuzz.” Now we’re really in trouble, I thought. We’re going to be arrested, OSU will kick us out of school, and we’ll all wind up in Vietnam.

But the officer had seen moron college students before and knew we were basically harmless. He just shook his head when he saw the bumper sticker and drove off without even giving us a citation.

The 1960 Chrysler Imperial: Power windows!


Oklahoma Highway Patrol: "Let's be careful out there."


Griff's Hamburgers: 10 burgers for a dollar (but only on Mondays)


Friday, August 16, 2019

College life in the 1960s: Seven idiots in a 1960 Chrysler Imperial


I ain't hurtin' nobody. I ain't hurtin' no one.

John Prine

I enrolled at Oklahoma State University in 1966, just as the Vietnam War was heating up. The rules were quite clear. Boys could avoid the draft for four years if they kept their grades up. But if they flunked out, they’d be drafted and probably go to Vietnam.

I still remember some of my dorm buddies who lived with me in Cordell Hall, a four-story neo-Georgian monstrosity located near the ROTC drill field. No air conditioning. Most of us were poor or nearly poor or we wouldn’t have been living there.

I remember Delmar and Bobby, two freshmen from southwestern Oklahoma. Delmar was from the little town of Amber; Bobby was from the nearby village of Pocasset.  If you asked them where they were from, they both would say Ampo, expecting you to know that they were referring to the Amber-Pocasset Metropolitan Area.

And there was another kid whose name I’ve forgotten who was clinically shy and morbidly frail. His skin was almost translucent, which gave him the appearance of a young girl. I’m ashamed to saythe guys in the dorm nicknamed him Elsie. He never objected.

Everyone liked Elsie, partly because he had something most of us didn’t have: a car. His parents loaned him their 1960 Chrysler Imperial, perhaps the ugliest car ever made. It had all sorts of buttons and gadgets, including power windows, which I had never seen before.

Elsie was incredibly generous with his car and loaned it to just about anyone who asked. One Saturday during the fall semester, Delmar wanted to go to Oklahoma City to see his girlfriend, and he asked Elsie if he could borrow the Chrysler. Oklahoma City was 120 miles away, but Elsie offered to drive him there. Several bored freshmen joined the expedition, and six or seven of us piled into the Imperial for the run to OKC.

But Elsie didn’t drive us. Delmar insisted on taking the wheel, and when we got out on Interstate 35, he said, “Let’s see how fast this baby will go.” In an instant, we were hurtling south at 120 miles an hour. No seat belts.

I was terrified but I didn’t have the courage to tell Delmar to slow down. Then I looked through the rear window, and I saw a Highway Patrol cruiser closing in on us--siren wailing.

Delmar panicked when he heard the siren. In a desperate attempt to get his speed down to double digits, he stomped down on the brake pedal and jerked up the hand brake. That definitely slowed us down.

Delmar laid down about 100 feet of skid marks, which you can probably still see on Interstate 35. In an instant, the whole car was filled with smoke and the smell of burning rubber and fried brake pads.

We’re in big trouble now, I thought. But the cop didn’t seem concerned about the fact that seven idiot teenagers were apparently trying to kill themselves in a Chrysler. The cop said hardly a word; he just wrote Delmar a speeding ticket and drove away in his cruiser.

Ampo Bobby also had a car, an old Chevy Nova; and every Monday night he chauffeured a bunch of freshmen to Griff’s Drive-In. Griff’s sold tiny hamburgers for 15 cents apiece, and on Monday nights it sold them for a dime. Pooling our resources, we could usually scrape up three bucks, which would buy us 30 hamburgers. We all ate four apiece, and a couple of big eaters would eat five. Oh, we were living high!

One Monday night, we were waiting in Griff’s drive-through lane and Bobby notice a metal gasoline can behind Griff’s back door. Bobby got out of the car, shook the can, and confirmed there was fuel in it. Free gas! Bobby put the gas can in the backseat of his car, and we picked up our 30 burgers at the drive-through window.

