AJ Eckert: Musings of a Hogger

Sophomore year 

  • West Hall’s rainbow-colored Mystery meat, Mr. Crago, Greasing in line, Food fights, Snowballs flying in open windows, Vitz Chute hurling a crème puff at the clock while high-tailing it out of the building.
  • Finding Spencer May on the landing between floors in Overton with a nose full of glue.
  • Casper Shaw pinning RA Buzz Constable during a kerfuffle on Overton 2nd floor to the wild cheers of other sophomores.
  • Discovering a vending machine from the gym on the altar in the chapel and not long after, the amazingly engineered feat of the stacked tables and chairs up to the ceiling in West Hall as related earlier by Andy Perry.  
  • Meeting Cornell Hills and rooming with him for two years, perhaps the first black man I’d ever met. Cornell was a very intelligent young man of many talents and depth, who helped steer me and others through very troubled times in the racially charged late sixties – a singular experience in my life, for which, I thank him.
  • Winter tray/cardboard box sliding on the Chapel slopes
  • Front row seats for “Blood, Sweat & Tears” captivating performance – several of us ran backstage after the show to chat with the band members who were very friendly & accessible.
  • The incredible volume of Doug Freeman’s random hand clapping.
  • The soda/beer can pyramids in Overton.
  • Bow-tied Willie Wolfe waiting on table in West Hall with no way of foreseeing his future demise with Patty Hearst & the SLA.
  • Meeting Kritty W & Kerry M, who welcomed me into the world of NMH.

Junior year

  • Enjoying “Give”, the band, rehearsals in Social Hall along with other great musicians/bands in our little world.
  • Funniest line of the year – David Robinson asked Kevin Leslie if he could borrow his black-head remover to which Kevin replied – “David, you’ll never get rid of that black head.”
  • Meeting and shaking hands with David’s father Jackie in the halls of Crossley – a very kind and gentle man whose strength and arthritic hands caught my attention.
  • “The Ghost of Hog” sightings.
  • Odd late-night behavior on Crossley 3 with Jeff H, I believe, quoting the “Theater of the Absurd.”
  • Random trips to Boston with Tommy K, et al, constantly being busted for at least ten of us trying to shoe-horn into a room for four.
  • Blowing off the “Chat” to hitch-hike and visit Krit Whyte in Andover.

Senior Year

  • Rooming with Ted M in Hayden right next to an exit door to total freedom and debauchery; taking turns getting up to go across the room to hit the snooze bar on the alarm to get five more minutes of sleep prior to 8am math.
  • Vitz Chute sleeping on the floor so his styro-foam dinosaur “Klingon” could sleep in his bed.
  • TP’s apt with the seductive smell of weed and “Chest Fever” blaring on the stereo.
  • Being busted with Andy M. by the amazingly clairvoyant Mr Bailey, whom I grew to admire and respect.
  • Bruce B saving my bacon in a D.C. after accruing many more demerits than allowed and a small plagiarism issue in which, I was entirely guilty.
  • Enjoying the comradery & musicianship of the musicians in Phoenix.
  • Playing hours of tennis-ball lax on the soccer field behind Hayden with the goals flipped over on their backs creating a small triangular goal.
  • Dixie Witzel waking me up on a random Saturday morning while visiting campus by saying, “Hey, Eck.”
  • Todd Follansbee occasionally doing the same while lightly tapping me on the shoulder to say “E, it’s me, Bee.”
  • My late-night acquisition of the master keys to every building on campus.
  • Not sure which year this happened but I was a part of a late-night “heist” of the Student Store, lovingly known to most of us as the Student F***. Our merry band of ne’er-do-wells had key entry into the store and with lookouts keeping watch, we roamed free with thievery in mind but only absconded with a few odd drafting instruments, for which we honestly had no use. In an ironic turn of events, as memory serves, David R. & Hanque C. had been discovered doing something mildly illicit around the same time and were told if they were able to get the stolen items returned, none of us would be punished for our misdeeds. I do remember being approached by David R. who laid out these terms to me followed by the phrase, “you dig?” which, I did.
  • Dean Lanphear, whom I greatly admired during and after, seemed convinced that I was a part of the alleged drug culture at the Hog – perhaps it could have been the company I kept(?) Ironically, I never imbibed on any level at the time but admittedly abused, to excess, many brands of nasty alcohol.
  • While the bicycle seemed to be the preferred method of travel to Northfield for nighttime jaunts, I was part of a group who hoofed it to the women’s campus, miraculously avoiding the Bampus Cops, as I believe we called them. We all had different destinations and no return plans were discussed or even considered, frankly – hormones fully engaged. I found a way to sneak into Hillside, as I recall, to visit Sprouts H. and others took their chances elsewhere. I was very fortunate to evade the gendarmes on the return trip as well but I’m quite sure some others were not as blessed, sadly suffering severe consequences.

After fifty years, I feel blessed for the friendship of all the men and women I have become close to at NMH, several of whom at reunions and whose company I continue to enjoy. Several of us have connected on a yearly golf trip for thirty-some odd years which we treasure more and more as time passes.  I am proud of my NMH experience and so look forward to our 50th reunion in the spring. Once again, a group of us will present an evening of music on Saturday after a post-dinner cocktail party, several of whom played in “Give” and “Phoenix” in ‘69 & ‘70. We plan to play music of our era, including many sing-alongs. At this point, Collins Lein, Biff Watson, Steve Chiasson and I will perform and we hope for others to join us.    We’d love to see you all in June…..

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