Thursday, November 16, 2017


Pop Can Tag

Cindy Thurman Eaton and Sandy Harris

In the '70s there was a pop can collection making the rounds of the women's dorm.There were several dozen cans in this collection, and how you would acquire your turn with it varied. But usually, a wall of pop cans would be stacked and tilted against your door.  Upon opening your door in the morning, you would be buried in cans.  The collection then became yours until you decided to hand it down to the next victim.

In the spring of '78, Cindy and I were living in Southview (house for junior and senior girls, across from the Women's Dorm.)  It was finals time - very hectic, everyone very stressed.  Some fun was needed to balance things out.

I'm not sure how Cindy came by the pop cans (better not to ask), but we had them.  Once the pop cans had been used, there was speculation about who would get them next.  We decided it would be fun to do something completely different.  Why not hang them at night in the dining room, so that when everyone came in for breakfast there would be dozens of pop cans hanging from the ceiling. 

The ground floor dining room was available for girls to study late at night.  During finals, bread and peanut butter were left out for us (thank you kitchen staff).  So the dining room would typically have a few girls studying past midnight.  But that was ok because our preferred practical joke timing was after 1:30.

It was not unusual for the dining room windows to be left slightly open, for ventilation on those warm, late-spring days.  It is possible that earlier in the evening we removed a screen from a window in the ground floor dining room.  I should mention that this was at a time when we did not have the security concerns that are an issue today.)  In any case, at about 2:30 a.m. the way was clear.  Cindy and I headed across the street from Southview with our garbage bag of cans.  Getting quietly into the dining room with that clattering bag was a bit of a trick, but we managed it without raising an alarm.

Pop cans at that time did not have a ring that stayed on the can, and no ridges.  Our original plan of tying string to the cans didn't work;  the cans slipped out.  So we taped the string to the top of the can. Standing on the tables, we then tied the other end of the string onto the ceiling tile supports.

After we had about 15 cans hung, it was beginning to look quite festive.

And then the first can fell.  You remember those hard table tops, and the floor.  When the pop can fell it bounced numerous times on the table, then onto the floor where it bounced a couple more times.

That sound in the middle of the completely quiet night rang out like a cannon.  Cindy and I froze, and waited.  But  we did not hear any steps pounding down the stairs.  We breathed a sigh of relief, and resumed our task.

About 3 minutes later, the next can fell.  And then we realized.  They were all going to fall.  We made an immediate decision - leave the cans and run for it, propping up the screen behind us.

We made it as far as the ditch in front of Southview when we looked back and saw someone in the dining room.  So we dropped flat into the ditch to avoid being seen.  But we could also hear every 3 minutes the next can falling, and we could see lights coming on in the dorm.

We stayed there in the ditch until the last can fell, laughing hysterically.  We knew no one would believe that we hadn't planned for the falling cans.  But state it here for the records, our only plan was a fun decorative prank during finals.  In this case, at least, we could be considered to be innocent, or at least not completely guilty. 

Note - one of the late '70s yearbooks has a photo of the popcans propped up at a door;  when we locate that photo, we'll post it here.

1 comment:

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