Pranksters Tell (Almost) All

Kathy Dean Experience, Spring 2014

There are some stories about pranks that aren’t fit to print in a family magazine.

It had to be students on some other college campus who snuck into the library one night to put a dead possum in an air conditioning duct.

Surely it wasn’t ministerial students who “borrowed” a Blockbuster drop-off box and placed it at the entrance to campus.

It certainly wasn’t Mobile College students who went hunting and brought 20 ducks back to their dorm room to clean, flushing unnecessary parts down the toilet and backing up the septic system throughout the men’s dorms.

Since none of these terrible, awful pranks could possibly have been played by anyone remotely associated with the University of Mobile, there’s no need to investigate further to find the culprits.

Instead, let’s look back at some of the pranks that made it to our list of Best Pranks Ever at UMobile. It’s up to you to vote online for the prank you consider the absolute best.

1.The Fountain Head

Wouldn’t you know it – just when the Fall 2013 issue of University of Mobile Magazine went to press, the editorial staff finally found, buried in the archives, a photo of the toilet placed atop the fountain.

The prank was revealed in detail when the main perpetrators, Matt Wilson ’02 and Josh Jones ’02, decided the time had come to ‘fess up. You can read their confession online at umobilemagazine.com.

Not all pranksters are ready for public scrutiny, fearing the statute of limitations hasn’t run out. No worries — that shadowy figure lurking in the gloom just adds to the “whodunit” aspect of some of UMobile’s best pranks.

2.The Cricket Invasion

No one knows for certain when the very first cricket invasion occurred, but Dr. Bruce Chesser ’78 remembers when “cricketing” got out of hand. Cricketeers competed to see how many crickets they could purchase from bait shops and release into a dorm room. The first incident involved 1,000 crickets, and the numbers kept rising.

The senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, TN recalls his early years in the ministry during college. He was sitting on the platform at Spring Hill Baptist Church where he was doing student ministry when he realized there was something in his suit jacket pocket. There, sitting in front of the congregation, Bruce put his hand into his pocket and pulled out a handful of crickets from the last time his room had been cricketed.

3.Whistle While You Work

Eric Grizzle ’91, whose family has attended MC/UMobile for three generations, said he would admit to one prank, and one prank only. “I remember a night when several friends painted our faces and shirts for the men’s basketball game,” said Eric, an insurance adjustor for natural disasters and a published author. Pharr Gym was filled with students cheering for the Rams.

“I snuck in a whistle. It took the refs and coaches the entire first half to find the person in the stands occasionally blowing a whistle that stopped play. The confused looks on the players’ faces every time I blew that thing was priceless.”

Pharr Gym was the site of another spur-of-the-moment prank that got Buff McNickle ’93 banned from the microphone.

“One prank that went South was when I was the announcer for the basketball games and we were playing Spring Hill. They had a player named Ron McDonald, and I refused to call him anything other than Ronald McDonald. There was another player — I can’t remember his name since I only called him Jack Daniels, which got me removed from the mic and a technical foul when the Spring Hill coach and (MC basketball coach) Dr. Bill Elder went nuts,” Buff said.

“Bad decision,” added Buff, who is now pastor of Grace Falls Church in Absecon, NJ.

4.Paintball Posse

The 1990s weren’t the only decade that combined pranks with the men’s basketball team. Tramaine Perry ’05 relates a story he thought was pretty funny – but he doesn’t think that’s how Coach Joe Niland and Vice President Kim Leousis ’86 saw it at the time.

“We were having paintball wars on campus amongst the basketball players that lived in the cottages, going against the ones that lived in the trailers,” said Tramaine, now a vice president with BBVA Compass Bank.

“It just so happened that the security guard saw us one night and he chased us ‘round and ‘round campus until he finally caught up to us and got out of his car. We knew we were going to get in trouble anyway because we were the only guys on campus much above six feet tall. It was obvious he was going to know who to report, so we made the best of the moment.

“As soon as he chased us, one of my teammates locked the security car doors with the car running, and we shot him and his car with paintballs. It was funny at the time, but of course, Coach made us pay for it by running us to death the next day. I think some of us had to sit out of a game or half a game because of it as well,” Tramaine said.

5.Sowing Seeds of Discontent

Butch Huff started Mobile College in 1963 but graduated five years later in 1968 — a delay partially due to time he spent on pranks instead of studies, according to his wife, Dr. Nancy Huff ’71, now chair of the Department of Human Performance and Exercise Science in the School of Education. Butch, who retired from teaching and coaching and is now a Realtor, was among a group of students who saw opportunity where others saw dormant brown grass.

Nancy said there was a big rivalry between the new Mobile College and one-year-younger University of South Alabama. Butch and others decided to throw gas on the flames.

“Some South students came to campus and painted South emblems on campus. To retaliate, Mobile College students went to South and planted winter ryegrass in the shape of MC on the main campus lawn. They also planted the same grass on the quad at Mobile College in the shape of USA, so MC students would think South was doing the same thing,” she said.

To stoke the fires, Butch and friends painted the letters USA on Ramses, the school’s live ram mascot.

6.Take the First Step

From the beginning, students have been drawn to the front steps of Weaver Hall. Most saw it as their first step toward a college degree. Some, however, saw the steps as a blank canvas, a challenge, an opportunity, and a great place to pull a prank.

