Web Exclusives: Inky Dinky Do
a PAW web exclusive column by Hugh O'Bleary

December 20, 2000:

My 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.

"Good gravy!" 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.

"I'm 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 had horses."

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."

"Wow," was 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 blanks.

"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 paw@princeton.edu