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University Pranks

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From the Detroit Trlbuue. Students of the University of today might profit by ""the innocent manner in which the predecessors of nearly half a century ago managed to secure a little diversion from their daily tasks at their books. So small was their number in those days that it would have been sheer madness to attempt to "do up" a circus gang or military company. Consequently their amusement consisted of a more innocent kind of sport. The following interesting chapter is contributed by a gentleman who is one of the 14 survivors of the first two classes of the University. The student of the University of to-day can have but a faint conception of the institution as it was when the first classes took their diplomas. At that time there was but one buildingon the campus, besides four buildings for professors, two at the north, and two at the south side of the grounds. That one building, standing alone, near the center of the western front, served all the purposes of library, museum of natural history, geology and mineralogy, chapel, recitation rooms and dormitories. All the students were exnected to occupy rooms in that . Y auilding, two in each suite, which , :onsisted of a study, or living ( room, two bedrooms and a . room or closet, as wood was the only . Euel. A plain box stove was , nished for each suite, but the students had to furnish their own fuel and the furniture for their rooms, and pay a nominal rent - $2.50 per term. In those rooms the early students studied, slept and some even ate, though that was against the rules. These rooms were expected at all times to be open to the visits and inspection of the professors, or tutor. It may be remarked, however, that the professors seldom availed themselves of the privilege, thus showing the confidence they had in the honesty and general uprightness of the students. As a general thing the early students of the University were a very orderly, law abiding class of young men. There was little class dice indulged in. The freshmen considered themselves quite as good as the best, and there was little assumption of superiority on the part of the more advanced classes. Indeed, there were at -first no such classes. The first class entered as freshmen, and they were only sophomores when the second class entered, which started with 18 members, which at the time, was considered a very large class. Of course, under such circumstances, the students were not sufficiently numerous to concoct much mischief. Still they managed to have their fun. One of the most irksome rules of those days was that requiring attendance at prayers, in the nominal chapel, the principal recitation room, at 6 o'clock in the morning, winter and summer. . It was not so bad during the study days of the week, because recitations took place immediately after prayers, but' to be routed out Saturday and Sunday mornings at 6 o'clock in midwinter with the thermometer at or below zero to attend prayer, was considered a real hardship. Absences on such occasion were always noted and detracted from the standing of the absentee. Studentswere called to prayers by the ringing of the college bell. The bell rang first at 5:50 and again at 3, ten minutes being considered amile time in which to dress and preDare for prayers. Many, however, preferred to devote that precious ten minutes to another nap, and not unErequently carne into chapel with :oat and vest in their hands. The bell was not in the belfry, because the building did not boast such an ornament, but it was hung on the top af a large post, some fifteen or twenty feet high, standing a little way out fram the building. At first this bell was rung by an ordinary rope, which, when not in use, was simply tied around the post. One cold Sunday morning in the middle of winter the bell failed to ring at the usual hour, and a majority of the students slept on till breakfast time. A few, however, of the more wakeful or conscientious wondered what had happened. Daylight revealed the mystery. The bell had been fastened upsidedown, filled with water, and that had frozen solid. The janitor hadn't means at hand for climbing the post and cutting out the ice. One of the most wanton pranks perpetrated during those years was the ringing of the college bell one night a little after midniprht. After the freezing up of the bell the rope had been. dismissed from service, and a long iron rod took its place. This was secured by a strong padlock and staple to the post, the key of which the janitor, one Pat Kelly, always carried in his pocket. This seemed to put an end to all fun with the bell. But after midnight on this occasion, after the lights were all out, and as one might have supposed all the students were sleeping the sleep of the just, the bell began to ring with noisy clangor. First Pat came over and examined the post and the bell rod. That was all right - locked fast. While this examination was going on, the bell was silent, but no sooner had' Pat left the post than the clangor was renewed with more