College pranks common theme in century

Release Date: Sept. 1, 2008

College life in past decades was not much different than today. Kids will be kids, after all, and mischief is often mixed in with the academic environment. The following stories were submitted by alumni or former employees:

Dallas Roark, a former religion professor at Wayland, was the victim of a prank in Dr. Fred Howard's religion class during the summer of 1964. A former student, who was in on the prank, shared the story as one of his funniest memories at Wayland.

The six-week Greek course had only 10 students enrolled, and the class opted to take turns bringing a dozen donuts or rolls every day for a break in the three-hour session. Roark stopped by the class one day and the class shared the one extra donut with him. The routine began, with Roark stopping by each day for the leftover sweet.

One day the student who brought the rolls decided to play a trick on Roark. He bought a dozen jelly rolls, and emptied some of the jelly out of one, replacing it with a few teaspoons of Louisiana Red Hot sauce and replacing some of the jelly. He kept the roll separate from the others and told the class of the trick. When Roark came in, he took the roll as usual and began eating.

"He surprised all of us as he ate bite after bite of the jelly roll with no reaction," the student wrote. "He had started eating the roll from the end without the spicy surprise. All of a sudden he stopped talking, placed his hand over his mouth and left the classroom at a very rapid pace."

Roark was at the water fountain for nearly 20 minutes, and the class wondered what would come of the incident. After skipping one day of the break, Roark returned to the class and never mentioned the prank. He did eat the leftover rolls but made careful inspection first. Then he announced it was his turn to bring the treats.

The class each took a chocolate covered donut, though several were wary of possible payback and would not eat them. Others did eat, sure Roark was pulling a ruse. At the end of the day, Roark told the class he had dipped the donuts in Ex-Lax then calmly left the room.

The class was never sure if he did indeed return the prank or if he was playing mind games. Some claimed to spend an extra amount of time in the bathroom that night, and others claimed no ill effects. Either way, both Roark and the students got a laugh.

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In Wayland's early years, the dorm curfew was 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday, and students found themselves in major trouble if they had to wake the dorm mother to allow them in after curfew. Since many dating couples had to walk or ride the city bus for dates, making curfew after taking in a movie and "admiring the moon and stars" was difficult if not impossible.

Leon Saul and his friend, Joe Howell, who was also dating a girl living in Matador Hall, came up with a temporary solution while cleaning out the basement of a campus building.

"We were moving old desks and junk around and discovered about fifteen broken chairs. We also found some rope about an inch and a half in diameter, and we decided that we could use the chair rungs and rope to make a rope ladder. We spaced the rungs about a foot apart between two 12-foot lengths of rope.

"The device made a sturdy 'Jacob's Ladder' capable of supporting about 200 pounds. We hid the ladder in the basement and discussed the possibilities with our girlfriends, Edith Shirey and Merle Linsky. Their room was on the second floor, and we conspired for Edith and her roommate, Jimmie Lee Balch, to keep the ladder in their room and for Jimmie Lee to lower the ladder from their room when we came in after curfew. We were to announce our arrival by throwing some gravel on the window.

"We used the ladder successfully for most of the school year. Edith and Merle quickly became skilled at climbing the ladder. Joe started going with other girls and they also learned the procedure. Several other students were aware the ladder existed. Some viewed it with envy while others viewed it with horror."

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James Pinson, who earned his associate’s degree in 1942, sent this anecdote about his time at Wayland:

"I lived in Hale Center, where my father had a drug store, and my brother and I worked at the soda fountain. Many people from Plainview, including Wayland students, would drive down to get a drink or have ice cream just for a change of pace. One evening at Halloween, a large group of Wayland students that came down fairly often drove up. They came in and were having a great time, mostly in uncontrollable laughter. My brother and I asked them what was so funny. They finally swore us to secrecy and told us what was so funny.

"They said the janitor at Wayland would go to the basement in the evening, put a cane bottom chair next to the big furnace where it was warm, lean back against the wall and go to sleep. He carried all keys for Wayland on a hook on his belt, and they were very easy to slip off.

"One of their group went to the basement, found the janitor fast asleep, slipped the keys off and rushed back upstairs to unlock President McDonald's office and Dean Cobb's office doors. He returned the keys to the basement, slipping them back on the janitor's belt.

"They put a cow in the president's office and, I believe, it was a goat in the dean's office. They then gave each of them a very good dose of Sal-Hapatica and left immediately for Hale Center. The next morning there was much, much commotion. They said the offices were a mess, and they moved the desks and chairs out into the hall. I heard that they operated from the hall for two weeks."

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Leon Blevins, 1961 graduate, recalled an incident involving his roommate, Eugene Seright, who had his clothes stolen by a friend while shaving in only his shorts.

"Eugene gave chase, running outside onto a sidewalk fronting the east side of McDonald Hall. At that moment, I was preparing to drive away and quickly turned on my headlights, bathing an almost-naked Eugene in light. Quickly, Eugene retreated.

"When I returned, I told Eugene the college's academic dean and a guest speaker from Lithuania saw him in his seminude state outside the dorm. I told him he was probably in deep trouble. That day, I got the secretary in Dean Cecil Cosper's office to give me an envelope and some letterhead paper from the office. I typed a letter on a school typewriter, reprimanding Eugene for his unseemly behavior. I signed the letter with a big letter C.

"A few days later, when Eugene was reading the letter, Dean Cosper and the guest speaker entered the lounge area near the mail boxes. When Eugene saw the two men, he hid behind a couch, and as soon as they left, he ran to his room and began packing his belongings to return to his home in Oklahoma. He knew for sure that he would be expelled from school.”