Voice of Many Waters
Stories, as we all know, are the life of Omega Mu, and they keep alive our Omega Mu spirit each time we see each other, and there is nothing wrong with feeling nostalgic and then saying to yourself: “Did I really say and do these interesting things while living in the house; did all those events occur in the RAM, and did I really look like that during my years in The Castle?” And the beautiful thing is that these events did occur decade-through-decade, and you did look like that. Hard to believe but true. The historic grit of reality, and our binding stories were framed within the distinctive walls of The Castle. They provide a clear, significant lens in appreciating our long history; second, they provide a broad generational spectrum of our brotherhood and our shared home, The Castle. That is the power of authentic storytelling. We lived these stories, day-in-and-day-out.
Chip Chapman, ’82
R. J. Lewy
Omega Mu, 1967
This episode goes back to my pledge days in the Fall of ’64. Since it’s been over 50 years, I won’t even attempt to name the parties to this story, after all, who knows, some might have grown up to be politicians, or pillars of their communities and I wouldn’t want to kill their career and ruin their families---------remember Christine Blasey Ford ! That said, our Fiji house had a running rivalry with Phi Mu, the jock house across the street, and our pledge class thought we could hasten an end to our rituals if we pulled off a prank on Phi Mu; so someone came up with the idea of borrowing a cow from the Ag Dept. (after dark) and feeding it laxatives, as it was being lead down to Phi Mu-----then, sometime in the early a.m. the cow would be put through the front door (always unlocked) when all were asleep. Now picture this: you’re going to have a pile of football players wake up to find a cow in their living room and that would generate laughter from all the Fijis that would be watching from the “Castle”----even the Phi Mu’s would break out in laughter---but that wasn’t enough
The pledge class felt the need for a more immediate form of gratification, so it was decided not to wait until breakfast, but to toss a string of firecrackers into the house to wake everyone up---all at the same time----and when the firecrackers went off, the cow panicked and began to jump all over the furniture as it was shitting everywhere at the same time, and the Phi Mus were slipping and falling in the shit, so they ran outside in their skivvies to get out of the way of the cow.
It made so much noise that all the Fraternity houses lit up---up and down the street-- and all the
occupants came running out-----to find all the Phi Mu’s freezing in their underwear running in every direction-------the laughter could be heard all the way to Patsy’s Pub---it was quite a sight-- --it was the talk of the campus for months---some of us still laugh about it 50+ years later.
Omega Mu, 1970
Spring Break, 1968
Spring break, sophomore year, I decided to go visit a girl I knew who was at college in Winston Salem, North Carolina. I had my car and wanted to drive down so asked around to see who might want to go with me. Greg Papasodora (’70) was up for it. So, I wrote to the girl, found out where we could stay, arranged for a blind date for Greg, and we made plans to go. That year, Doug Baston (‘69) was in Washington, D.C. as a congressional intern for Senator Edmund Muskie.
President Kennedy and Senator Muskie
President Kennedy delivering the commencement speech at the University of Maine in 1965
Edmund Muskie speaking at the University of Maine in 1976
Doug was my big brother at The Castle and Greg and I decided to stop off in D.C. to stay with Doug during our drive. Most of the trip was pretty uneventful. Greg and I had an OK time with the girls, but nothing special. On the night of April 4, 1968, we said goodbye to our girls and started to drive out of town, heading back to D.C. before driving back up to Maine. At 6:01 PM, Martin Luther King was shot in Memphis but we were not aware of that yet. As we left Winston Salem that evening, we noticed lots of African Americans out and about, and it was clear that there was something going on that we did not know about. We pulled into a gas station to gas up and folks were all over the place. Not a white person in sight. We got pretty nervous sitting in the car while the gas was being pumped, but nothing happened except that a police car pulled up across the street. As soon as we drove out of the gas station, the cops (two white guys) pulled us over and asked what we were doing there and where we were going. We told them we had been visiting friends and were heading back to Maine. They said, “Follow us and we’ll get you to the interstate without any trouble. Don’t stop, don’t come back into town, keep going.” By this time, I suspect we turned on the radio and found out what had happened. That night, we drove all the way to D.C.
On the way, we could see a glow in the sky from the big cities: Durham, Raleigh. The riots had begun and buildings were burning. We kept driving and pulled into D.C. early in the morning. We woke Doug up and he let us in for a few hours of sleep. When we woke up, Doug told us the city was under curfew and we were to stay indoors.
