a PAW web exclusive column by Hugh O'Bleary (firstname.lastname@example.org)
THE GREAT DINKY ROBBERY
fellow commuter Manny Leach, a dyspeptic type who often rides his
bike to and from the Dinky, likes to say that Princeton would be
a wonderful place if only it weren't filled with students. (I know
a few professors who, during a "beverage lab" session
at Frist, would echo that sentiment. Of course, there are probably
just as many students who would say the same thing about professors
- never mind bicycle-pedaling commuters.)
I for one don't agree
with Manny. That's like saying the zoo would be a terrific park
if it weren't for the animals. (Hmm, the zoo analogy may be a good
one - I mean, have you seen these kids at feeding time?)
Manny clearly wouldn't
be so sour if the students only behaved like he thinks students
should behave - maybe strolling between classes in caps and gowns
quietly discussing Descartes, or maybe just studying all the time
in subterranean carrels.
Manny resents the students
for being so visible on campus, for taking up room and making noise
and, well, acting like they live there. His absolute pet peeve is
that these young men and women have wheels.
he bellowed the other day, flopping into a seat on the Dinky and
taking the little bicycle clip off his right pants leg. "Is
ownership of an SUV a goddamn prerequisite for admission to Princeton?"
"I think luxury
sport models qualify as well," I said.
serious, O'Bleary," he said, looking not so much serious as
obsessed. "The whole campus is at the mercy of these...these...hot-rodders!
In the old days students didn't have cars."
Across the aisle, Ollie
Thurman '62 looked up from his copy of American Lawyer and
gave a little cough. "That's right," he said, "they
Manny and I waited. Thurman
always has a story.
"In the fall of
my junior year," he began, "four students - all fellas,
obviously - attacked the Dinky on horseback."
Thurman peered at us
over his glasses before continuing. "It was a Friday night
and their dates were coming in on the Dinky - back then we called
it the P.J. and B, for Princeton Junction and Back - so these guys
rode up just like in a western, stopped the train and galloped off
with their gals. I think Georgie Bunn, Class of '63, was the leader."
He turned back to his paper. "Georgie also had an ocelot he
kept on campus," he said. "Lancelot the Ocelot."
all I could say.
I spent the rest of the
trip into the city half-listening to Manny muttering about increases
in enrollment. I was still thinking about the Great Dinky Robbery.
I resolved to track down that old desperado Bunn.
It wasn't hard. George
R. Bunn Jr. '63, a descendent of the Bunn coffee maker family, is
a lawyer in New York. He was happy to talk about what he called
"just another gag."
"It was houseparties
weekend," he told me. "Friday night. We rented four horses
at this place about ten miles away and rode them back into town.
We sat up in the woods beside the tracks - not entirely sober, if
I remember right - and waited for the 6:14 P.J. and B. We had hats
and bandannas and everything, and I had a .38 pistol loaded with
"When the train
came along, we galloped down to the tracks and I rode straight at
the train, and the conductor screeched it to a stop, and we all
climbed on and I fired off a couple of shots - it was very loud
- and everybody was yelling and had their hands up and all the businessmen
were throwing their wallets at us.
"We didn't have
dates on the train. We just picked the four girls we thought were
most likely to play along and took them off the train and told them
what was going on and they got on the horses and we all took off
through the woods to Prospect. The whole night was filled with sirens.
"I walked my horse
right into Colonial, got into a couple of fights. When the police
got to The Street, we lit out back and headed for Lake Carnegie.
Then we rode the horses back to the stables. They got some lathered
horses back that night."
Once again, all I could
muster was a "Wow."
"It was fabulous,"
concluded Bunn. "And there was no harm done. The school knew
what had happened and who had done it, I think, but officially they
did nothing." He laughed. "They threw me out three weeks
later, though, for something else."
I tried to imagine the
same thing happening today. Kids galloping through the woods in
lathered SUVs? Manny doesn't know how good he's got it.
Hugh O'Bleary commutes
to New York City from Princeton. He revels in his daily sojourn
across campus to catch the Dinky. You can reach Hugh O'Bleary by
writing him c/o email@example.com