Unfortunately for Bobby, an alert Griff’s employee witnessed the theft and called the Stillwater police. A cruiser arrived immediately, and an elderly officer gave us all a lecture on stealing. He confiscated the gas can and then walked to the back of Bobby’s car to jot down the license plate number.

And what did Stillwater’s finest see on the rear bumper? A sticker that said, “Support Your Local Fuzz.” Now we’re really in trouble, I thought. We’re going to be arrested, OSU will kick us out of school, and we’ll all wind up in Vietnam.

But the officer had seen moron college students before and knew we were basically harmless. He just shook his head when he saw the bumper sticker and drove off without even giving us a citation.

The 1960 Chrysler Imperial: Power windows!


Oklahoma Highway Patrol: "Let's be careful out there."


Griff's Hamburgers: 10 burgers for a dollar (but only on Mondays)


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Oklahoma State University's great snowball riot of 1968: A tale of my misspent youth

When I think back
On all the crap I learned in high school
It's a wonder
I can think at all.

Paul Simon

I graduated from Oklahoma State University almost 50 years ago, and I can say with no exaggeration that I didn't learn a goddamn thing.

But I had one thrilling experience at OSU, which I am going to tell you about. During my sophomore year, I had a friend named Paul who was a radio-television major and worked as a DJ in the evenings at the campus radio station.

One snowy night during the winter of 1968, Paul made an on-air announcement that the Sigma Nu fraternity house had challenged Scott Hall, a men's dorm, to a snowball fight. This simple statement--totally false--electrified the OSU campus.

Like most male OSU undergraduates, I was a GDI--a goddamn independent; I hated the fraternity boys, with their starched oxford-cloth shirts, their pretty girlfriends, and the nice cars their parents gave them. A chance to throw snowballs at these arrogant, rich boys? Who could say no?

Shortly after Paul made his bogus announcement, phone calls came flooding into the radio station. Someone from Bennett Hall said the dorm was pledging 50 men to the snowball fight.  The Sigma Chi fraternity reported that its entire membership was headed to the Sigma Nu house to join the fight.

I recall looking out the window of my dorm room and seeing my friends streaming out the door, scrambling into their winter coats as they ran toward fraternity row. Obviously, I had to be there.

Within a few minutes, I had joined a mob of GDIs in the university's formal gardens. It was like the battle scene in Dr. Zivago, when the Red Guards stormed over the ice to fight the White Russians. Hundreds of young men, wild with excitement, were charging toward the Sigma Nu house.

And then we threw some snowballs. In about 15 minutes we had broken out most of the windows on the front side of the Sigma Nu house. The Sigma Nus tried to defend their turf, aided by their allies from other fraternities. But we had them outnumbered. They was a riot goin' on!

Meanwhile, Paul, still broadcasting from the radio station, decided to report the fracas over the state newswire service. That report alerted the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, and the state troopers called for police backup from the surrounding towns of northcentral Oklahoma.  

After all, why should college kids have all the fun?

Oklahoma's law enforcement community had always suspected that OSU was a nest of commie sympathizers and Russian stooges, and this riot proved that their suspicions were right.  Patrol cars rolled in from all directions, and every officer was equipped with a sawed-off shotgun and plenty of double-ought buckshot. 

Who knew what glittering opportunities awaited the cops when they got to the OSU campus? If they were lucky, maybe they'd get a chance to kill a few anarchists.

And so--about an hour after the snowball fight began, the state troopers had formed a skirmish line in front of the Sigma Nu house. Some pompous Highway Patrol guy with a buzz haircut and a bullhorn told the independents they would be arrested if they didn't disperse immediately.

For a few minutes, we paid no attention to this warning, and I myself threw a snowball at the guy with the bullhorn. But the GDIs were no fools. We knew the Oklahoma Highway Patrol was not to be messed with. And so we melted away through OSU's beloved formal gardens--which we had dishonored by our lawlessness--and slunk back to our cell-like dorm rooms.

