Remember that time?

Magazine readers remember the most fun they had while at Hopkins

We asked you, our readers, about the most fun you had during your time at Johns Hopkins, and you responded. From silly (strategically placed socks, inflatable furniture, bat boy) to scholarly ("Who am I to say that's not a poem?"), your submissions prove that in the midst of the university's academic rigor, there was room for occasional levity.

I was 5 years old, building snowmen and making snow angels on the Gilman quad. I remember the beauty of the bright white snow, the majestic red brick buildings, and the shadow of the clock tower. My father was a graduate student of chemistry, and this was his way of including me in his very busy life. It is one of my most treasured childhood memories. —Marcia Lecrone Howes, Engr '86, SPH '13

I had fun listening to off-the-record talks by high-ranking officials such as the CIA director Allen Dulles and former Secretary of State Dean Acheson while a graduate student at SAIS. I often sat next to a shy classmate named Madeleine Albright. —Fred A. Kahn, SAIS '63

Spring Fair. There are numerous stories; many can't be shared. —Raquel Silverberg, Engr '92

Being an editor at the News-Letter, there was a lot of camaraderie—and sometimes, taking the usual JHU grind to absurd levels was oddly liberating. —Eric Ruck, A&S '90

When I was a graduate student in the Writing Seminars, someone in the administration started having dinners for graduate women so that women from different departments could meet and talk to each other. I met a woman from the math department, Margaret, who had grown up in Baltimore; I'd grown up in East Tennessee. We took the most interesting walks together, waving our hands and talking the whole way. We'd talk about books, mainly. Sometimes we told anecdotes about our childhood school experiences. I remember discussing Lou Andreas-Salomé and her various husbands and lovers, among them, Nietzsche, and Margaret would say things like, "He doesn't seem mathematically sound to me." I thought that was the most wonderful line. Anyway, that friendship was grand. Somehow, we lost touch. I don't even know if she solved the unsolvable math problem she was working on for her degree, but I surely loved those conversations. —Susan Catherine Jones, A&S '82 (MA)

I returned to school in 1993 to pursue a master's in information and telecommunications systems for business. It was a life-transforming experience to be surrounded by the caliber of talent, both in my professors and fellow students, in the Johns Hopkins program. The degree of intellectual stimulation I experienced has remained with me ever since, and I had a lot of fun exploring ideas and interacting at a level I had never before experienced. More than 20 years later, the shift in intellectual perspective I gained at Johns Hopkins continues to serve me. —Scott Bradley, Bus '95 (MS)

I had a date with a Mount St. Agnes girl for a spring dance in my junior year. When I arrived in a friend's ancient Oldsmobile, I was told by the girl at the dorm's front desk that my date had been called home for a family emergency, but she had arranged another date for me. I expected some horror for my date, but I decided to go with the flow no matter who they stuck me with. While I waited in the lobby, an absolutely beautiful woman descended the stairs. She walked up to me and asked if I was Kurt Johnson. She said, "Hi, I'm Catherine, your date." She told me she had a steady boyfriend at home, but we had a good time anyway, dancing the night away under the stars of a warm Baltimore night, twisting to Hank Ballard and The Midnighters, and drinking Seven and Sevens. —Kurt E. Johnson, A&S '65

Fresh Food Cafe's "Midnight Breakfast":
A Poetic Reflection On the clock's count of twelve midnight in droves
Noctilucent beings clamber down twisting, winding roads
Towards the utopic locus that few can hardly resist
Destined for mental and emotional bliss
Sentiment alone carves out this specificity in time and space
Impressing on the erudite race
A peculiar historicity not easily erased
How does the steely physique of an edifice with an unassuming predisposition
Gain spatio-temporal coordinates along a plane of youthful indecision?
Does the answer play second fiddle to the truth?
Or is it uncouth to insinuate it is aloof?
Perhaps the smorgasbord of vittles, giggles, brute mnemonic paradiddles
Spell out the morphological experience as
They each break fast
While some ten sing over "Eye of the Tiger"
Undoubtedly equating to a sociocultural masterpiece or utter catastrophe
Either way they each emerge as a Survivor
With a subtle sense of calm
Like the evening's tale had already been written
On some vatic palm
Granting such F.U.N. to release all angst and stress
"Freedom Unto Nerds!"
Who unabashedly point noses at the stoic mien of solemn texts,
But this is where they shall return, must return, need return
For the midnight oil to continue to burn
Waging on into the abyss of ambition
Deepening as this one-fifth-of-a-score-of-years commitment
Takes on the load of a premature vision
And so as these beings scramble back to quaint dwellings
Back to life, back to…surreality
With iridescent auras of vibrancy
They savor those last few moments of "self-liberation"
Their minds having soaked up every second, minute, hour
Of casual socialization
Alas, the moment arrives:
Snooze now or page, page against the drying of the eyes
This thought
Severe T
hough the intended outcome
Quite sincere
The life of a Hopkins scholar
Surely many have to admire
Through the graceful flight of a blue jay fledgling
Set free to roam and inspire
—Brandon Lee Stuart, A&S '10

