October 12, 2005

The Crematorium

It was the winter of 1970 when Bruce, one of my Michelson House suite-mates brought home a pet land crab. He fed it bits of food salvaged from the Commons, and it provided a bit of comic diversion while it resided in our living room. When the crab finally passed away, Bruce thought his companion deserved a send-off fitting for a Viking. He put the crab in a coffee can filled with kerosene, took it out to the ledge behind the dorm, bordering the parking lot, and set it ablaze.

None of us expected the inferno that ensued, shooting a plume of flame 12 feet high into the murky Cleveland night sky. From the safety of our suite, we watched as the furnace fumed for over an hour, and was eventually consumed, along with the remains of Bruce's crab.

We were graced by the fact that this ill-conceived prank did not result in any damage or injury, not to mention arrest or expulsion. But that flame burned an indelible image on the collective cortexes of those who saw it, as a lasting testament to the folly of youth.

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September 01, 2005

Blackacre Trailer Camp

One of my favorite “student residences” was the Blackacre Trailer Camp, one of Western Reserve University’s responses to the need to house married veterans returning to school after World War II. There are pictures in the Dorm Life scrapbook. What surprised me was the length of time the trailer camp was in use, 1947-1955, much longer than I had expected. According to articles in the student newspaper, the Reserve Tribune, Blackacre operated as a student co-op. WRU owned the land, but each family paid for its own trailer. Other expenses were shared by all the families and each contributed communal labor to maintain and improve the facility. There seem to have been between six and twelve families in residence at a time. I’d love to hear from the Blackacre children about their recollections of University trailer living.
Jill Tatem
University Archives

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August 30, 2005

Working and Playing

Attending class is just one part of the college experience. Students have to fill their time doing other activities – studying and playing. What was the best/worst job you had at the University? What were the most memorable or unforgettable activities that you participated in?

For a glimpse of what other students did in their free time, see our Dormitory Life exhibit’s Work and Play page.

Tom Steman
University Archives

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