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Voices: Saluting Eli's Birthday

by Jack Engledow '78
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On the occasion of my pledge brother Eli Jackson’s birthday we decided that, at midnight, we should announce that birthday in a grand way.

Gordie Huncilman ’78 was a member of the 1777 Commander-in-Chief’s Guard—a group of Wabash students who participated in Revolutionary War re-enactments. The group had full military attire from the period along with the weaponry that would have been used during those days.

Gordie was the leader of the group and, as such, had the uniforms and long rifles in his possession. We decided that the best way to announce Eli Jackson’s birthday would be to give him a seven-gun long rifle salute at the stroke of midnight.

We gathered the guns, loaded them with black powder (obviously, no bullets); and headed out to the back porch of the Beta House. Precisely at the stroke of midnight, seven of us pulled the triggers on the rifles.

To say that the resulting explosion was loud is an understatement. Windows rattled, lights from the nearby houses came on, and the echo seemed to go on forever.

Doctor Keith Baird (who still lives behind the Beta house) came running out his back door just about the same time as the seven of us ran back into the Beta House, laughing until tears ran down our cheeks.

We all suffered temporary deafness, but it didn’t matter. Eli’s birthday had been announced to the entire campus (and perhaps the entire county!).