The boarding house on Wettermark street near the campus of Stephen F. Austin State College was the setting for many a juvenile prank during the fall of 1955. I was a freshman student at the Nacogdoches college living in the large, two-story house with eight other male students at the time. More time was invested in playing pranks on each other than in studying the expensive courses required for a degree.
Looking back on this year I am amazed that I passed any courses at all as so much time was spent playing dominoes or forty-two than anything else, except perhaps jokes and pranks on the other residents.
One of the residents was a young man from a small town near Tyler. He was somewhat socially inept, the perfect target for innocent harassment. One fall afternoon while *Jim was gone someone of our group devised the perfect practical joke which had Jim’s name all over it. After explaining the details of the prank to the rest of us, we all agreed. All the tools needed were as many alarm clocks as we could gather together, which was a total of five.
Most alarm clocks in those days were the wind-up kind not needing electricity to work. We entered Jim’s room and began carrying out our devious plot. We set each alarm clock to go off at thirty-minute intervals, beginning at two o’clock in the morning. Then we hid each one in places such as desk drawers, the closet, chest of drawers, and under his bed. Our plan completed, we all retreated to our own rooms and waited.
Jim returned home just in time for supper at the boarding house, an experience in itself. Around midnight we all retired for the night awaiting the results of our plan. At two o’clock I heard the muffled sound of an alarm clock in Jim’s room. Then the sounds of someone stumbling over furniture in the dark combined with a few choice words. Our scheme was working.
Things settled down for awhile as he evidently located the clock and turned it off. It would not be long before the second one would go off.
At the sound of the second alarm clock more choice words were heard as he searched out the location of this clock. This time he yelled out, “Who the hell is doing this to me?” I heard several voices from other rooms: “It wasn’t me.” “I didn’t do it.” “What clocks?” “Anybody hear any clocks?”
After the third clock chimed Jim finally got up and began an all-out search for the remaining clocks which he located. Seems I recall a couple of them being hurled at the wall. “This is not funny. I have a test tomorrow”, he whined. The boarding house was extremely quiet the rest of the night.
Poor Jim was a good-natured fellow and accepted our pranks as just a part of college boarding house culture. However, I recall that the next week several of us had our beds “short-sheeted” by a person or persons unknown. Tit for tat, an eye for an eye, sowing or reaping, giving and receiving - whatever one wants to call it, it was definitely in effect here.
I have often wondered what happened to Jim. He did not return to the boarding house the next year. It was suggested that he probably became a clock and watch repair man, considering his background and experience.
* name changed
“AN ALARMING SITUATION”
BY: NEAL MURPHY
PO BOX 511
107 HEMLOCK STREET
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972