Saturday, March 12, 2011

Spring Break

Spring break. At MIT, it usually occurred in the second or third week of March, at about the midpoint of the semester. For us, it was a week off when we could escape the campus. Some of us would head south to the beaches, others would go skiing. My freshman year, I went to visit relatives in New York and took a train trip to DC to try to get a summer position with the FAA. In the Spring of 1975, global warming had yet to set in, and it had snowed in DC the day I went down there. In subsequent years, I would return to my home in Texas, and in fact I did some rehab on my fractured ankle by doing some bicycle touring around Houston.

These days, Spring Break is the busiest time of the year in places like Daytona Beach, rivaled only by the annual visit of the Harley Davidson enthusiasts. Those of us who were students in the '70s are probably the biggest market for Harley Davidson motorcycles of any age cohort, which is odd, because we would have had trouble balancing a Harley in our younger days. Besides, Bob Seger was a relatively new phenomenon on Top 40 radio in the '70s and "Don't Fear the Reaper" would not be released on record until Spring 1976, so the cachet of a lone dude on a hog cruising down A1A had not been established.

Those who stayed behind had lots of free time to engage in hacks. In fact, when the hall tutor was away, some of the floor residents put their carpentry skills to work and proceeded to plasterboard over his doorway, so that he could not find his room when he came back. A more famous story involved the owner of a nice sports car who came home to find his car had been dissassembled and transported up to his fifth floor dorm room, where it was reassembled. Sometimes the hacks were well received, but in one case, a student had come home to find his dorm room completely filled with computer paper. He proceeded to remove it in a most inelegant way - he set fire to it. Not only was the paper completely gone,as a result, but so was his room, which was later converted into a second lounge. If you went up to Fifth East, the Goodale Lounge was not in its customary spot, having been shifted by the fire.

My Spring Break is going to be spent at a conference in Chicago, which isn't quite Daytona Beach, but it promises to be interesting nonetheless. I'll have more cartoons to post after that.

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