“The Year of the Rain” as recounted by Eric Cole
This one was actually before you [Grady Eades] came, my first year, 1989 – The Year, well, let’s see, how do you want to call it? It was the Year of the Mulch. It was the Year of the Rain. It was the Year of the Mud. ‘Course they were all related. I called it the Year of the Mulch because its all I saw – mulch, mulch, mulch, mulch, mulch. So, I’m sure if you get responses from people that were there that time, sure you’ll get a lot of stories about rain and mulch and things like that.
I’ll tell ya, it was just another night. I don’t even know why I came back, geez. Thinking about it, I don’t even know why I went back to camp after that. Gosh, what did we do for four weeks, probably? At least. It just rained every single day. Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain. I mean, you couldn’t teach your normal classes. That’s when I did Orienteering and Wilderness Survival and all those classes. And our Wilderness Survival class, I think the first three weeks, they were not able to stay out there. They would go out, build their little things and we’d always have to go get them ’cause there’d always be a huge, awesome storm that would come in that we couldn’t leave ’em out there. Ah, anyway…
It was that year. I was in the [Parnell] AY of course – the AY staff site down there across the little cross-tie bridge. And, so, we’re sitting in there and it’s dark and it’s raining again. Of course, I’m like a freshman to camp ’cause its my first year. So, I’m sitting around the table. There aren’t a lot of us down there. I don’t know everybody else was, but I was kind of homebody. Sittin’ around the table, rainin’ and thunderin’, and we’ve got a lantern on. And you know when you’ve got a lantern on, you can’t really see everything, outside the circle of the lantern.
Well, we starting seeing this movement, comin’, you know, through the field up there to the showerhouse down toward the path. It was the wierdest thing because there were these two white lights and then a red smaller light, like down at the bottom. SO the three lights were making a triangle. Two white lights on top and then down the bottom in the middle, was a little red light. It was just bobbin’ up and down and that’s all you could see. These three lights, about head level or so, just comin’ through the darkness toward us.
We’re all kind of like, I think everybody there at the time was, were all newbies so we’re all kind of like “What in the world is this?” We’re kind of like, you know, kind of concerned. So, it gets up to right outside the edge of the tent and the tarps and all that junk. You still can’t see anything with the lights and we’re hearing this noise, this rustlin’ noise and stuff, the gravel, you know. There’s something on the gravel walkin’ our way.
And all the sudden BOOM! Come bustin’ in. Pow. pow. pow. Tarps flyin’, and everything and its like big, big rain poncho. Flips the hood back and it’s Jerry Barnett. It was the weirdest, funniest lookin’ thing.
I don’t know if you ever saw these or ever heard about ’em, but somebody had given him a pair of glasses to wear that had two lights, like flashlights on the sides of the lenses, so that he could walk on the trails at night with the light. And the lower red light was his ever present cigarette. So, it was like this ghost thing flying through the woods. It was all you could see was these three lights and all the sudden he busts up in there. Pow. He was like some creature off Star Wars or something. That was really funny, ’cause you know, we didn’t expect it. He was Jerry Barnett, the big man, you know, we didn’t know him yet. That was pretty funny.