In stories like egg wars and What’s that Smell (read me), I’ve written about practical jokes and harmless pranking. Hopefully your high school weekend and summer evenings in high school contained as much jocularity, frivolity (and carnal pleasures?) as mine did. In high school, we can’t wait to be older and when we get old, we miss our younger years like crazy.
I grew up in Hamilton, Ohio. You know the place? It’s the town that in 1986 tried to adopt the exclamation point as part of its name. Hamilton is also a short drive to Oxford, Ohio; home of Miami University. Where there are universities, there are bars, drinking and parties. Where there are college parties, there are high school boys trying to blend in, hoping to sneak a drink so they can become ‘adults’.
One night, I believe it was early in the Fall of my senior year, a few of us decided to drive to Oxford as one of us had heard there was a party that some other fellow Taft High schoolers were going to attend. If I remember correctly, the group was four – Me, Rob & Tim Menzer and Joe Copas. The “party” was just a bunch of people hanging around a dorm. We didn’t stay long; we said some howdy’s, maybe drank a beer and then headed out.
On the way back to our car, (I think Tim was driving), Tim pointed out a small red car, (I think it was a Ford Pinto), and said – “hey, I think this is Becky Long’s car. Becky was in the same class as us. I didn’t really know her well but Tim apparently did and was dying to pull a joke on her. I don’t remember who said it, but I clearly remember one of us saying “let’s move her car!”
We were able to get the car unlocked. It must have been a manual shift because the steering wheel was locked but not the gearing. We started pushing the car but we couldn’t steer it so we had to lift the front end when we wanted it to turn. After working with the car for a good five minutes, several more boys from our high school walked by and saw us moving the car.
I remember a guy named Jan Wilson being one of them. Jan was a bigger guy who played on the football team and a couple of the other guys were also football players. Once the football jocks started lifting with us, moving and lifting the car came easy. The Miami campus is beautiful; red brick buildings, green lawns and old trees. We pushed the car up onto a lawn and towards a building where the party was being held. I have to plead guilty for coming up with the bright idea to wedge the car in between the building and a tree close to the building side.
The car was perhaps a foot shorter than the distance between the tree and the building. We had to pick the car up completely off of the ground in order to get it where we wanted. There must have been twelve guys now because we had picked up more and more ‘helpers’. When boys have other boys to point the finger at and say – he made me do it or it was his idea, we’ll jump in and do anything. Push a car off of a cliff? We’re there! Plan executed perfectly – the car was wedged in between the building and the tree. A memory was made.
About a week later Tim told us that Becky had been sharing the story of her mishap up at Miami. Apparently, she had left the party, naturally expecting to hop into her handy dandy Pinto…but no Pinto. Someone had stolen her Pinto? Were they desperate? She had called either the Campus Police or the Oxford Police Department to report her stolen vehicle. I’m pretty sure I remember he said that she did end up getting her car back that same night, but I remember Tim swearing us all to secrecy because he was scared we were going to get into trouble.
So the secret was kept….up until a year or two ago. I saw Becky’s name in Facebook and so I shot her a message, asking if that was her car that night. It was, and she thanked me for solving a 30 year mystery for her.
That was a fun night. I remember wondering that night if I myself was going to get to college; a strange thing to think about, even if I say so myself. I came from a small town and grew up there. The farthest from home I’d ever been was 200 miles away to visit relatives. My view of the world was tiny. Miami was college to me and it seemed out of reach – it was fun and important to drive to Oxford to feel like I belonged….even if it was for a couple of hours to attend a party we didn’t belong in or to pull a prank on a classmate.