Martin Hall turned 100 this year and that meant a flood of alumni visiting campus for the anniversary event and revisiting stories from their time in the historic dorm.
Some Martin men present at the event were uneasy about sharing stories from their glory days. When asked, Jeff Tate ’75 had this to say:
“We’re intellectuals, we don’t have any stories. We were the guys over in the library till midnight, we didn’t know anybody,” Tate said.
In true Martin fashion, Tate then prompted the friend he was sitting with, Jerry Pruden ’75, to recount the time Pruden had broken into the steam tunnels under Martin with his twin brother and tried to chisel through a brick wall earning himself the nickname “Tunnel Rat”. Like other alumni, he also fondly remembered pranks, one involving a Martin party room completely full of stolen bicycles.
Bill Hobbs ’71 recounted coming home from a late night to find that every doorknob in his section was tied together and had to let his dormmates out, while Marion (Red) White ’70 described the punishing of an annoying classmate by filling his room floor to ceiling with crumpled up newspaper while he was home for the weekend.
“When he came back on Sunday he tried to open his door and he could not open his dorm door,” White said, excited to note that while most guys just left their keys on the doorframes. “After that, he took his [key] with him.”
For Chuck Chappell ’64, what started as likely a drunken mishap made his room, number 316, a commemorated spot.
“I woke up at one or two in the morning to the sound of water running. Well, another resident of Martin had come in and was relieving himself in our wastebasket, which was right next to where I was sleeping,” Chapell said. “News quickly spread across campus. The next day when we got back from our classes, [another student] had taken a poster board and printed it and did big letters—it was really very attractive—and put on it ‘John 3:16 Welcome to Martin Hall.’”
Even context for current infrastructure issues can be found in former students. Tate recalled run-ins with furry friends in Martin’s basement.
“I’m lying in bed and I felt the running of a little mouse, and then I felt another. I stayed up that entire night,” Tate said. “The next night I went to bed with two mouse traps on each post, and let’s just say that I caught six mice over about the next two nights and I never found a mouse in my bed again.”
On a larger scale, Chris Williams ’70 described his most exciting Martin experience watching the construction of the old library under the brick pit.
“As I was walking up the stairs to the fourth floor I heard this huge roar,” Williams said. “I looked out the window and the whole thing had caved in. I saw a couple of workmen scrambling out, climbing onto the rebar steel.”
Luckily, nobody was hurt in the incident.
Conway Regional Hospital also seems to be a constant theme in Hendrix life. Andy Koehler ’04 became a patient there after a first floor wide Airsoft battle.
“I tried to pull some Matrix moves where I jumped and was shooting and also dodging, but in the process I bashed my head into the doorframe of one of the doors down there and got a big laceration,” Koehler said. (The doctors at the hospital assured him the wound wasn’t serious) “one of the guys who came with us called my best friend Nathan Lawrence ’04 who could not go and told him I was actually comatose from it and that things weren’t going well. Nathan who’s a very passive, calm guy was so upset by this that he actually took a table and threw it across the drunk trap and was apparently in a state of grief until he heard all of us laughing on the other end. And yet, he’s still our friend!”
And what better to end on than a combined mystery and romance? Kent Thompson ’07 was one month into his first year in Martin when his roommate disappeared, and he wasn’t about to let that opportunity go to waste. The next morning, he and the girl in his bed didn’t feel like answering the door, however, when a key went in the lock he realized that was a choice he would regret.
“The dean of students walks in, the head of campus police walks in, a Conway police officer walks in, and the guy who left’s dad walks in,” Thompson said. “Bra on the floor, just not the best situation for them to walk in on right now. And they proceed to sit there and ask me what happened to my roommate.”
After going through the roommate’s desk they discover the English major left a note that said, “Passion has consumed me, out of the ashes I rise anew.”
“It turned out, he took his car and drove to Seattle… So, that was how I met my wife,” Thompson said.