Memoires 14


Freshman year was also a time to bump into things, figuratively speaking, and occasionally run afoul of the BYU establishment. One such incident occurred early in the semester and was the result of Sandy’s desire to spruce up his dull, drab, dorm room that looked like my dull drab dorm room and that of everybody else in the dorm. Sandy’s roommate that year was Lonnie Carter, an African American from Houston. Neither Lonnie, nor Sandy, nor I were content in living in little boxes made of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same. We made a pact to look around to find something that would jazz up the place a little. One evening after a dinner out Sandy and a friend were driving back to the dorms. As they drove past the rear of a Safeway grocery store Sandy shouted for the friend to stop the car and back up. There among the trash were several aluminum-appearing barrels, small enough to work as a support for a piece of plywood as a table top. They tossed the mini-barrel into the trunk along with some plywood that lay nearby and within an hour Sandy and Lonnie had the spiffiest study table in the dorm.


One of the other non-Mormons on the floor, Benny, was from the Bronx. He had a habit of never paying his way regardless of the circumstance. In fact when we would go as a group to the snack bar at the nearby bowling alley Benny would always eat but never pay. He earned his nickname, “Benny the Leech” at the snack bar when somebody ordered a burger and fries and reached for the catsup. Benny stopped him saying, “No! I don’t like catsup on my fries.”


Benny came to the room to see the now famous table, lifted up the skirt draped over the plywood and said, “Hey, where’d you get the beer keg?” Up to that point nobody in the dorm realized what the stand actually was. At least nobody had the gall to say it aloud. And of course, Sandy answered with the wide-eyed innocence of a naïve teen when he said, “I found it.”


What happened next is speculation, but the logical sequence of events would be that a dorm official would have entered Sandy’s room with a passkey, written the identification number stamped on the keg, and then phoned campus security who in turn phoned the Provo Police. Once it was discovered that the keg had been “stolen” the Barney Fyfe Serious Crimes Unit of the Provo Police Department swung into action. They confiscated the “evidence” while most students were away from the dorm, and waited for Sandy to return. As he walked into the dorm two burly plainclothesmen approached him, asked his name, and slapped the cuffs on him. They escorted him to their unmarked patrol car and took him to the station for questioning.


The next several hours must have seemed like an eternity to the terrified lad, alone and far from home. Detectives had him write a statement then grilled him about stealing beer kegs and told him that such a theft could be a felony that would land him in jail until long after his classmates were gone from school and well into their careers. They insisted he tell them who else was in the beer keg theft ring and generally terrorized poor Sandy.


But Sandy refused to stray from his original story. He was driving home from dinner (What are the names of the other gang members who were with you?) There is no gang. I saw a pile of trash in the back of the store and thought the keg would make a good study table base. (Why didn’t you ask the store manager for permission to take it?) The store was closed. (Why would you take an item that costs lots of money and is reused for years?) I thought it was trash. I’ve never seen a beer keg before, I’m from Peru. I did not know they were reused.


Eventually the interrogation stopped and they released Sandy with a severe warning that he was being watched and any further lawbreaking would be dealt with harshly.


For the most part freshman year was uneventful. Probably the most daring thing we did intentionally was to leave class after roll had been called.

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