Tales of the Dorms

Back in January, BYU Magazine (or whatever its called) solicited tales of dorm life. I submitted the stories below, and they apparently chose one of them (based on my daughter-in-law’s comments on Facebook). Here are my original stories. These are all from 1971-72, my freshman year at BYU. I was living on the 3rd floor in Penrose (“T”) Hall in Deseret Towers.

Glow-ball Warfare and Other Dorm Games

When you put 40+ young men, mostly freshman, all on the same dorm floor — in this case, the 3rd floor of Penrose (T) Hall in Deseret Towers (1971-72) — interesting activities develop. One of our periodic games was called “Glow-ball Warfare”, and we played it in the commons room (with all the furniture in place). The main playing instrument was a plastic, glow-in-the-dark ball. All the players would gather into the commons room, with a few towels to block out light coming from beneath the doors. One person would start out with the ball, holding it up to one of the ceiling lights. After a minute or so, he’d nod, and all the lights would be turned out. He would now do his best to hit someone else with the now-glowing ball, the only thing visible in the room. Everyone else would do their best to get away from him in the darkness, usually running into each other and the furniture (the worst I ever got hurt in the game was crawling head-first into the heavy metal pole holding up one of the tables). Once the ball was thrown, there was a scramble to grab the ball; whoever got it now did his best to hit someone else. When the ball got too dim, we’d call a halt, turn on the lights to recharge it, and then continue. There were no teams; it was strictly a free-for-all.

In high school, I had played football for four years. There was another guy on my dorm floor, Layne Jensen (’74, ’76, ’78), who had been in wrestling in high school for four years. Every now and then, Layne and I would have contests where we would take turns hitting each other in the stomach as hard as we could to see if the other guy could take it. For the life of me, I can’t remember how this got started or why we thought it was a good idea, but I know we always walked away feeling that both of us had done well.

Greg Zippi (’77, ’83), another floor-mate, came up with a less violent and painful game: Hallway Frisbee. The two players would start a modest distance apart in one of the long dorm hallways. One player would toss a frisbee to the other player. If the frisbee didn’t touch the wall, ceilings or (of course) floor, then both players would take a stride back, and the second player would throw to the first player. If the frisbee did touch the floor/walls/ceiling, then we stayed the same distance apart. The goal was to throw the frisbee the full length of the hallway without it touching anything. Given how long and narrow the Deseret Towers hallways were, that was a rare accomplishment, but always much celebrated and bragged about when accomplished.

I will pass over in silence the Hallway Whiffleball games, which were a bit, ah, rougher on the ceiling light fixtures than Hallway Frisbee.

Finally, at the end of our freshman year, at the end of finals, we challenged another floor in our hall to a few outdoor competitions, one of which was a tug-of-war across one of the the irrigation canals that ran near Heritage Halls. Because the heights of the two banks of the canal weren’t quite the same, we decided to switch sides after the first event and repeat the tug-of-war. Many of us, not wanting to walk the 30 yards or so to one side to walk across the canal, simply ran and jumped over it. Since the canal had 2-3″ of water in it, and since the canal had sloping banks, I kept a careful eye on the ground as I ran up to the canal and leapt. I then looked up just in time to see that someone from the opposing team had done exactly the same thing at exactly the same time in exactly the same (but opposite) place along the canal. One of my floormates (it may well have been Greg) later told me — once he could stop laughing — that it was like watching a live-action cartoon. This other young man and I hit one another full on right over the middle of the canal, exactly canceled out each other’s momentum, hung for a split-second in mid-air, and then dropped into the canal’s cold, cold water together. For my own part, I put out my right hand to break my fall and slammed it onto one of the large, water-smoothed rocks at the bottom of the canal. I was unable to shake hands for a month.

It was a great year.

Bruce F. Webster (BS, ’78)
Parker, Colo.

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