Tag Archives: story

Storyography for Lincoln Hall

To be part of this – http://www.lincolnhall.illinois.edu/storyography. Overdone. Intentionally.

Back during my time as an undergraduate I belonged a registered student organization known at Positive Event Chain. The goal of the group, loosely defined, was to take part in events that would spread good Karma, the notion that doing something nice for someone else would prompt them to help other strangers and so on. Functionally this resulted in our group running activities like giving out free hugs on the quad (before this was cool to do) or delivering people hand-written comments like handing out fliers.One such event was our yearly Secret Santa Spoof. We would always meet in Lincoln Hall (because it was almost always open and I later had a key as a sociology graduate student) and over the years observed that one of the girls Acappella groups would have a gift exchange leaving nice wrapping paper in the trash bins. So our event became a deviant re-use activity, of an odd kind. Each person would pull a name out of a hat and that person would become their giftee. They would then venture out into the depths and nooks of the building in search of odd gifts found in corners and beneath piles. We could go out for an hour and gather derelicts like old tires, trophies belonging to clubs from the 1970’s, theater props or costumes, misshapen hunks of wood, ancient cassette tapes and any other strange relics of the past we could find in the basement, attic or wherever else in the building. We’d then wrap the gift, invent a story, and give them to each other in the room as jokes. Nobody ever actually wanted these gifts, of course, so they’d end up back where they were found, but we had the understanding that they wouldn’t be given again the next year. This event went on for about three years and brought some good laughs until the lot of us graduated.

I snuck in to Lincoln while the construction was nearing completion and revisited some of the depths of the basement that we were never able to get into. I never realized just how large it was! It was a little sad, however, seeing how the spaces that once could have worked as exemplar horror movie sets (my friend even made a flash video using them) had been painted white, freshly lit and replaced with pristine, sparkling parts. No more piles of random junk, low-hanging pipes, graffiti and dangerous jagged metal.

So instead I think I’ll stick with my memory – an echo of a Secret Santa parody that encouraged people to do good deeds and relinquish the beauty held in moments.