I first went to Hopkins during the summer after fourth grade. The city schools offered a program where, upon completion, qualified students could skip half a year. Riding two streetcars and a bus, I arrived on campus with great expectations (as did my parents). Besides the normal classroom tasks, my fondest memory was seeing films in a large room, my favorite being Robin Hood, with Errol Flynn. That summer, I learned how to take public transportation, how to mix with students from different backgrounds, and how to have fun on those green lawns. I entered fifth grade in the fall, telling my friends about "the big school with all of the brick buildings." I returned to Hopkins many years later as a single mom working toward a graduate degree in education. Both experiences are precious to me. And my parents were there for both of my graduations. —Carole Clarke Cochran, Ed '77 (MEd)

It was the spring of 1960 and hijinks were in the air. There was construction going on near our dormitory, and some of my fellow students decided to hotwire the equipment and move it to block the front doors of the dorms. I discovered this when I went to leave—about the time that the dorm manager tried to leave the dorm. She was not pleased.

We found a way out and then saw that the names of the dormitories had been changed from the names of alumni to other words that were not complimentary. She was very angry and I confess that I had to mask my laughter with a cough because it was clear she was not finding the matter funny at all.

There was more to discover. Construction cones had been placed on the city streets, and city traffic had been routed onto the campus with all exits off campus closed off. I walked toward Gilman Hall, where I found a large crowd of students sitting on the grass in a circle around the flagpole. I also noticed that the face of the clock on Gilman Hall had been transferred into a Mickey Mouse watch. A pirate flag was at the top of the flagpole and the rope used to raise the flag had been tied to the top of the pole. A janitor had placed a long ladder against the pole and was trying to reach the flag to remove it. Someone had greased the top of the pole and, as the ladder was not long enough, the man tried to climb the pole, only to slide back. Every time he tried and slipped back the students clapped and hollered. Someone had called the local television station and soon the janitor's progress was on live television. Finally, he succeeded and climbed down the ladder, pirate stuffed in his overalls. The episode made the evening news. —Frank Ward, A&S '60

Hosting Model United Nations tournaments at Johns Hopkins was always great fun. We would meet kids from Maryland and elsewhere who were so impressed with the Homewood campus. During the day, we'd debate international law, and a pre-med fraternity brother of mine, who was participating as a favor, represented an obscure Middle Eastern country. He was asked his opinion about something, stood up in the General Assembly in the Glass Pavillion, and instructed the attendees to dial 1-800-South-Yemen if they wanted to know more about his country. We cracked up and repeated that joke for years. —David Biderman, A&S '85

A small mud puddle formed on the lawn in front of the then new dorms. About 9 a.m. one morning in the spring of 1981, four of the crazier freshmen started throwing each other in the mud. From there it snowballed, and by lunch, more than 100 people had been tossed in the mud, oftentimes only to shower, go to class, and then get tossed in again. It was mayhem. —Joe Serrano, Engr '84

My friend Steve and I were chemistry lab partners, former roommates, and two pathetic premed students. As we approached Remsen Hall on April 8, 1969, Steve reminded me that it was Opening Day of baseball season—and of the fact that the Red Sox, his rooting interest, were in town. Tony Conigliaro was making his comeback after a horrendous injury. We walked past Remsen, never to return, up 33rd Street to Memorial Stadium and bought $2 student tickets. The Orioles lost 5-4. Each Opening Day, whenever it may be, we celebrate the anniversary of the death of our premed careers. (This year was No. 47.) I emailed Steve on Opening Day to wish him a happy anniversary and received an instant reply saying he was thinking the same thing as he received my note. —Jeffrey Koenig, A&S '72

