Chas Horvath and his wife, Mary, were here in DC recently, visiting their son, CJ, who is working his way through college as a waiter at a German restaurant. My wife and I joined the Horvaths at the restaurant to see how the lad is doing. He passed my impromptu test, and knew the German word for “beer,” which is “bier,” and is pronounced “beer.” (It’s difficult for me to be too pedagogical when I’m in pre-schnitzel drooling mode.) Chas is one of our funniest story tellers, which is why I had the foresight to wear rubber pants, but we never got around to reminiscing about the squirrel-in-the-Library incident, or his stealthy trip to Wells College under the pile of laundry in the back of Doug Wright’s van. We spent the evening talking about grown-up stuff.
Recent email reminiscences among early ‘60s era Pikes centered around cars. I don’t know how I got involved, being a mid-‘70s guy. Anyway, a bunch of them had foreign sports cars. The brotherhood started bidding some working class schlubs along the way, because by 1976, the Pike parking lots were littered with hand-me-down sedans and other Detroit detritus. All of the crappiest cars belonged to Jim Dake. He had a Fairlane that had an external frame welded to it, because the original one had rusted out. I have written previously of his oil-burning Vega (pardon the redundancy). Donzo had an Opel, if you can imagine. Chris Ashley did have the class to drive both a Mustang and a Bimmer, but in between he had a Vega, too. I had a car for a semester – it was a Lamborghini Countach, but to discourage thieves and moochers, I disguised it as a 1976 Toyota Corolla with a four cylinder engine, a manual choke, and plastic seats that somehow made your ass feel colder than the outside air. I smacked a deer with that car, and hit it so flush that it caved in the front, and dented both fenders; the deer got clean away, so I didn’t even have the satisfaction of eating it.
For no apparent reason, here’s a picture of Nate Rudgers:
Speaking of cars, one of the stupider things I’ve done was to jump onto the hood of Jim Kopp’s Bimmer. At the time, he was driving it up South Avenue. With a Dik across the windshield, it was hard for Jim to see, and he missed the turn, sending the car over a log and into a ditch and me through the roadside scrub. Florence Nightingale Kopp jumped out, ignored my immobile form, and screamed “my car, my car!” Fortunately, I was drunk.
A great theme here would be “brothers losing their cars in corn fields,” but I’m already on the naughty list of a few of our esteemed brothers, and I don’t want to further perpetuate the notion that college fraternity life has anything to do with hijinks, so I’ll take a miss. Man, I caught an earful after the columns about reckless endangerment and the fun one can have with corn oil and root vegetables! The last thing I need is more opprobrium. Suffice it to say that testosterone, beer, and gasoline are a heady mix. If any of you colonial Pikes are reading this, you should know that we alumni like to embellish stories, and for the most part, we studied hard and went to the library daily. Why, I spent many hours in the library, the stone one, up the hill next to the food place, with all the books and things. I was the maestro of the card catalog. Gibber once asked me if I lived in that library! That’s how much I studied. And it paid off! I made the List of Smart Guys, and graduated magnum opus with a degree on real paper, with a seal and a picture of a guy with a beard. Not the fun kind of seal, either, but the studious kind. Yes, we were scholars.
Okay, just this: at least three guys in the late ‘70s lost their cars in corn fields. They were only found after Sherlock Holmesian effort. I think one of the incidents required hounds. Another incident ended in jail, but, and this is the important thing, we All Learned Valuable Lessons. Remember kids, in the words of the great philosopher, Ed Catto, it’s not fun until someone loses an eye.