Blacker Hovse FAQ




Nominations, Elections and the Presidency

Presidents and RAs




Traditional Events

Annual Social Schedule

Hovse Tour

Named Locations

Interhouse and Frosh Projects

Past Events and Stories


FAQ versions

Official Blacker Hovse page

Events of the Past

    1. A fire in infanite storage? (1965-6)
      The big fire in the infinite storeroom occurred in the 1965-66 academic year. There was still soot in hyperspace from the fire for a long time after that. The fire was started by Scurves filling their chimney with newspapers and torching it off. The hot ashes were pushed down the flap doors in the bottom of the fireplace. Down in the basement, some of the hot stuff got out and set the junk in the basement on fire. One of the results of the fire was a water main breaking in the wall and flooding some areas of the basement.

    2. What was the Mollar cannon? (1968)
      The Moller canon named after its inventor Jeff Moller (fr: 1965, grad: 1969) Driven by compressed air, it was used to shoot hot charcoal briquettes at Dabney and sometimes into the Dabney courtyard. Observers say that the showers of sparks were fun to watch. This device had disappeared well before 1989.

    4. Who's Who (1978-1980s)
      When Paul De La Houssaye (fr: 1976, grad 1980) was living in the Blacker/Dabney basement with window on the courtyard between Blacker and Dabney (called the Saga Courtyard a the time after the name of the food service), Moles started throwing bottles into the courtyard while voicing "whhoooo". This mimiced the first part of Paul's name. The tradition continued long after Paul left Tech, but was completely abandoned by 1989. "Who"ing became a general callsign for locating nearby Moles, because a hollow "who" sound test to carry a long way. This too was a dead tradition by 1989.

    6. A slave auction in Blacker? (1987)
      In the spring of 1987 or possibly in the fall of 1988 Blacker was extremely broke. At this time so much damage was being done and charge to the Hovse that there wasn't much left over for social events. So the Hovse decided to hold a slave auction to raise funds. Memebers of the Hovse would offer themselves up for bidding. In return the "sold" person would perform an afternoon of tasks for the "buyer". Such things included washing cars, cleaing rooms, etc. The event turned into a huge happening. Dr. Chris Brennen, then the MOSH and later Dean and VP for Student Affairs, tells that it was the most sucessful House event that he had ever seen. The whole of Blacker Courtyard was standing room only with people spilling out into Ricketts and Blacker Beach. Naturally the women of the Hovse fetched higher prices then the men. The highest bid, about $100, was for Bibi Jentoft-Nielson (fr: 1985, grad: 1989), the Hovse President.

    7. Hex on being named Ben? (1987-1997)
      When Benjamin Smith (fr: 1989, grad: 1994) came to look at Caltech in April or May 1989, it was noticed that there were 3 people named Ben in the Hovse at the time plus the pre-frosh. At one point 3 of the 4 Bens were in one room in Hell. There was talk of attaining critical Ben mass. By the time that Benjamin Smith was picked into Blacker that fall, Ben Finley (fr: 1987, left 1989) had flamed. Later on that year, Ben Discoe (fr: 1988, left: summer 1990) also left Tech. During spring 1992, Benjamin Holland (fr: 1987, left: 1992) was UASHed and never returned. Benjamin Smith took a leave of absence for 3rd term 1991 and took a 5th year to graduate. So since the Hovse was 4 for 4 for bad things happening to those named Ben, the Hovse looked at previous Bens:
        Benjamin B. Nolan (fr: 1950, left after 1 or 2 years)
        Benjamin Dembart (fr: 1962, grad: 1966)
        Benamin Grosvenor Cooper (fr: 1963, grad: 1967)
      So only 2 out of 7 Bens gradutated on time and those were during the Vietnam Conflict. However this hex seems to have been broken. Benjamin Fredrick Lane (fr: 1993, grad 1997) and Benjamin Edward Turk (fr: 1994, grad 1998) both have graduated on time.

