The Shaft

L. Ray Humphreys '56

During the 1950's there were annual occurrences at Weber College between two men's organizations --namely, Phoenix and Excelsior -- known as "THE SHAFT." There were very few rules, except to place your opponent in a very embarrassing or frustrating experience during one of their special events, i.e. Phoenix's Snowball or Excelsior's Sweetheart Ball. Both were annual dances sponsored by the respective men's club.

In 1956, Excelsior and Otyokwa were having their Sweetheart Ball at the White City Ballroom, a large dance hall built to accommodate the "Big Band Era" of dancing. They went to a lot of work, and everything was on schedule to present their Sweethearts during the intermission. It was a very elegant affair with a grand march of all the members and their dates to the stage for the presentation. Little did they know that there were now two public address systems in the ballroom, theirs and Phoenix's.

Hal Stephens had worked mightily the week prior to the dance to remove the sound system from the old Moench Building and re install it in the White City Ballroom. We had no way of testing the system without raising suspicion, as a local high school was decorating for its dance that night. The high school students thought we were electricians hired by the owners of the ballroom to do some electrical work.

A week later, just as the grand procession began, Phoenix's borrowed sound system came to life with the sound of barking dogs, whistles, sirens, and bells. To our delight, the grand march was not as dignified as planned. The "disk jockeys" running the sound effects from outside the ballroom were Heber Jentzsch, Al Fleming, and Hal Stephens.They could see through the window that there would be no more signals coming from me as I was surrounded by the White Tuxedo Jackets of Excelsior. The only thing that saved my life was that the sound effects record changed while I was surrounded. This added to my alibi that I had nothing to do with "THE SHAFT."