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The Folk and Lore of Maxcy College (P. II)

The Can Wall, 2008


The residents of Maxcy have historically funneled their creativity into projects that enhance the building. In a formal setting this is done at the end of each year when the improvement is presented to the dorm as a gift to the next class. Some examples of improvements have been a television, piano and fish tank for the common room and an NBA basketball arcade game in the basement. Each gift is debated by the group and is telling of the values and pastimes of the residents that year. Improvements are also made to the dorm informally that are given to later classes in the form of stories. One of the most visually impressive of these feats was “The Can Wall” constructed by the “Maxcy 20.” The yearlong project began as a stacking of cans along a wall in room 20. With little initial structural integrity it was redesigned after the first attempt collapsed. The second wall was built with a ledge around the base of the room to increase stability and detailing around the thermostat. Three engineers monitored its progression throughout the year while many contributed to its construction. Upon its completion a large group of Maxicans went out to Cici’s, an all-you-can-eat pizza restaurant, that was a traditional location for celebration that year. It continues to be important to the Maxcy 20 group as they go there for pizza eating competitions where the members of the group see who can eat the most. The dinner on that occasion highlighted the pride of the community in the structure that was ultimately composed of one thousand and seven cans (Kane).

Other events also occurred within the group that gained notoriety within the dorm. One day a guy got locked in the bathroom of Maxcy 20 and after several attempts to get him out, maintenance was called. In all it took two hours (some say three hours) to free him. By the time he was freed around twenty people had accumulated outside the door after hearing about what happened. Maintenance jokingly said that next time someone was trapped they should just kick down the door. Months later another guy was trapped in the bathroom. The people in Maxcy 20 tried everything to get him out, they even tried to take the door off its hinges but nothing worked. After spending about twenty minutes trapped in the bathroom the boy (who was skinnier and smaller than the first guy) told those on the other side of the door to back up. He kicked the door, snapping it in two and gaining his freedom. The Maxcy 20 dragged the remains of the door into the hallway and wrote up an incident report. Some of the people there kept a piece of the door as a reminder of Maxcy 20 group and the story. The following summer four of the people present were called to Judicial to pay for the door, but later the fees were dropped, (Espensen-Sturges, Riley).

The basement is the floor that contains the kitchen and the ice machine; it is said that every year something happens to this ice machine. Last year this happened in the form of someone urinating into it (under the influence of alcohol). While most believe that this was not the first time for such an event, the staff threatened to remove the ice machine if it continued to be a target for mischief. The kitchen was closed down for a few days as punishment (Kane, Riley). The warning to refrain from using the ice machine for consumption purposes has carried on to the residents in my year. After hearing the story I asked residents from my own year if they had heard any stories about the ice machine and was surprised at how well the warning had spread.

Many stories are passed down about the bathrooms of Maxcy. One of the features of the bathrooms is the ability to lock yourself in and be confined there until a room or suite mate releases you. Some methods such as keeping a plastic knife or nickel in the bathroom to pick the lock have been developed; others have used their room keys to pick the lock. The bathrooms have also become an attractive place for pranks. Two rooms on the third floor (that are associated with “The Hallway”) this year are arranged for this purpose. If the room and suite mates coordinate the prank and both pull out their dresser drawers while someone is in the bathroom, that person can be trapped. The techniques developed to pick locks may have been a factor in a bathroom prank that occurred in the 2006-2007 academic year when two girls shared a bathroom with a vacant room located on the 2nd floor left hand corner of Maxcy. Late some nights the girls would hear the shower turn on and sometimes voices called their names. What was developing into a Maxcy ghost story was actually the work of some of the guys who had figured out how to pick the locks and made it a tradition to scare up some fun (Falkofske).

One year a safe place to go after an overindulgence of alcohol in the building was born after news of a single occurrence spread to other residents. There was once an RM who found an intoxicated resident and did not want him to get in trouble. To keep him safe the RM let him sleep off his drinking on the futon in their room. Word carried and the “drunk futon” became a safe place to recover within the dorm (Espensen-Sturges). In my year a “drunk futon” has yet to be established but RMs continue to be close to the residents and are often a source of guidance and help within the community. Several stories have reached the level of legend within the community they as they are repeated. Most of these stories were influenced by the building or related places on campus.

“My most memorable experience was when a freshman named JB decided to play a joke on everyone he could find in the dorm. JB is a huge guy that was recruited by many schools as a football player. His sense of humor was, let's say, well developed. Anyway JB decided one night to dress as closely as possible to a cat burglar/thief. He went around the dorm beforehand though opening and unlocking doors and windows, to give him a way to enter and look legitimate. Well his costume was perfect down to the black ski mask and leather gloves. His first choice was a window in the game room (with the pool table and arcade game). As he was crawling in, the RA on duty, Ashley, walked into the game room and saw him in his disguise. Ashley was the type of girl who was scared of bugs. Literally, one day I found her standing and squealing on her bed because of a cockroach. When JB saw Ashley, he played a role worthy of a horror movie. He pointed menacingly at Ashley and then charged his roughly 6.5 foot, 250lb + frame at her. She shrieked, dropped all of her stuff, and ran screaming down the hall attempting to open every door on the floor. She found one, locked the door behind her, jumped on the resident's bed and started screaming ‘call 911, call 911.’”

Of course, this was highly irresponsible on JB's part (he could've been shot by a cop on patrol or attacked by residents defending Ashley). But I thought it was hilarious. I didn't know about any of this when JB tried it on me. He came around a corner charging at full speed and leapt on the table in front of me in a position to attack. I had an idea something was up and just stared at him because no real thief would do what he just did. He stared for a moment, then took off his mask and said, "Damn it, I thought I had you." He then told me of what happened with Ashley and other residents. I asked why he did this. He responded something along the lines of I wanted to shake people up and I was bored. This seems to be the starting thought that ignites all mischief and creativity in Maxcy...that is smart young people, full of energy getting bored and doing something very unexpected. Ashley never spoke to or looked at JB again by the way, despite profuse apologies,” (Wheeler).

Similar pranks have been played other years as well. One involved a student who donned a ski mask and would stand outside of students’ doors to scare