That evening in February 1968 was my most memorable experience from my OSU years. I still recall the satisfying sound of breaking glass after I lobbed an iceball at the Sigma Nu house--my feeble contribution to class warfare.

I am older today of course. But I only reside about half a mile from LSU's Sigma Nu house. If conditions were just right and snow fell on Baton Rouge, and if I were to receive a call to storm fraternity row, well I might just join the fray.



Oklahoma State University's formal gardens--sullied by lawlessness





Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Warning to Yale Students: Raping a Stranger in a Public Bathroom Can Get You Expelled!

Yale: Rapists will be expelled
What does a degree from Yale cost? About a quarter of a million dollars after you tally tuition, fees, books, and living expenses.
And what does a Yale student learn that makes a Yale degree a worthwhile investment?  Well--in addition to history, philosophy and literature, a Yale student will learn the definition of nonconsensual sex. 

That's right. Reacting to charges that Yale has a "hostile sexual environment" on campus, the university recently compiled a list of eight fictional scenarios to describe various kinds of sexual encounters and ranked them with regard to whether they were consensual, nonconsensual, or something in between.

Here is the Yale hypothetical that caught my eye, which I am quoting from the New York Times.
"Jamie and Cameron are at a party," begins one of the hypothetical situations. "It is crowded on the dance floor and they are briefly pressed together. Later Jamie encounters Cameron in the hallway and smiles. Cameron, who is now very drunk, follows Jamie into the bathroom and forces Jamie to have sex."
This would be nonconsensual sex, the Yale narrative tells students, that could lead to expulsion.

So let this be a warning to you, Mr. or Ms. Yale student. If you rape a stranger in a public bathroom, you could be expelled from Yale!  Mommy and Daddy would be so embarrassed.

I have some brief comments to make about this New York Times story, which are not meant to be gratuitously derisive. Yale students are supposedly among the brightest young people on the planet. Wouldn't you expect them to understand the concept of rape without the necessity of a Yale tutorial? In Louisiana, even people of the meanest understanding know that a person who rapes a stranger in a public bathroom will be sent to Angola State Penitentiary for a very long time.

But perhaps Yale is wise to go back to basics with regard to sexual behavior on campus.  Our nation's renowned universities are famous for their politically correct stance on sex and gender issues, but it is amazing how much sexual misconduct takes place on college campuses.

Who would have thought that Pennsylvania State University would turn a blind eye to Jerry Sandusky's predatory behavior, which apparently included raping a child in a university shower room (Curry, 2013)?

Who would have expected that a small Catholic college in New York would be sued for allegedly trying to cover up an accusation of gang rape in a college dormitory (McGrath v. Dominican College, 2009)?

Who could have anticipated that a freshman woman at University of Washington would accuse UW of steering her toward mediation with her alleged rapist after she reported being assaulted by a varsity football player (S.S. v. Alexander, 2008)?

And now we see allegations that Oklahoma State University--"the Princeton of the Prairies"-- offered sexual favors to recruit football players (Hines, 2013).

So--as wacky as it seems, Yale may have found it necessary to instruct Yale students that it would be wrong to rape a stranger in a public bathroom.  Maybe other universities should follow its example and go back to basics about what constitutes sexual misconduct on a college campus.

References

Collen Curry. Penn State Settles 25 Suits in Jerry Sandusky Case. ABC News. August 26, 2013. Accessible at: http://abcnews.go.com/US/penn-state-settles-25-lawsuits-brought-jerry-sandusky/story?id=20069117

Kelly Hines. SI Report: Ex-OSU players claim some hostesses had sex with recruits. Tulsa World, September 13, 2013.

Ariel Kaminer. Yale Tries to Clarify What Sexual Misconduct Is in a New Guide. New York Times, September 14, 2013, p. A14.

McGrath v. Dominican College, 672 F. Supp. 2d 477 (S.D.N.Y. 2009).

S.S. v. Alexander, 177 P.3d 724 (Wash. Ct. App. 2008).