energy than before. Pretty soon Prof. George P. Williams was seen coming through the wheat to the college building. (It should here be said that the campus was cultivated that year to a erop of wheat by the janitor, who had no 5maü trouble in keepingthe students from tramping down more or less in the immediate vicinity of the building. As Pat was a general favorite, however, each student assumed the role of guardián of Pat's wheat, as against everyone but himself, and - "get out of Pat's wheat" - becamea byword). Prof. Williams came leisurely through the wheat which was almost as high as his shoulders, in gown and slippers. Of course, his right to the path through the waving grain was respected, but if he stcpped outside the beaten way in bis investigations he was greeted with this discordant cry from a dozen unseen throats, "Get out of Pat's wheat!" The cry was rather faint, it is true, for Prof. Williams was a great favorite for every student, and not one would have shown him personally a shadow of disresp'ect. He came on, however, looked at the bell, which suddenly became silent, walked around the post and seemed to be puzzled. About this time he was joined by two or three professors from the other side of the campus. The building was shrouded in darkness, not a glim, nor a head was seen. A faint moonlight cast a dim and and wierd light over the scène, and coming from the west, threw the eastern side of the building, where the investigation was going on, into deep shade. It was evident to the professors that a strong but invisible cord was fastened to the tongue of the bell. The problem was tofind where that string led to. The brief consultation of the professors seemed to result in the conclusión that the ringer was hidden somewhere in the wheat field. All this time the bell was jangling at inCoDtlautd on teovnd paga. UNIVERSITY PRANKS. Concluded. tervals. Sonie noise in the growing wheat, 10 or 15 rods away, seemed to confirm this theory, for one of the trio started that way to investígate. No sooner had he stepped into the waving grain than a hoarse, imperative clamor aróse, -'Get out of Pat's wheat! Get out of Pat's wheat.'" Staggered at first at the horriddin the professor went on, and was soon rewarded for his perseverance, for some one, or something, started up a little distance away on the run and the bell stopped ringing. This seemed to assure the professor that he was on the right track and he, too, started on the run to overtake the fúgitive. The clamor to "get out of Pat's wheat" became louder than ever, and to cap the climax, at that moment the diabolical bell began ringing louder than ever. This was sufficient evidence trust the cause lay not in that direction, and the professor came back tired and crestfallen, greeted at every step with the yell, "get out of Pat's wheat." The bell continued to ring. other brief consultation was held, and the two professors who had not joined in the race came into the building and began a systematic -investigation of every on the east side of the building. Everywhere they found the students abed and snoring and apparently fast asleep. Some times as they went into a room the bell would cease its clangor and they would be almost certain that they had struck the right place, but before they had got out of the room the ringing would begin again. Thus 12 rooms, three on each floor, were carefully investigated without result. The weary professors finaíly gave it up, and as they emerged from the north hall, baffled and disgusted, the bell was ringing its loudest as aparting salute. All at once, however, it became silent. All was dark, still and lonely. The moon had gone down, and it was just at that darkest hour before dawn, when the bafflec faculty, after a brief consultation, departed for their respective couches. Prof. Williams, after taking a few steps in the grain, was noticed to stoop down and piek up something that seemed to cross his path. It proved to be a portion of the innocent cause of all the commotion. It was a small cord, which only led to the bell post and not to the operator. He cut it off as high as he could reach, and put it in his pocket. The cord had broken and fallen across the path, but the other part of it had evidently been taken good care of. That morning the bell did not ring for prayers or for recitation, a very ominous token. About 10 o'clock all were summoned to the chapel, where the entire faculty were seated in very solemn conclave. The portion of the cord secured by the professor lay on the desk before them, and the investigation began. After a solemn address on he heinousness of the offense committed against the peace and dignity of the University, and the statement of the law in reference to particeps criminis which every one would be considered, who knew and failed to divulge, all were dismissed to their rooms with instructions to hold hemselves in readiness to obey the summons at once when called for. The investigation that followed and was continued forseveral days, elicited nothing to fasten the fun on the guilty party. He is known only to the then students of the University. .