Bruce Hall Memories

Some of these are memories of my time in UNT’s Bruce Hall, while others are facts I’ve remembered from the years:

  1. I was the only person (I know of) to nearly hold every position in Bruce Hall: fire buddy, wing representative, RHA Representative, Vice President, President, Resident Assistant, Assistant Hall Director, and Hall Director, and Bruce Award reciepent. I’m not sure how I let Treasurer and Secretary slip from my grasp.  Besides this, I was also RHA Vice-President, Special Assistant for Programming, and RLAC Vice-President.
  2. Between the boiler room and the basement of the cafeteria was a dark, winding hallway, which terminated in a small doorway that noone had a key to. It creeped me out most particularly, especially while performing late-night rounds on weekend shifts.
  3. Several of the old activity rooms in Bruce Hall no longer exist, because of the need to make way for resident housing. These include: The Lorena Lounge and Art Room (A400 wing), the Computer Room and Assistant Hall Director office (C200).
  4. There are actually two elevators in Bruce Hall: the one everyone knows about at the base of the B wing, and the other in the cafeteria. It is used to shuttle supplies from the basement.  It’s a classic old-school elevator, where you get inside an open car and slide closed a wooden railing.
  5. Contrary to urban legend, TAMSters never snuck into Bruce Hall to shut off the power. Attempting to shut off the main power transformer was incredibly dangerous, and it is highly unlikely anyone could have done it with extreme frequency without cooking themselves. It’s likely that the power overloaded because all of Bruce Hall’s wiring was old, with the exception of the new wiring put in for air conditioning in 1994.  The Bruce Jam equipment was a massive power drain when running late at night.
  6. The RA who wrote up the most people got the moniker “The Impaler”. This nickname would swing back and forth between myself, Germaine, and Rob. Rob usually won out, which made saying “Casper the Impaler” all the more interesting.
  7. I invited myself along a roadtrip to California with Germaine, Capt’n Courville, and Halee. From Denton to San Pablo Bay, CA, it took 28 hours of non-stop driving through the desert, including the detour towards San Diego to drop off the girls. Germaine drove the entire way without sleeping, stopping only for gas and to kiss the ground just past the California state border.  I remember going down IH-10 in L.A.; we were looking for the exit to IH-5; Germaine’s eyes blink and he shakes his head, as if coming out of a trance.  He then asks, “Where are we?”  After 20 hours behind the wheel, he seriously didn’t know.  I just leaned back and enjoyed the ride.
  8. The Bruce Hall lobby used to be hardwood, just like the Bowling Alley that goes north-south on the second floor of Bruce and the Concert Hall on the north side of the building.  In 1996, a lone contractor was hired to remove the old hardwood flooring and replace it with new oak.  He was a Vietnam vet with a nasty temper.  One day, Jim Casey asked him if it was OK to walk on the floor, as it was being varnished.  The contractor didn’t say yes or no.  He said, “You’d better not walk on the floor or I’ll break your fucking neck!”  From that point, he became known as Agent Orange.
  9. Once when I was BHA President, I held a staff meeting that only one member showed up to: Jason Bunch.  The goal of the meeting was team development.  We spent the time prank-calling everyone on the RHA phone list.  We convinced Rachel, the president of Clark Hall, that someone was after her for mowing down their dog on the highway.  We convinced a tear-stricken “Grandma” that after a recount she was not indeed elected to RHA.  One person who shall not be named picked up the phone while they were having sex, which made for an interesting conversation.
  10. In 2000, I participated in Bruce Hall’s Jell-O Wrestling program.  I accepted a challenge from Slappy, with the condition that the loser would have to wear a dress to that night’s BHA meeting.  During the match, we were tag-teamed by two wrestlers who pinned us both.  Since we both lost, both of us had to wear the dress.  It was the last time I cross-dressed at Bruce Hall.  Apparently video of the most-famous incident (Bruce Secrets) is roaming around, looming over my political career.
  11. I can remember the names of all my R.A.s, as each of them had some major influence on my life.  Dave Claiborne taught me to have fun my freshman year.  Willy Golden taught me magic tricks.  Guillerme taught me that shitting in the shower is not cool as we have no water pressure.