In the winter of my freshman year, my friends and I attended a casino night hosted by one of the fraternities. Lady Luck was with me at the roulette wheel. That night I went home with a major prize: a case of Heineken Dark Lager. I took it back to my single room and invited my friends over to help me drink it. There were six or seven of us. Every­one came over to have a beer—one beer, and only late on a Saturday night after finishing their work and studying. No one wanted more than one beer, lest they not be mentally sharp and ready to work the next morning. Our beer gatherings took place at irregular intervals, and when it came time to move out at the end of the year, there were still seven beers left. My best friend, John, and I drank them on our last night as Johns Hopkins freshmen. It was the only time either of us was ever drunk in our entire college career. —Michael A. Bruno, A&S '82

Some of my favorite memories are weekend potlucks, tasting food from all over the world with us all dressed in our ethnic clothes. —Pooja Pundhir, SPH '15

This one time at Johns Hopkins, we attended a midnight play of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. My boyfriend at the time got absolutely smashed (of legal drinking age, of course), and while in the restroom decided that he wanted to attend the show wearing a strategically placed sock. Unfortunately, he was too drunk to exit the rest­room, and the sock … well, the sock was very clearly a poor strategy. As his girlfriend and presumed keeper, I was asked to escort him from the premises. Preferably clothed. —Meagan Sneeringer, A&S '08

As a Latin American studies major, I found the parties with the salsa music were always the most fun. Students from Middle East Studies, Canadian Studies, Asian Studies, and more would dance until the wee hours as everyone embraced the ritmo in their hearts. —Linda Higueras, SAIS '78

Fun? We were Master of Public Health students in a condensed, one-year program; most were midcareer professionals from U.S. and abroad. The women were "super women," pumping breast milk in between classes and knitting while listening to lectures. I had an 8-month-old who would wake up at midnight every night and cry for her mommy, not her daddy, as I tried to crawl into bed after studying. Our true grit was our sense of fun. —Kaimay Yuen Terry, SPH '77

As a student in the late 1960s in one of the iconic Dr. Elliott Coleman's last Writing Seminars classes, I can state half a century later, give or take a few years, that the entire year, every session, poetry or fiction, was a delightful and unexpected adventure. I never missed a minute and I couldn't wait for the next day. The year flew along. Dr. Coleman—Elliott to all of us—was uniformly kind and generous in his criticism. When one student submitted a concrete poem—the word poem in a piece of cardboard in a plastic box—Elliott's only commentary on it was, "Who am I to say that's not a poem?" All things, to Elliott, were art, even the most unlikely submissions. Life was art. Art was life. Which was the way it should have been. Academically, and in all ways, it was a perfect year. I wish it never ended. —Samuel A. Zervitz, Bus '71, A&S '72 (MA)

I memorized Poe's "The Raven" one stanza at a time while walking home from school. Each time I learned another stanza, I practiced everything up to there. (I also memorized the chemical elements in order by atomic number the same way, but I never practiced the elements after that, so I lost the memory.) I recited the poem often enough to keep the memory fresh. In grad school at Johns Hopkins, I shared an office at Ames 203. It had a big blackboard. On a whim, or perhaps to show off, I wrote "The Raven" on it from memory. My officemate countered by writing the first 10 lines of the Iliad in Greek. We kept adding, always from memory. My next contribution was "Aestivation" by Oliver Wendell Holmes. I erased "The Raven" and rewrote it with smaller letters to make more space. I started memorizing poems on purpose to fill in more space. I wrote "Through the Metidja to Abd-el-Kadr" by Robert Browning inside the outline of a horse and rider and, in a similar theme, part of "How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix." I had previously memorized "Au Cimetière" by Théophile Gautier, so I added it, with a drawing of cemetery gates. I added "Evidence Read at the Trial of the Knave of Hearts" from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, a tour de force of memorization because so many of its words could be interchangeable. Finally, we put a sign in the small window in the door, calling it the "Ames 203 Literature Gallery" and charging 5 cents admission. —Reed Gwillim Law Jr., A&S '69 (MA)

The most fun our family had was during the winter storm of 1967. I was a chief resident in Orthopaedics at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Like all other surgical and clinical specialty residents, we had to live next to the hospital in the "married with children" housing area, called the Compound. In those days, it was customary for the residents to walk the five minutes from the Compound to the hospital. A storm came in that dropped so much snow that we could not even get outside our doors. We had to improvise to get out in order to take care of our patients, but the children had a lot of fun with the snow. The hospital was almost all closed, and we got to stay home with our families. This included my daughters, now in their 50s, who still recall this jolly good time with glee. —John D. Hsu, HS '67, Med '71 (PGF)

