SWIMMING IN THE DORM:
Before heading for Hawaii I had left Provo for Pittsburgh early as my finals were completed. Before I left Provo, on my last night in the dorm Sandy and I and a few other miscreants decided we would have a swimming party in the dorm. But as it happened, one of the local girls of questionable repute was having a party at her house so we went there instead. I left early the next morning to catch my bus to Pittsburgh. Sandy and the few remaining “scholars” in the dorm crammed for their remaining final exams as in typical college fashion, most had let studying go until the last possible moment.
What I did not know was that evening Sandy and the group who by that time had finished their final exams, decided to move forward with the dorm swimming party. Of course there was no swimming pool in the dorm, especially not on the second floor where we lived, so we had decided to create one. Most of the residents had gone home and only a few were left with little to do except think up ways to have a little fun.
One of the group was an Engineering major and said that to make the swimming pool they must remove a metal panel between two toilet stalls in the rest room. The panel was just the right size to cover the opening that served as entry into the large shower that had four shower heads – one in each corner. The panel was sealed against the fire-tile block walls with dorm towels and the drain was plugged. Then all four shower heads were turned on full force. The shower began to fill and the boys would scramble up to the top of the cinderblock shower walls and jump into their pool as if filled. When the shower was perhaps a little more than three-quarters full, a couple of guys jumped in at the same time. The weight of the water and stress on the walls was too much to bear and the walls gave way, flooding the entire second floor calf deep and leaking down onto the first floor. Two of the boys, including Sandy sustained deep gashes in their backs from the jagged cinderblock walls and damaged mortar as they were swept out of the shower swimming pool, and they required medical treatment. Damage to the second floor wing, as well as to the first floor was substantial.
The university authorities failed to see any humor in the prank and were, of course, irate. "These miscreants must be punished severely," they agreed. All the boys who had participated were immediately banned from the dorm, placed on social probation, and their parents assessed the cost of repairs. And that is why the dorms were being refurbished that summer, which had allowed me to sneak in and stay for free.
My semester in Hawaii was most enjoyable. I did not attend class much but spent lots of time on the beach, which was walking distance from the campus. The student body was made up of about 80% non-whites including native Hawaiians, Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, Samoans, Tongans, and other South Sea Islanders. It was a fascinating cultural experience, despite my 1.17 grade point average. It was a great lesson of how it felt to be white and a minority. I stayed just one semester but had the time of my life.
One of my fellow dorm mates had an old Harley Davidson motor cycle and he would let me drive it to “town,” as Honolulu was called. The bike was a “64” model and had a gear shift aside the gas tank. It was an oldie, probably World War II vintage, but was in excellent condition. One day, after driving the Harley to “town,” I was walking past a pool hall on King Street and could have sworn I heard my name called. I stopped and went back to look inside the pool hall where I saw two of my high school classmates from Clairton. They had joined the Army together out of high school and were stationed at Schofield Barracks. We had a fun time and they took me to their barracks where we talked about our hometown. Afterwards, whenever I got a home town newspaper, (my mother sent it to me regularly all through college) The Clairton Progress, I’d thumb my over to Schofield and visit my old high school friends, Ralph Falk and Franny Furcini, and share news of our hometown. We’d have a few beers and I’d thumb back to campus.
But alas, February came, the semester ended and it was time to leave the garden paradise for Provo. I had written to Sandy and learned the Great Shower Caper and his eviction and lifetime banishment from the dorms. He had found a basement apartment off campus in the home of a widow. Mrs. Shaw cleaned the room, did the laundry, and even cooked an occasional weekend meal for no extra charge. There was an extra bed so Sandy and I became official roommates.
I returned to Provo in February after one fantastic semester in Hawaii. My grade point average while there was, as we used to say, "Nothing to write home about," unless one was writing bad news. My tennis career was short-lived but the memories of that one semester are ones I've cherished since. But since my original plans were to stay in Hawaii for an entire school year, I had made no plans for my return to the BYU campus. Staying in the dorm was out, as it was mid-year and no vacancies existed. It was just as well as by this time I had outgrown the dorm. I wanted some adventure, the type of which off campus housing offered that dormitory life did not.
During my stint at the Church College of Hawaii I kept up my correspondence with Sandy. He told me of the fiasco in the dorm with the shower/swimming pool and said that he was banned for life from ever staying in a BYU dorm. His father had called him from Peru to express his displeasure at the huge bill the university had sent him for repairs to the dorm. Sandy said that no phone line was necessary - he was sure he could have heard his father's shouting all the way from Peru to Provo without the aid of a long distance telephone call. Sandy had found a basement apartment in a the home of a widow who decided to rent her basement to a couple of students. After word had spread of the swimming pool disaster he was unable to find anybody willing to share a dwelling so I gladly accepted. Sandy even volunteered to pick me up at the Salt Lake City airport in one of his newly-acquired cars.
Freedom from the dorm meant a different lifestyle and that lifestyle meant a need for transportation. Sandy had not owned a car while living in the dorm but during the semester I was in Hawaii he had purchased two or three cars (in case one wouldn't start on a cold winter morning). He picked me up at the airport and we stayed the weekend at Mrs. Allen's estate before heading to Provo and the next chapter in our lives.
The rest of the semester Sandy and I attended classes occasionally and drove up to Mrs. Allen’s estate nearly every weekend. If BYU served as the basis of my academic education, weekends Mrs. Allen’s provided me with cultural experiences few people have the good fortune to enjoy. As I mentioned, she collected homeless animals (she was a major donor and very active in the Salt Lake City ASPCA), and she collected people as well. Most, such as Mr. and Mrs. de la Casa formerly of Spain and Colonel Sweeny, a former Soldier of Fortune and outstanding golfer, were Libertines.
In addition to those who stayed on the estate courtesy of Mrs. Allen, movers and shakers of the political and business scene would be regular attendees at her famous Sunday Night parties. The property would be lit up with electric lights that reminded me of Christmas decorations, except that they shone every Sunday evening, year round. Among the regular local guests was Mayor J. Bracken Lee, an infamous non-LDS mayor who ran Salt Lake City like a real city, much to the chagrin of his City Council.