  12. Before the wing baths were redone, taking showers was hazardous to one’s health.  Bruce Hall’s hot water came from a boiler in the basement.  One flush of a toilet several wings over was enough to melt your skin like biting into a freshly-microwaved Hot Pocket.  It was common courtesy to yell, “Fire in the hole!” when you flushed.  Over time, one became very aware of minute sounds in the pipes and water stream, which gave you split-second warning about impending scalding.  It was like  Spidey Sense!
  13. My freshman year, I had three roommates.  The first was Greg, who left school early to play saxophone for a country-and-western band.  Following him was James, who would perform psychological experiments on my when you wasn’t dropping acid and encrypting his emails.  James met Karen, whose father was one of the more-prominent instructors in the School of Music; when he heard she was having roommate conflict, he invited her to live in our room at Bruce without my permission.  I didn’t mind this because I thought Karen was cute and cool.  What college freshman would object to co-habitating with a woman?  Exactly.
  14. For awhile, it seemed if your name was Dave, it must also be prefaced by an adjective.  Sleeping Dave, Smoking Dave, etc.  For awhile, it seemed that everyone nicknamed C.J. was gay.
  15. For a period of time, everyday I went to the 7-Eleven on Oak Street and got as 32 oz. Dr. Pepper Big Gulp.  Most of these trips involved Jim Casey and/or Mark Peterson.  During my Assistant Hall Director days, a trip to 7-Eleven in Jim’s truck was our equivalent of a daily staff meeting — in the quiet confidentially of the cab, we would discuss the business of running the building, who required extra attention or discipline, how programming was going, etc.
  16. One of my proudest moments as an RA was winning the Housing Department’s Outstanding Resident Assistant award in 1997.  It was important because it was the first time in my professional life that I cared about being the best.  It also meant so much because I knew the award represented the respect of my peers, some of whom are still my best friends.
  17. Before cell phones were common, I would have to call long-distance but stay on a budget as the minutes would add up.  In the Union were two phones on the top floor, in tiny windowless rooms, where you could call anywhere in the nation for free.  You would sign up, wait in line, and make your calls.  The phones were taken out because some students from India were able to rig them to call Asia, and the costs of those calls were a hit on the SGA’s budget.
  18. Bruce Hall opened in February 1947, and at the time it was the largest building on campus.  It was designed by George Dahl, a prominent Dallas architect who also designed the building next door Masters Hall.  It was intended as relief for Music Hall, a dormitory to the south.  It was originally thought of as two separate halls within one building; they were called Bruce Hall North and Bruce Hall South.  The front desk of BHN was where the old weight room was (just inside the exterior doors).  The building remained all women until sometime in the 1970s.
  19. Before the window units were installed in 1994, there were only three places in Bruce Hall that were air-conditioned: the lobby, the cafeteria, and the practice modules.  Just before that time, you could smoke in the cafeteria.  Instead of a TAMS/Bruce division in seating, it used to be a smoking/non-smoking division.
  20. The Aryan Nation-looking mural in the cafeteria was originally in Marquis Hall, which itself was a dormitory.  It was later moved to storage in Terrill Hall.
  21. One day, Jim and I were contacted by a parent who wanted permission to get into their son’s room and move him out early.  We came to find out the son, who lived on D400 above the loading dock, had withdrawn from UNT earlier in the semester and not told anyone, including his R.A. or roommate.  Upon further inspection, we found out he was lazy about his trash: he removed his window screen so he could dump his trash directly into the dumpster below.  One day, while throwing out a heavy bag, he got caught up with it and flew out the window himself.  He fell three stories to the ground below, breaking his leg and hip.  He slinked away and quit for the semester.  We suppose he didn’t tell anyone because of the embarrassment.
  22. The sound of those emergency exits alarms blaring is still echoing in my head
  23. The best bathroom graphitti was in the D300 bath, in the second toilet stall.  To read it, you had to sit on the john, lean forward, and almost turn your head upside down.  You would then be rewarded with the words, “You are now shitting at a 45 degree angle.
  24. Shara was the RA for the female wing B300.  At the time, it seemed like everyone on B300 was dating someone on D300, my wing.  Shara resigned between the fall and spring semesters, leaving an opening on her wing.  I volunteered to be R.A. for B300 until we could hire a replacement, which we were slow to do because we didn’t want to hire just about anyone.  I remember holding the first wing meeting of the semester, the one where the RAs gather everyone and read them the rules.  I told the girls if they needed anything, and I mean anything, just ask.  Soon enough, they took me at my literal word, as they asked if they could borrow any tampons.  Sadly, I had none.