    12. What was the Tommy's Triple Threat Triathalon (Alley Ordering)? (1991)
      This was the brainchild of Walker Aumann (fr: 1988, grad 1993) and Noam Bernstein (fr: 1988, grad 1993) when they were Veeps. In short it combines a normal run-bike-swim Triathalon with the venerable Tommy's Triple Threat.
      The race started a Occidental College. The Alley Runners ran from Oxy to the Eagle Rock Tommy's. There they ordered a Triple Threat, at one item and handed the rest to the bikers. The Bikers had the option of eating first or biking back to Tech first. Those that ate first all vomited sometime on their bike ride. The bikers rode back to the Tech pool and gave the remaining item to the swimmer. The swimmer could swim first or eat first, but if they swam, they had to carry the food with them.

    13. What was a band called the Ninth? (1991-1994)
      The Ninth was a grunge/punk band featured Ken Apperson (Hovse RA from 1st term 1991 to summer 1995) as the singer. Other band members were Chris Dunn on bass, Jamie Helsing on drums and Ara Bedikian on guitar--all three non-Techer friends of Ken. In spring 1993 Chris quit and was replaced by Nick.

      Originally the Ninth was formed in San Diego and was quite popular there. The Ninth moved to try and get signed in the LA area when Michelle Apperson (the other RA) went to Tech for grad school. The Ninth spent a number of years playing the Hollywood club circuit. Many moles attended these shows which included numerous appearances at the Whiskey a Go Go. The Ninth was also a staple feature at BDR. Despite a string Blacker following, the Ninth never got signed and did not develop a large following in LA. In June 1994, the Ninth performed a final, good-bye show at the Whiskey.

      The Ninth was named after Beethoven's 9th Symphony and produced a number of original demo tapes. Two of these tapes were recorded while Ken was RA of Blacker.

      The first tape, titled The Ninth, (copyright 1992) contained:
        Out in the Sun
        Secret Song
        The Spider
        Jackie's Dress
      A previous version of the tape had Oh, My God instead of Jackie's Dress
      The seconds tape contained:
        With the Help of a Gun
        Black, Shiny FBI Shoes
        We Were Walking
        Out in the Sun
      The Ninth also sang:
        Flying Alone
        Candy Hit the Nerve (only recorded live)
        UnderDog (a cover of the cartoon show sped up to punk speeds)
        Paint It Blacker (a cover of the Rolling Stones song with the word "Blacker" sung instead of "Black")

      The Ninth was also recorded live at BDR in spring 1993. That show is also floating around on an audio tape.

    14. What was the Protest of Preregistration (1992)?
      Traditionally to pre-register for courses one received the pre-reg card from the Registrar's office via campus mail and had to get it returned within a certain span of time. For those that really wanted a class, one might show up around 8am the first day of returns when the Registrar's office opened.

      Over time, this time got pushed a little earlier, but not by much. During 1st term 1991 (registering for 2nd term 1992), some frosh were worried about not getting into a specific Humanities class, so they showed up at 3 or 4 am to wait in line. The upperclassmen thought that this was silly. One could almost always add a class at the beginning of a term. However frosh are clueless.

      To show how silly it was, some Moles decided to make a point the night before pre-reg for 3rd term 1992. They showed up at midnight. Sleeping bags were layed out. Power was brought in to power lights, a stereo, and a computer. A tent was pitched near the top of the stairs to Parsons-Gates. Benjamin Smith drove his Land Rover part way up the stairs and wrote a Hum paper in the tent. Other people included Bill Greene (fr: 1989, left 2nd 1992) and Andrew Grangaard (fr: 1991, left 1997). Others played cards. Some did homework. No one slept. About 1:30 am some non-Mole noticed the crew of about 10 Moles and asked what was up? Word spread. By 5am 100 people were in line. By 7 am half of the undergrads (about 400 people) were in line. Many were worried that they would not get their classes. The line snaked down the stairs towards BBB and then over to Dabney Hall. At 7am Parsons-Gates was unlocked and the line moved inside to camp outside the Registrar's office. At 8am the Registrar's office opened for business. The first 10 or so people in line, the instigators, immediately got up, left the line, and went to bed. They sumbitted pre-reg cards days later.

      In light of this event, the next 1st day of pre-registration was held in Winnett to keep the mass of students away from the Registar, the Caltech Presidents and others. This too was swarmed. In the years following pre-reg was switched to an electronic format. All because some board Moles decide to have a protest.

Page last modified 22 January 2007 FAQ author: Benjamin Smith (fr: 1989, grad 1994).
version: 2.1
Last modified: 19 January 2017, Copyright 2015
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