We looked out the window of his first-floor apartment on Mass. Ave. near DuPont Circle, and there were people everywhere – all of them African American, most running or walking, very few driving. Some were coming from farther down Mass. Ave. where the shops were. These folks were pushing shopping carts filled with TV’s and other appliances, or had their arms full of clothes still on hangers. The folks heading toward the shops were not carrying anything. The folks heading back up town were loaded up. At one point during the day, we were hanging out with some girls in their apartment on the first floor while they handed out donuts and coffee through their window to the National Guardsmen on duty outside. When the Guard showed up, the looters disappeared.
The day passed with news of riots, looting, burning, all over the country. We were seeing it first hand. By the end of the day, we were going stir crazy from being inside all day and of course had a few beers. By the time darkness fell, we were feeling restless and mischievous. We decided to venture out. We took a Kodak Instamatic camera, and “just in case” Doug’s 32 caliber pistol, loaded. (Just in case of what, I now wonder.) A block from Doug’s building, on the corner of a side street was a closed liquor store. We could see the store from the entrance door to Doug’s building. At this point, we could see no one around – not looters, or Guardsmen. We crept through the shrubbery in front of Doug’s building, just seeing how far we wanted to go. Suddenly, a car whipped around a corner, slammed the brakes on in front of the liquor store, and a bunch of African American guys jumped out. One picked up a landscaping rock and smashed the glass display window of the liquor store. All of them began hustling cases of booze out of the broken window and into their car. We crept closer and took some photos of the action. Suddenly, a National Guard truck careened around a different corner and stopped with headlights high beamed on the looters and the liquor store. A bullhorn voice demanded they stop and drop what they were carrying, put their hands behind their heads, and lie down face down. They did, and the Guardsmen cuffed them, tossed them into the truck, and drove away. Witnessing that was sobering, and suddenly we wondered What the fuck were we doing?! And with a loaded gun? We hustled back into the building, scrambling through the shrubs again, and sighed with relief. Then cracked open another beer. Smiling sheepishly, we toasted our adventure – now viewed as a really stupid thing to do.
We didn’t go out again during curfew. It was a few days before the city settled down enough for us to leave and head back to Maine.
Now Doug Baston
Omega Mu, 196
Yea, John has it right. He remembered some details I didn’t. Some more details:
We didn’t venture out again, but we did spend time up on the roof of the building watching Washington burn al around us. I have some pictures from these days.
Also, my place was on the second or third floor of the building there were two friends, girls who were also interns, in a first-floor apartment. They were nervous, as the windows had no grates or grills. So, I brought down the pistol (it was .32 Barretta), loaded it, chambered a round, and set the safety. I showed them how to release the safety and told them just to point it in the general direction of any intruder and pull the trigger. I figured they would either hit them or scare them.
At some point later, and I can’t remember if this was before John left or after the curfew lifted and he got out of town, I was allowed to return to work in the Old Senate Office Building, several blocks away. That meant that I had to stand on the front steps of my apartment building until a military patrol came by. I then showed my Senate ID card and a soldier would be assigned to accompany me to the building. The entrances to office building itself were surrounded by barbed wire and were guarded by a mix of military and capital police. I would show the ID again to get in. When leaving work, the process was reversed.
Not only was Martin Luther King assassinated that spring, but also Senator Robert Kennedy, on June 5th in Los Angeles, on the night he won the California Primary.
Kennedy had announced that he would run for president on March 16th in the Caucus Room of the Old Senate Office Building, just down the hall from my office. I went down to listen and stood in the crowd – mostly press and other staffers – in that small room. Earlier this year I was watching the Netfix documentary “Bobby Kennedy for President”. In the episode covering his announcement, the old black-and-white film footage followed his entrance into the Caucus Room. For a few seconds it captured, standing just a few feet away in the background, a fifty-year-younger me, watching as history literally passed me by.
Omega Mu, 1970
Omega Mu Football Stories 1967-69
By the fall of 1969, many of the seniors on the Black Bear football team had been starting for the “varsity” for two seasons already. In those days, no freshmen were allowed to play anything but freshman football. For the varsity games, we were in the stands like all the other fans. But let’s go back to see how we got there.
Freshman football team
Tangerine Bowl Team, 1965
The year we were freshmen (1966), the Black Bears had gone to the Tangerine Bowl the previous year (record 8-2) and many of the players on that championship team had been underclassmen and were back for another season. However, their success was far below what they had accomplished the previous season. They finished 4-5, which we all took as a great disappointment.