Malorie Stuckey ’09 said there was a prank war going on that involved her then-roommate Amanda Green Clonts ’08, and Jordan Aliff Phipps ’08, Anna Jones Nelson ’10, Courtney Cunningham, Melissa Reeves’10, Jared Freeman ’11, Dustin Lee ’10 and Neal Ledbetter, director of student life.

Neal recalls that the prank war started when some students – and he’s pretty sure he knows who they were – put Post-it Notes all over his black Kia Sorento parked in his driveway. The “Post-it Note Incident” was the first volley in the prank war, as Malorie explained.

“It happened in 2008 and there was an event at Neal’s house. Someone borrowed Amanda’s car and brought it back to campus and filled it with packing peanuts. They put the car out on the steps of Weaver Hall, then sent her on a scavenger hunt for it. I was on campus, and she called me to see if it was on the steps of Weaver Hall, which it was,” she said.

Malorie said the girls cleaned the packing peanuts out of the car and saved them.

“We got the peanuts, balloons and confetti and filled Neal’s office with these items early the next morning. We told the security guard it was Neal’s birthday, so he let us in the office to set up the ‘celebration.’ Such a great memory!” said Malorie, now a kindergarten teacher at Thales Academy in Raleigh, NC.

Neal, who admits to having some guys put the car on the front steps and fill it with packing peanuts, said he thought ahead to lock up his office, “but they outsmarted me with the little ‘it’s his birthday’ trick to campus security. “I cleaned confetti out of my office for the better part of that year,” Neal said. “In retaliation for the office attack, I put Amanda up for sale on Ebay. Some farmer in Oklahoma bid $.02 for her and didn’t meet the minimum bid of $1, so I had to, unfortunately, cancel the deal.”

Prankster Buff McNickle said he and Scott Vereen ’93 (now deceased) decided it would be funny to go to some local construction projects and borrow a few Port-O-Lets, then line them up on the front steps of Weaver Hall.

Buff said he hid in one of the Port- O-Lets and waited until he saw thenpresident Dr. Mike Magnoli ’67 come outside to view the line-up.

“I exited the Port-O-Let and made the comment that this one was clean and available for use,” Buff said.

“Herman Shoemaker (vice president for student services) didn’t think it was funny,” Buff added, remembering the conference he was called to the next day with Shoemaker and Dr. Leon Pirkle, vice president for campus operations.

Shoemaker, now retired, couldn’t confirm all the details of the story exactly as Buff related it. His version involves one toilet and a nighttime discovery, but he did confirm that he wasn’t at all amused.

“I chewed him out pretty good,” Shoemaker said.

7.Room Makeover Revenge

One prank that has stood the test of time is the surprise room makeover. Students from all decades have stories about furniture being moved out of dorm rooms and rearranged in a variety of places – usually on rooftops around campus.

One of the best stories comes from Morgan Carnley ’11, now a college and career counselor at Light of the Village in Mobile.

“April Fool’s Day was never a good day for me during my time at UMobile,” Morgan said. “Freshman year, I woke up to find my car had been toilet papered. Sophomore year, my friends and I – Shelley Boozer Kennedy ’11, Julisa Theodore ’11, and Sarah Cunningham ’11 – had agreed that there would be no pranks. And there were none – that is, until I got back to the dorm around 9 that night.

“I returned to the 4th floor of Faulkner Hall to find that my bedroom had been re-created in the hallway. I mean bed, dresser, lamp, books, chair, the works; it had all been set up in the middle of the hallway.

“Of course, I immediately knew who had done it. After beating on Shelley’s door, where they were all hiding out, an idea came to mind. It would be tricky, but I determined I could pull it off.

“I went to my CLC, Lisa Mitchell ’08 and RA, Cynthia Goss ’11, and recruited their help. Step 1 would be getting Rez Life to present to Shelley, Sarah and Julisa an official letter stating that they were in violation of resident codes because they had tampered with another resident’s property. They would be required to meet with Vice President Kim Leousis the following afternoon to determine their punishment for this ‘serious violation.’

“Of course, after receiving the letter, the girls came clean about the prank. I simply told them I couldn’t have known for sure that it was them who had committed it, and that there was nothing I could do at this point since Mrs. Kim had already been informed.

“The girls spent the next day as nervous wrecks, none of them speaking a word to me. They were quite upset, to say the least. When the time for the appointment finally came, I hid out in the Campus Affairs Office to watch the fireworks.

“They waited anxiously outside Mrs. Kim’s door. Mrs. Kim finally invited them in, had them take a seat, and said ‘April Fools!’” Morgan added, “I like to think I came out the April Fool’s Day victor that year.”


 Vote for the Best Prank!

Which prank gets the title of Best Prank Ever on UMobile campus?
About the Author
Kathy Dean

Kathy Dean

Kathy is an award-winning media relations director and former journalist whose expertise has enabled the University of Mobile to gain national and regional attention. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Auburn University and worked as a journalist for 12 years, including 10 years at the Mobile Press-Register, earning regional and national awards for coverage of education, deadline reporting and feature writing. She joined the University of Mobile staff in 1993, earning awards for writing and public relations including the Baptist Communicators Association grand prize for feature writing in 2015 and 2012. She is a charter member of Providence United Methodist Church, serves on the board of the John Will Scholarship Foundation, and is a member of the Public Relations Council of Alabama, Baptist Communicators Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. Kathy lives in Daphne with her husband, Chuck, who earned his M.B.A. from the University of Mobile. They have two children and two grandchildren.