I’m sorry. But I’m absolutely fascinated with Old Main. There are people in town who say they have bricks and other relics retrieved from the rubble of that momentous fire.
I’m not sure about that, but it does make a good story. I can only imagine how our fathers and grandfathers weathered a semester in Old Main.
Here are a few of my favorite tales handed down by former residents of the doomed dormitory and recorded in the wonderful book “Old Main: Images of a Legend” – penned by my friend Charles Lowery and Roy V. Scott.
Here’s one of the more believable stories recorded by Mrs. Frank W. Alexander.
“My father, G. S. Watrous, Sr. was a resident of Old Main during the years 1907-11 and was responsible for maintaining order and discipline in the Polecat Alley section. One night he went to the assistance of a fellow student who had discovered in his room an unwelcome guest – a polecat. Together they evicted the animal, but my father paid a dear price. His brand new alpaca suit, of which he was quite proud, caught the full brunt of the polecat’s displeasure. Unsuccessful at removing the smell, he finally buried the suit.
(Is a pole cat the same as a skunk? I don’t know. I’m wondering if it was called Polecat Alley before this incident, or only afterwards.)
But there are many references to Polecat alley which was in the 600 quadrant. There were many “quadrants” in the structure and none could be reached by traveling around one floor. Students would have to go “down and out” to reach a neighboring quadrant which was probably a good thing.
And this from James A. Douglas: “A geology class visited a lignite mine near Ackerman in 1924 or 1925. Several students found a keg of black powder which they slipped back to Old Main. After some experiments, somehow they set off the whole keg. It killed one student, burned the ear off another and a third regained his senses while walking to the hospital with no idea how he got out of the building.
Why in the world would someone think 1500 boys could live in one building without causing havoc on a daily basis. Thank goodness, women finally entered the university to bring some culture and civility!!!!
I’ll have many more stories and pictures tomorrow night. I’m still wondering how Shelby got that invitation to the reception reserved for the former residents. I don’t care. I’m charging up my camera and going in. This is going to be my January highlight.