By the fall of 1967, those of us who had been freshmen the previous year had proven ourselves during spring ball and been invited to return to play at the varsity level. We had lots of sophomores on that 1967 team, and it showed. It was also the first year Walt Abbott took over as head coach from Harold Westerman – “Westy”. Westy was head football coach at Orono for 15 years and had only one season below .500, that was in his final season in 1966. He was a legend as a football coach at Maine and it would be a tough act to follow. Walt and his staff did his best and we played as well as we could, but we went without a single win that season (0-8). We finished dead last in the Yankee Conference.
By the fall of 1968, we were primed to do better and had high hopes. Our opening game was against U-Mass at Amherst the first week in September. It was a hot day, and by the second quarter, we were gassed. U-Mass had a big, talented squad and as safety, I covered five different wide receivers on my side.
They just kept coming on and off the field and it was clear we were not going to keep up. It was demoralizing, but we proved how tough we could be. One particularly humiliating game that season was against UNH at Durham, in which they pulled out some tricky plays like reverses to wide receivers who then threw the ball downfield to the quarterback. Very embarrassing for the defensive secondary to get burned like that. They also had a little tailback, last name of Rudolph, who was the toughest player, pound for pound, I think I ever came up against. Hitting him was like running into the corner of a building. He shredded us too, and we remembered. Still, we went on to surprise some folks, finishing 3-5 for third place in the Yankee Conference.
By the fall of 1969, many of us had two seasons of varsity experience under our belts, two more years of conditioning and weight lifting, and we had high hopes. Again, our opening game was against U-Mass, this time in Orono. They had a 230 lb. fullback and I was a massive 165 lbs. soaking wet. At one point, he broke through the middle on a draw play and I tried to catch him. I was one of the faster players on our defense and I immediately realized I was not catching him! In fact, he was pulling away from me! In desperation, I dove at his heels and caught one on my chin bringing him down, and getting loads of blood on my jersey. U-Mass still beat us that year, but it wasn’t so easy.
The pivotal game in our senior season came after we had beat URI and Vermont, and lost to U-Conn. UNH had beaten U-Conn, who had beaten us. UNH came to Orono for our Homecoming. Their star quarterback from the year before had graduated, but Rudolph, the tailback was still there. Did I mention he was tough? Did I also mention he was ugly? Well, he was both of those things, and we had our sights set on that little bastard!
In the second quarter, UNH had the ball in their end of the field and ran a slant off their left tackle with Rudolph carrying the ball. I was on that side in the secondary and saw the hole open up and Rudolph churning through it. I attacked the line and gathered myself for what I expected would be an open field tackle, when suddenly two bodies converged on poor Rudolph. George Paul Dulac, right defensive tackle had shed his blocker and hit Rudolph on his right side under his arm at the same moment Mike O’Leary, right defensive end drove his helmet into Rudolph’s left shoulder. Rudolph spun like a pinwheel and crumpled to the turf. He didn’t get up. He lay on the ground moaning and not moving much as Dulac, O’Leary and I did a war dance over him. Kind of a brutal moment, but that’s how we played football. The Fiji defense was rising to the occasion. Rudolph left the game with broken ribs. One problem solved.
Dulac, 55; O’Leary, 89
In the third quarter, we had traded the lead with UNH a couple of times, and the defense had just come off the field holding them for another punt. As the offense took the field, Dulac and I sat for a rest on the bench and I turned to Dewey and said, “Dewey, we’ve got ‘em! Don’t you feel it?” with my fist clenched in front of his helmet. Dewey let out a huge laugh and at that moment, a yearbook photographer snapped a photo of the two of us. It would end up in the yearbook for that, our senior year.
But the game wasn’t over yet. We led 21-14 but couldn’t keep a drive alive, so punted and UNH took over with just minutes to go. I can’t recall how far they moved the ball, but they were past midfield when we made our stand. They were more of a passing team without Rudolph so we knew what they would try. First and 10 they threw a screen pass to their left and O’Leary drilled the ball carrier for a loss. Second and 14 and they tried to fool us with a draw. Dulac sniffed it out and dropped the ball carrier for another loss.
Paul Dulac making a tackle
Third and 15: drop back pass with their speediest flanker on my side, the wide side of the field, he made a quick inside fake, cut to the sideline, and the ball was in the air. It was my play and it was so clear what I had to do. I had to give the guy some space because he was fast and I couldn’t let him beat me. But it was a long way from the QB to the left sideline and I drove my right leg into the turf and broke on the ball. I dove and was flying horizontally, reaching for the ball. My hand reached the ball just as it reached the receiver’s fingertips and it flew to the ground in front of their bench, incomplete. Fourth and 15 and I can’t recall what they tried next, but it failed, we took over on downs, time expired, and we won. Fiji (Dulac), Fiji (O’Leary), Fiji (me-Collins) made the plays!