Many of the fun times I had, both on and off campus, were with the Barnstormers, a student theater group. Rehearsals meant long, late nights in the Swirnow Theater and futile attempts to get homework done between scenes, but the camaraderie was unbeatable, and the joy of bringing creativity to campus was amazing. The most fun play we did during my time was certainly also the weirdest: Bat Boy, a musical inspired by the tabloid news story about a half-boy, half-bat. It's wacky, off-the-wall, and hilarious—not a fit to the Hopkins stereotype by any means. —Emily Ethridge, A&S '06

As a sophomore, I shared an off-campus apartment in Charles Village with two classmates. We all had big appetites but not much money, so quantity and price, rather than quality, were the objectives of our weekly shopping forages to the Giant supermarket in the Rotunda. Our wine purchases were dollar wines for the discounted price of $10 for a mixed case of 12 bottles from Harry's Liquor on Greenmount Avenue. And we drank a pale beer from Pennsylvania—Hofbrau—that sold for less than $4 for a case of 24 cans. Shortly after arriving on campus in 1971, the university's new provost, Steven Muller, was quoted as saying he was interested in getting out into the community and meeting the student body. Never one to shy away from an opening, my roommate extended a telephone invitation to Muller to join us for a home-cooked meal. To our surprise and delight, he quickly accepted, and we scheduled a weekday dinner at our Guilford Avenue apartment. Muller was an engaging conversationalist who was genuinely interested in the student viewpoint. For his part, he was treated to probably the strangest meal of his tenure at Hopkins: plentiful, but not much else going for it. The signature dessert consisted of one-fourth—slightly less than our usual split—of a half-gallon of Neapolitan ice cream. After all, it was the weekly special at 29 cents. —Steve LeGendre, A&S '73

My senior year, Baltimore was hit by a winter squall. The city was a frozen tundra, shut down, covered in a blanket of snow. Getting antsy, my friends and I decided to go sledding. The fact that none of us had a sled certainly wasn't going to hold us back. It was the year 2000, and inflatable furniture was king. We grabbed our neon green inflatable loungers (not a typo—we had more than one). We dragged our chairs from the Broadview Apartments, across Homewood campus, and to the Beach, where we met our friends. We had so much fun sliding down the Beach over and over, and we didn't even break a bone (or pop a chair). On the way home, we dragged our chairs down the middle of a deserted Charles Street just because we could. Afterward, the neon green chairs were toweled off and used as movie theater seats in our apartment. —Allison Ross, A&S '00

An edict went out at the beginning of my freshman year in 1956 that all were to wear a coat and tie when dining in the cafeteria. Many students were unhappy with that, and the word went around that it was time to protest. We did this by showing up for dinner one day wearing a coat, tie, and swimsuit. No pants, no shoes, not much else, actually. As I recall, the rule was revoked the next day. —Frank Ward, A&S '60

My time at Johns Hopkins was filled with incredibly fun times that taught more about science than lectures and lab classes ever could. Neuropsychology: All-night study sessions in the Hut demonstrated just how unproductive working well past bedtime could be; it also introduced loopy behavior. Architectural engineering: Postgame fraternity parties stressed the importance of not exceeding maximum capacity and demonstrated the impact of too many bodies on a building's integrity. Chemistry: Too much time spent waiting between experimental steps gave way to an idle mind and witnessing just what happens when you pour liquid nitrogen on a spider. Anthropology: Coming from the great nation of Texas, I was introduced to a vast array of cultures and dialects from within the United States. I spent the first semester with a dictionary after an exhaustive debate about whether carbonated drinks should be called pop, soda, or Coke. Kinesiology: Cheerleading was my favorite activity, but one-too-many faulty gymnastic moves underscored the importance of sleep and its impact on coordination. The crowd thought it was a comedy act. Sociology: Undeniably, the best part of Johns Hopkins was my "village." It always amazed me that the Admissions Committee could select students who looked nothing alike, came from vastly different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, grew up in different regions/states/countries, and yet were so similar in thinking. Johns Hopkins gave me a sense of belonging that made me believe anything was possible. —Cherie Butts, A&S '92, '97 (MS)

My friend John went into the vast lecture hall for Electrical Engineering and wrote in chalk a limerick on a blackboard that could be raised high above a second blackboard. He wrote this deathless prose one day and signed it "The Funny Man." This limerick mocked Electrical Engineering Professor Thorstein Larsen's favorite and too-often-repeated theme of the explosive force of coulombs.

