Ian Grant ’13—It’s not a stretch to say that Josh Mitchell ’13 has memorized every anecdote on this year’s Scarlet Yarns alumni story project. As videographer and editor he has easily seen the entirety of the footage, both whole and in clips, dozens of times.
This sort of repetitious behavior, like learning the lyrics to a song, allows him to quote each story verbatim. So when I was sitting in the Media Lab in the basement of Lilly Library scanning photos for the Communications Office digital archive, I was not surprised to hear Josh, working on a clip from the project and anticipating almost every word coming from the screen.
This would continue for a bit, then stop, and resume until it got to the point that I was able to quote the pieces myself. When it came time to review the DVD as a final product Josh and I could have acted out the interviews sans script.
That’s partially due to the repetition. But from that repetition we picked up on the many quirks and idiosyncrasies—there was a lot of dishwashing. Tom Burns ’67, Joe Krause ’57, and Tom Reams ’62 all separately admitted to washing dishes at the Lambda Chi house to help pay their way through Wabash. (Mal Young ’62 even washed dishes with Warren Beatty in California after the two of them failed to pay a bar tab.)
They were not prompted or asked. (To be honest if our questions included washing dishes we’d have been lousy interviewers.)
They were offhand remarks of little consequence. Had only one person mentioned it we would have written it off. But now it seemed that in order to attend Wabash every student was drafted into an army of Lambda Chi dishwashers, cleaning a precariously stacked Cat-in-the-Hat-style pile of dishes.
Every time the topic of tuition came up in a story, Josh and I would joke: “Oh, well I’m betting they washed dishes at the Lambda Chi house.”
It was the little things that grabbed our attention. Like differences in how the college operates. If I could afford my tuition now by washing dishes at Lambda Chi, I would. (I have a strong elbow, a healthy sense of work, and a ferocious desire for sanitation, guys.)
The quirks make the stories interesting and Josh’s editing has pulled those to the foreground.
Like the time Tom Burns recalls his first date canoeing on Sugar Creek with the woman who would become his wife. It was spring, the water was cold and at flood level. They went out anyway. Shortly after pushing off they managed to flip the canoe. They were thrown into the water. The future Mrs. Burns collided with a logjam and was bruised from her hip to her ankle. After seeking shelter at a nearby farm house one of Burns’ brothers at Lambda Chi (I bet he washed dishes, too.) picked them up. Burns concludes (and often the unexpected conclusion makes the piece), “The next date didn’t go any better.”
Ian Grant is an intern this summer with Wabash Magazine and the College’s Office of Communications and Marketing. Josh Mitchell is a Media Center intern and is videographer and editor for this year’s Scarlet Yarns.