  25. I was known for having an original Bill the Cat doll (from Bloom County fame).  I would hang it from my ceiling fan by a homemade leather noose.  Later on, when I was an RA, I never locked my room during my entire time at Bruce.  This would annoy Jim Casey very much, but it was a boon to many of my friends that used my room as a nap location between classes.  One day I came home to find my room filled with smoke.  I freaked out thinking that everything had gone up in smoke.  Instead, my Bill the Cat doll had gone up in smoke.  My friend Sarah had catnapped earlier in the day, and she left my eiling fan light on when she left.  I later received a note drawn in crayon that said in several ways, “Sorry for burning down your dorm room.”  For several months, I was able to guilt her into buying me lunch.
  26. The telephone numbers for the RA rooms are grouped together, starting at 369-6360 and running through 369-6369.  This equals 10 numbers for 11 wings.  The lone exception to this sequence was my RA room (D321), whose phone number was 369-5276.  I still remember that phone number, although I don’t remember which order the 369-636* sequence went.
  27. For several years, T.A.G. (The Assassination Game) was Bruce Hall’s most-popular program.  In one semester I competed, I made it to the final four by spending copious amounts of time eating at Kerr Hall (on the opposite side of campus) and hiding out inside the Information Science Library (on the opposite side of a wormhole).  I was ambushed while eating a late night hamburger at the Clark Hall cafeteria.
  28. T.A.G. worked by pitting participants against each other in one large Circle of (Anti-) Life.  Assassin A hunted Assassin B, who in turn preyed upon Assassin C, and so forth until the final participant targeted the first.  During Spring Break one year, the RAs entered each resident room to ensure that anything dangerous wasn’t left plugged in.  I entered Victor and Cory’s room in The Ghetto (B100) and came upon an amazing discovery: on the wall of their room was The Circle, all laid out in giant detail.  The two of them had been researching every assassin’s assignment and put the pieces together.  I later discovered that word had gotten out about their research, and the two of them became quite particular who they let into their room to share their knowledge.  My first thought upon seeing their efforts: “It likes to put the lotion in the basket.”
  29. The best semester of my Bruce Hall life was the spring of 1997.  It was my final year as a Resident Assistant.  I had one of the most-active wing communities thanks to the freshman of the D300 Rebel Alliance.  My boss Jim Casey was also my best friend.  I was almost done with my undergraduate degree.  I had gotten beyond several cycles of depression.  And for the first time in my adult life, I felt like I knew what I was doing.  The worst semester was the Spring 2000.  It was my final year at UNT.  I was in graduate school, although each passing week increased my doubts that I was actually doing the right thing by staying in school.  My girlfriend Rebecca, the RHA President, broke up with me on Groundhog Day.  For several painful months, I had to see her on a regular basis because my job as BHA Advisor required I attend nearly every meeting together.  By the time I left town in August, I was in serious need of some spiritual healing.  Thankfully all of that is far, far in the past.
  30. The Bruce Hall staff was required to return to campus a week before the building opened for new residents in August.  As a reward for our attendance at RA training and getting the building in shape quickly, Jim Casey would permit us to play flashlight tag.  All exterior windows would be covered in blankets and/or trash bags, creating a pitch-dark environment for RAs to sneak about the in the dark armed only with flashlights.  Imagine the zaniness and mortal fear of being snuck up upon without warning, or having an RA who was hanging from the ceiling jump down at you.  One favorite memory is when Dora was sneaking around D400 and bumped into an unexpected object.  She flipped on her flashlight and yelled over and over, “You’re dead! You’re dead!”  She had bumped into Rolly’s bicycle.
  31. As part of the ceremony for burying my own time capsule, I left letters all around the UNT Denton campus in locations that were meaningful or significant.  These locations included all of the dorm rooms I live in, inside of books in the library that changed my life, and miscellaneous places where important events happened, both good and bad.  Each letter contained a self-addressed, stamped postcard so that the finder could send me any message they desired.  To date, I have received two out of twenty of these postcards.  In retrospect, instead of postcards, I would have created a website, as each postcard is addressed to my parent’s old address in Southlake.
  32. You are invited to the opening of my time capsule.  Mark your calendars for April 9, 2022.  You can meet me in the Bruce Lobby.

Author: Matthew

Husband to Jenn, father to Zachary and Penelope, blogger, artist, WordPress consultant, OpenCamp organizer, and running enthusiast. Brother, can you spare an extra hour in the day?