There once was an EE quite smart

Who devoured abvolts a la carte

He departed one night

At velocity of light

From holding two coulombs one meter apart.

Professor Larsen came into the lecture hall to teach the multitude of engineering students, saw the limerick, and tried to pull down the blackboard, but John had removed the pole so it remained up high. John, however, was late to class and stood outside the lecture hall. He opened the left door to the hall and shouted "Henneberger is the Funny Man!" and shut the door. Professor Larsen took off out the door to see who this was, but John had quickly sneaked in through a different door and seated himself, leaving the professor to believe I had written the limerick that mocked him. **—John A. Henneberger, Engr '56

One of the few reprieves from studying at SAIS was Cookie Hour on Tuesdays, when the student government would bring in boxes of cookies to placate the horde of grad students craving a sugar fix to get them through their 6 p.m. econometrics section. Sir David Attenborough could have narrated, in hushed tones, the paroxysm of future diplomats clawing over the last macadamia nut cookie like hyenas over a wildebeest carcass. I think the only tangible sign that I am an adult is that I have to create my own cookie hour now. —Felix Zhang, SAIS '15

My undergraduate years at Johns Hopkins were enlivened by the thrill of participating in productions of the Johns Hopkins Playshop. Professor N. Bryllion Fagin was our director, and I, a budding actress, pitched in as curtain puller, usher, ticket seller, lighting operator, set decorator, and more. My greatest fun was appearing in the stellar role of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. With my hair in braids and my shiny red shoes, I danced the polka steps down the yellow brick road, exited the door, dashed around the building, and re-entered from the rear to the stage. Fun indeed. —Betty Samuels Seidel, Bus '42, Ed '72 (MEd)

I was admitted to SAIS with the expectation of going to Washington, D.C., for the first year and Bologna for the second. In May 1965, I received a letter. Surprise! It would be the other way around. "Please report to the Bologna Center in late August," read the letter. My fiancée, Martha, and I moved up our wedding date by two weeks so as to arrive in Bologna on time, which we did, speaking no Italian and knowing no one. We joined the class of about 100 primarily European students on what proved to be a yearlong honeymoon. To Venice for the September Regatta, to Brussels and Paris in November on a class trip, to Ortisei in the Dolomites for a New Year's ski trip, and to Viareggio in February for Carnevale. The professors routinely invited students to their rented villas for meals. We are still savoring Professor Randall Hinshaw's rabbit stew and Bob and Judy Nilsson's Christmas glogg. What we expected? Not at all. Do it again? In a heartbeat. —M. John Storey, SAIS Bol '66 (Cert), '67

Meeting my husband on the steps of Barton Hall. We first saw each other there and then officially met in karate class in the athletic center. But the most fun is yet to come, as our daughter graduates from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars this year. As African-Americans, we are delighted to have such a legacy in our family. —Bertram Lewis, Engr '88, '90 (MSE), Med '97 (MD/PhD), and Kathy Lewis, Bus '95

I was participating in an anti-war march that took us from the Homewood campus to downtown Baltimore and back again. Since we were returning to campus during evening rush hour, the police encouraged us to march north on a southbound street, but we much preferred to march northbound on Charles Street in order to cause the most congestion and create the most visibility for the march. Despite our ignoring their requests, the police positioned motorcycle policemen on cross streets ahead of us to stop traffic as we marched. Two officers—a major and a lieutenant, I believe—ended up walking with the marchers to coordinate street closures by radio. Despite the likely differences in our political views, some friends and I fell into a pleasant conversation with these officers who, at about 28th Street, expressed real concern about seeing themselves in a photo in the next day's Baltimore Sun with the heading "Major X and Lieutenant Y Lead Anti-War Protest Up Charles Street." —Jerry Doctrow, A&S '72

A classmate and I played jokes on a fellow grad student; he was good-natured but very gullible. I think the best one was the time we sent him an official-looking letter from the "Epidemiology Dept. Space Committee" telling him he would have to share his tiny study cubicle, for which he had waited more than a year, with an incoming research associate from China. We thought he would complain to his adviser, who was in on it, but instead he went straight to Student Services. Afraid we would be found out, we cringed when he showed his letter to the director. Her response: "Isn't it just like the Department of Epidemiology to do something like this!" —Jean Langlois Orman, SPH '87, '91 (ScD)

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