Chapter IV
Let's Scare Lewis Harrison('63)
or
The Doors Again?
by Brian V. Brunner('64)

Winter 1960:

Background....

Remember I was a cadet at LWMA over the time period from the fall of 1959 to the spring of 1964.

Back in days before VCRs, Cable TV, and Personal Computers... I mean back in the Stone Age when all we had to watch was one black and white television set in the dayroom in Russell Hall, the school would rent 16 millimeter movies for us to watch on the weekends. We had three forms of entertainment on the campus then. There was THE one B&W TV, THE one and only pool table in Allen House, and THE movie. The movies were shown on Friday night, Saturday afternoon, Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon. These were open times, Friday and Saturday nights were open because no in-room study hall was going on then and Saturday and Sunday afternoons were open as "Free Time" also.

There was no charge to see the movies, so if you liked the movie you could watch it four times over the weekend. I remember doing that for most of the science fiction movies such as "The War of the Worlds", "The Thing", "Them", and "The Day the Earth Stood Still", and many others. I also enjoyed war and aviation movies too and I know I saw "Battleground", "30 Seconds Over Tokyo", and "The Dam Busters" four times the weekends they were shown.

Now to the main story...

Lewis Harrison was our projectionist during all my years at LWMA except my last, 1963-1964. He was one of the students who had to work around the school for some of his tuition* and one of his jobs was operating the projector on the weekends. He showed the movies in the upstairs auditorium in Tallapoosa Hall most of the time. Sometimes we used an upstairs classroom across the hall. This auditorium had double doors across the hall from the front stairwell. (The upstairs auditorium was remodeled into three classrooms during the late 1960s.) When we used the classroom Harrison had to show the movie on a blank classroom wall instead of the portable movie screen.

During a winter night in 1960 Joe Penn ('62) (Penn's last year at LWMA was '61-'62) and I had been watching a movie in the classroom instead of the auditorium. I don't remember if was Friday or Saturday night, or the title of the movie, but I remember what happened AFTER that movie VERY well.

I was 14 at the time and Penn was one of my eighth grade classmates. After the movie we went out in front of Tallapoosa Hall and played a kind of hide-and-seek game in the moonlight and dark shadows. Then we came up with the idea that we would try to scare Harrison. He had to stay after the movie was over to rewind the three rolls of film for the next showing. Penn and I just knew that Harrison was still in Tallapoosa Hall and we would hide somewhere and scare him.

Meanwhile, Harrison had finished and left while we were outside. We both went in the front doors together. Penn went upstairs first and hid somewhere while I waited at the foot of the stairs. After waiting a few minutes I went up the front stairwell myself. I stopped at the top of the stairs before I actually entered the hall.

At this point I have to try to paint a picture for you of the surroundings. In the stairwell behind me there was a tall narrow window just at the midway landing. Through this window shown the light of the full moon down on concrete steps. This bright light allowed me to see the stairwell and the double auditorium doors across the hall very well. I could not see much down the hall to the right where the classrooms were and where I expected Harrison to be, or up to the left toward the room under the clock tower (now the band room). I could see the moonlight through the window at the far end of the hall to the right, but it did not light up the hall very much. As I lookd back at double doors in front, suddenly, the left door of the auditorium opened up about two inches in my direction. I assumed it was Penn letting me know where he was and that I should go through those doors. I put my right hand up into the moonlight and moved my fingers to show Penn that I wanted him to open the door a little wider so I could slip in without touching the door and, perhaps, making some unwanted noise. The moonlight behind me cast my shadow onto the double doors across the hall. Right then the doors opened up a few inches wider right on queue! I quickly moved across the hall and slipped through the doors and closed them as quietly as I could. I then moved along the wall to the right being careful not to trip over the rows of chairs in the auditorium. I stopped about halfway down the wall at the next hall door. I could see moonlight outside the wall of windows across the room. No moonlight shown into that room yet as the moon was still above the other side of Tallapoosa Hall. I had made no contact with Penn yet and wondered where he was. I pulled my out my Zippo lighter, lit it, held it up, and looked around the room for my friend. While I was looking I was whispering, "PENN? - - PENN? - - PENN?" I looked around the whole auditorium including the stage, I saw NOTHING, and there was NOBODY in there! With the lighter still lit I went back to the double doors and out into the hall. On the right side of that hallway, after you pass the stairwell is an indention where the wall stops and turns 90 degrees to the left for about a foot and then back to the right all the way to the end of hall. In the dim light form my lighter I could see Penn crouched down, almost sitting on the floor, in that indention in the wall. I put out my lighter and went over to Penn and asked him in a whisper why he came out of the auditorium. He told me he had NOT been in the auditorium and had NOT seen me until just then. Then we forgot all about scaring Lewis Harrison when I told Penn what had just happened to me. We both jumped up and cleared the stairwell in about three steps then flew out the front doors and became two little gray streaks of light heading for Russell Hall one more time!

You can bet Joe Penn and I never tried to scare Lewis Harrison again!


* I was one of the students who had to work around the campus also.


Stairwell
The Stairwell
and the narrow window
1999

Tallapoosa Hall image printed in 1964


Now Read - - Chapter V.    Background Information about the 1963-1964 School Year

Return to the THINGS Contents Page.

Return to the Stories Contents Page.

Return to the Alumni Home Page.