12/20 – Animal House and the Skywhirled Blizzard of Bongs

My Dad had moved in with two (sometimes three) roommates when he left Half Day Inn and went to work at the Marriott Lincolnshire in IL. They lived on the third floor of a large three family house and they called it Animal House. When I went to stay with my Dad that summer I met Dick and Tim. Dick was a thin with curly hair and seemed like a pretty mild mannered guy. Tim on the other hand was a tall redheaded Irish loudmouth that was built like a linebacker. Both were like college frat guys. They hung out in the living room a lot and there was a foosball table in there that they played all the time. Dick’s brother Dave also stayed there for a while on the living room couch. Dave was also thin and he was more of the typical stoner type. Tim also had a part time job at a radio station and would get records for free. This was before I got my Kiss collection at home and only had the one record so he gave me Kiss Alive II which I listened to constantly.


They all worked different hours so it seemed like there was always someone there. They would often have friends over and they were in their 20’s so younger than my Dad and very much into partying. Typically they had many beers and foosball matches and it got loud in there. They also had a 3 foot water bong that they smoked a lot. So what is more entertaining than drinking, smoking and playing foosball you ask? How about getting the 9 year old baked because his Dad was at work for the night. They showed me how to use the bong and then packed it, filled it with smoke and had me clear it. I took one hit I think and probably didn’t hold it for more than a second or two, coughed up a lung and then just laughed my face off for what seemed like three hours and they all just watched me and laughed right back at me. My Dad never knew and I surely wasn’t going to tell him.


After my laugh session I of course just wanted to sleep. Now they had to deal with the 9 year old’s after high. They always listened to Led Zeppelin and at that time I didn’t like it at all. They knew I liked Kiss so Dick put on his Ozzy Osbourne Blizzard of Ozz album and put these huge tin can earphones on me to listen to it. He didn’t like the album and only bought it because he liked “Mr. Crowley”. At that point I would make it through a song or two and I was out like a light. I’ve heard that record thousands of times now but every once in a while I hear the fade in intro to the first song “I Don’t Know” and I get a flashback feeling back to animal house for a few seconds. Many people may be shaking their heads right now but it’s OK – I turned out all right.


The roommates took me to Great America one time that year and they wanted to go on The Demon which was a metal roller coaster with a loop. I had went on the American Eagle every time I was there since it opened but I was deathly afraid of any Roller Coaster that went upside down. I was brave when we started to get in line and waited for a few but once I saw that loop I freaked! They were trying to get me to go on but I was absolutely throwing a fit, screaming, crying and making quite a scene. They finally gave up, frustrated and we moved on.


They did get me to go on The Edge though which was one of the first free fall rides. The track was shaped like an L and you went up the tower on the inside, it moved you out and then you dropped at freefall speed and slowed suddenly on the bottom after we went horizontal. There was another ride there called the Skywhirl which was like a claw type ferris wheel and what did they do when we got in the air? Lit a joint. They had the good sense not to try and get me to smoke there which I wouldn’t have anyway. It’s like one of those things that you do and you thought it was kind of fun but knew you shouldn’t do it so you really didn’t want to again. My 14 year old self years later did not agree with that theory though.


About Alton B. Etheridge III

My Last Years of Childhood is about my musings as I relive my childhood in words before I get too old to remember!
This entry was posted in Childhood, Confessions, Life, Memoir, Nostalgia and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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