So, we had lost to U-Mass and U-Conn, but beaten UNH, Vermont, and URI. We took second in the conference that year, tied with either U-Conn or UNH with U-Mass winning. However, U-Mass was cited later that year with recruiting violations and I thought they had to forfeit their conference championship as a consequence, making Maine co-champion that year. The records don’t show that, however, but I still feel like we had a championship season. Walt Abbott was head coach at Maine for 9 years, and 1969 was his only winning season.
Omega Mu, 1982
Fire, fire! Ever wonder why electric blankets were banned from the Ram? Ignoring the issues of possibly overloading the few outlets that were available, perpetually forgetting to shut them off, or questionable wiring throughout the Ram, this modern contrivance would have made those cold nights a pleasure. But always one to set an example, Brother Holmes was snuggled under such a contrivance and as he often had a propensity to do after a hard night of drinking and other recreational activities, pissed the bed. Whether it was the electrolytes or water or the hand of god, the blanket shorted and started smoking and may have even caught fire, I don’t recall. Brother Holmes slept on, others saved the day, but the rule was set in stone.
War is hell. A confined space, exhaustion, the stress of school work, testosterone, a variety of personalities, and perhaps some alcohol loosened restraint; what could possibly go wrong? Who knows how these things start, the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the sinking of the Lusitania, the bombing of Pearl Harbor (by the Germans), tanks crossing the 39th parallel, Ram wars.
I just remember participating in the war of all Ram wars – pillows thrown, body slams, blitzkrieg incursions to other partitioned areas, beds tipped over, it went on for what seemed like an hour. And remember that other rule about no girls in the Ram? At one point in the war I dove over a partition from my top bunk to the adjoining top bunk only to hear a double ‘Oomph’; lo and behold Brother Lowell had smuggled his girlfriend Paula into his bed in the Ram and none of us knew it until she became collateral damage. Another senseless victim of war.
“Trust the Brotherhood”. What could be more trustful than relying on a brother to perform wake up duty? Equally important, to have brothers not screw with the wake up tags that hung from the downstairs peg board (although it happened). Another rule – no alarm clocks in the Ram. Instead you trusted that one brother who had duty to wake you up at the appointed time so you could make it to class or other appointments. Perhaps a trivial yet still vital element of the house experience.
Chef, John “JT” Thomas, for those of us from the 80s, JT was much more than a cook. He was a friend and confidente to many of us and could always be counted on for advise on prom date flowers, exotic (and expensive) room party drinks, the best show tunes to sing for Greek sing, and all of the other challenges that college life created. He never judged us, no matter how trivial some of our troubles undoubtedly seemed or how misguided we got with alcohol, controlled substances, or the sins of the flesh. Just imagine what kind of stories he could share; thank goodness we made him a brother. Does anyone remember the road trips to Tenants Harbor to pick up lobsters for some function or another JT had planned?
Meals weren’t just sustenance, they were a demonstration of our ability to self-govern and to control our own destiny; they were a time when we all came together as a brotherhood, to share a limerick and to break bread as a family; and they were a time we could forget about the stress of academia.
1947 dinner with the house mother
1979-1980 dinner in the house
What were your favorites? For Brother Audie above it was the chocolate chip cookies and the chocolate mousse. For some it was the warm mini bread loaves glistening in butter, ready to be torn apart and shared. For others it was the fabled ‘rib night’ where rib coats and rib ties from Salvation Army and Goodwill were de rigor instead of paper napkins. Yet others like Brother McLean loved ‘taco night’ (taco sauce….whoa!). And ‘steak night’ far out-shined today’s shoe leather Pig Dinner offerings.
Omega Mu, 1982
ἀδελφός, οῦ, ὁ,
His middle name,
Watson and Crick
Each quality is
In front of
Is a linked
All the years
We like to
Say in Maine
Phil and Shab
Energy and humor
That whirls and
Them with fervent
Since their first
In The Castle in
That has endured
Years as a
Topics of the
Being or non-being
And the profundity
Of their brain-
Cans of Bud
As they chop away,
There is no
Illusion of being
Or non-bing with
Phil and Shab:
At all times
Verbal love war;
A modern day
Cain and Abel,
Shab and Phil,
One in a
Boundless web of
Shab and Phil
Chip Chapman, ’82
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