My earliest collegiate memories are of living in Shawnee Hall at East Stroudsburg State College (now East Stroudsburg University, pardon moi.)
It was the fall of 1974. My roommate Paul and I lived in room 116 and the first floor of our dorm was rife
with characters including...
...Lanunziata and Sokirka.
Sounds like someone you call when you're injured in a truck accident, doesn't it?
They were seniors. We didn't really know them, didn't really hang out.
But one night they called us.
3AM, our room phone rang. Yes, we had room phones. Cellphones had yet to be invented.
Our room was at the far opposite end of the hall from theirs, first door on the right, next to the cleaning lady's slop closet. (Our housekeeper was Louise. Old, we thought. Probably 50. Probably had been in the Navy. Smoked while she worked. She'd gravel-voice us up in the morning for class. "C'mon boys, get the hell up goddamit." She was great.)
Anyway, the phone rings. 3AM. It's Sokirka. "C'mon down the hall for a minute. You guys gotta see this!" And hangs up.
So I'm 17, my roommate who I know since 9th grade, Paul is 18. Think Homer and Jethro go to college.
So we open the door and slink down the hall past Mordecai's room, CaCa's, Caveman's, Nick the Cigarette's room. Past Neil and Bills room, Jay the RA who owned a little desktop scale, Randy Tillman and Harold "Bugs" Gulley's room, past Dave Marsilio's, who for some reason always called me "Pink Pad", past room after room. Past the water fountain and the shower room. Then make a right and it's another sixty feet to Sokirka and Lanunziata's room.
But you know, at 3AM, when all is quiet and the RA's room is between you and yours, when you get oh, halfway down that final hall to see what these guys, Sokirka and Lanunziata are up to? These crazy upperclassmen who'd seen it all? The older guys who are taking us into their confidence in a round of campus hijinks? Maybe they have beer?!?
We were past the turn and halfway down their hall when the last door on the left opens. Lanunziata sticks his head out, "C'mon!"
We quickened our pace! He pops back in, I hear laughing, then Sokirka sticks his head out and then he whips an M-80 down the hall at us and closes the door.
A 3am thunderclap in the hallway!
Deafening, ear-ringing, and concussive, like a stun grenade. Smoke fills the corridor! Thick smoke and the smell of sulfur.
We were trapped like rats in a box!
Brain overcomes first instant of shock, assumes monosyllabic panic mode.
Busted! Jay, the RA with the scale caught us.
We hadn't done anything wrong but there we were in the hallway where there had just been an explosive device detonated the size of which you don't generally see indoors all that much. It didn't look good.
Happened again a week later.