Willamette University

The Inbox

Tufton Solution 5.0

Last issue was a doozy, with three hidden Tufton Beamish references. Unsurprisingly, quite a few of you found them all. You (and our patient graphic designers) will be happy to know that we've reverted to a single one this time. Good luck.

Finding Tufton answers


Remembering Floyd McMullen

The article about Floyd McMullen [in Winter 2013], killed at the Capitol fire, was of special interest. I knew Floyd as a member of my class of 1937 but we were just freshmen then. Floyd had gotten the job I had applied for at the fire station. When I applied I was told it had already been given to him. I was quite upset when he was killed. I have always remembered the date, April 25, 1935, now 78 years ago.

The fire was the biggest I ever witnessed. The copper dome burned green and many of the fire engines, some from as far away as Portland, had red-hot motors [from running so hard] and surely got ruined. Several weeks later the standing stone walls were blasted down, but the charge was too strong and nearly every window in the Willamette buildings facing the Capitol was blown out.

— Ely Swisher ’37


Sparks on the Rooftop

I have read, with interest, the article about Floyd McMullen the State Capitol fire in the winter issue of The Scene. When we moved to Willamette in 1942, they were still talking about that awful event.

My father was G. Herbert Smith, and we were just arriving on campus, where he was to be president.

I quickly became friends with Marion (Sparks) DaBoll ’51, whose father, Lestle Sparks, was on the faculty. We learned that Dr. Sparks spent the night of the fire on the roof of Waller Hall beating out sparks from the fire that fell on “The Old Historic Temple.” He very well may have been able to save that historic building from a fate similar to the Capitol’s.

— Sara Gunn ’51


Prank Stories

We received great responses to the pranks article last issue. Here they are:

Jock Streaking

Jock streaking goes back to the 1950s. I lost a freshman Glee bet and, at the stroke of midnight, had to jock streak from the steps of the Beta house around Lausanne Hall and back. As I was approaching the back corner of the dormitory and slowing down to catch my breath, I heard a girl scream, so I picked up speed and came around the front — only to see cars facing in with their lights turned on. Dodging a policeman who tried to grab me, I came around and headed home, relieved to be in the dark. The winners of the bet had called the dorm and let the girls know that something was going to happen at midnight.

Don’t think I was the first and I’m sure I wasn’t the last!

— Dor Dearborn ’61

Plane Prank Gone Awry

The plane landing [prank] was a very sad and serious event. It happened after I left WU, but the details were reported in The Statesman and discussed among the WU community. A drunken student with perhaps as little as three hours of training convinced 2–3 of his fraternity brothers that they should steal a plane at Salem Airport and land on the Quad. Instead, they landed short, on the roof of a two-story building a couple of blocks west of the law school. It took only a second to run across the roof, where the nose wheel caught the parapet at roof’s edge. The plane flipped into the street 20 feet below, landing on its back.

[Elsewhere,] an enterprising student in around 1960 or so made a considerable amount of money arbitraging collectable coins between markets on the East and West coasts — enough to purchase a run-down motel on the [Oregon] coast. He renamed it the No-Tell Motel and took out an ad in the campus paper, featuring an illustration of a young man carrying a young lady over the threshold of a doorway. The ad was well beyond the limits of good taste at the time and the bounds of Methodist sensibilities. The student got some serious warnings and the motel’s ads were banned from the paper.

— Robert Foster ’72, MAD’76

Dying Guido the Killer Goose

Guido the Killer Goose was dyed pink on Valentine’s day, and green on St. Patrick’s Day with hard-to-find nontoxic dyes by me (I confess) and a couple of Kappa Sigma lookouts.

It was with great guilt that the goose was shortly thereafter sent off to a place where it was less likely to be further maligned. I suspect there were very few people who truly missed that bad-tempered bird.

I have no knowledge of the Alpha Chi Omega basement incident [see Winter 2013].

— Thomas Rheuben ’86

Campus Safety Ruse

One prank was to have someone drive on all the campus bridges by car. That doesn’t seem to be a big deal until you realize that the bridge near the Sparks Athletic Center is narrow and may not hold a car full of people.

It had to be done at night and Campus Safety’s attention had to be diverted. Campus Safety was called with a ruse that a female student at Kaneko needed an escort back to the main campus. Once Campus Safety was across 12th Street, the drive was accomplished — including a nice excursion around the Quad, through Jackson Plaza and over the three Mill Stream bridges (near Sparks, Jackson Plaza and near Doney (these were the pre-Goudy days). Getting through the bridge by Sparks was really tight.

— Anastasia Yu Meisner ’94, JD’97


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