08 March, 2012

{this memory} 41

This is the story behind last Monday's {this moment}.

You're in Virginia - Charlottesville, to be precise. Again. 510 Rugby Road, to be even more precise. You're looking at five pledges going through Hell Week in January of 1968. Pi Kappa Phi obviously and at the University of Virginia.

Hell Week was one of those misguided attempts to instill a sense of brotherhood. Folks naturally bond when they undergo stress together - at least that was the justification. It wasn't literally a week, but it sure seemed like it.

Lots of physical training, of course. A few things eaten but nothing too bizarre - maybe an onion or sucking a raw egg out of its shell through a pinhole. Minimal sleep because every night there was something to keep you up all night. Perhaps a brother who lost his favorite 50 cent coin in Scott Stadium and which we had to go find. It wasn't there, of course, but you couldn't stop looking. On another night we counted railroad ties as we picked up a stone for each tenth tie. I won't discuss the fake initiation - just when you thought it was over, it wasn't. Road trips that dumped you in the middle of nowhere. Oh my. And that's just the beginning.

Hazing. Today it's a crime in 44 states, but what did we know then. Fortunately no one was injured.

No matter how tired, we were never supposed to miss class. On at least one occasion, however, on the way to class, I stopped off at my real brother's room on the West Range and slept all morning. Please don't tell.

Those five guys? In in the Top Center - moi. Top left - Leo is a lawyer in Portsmouth. Bottom left - Eric is a successful architect with offices in Afton and elsewhere. Right - Nelson is a school teacher in Virginia Beach. Bottom Center - Bob is a lawyer in New York City.

So many wonderful memories, and they truly are. I am a fortunate man - and one who, by the way, could recite the Greek alphabet 13 times on a lit match.