Santa Clara Snapshot: 1970

by Justine Macauley ’10 and Kellie Quist ’10 |
The 1970 challenge: How many bedframes can SCU undergrads stack on top of one another? Photo from SCU Archives
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Matt O'Brien BSEE '73 said on Mar 1, 2012

Reading the winter print copy of the Santa Clara Magazine, I was pretty amazed to find myself and other members of the second-floor McLaughlin back on our bunkbed in the spring of 1970 [page 8, "Santa Clara Snapshot: 1970"]. And I mean our bunkbed, as to get it up to the height of the third floor took all our beds, and all our bodies!

Thanks to a higher resolution of the photo [courtesy of the SCU Archives], I and friends who were in the photo were able to discern seven of us on the bed: Jeff Miller, Jack Folchi, Tom Battle, Bob Wilson, Dan Rice, Matt O'Brien, and Dave Adler. All of us were in the class of '73. Five of us were electrical engineers, Dan and Dave business majors. All of us lived on the second floor of McLaughlin. My roommate, Jack Folchi, and I had been hosting some amount of parties and a resting place for "day students" in our room-210 McLaughlin. That had prompted us to procure a third level for our room's bunk bed from a bed that had been abandoned in the hallway. This third bed was almost at the ceiling, allowing a person to slide in.

Those McLaughlin bunk beds were of the industrial sort-heavy-duty steel. Looking at our triple one day, we got to speculating how many beds one might stack. As this would take open space, we decided to build as tall as we might-outside. We waited for a quiet weekend day with no resident assistants or Jesuits in sight, and built on the concrete walkway between McLaughlin and Walsh dorms.

As we went upward with the beds from our rooms, the bed developed a side-to-side sway. If you look at the picture, you can see two guy wires that we attached to the third story McLaughlin fire escape. There were two others attached to the Walsh fire escape, obscured in the photo by the sky. At that ninth level of bed, we decided we'd reached the limit of lateral stability, although the beds clearly could have supported more above!

Most important of all, we were not caught in the act. No authority figure ever arrived, and we disassembled and replaced the beds in our rooms without detection.

Spring 2014

Table of contents


Radiant house

Building a house for the 2013 Solar Decathlon. That, and changing the world.

Américas cuisine

Telling a delicious tale of food and family with chef David Cordúa ’04.

Lessons from the field

Taut and tranquil moments in Afghanistan—an essay in words and images.

Mission Matters

Carried with compassion

The Dalai Lama’s first visit to Santa Clara.

Farther afield

Building safer houses in Ecuador. Research on capuchin monkeys in Costa Rica. Helping empower girls in The Gambia. And this is just the beginning for the Johnson Scholars Program.

What connects us

The annual State of the University address, including some fabulous news for the arts and humanities. And the announcement of Santa Clara 2020, a new vision for the University.