Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wordy Wednesday

I found this photo from April 1986 while doing some scanning last week & my sons both asked me what I was doing in the photo & I thought I’d share the story with the world.


In my little boys’ minds I am watering down my juice, just like I always water down theirs. And I must be on a picnic since I am sitting on the ground.

Not quite.

This photo was taken at about 8am on a Friday morning in front of the Sigma Chi fraternity house at West Virginia University. (please keep in mind for the rest of the story that WVU was Playboy’s #1 Party School in the nation for 1985-87. The drinking age at that time was 19.). My sorority, Alpha Omicron Pi had had a ‘Wake Up’ for the Sigma Chis that morning.

We arrived at the frat house about 6:30am bearing donuts and McD’s breakfast muffins, fruit, orange juice, tomato juice and vodka to make screwdrivers and bloody Mary’s. Once everything was set up, we ran screaming through the house, banging on doors and waking everyone in the house. (a couple dozen guys lived in the house). Then we all had breakfast together, with most of us choosing the boozy drinks to get a head start on the day’s Giffin’ (pronounced jif-ing, as in TGIFing, or getting drunk on Fridays) which was a college tradition, though it didn’t usually start until noon on Fridays.

First class of the day is 8 or 8:30 so the party began breaking up just before 8. I am the only person in the photo, but actually I am part of a group of people who were topping up their beverages prior to departing for class. Several of us were headed to Dr Arnett’s ancient history class at 8:30.

Dr Arnett was an awesome teacher. He told the best stories about people, places and events back in the time of the Egyptians & Romans & because he told them like stores they stuck with you, even 25 years later. I had him for several classes & was one of his TAs in grad school. He was also a very tolerant teacher & short of disrupting the whole class let you get away with anything (though DH has a story about a history class he took with Dr A, where during a mid term exam a well known member of the WVU football team stood up and started asking people “What’s the answer to number 2?” and Dr A remained hidden behind his newspaper the entire time). He was also very well travelled and had been to many sites featured in his class lectures. We called him West Virginia Arnett.

This particular Friday we all felt the booze was acceptable because he was presenting a slide show to the class, one fondly known as Toilets of the Ancient World. (I got to see it 4 times in my 7 years at WVU). He hits the salient points of his recent lectures with the photos (actual pots, weapons, house layouts, etc) but there are always photos of the plumbing or other waste disposal systems in use at the time period, along with diagrams of how the water flowed, how pit locations were chosen and where the sponges on sticks were kept. It is one of his most highly entertaining lectures and even better if you are half buzzed at the time.

I had another class that morning, but I can’t recall now what it was, probably English or journalism (my major at the time), possibly geography & probably I skipped it to take a nap so I would be rested for the afternoon’s activities, a pig roast at another frat house (Delta Tau Delta, they aren’t at WVU any longer) and then a party that night at another frat house (Sigma Phi Epsilon, they’re gone too) and then some late night bar hopping in Sunnyside, collapsing at home around 3am & then sleeping until noon Saturday, at which point there would be a trip to the library, some homework done & then plans made for that night’s outings.

A day in the life of a sorority girl in 1986. Not a typical one I admit, but not a unique one either. There was a lot of partying for all of my undergrad years, but the drinking age went up to 21 and new rules were created & by grad school things were starting to be different.

From what I have read in recent years Greek life at WVU has apparently changed a good deal since I was student in the late 1980s.

It’s probably for the best.

Somewhere there are photos of me studying with friends & of me giving presentations to my various journalism classes, me doing my various work study jobs & there are even photos of me dragging my tired, cranky self up High Street to my 7:30am, 5 hour long, French intensive class that met 5 days a week for 6 weeks IN THE SUMMER!

But those stories are not nearly as much fun to tell.

Disclaimer... the vodka featured in this story is an aberration in the alcohol regularly available to college students at that time. Mostly we had beer. I don't like beer, never have. So while I did party my way through 7 years and 2 degrees at WVU, I was more sober than that phrase implies. However, all bets were off on Dollar Shots night at the Dungeon.


LizzieMade said...

Oh this post made me laugh so much! I don't quite understand the references to your various groups/clubs etc (being English and not used to is), but I certainly got the general idea of that day! Sounds like a lot of fun - though I'm glad it wasn't a very regular thing... Did you tell the boys that story? I guess not... hee hee!

Your History professor sounds wonderful. We had a quite inspiring History teacher at senior school. Sadly, however talented she was, the curriculum structure and exam topics were just too much even for her skill (or mine!)- I gave up History half-way through the exam year. It wasn't "real" history anyway - just lists and lists of Acts of Parliament and Dates that I could not absorb, however hard I tried. I've learned way more history since then, by just reading! I'd have loved to have the sort of lessons you got from your professor though!
Great story - such fun! More please?

SciFi Dad said...

Wow. In 1986 I was in the sixth grade.

Ruth said...

You should scrapbook this photo and the full story and add it to your Book Of Me. I think it's always good for children to realise that their parents weren't always boring!!

humel said...

This was a really interesting read, as it's so different from my experience of going to University here in the UK! :-) Oh, and I love your boys' innocent interpretation of the pic xx

Maria Ontiveros said...

Great story! Thanks for sharing. I was just thinking about college days today because I was working on an art journal page about "the best night in my life."

Nicole K said...

Thanks for sharing.
I had no idea about your interest in classes. Very cool!

HappyLilGrahamCracker said...

That's a fun post, and I enjoyed reading it. My college experience was a lot different (a, I turned 21 AFTER finishing university the first time around, and b, I went to a private Christian school that had a no drinking policy), so it was interesting to step into your shoes and see college from that perspective!

Creative Junkie said...

Wow - I'm getting a whole image of you!

I attended many a college class with a huge hangover but I don't know if I ever purposely got liquid happy in the mornings before class? Then again, a lot of my college years are a fuzzy haze.