Tuesday, March 22, 2011

CLASSIC MOMENTS in EpSig History - Volume 1

The following classic moment in EpSig history was submitted to the Old Bro Network by Old Bro Bill "Slick" Schlichter (EpSig 647) .....


Hey Mike, 

The legendary Pete Phelps - EpSig 650
I offer up as a point of interest the attached set of photos that may bring back some memories of the Bros back in 1976.

We were finishing up a very successful Mardi Gras where Jim Lacey had been the "Mardi Gras manager" for that particular year and we had made a bunch of money for the charities the Mardi Gras supported.

Anyway, Jim asked Pete Phelps to  go pick up a rental truck that we had been "lent" by the Mardi Gras Committee for logistics and what not.  So, Pete took Gary Messerotes and I think John Kohler with him.  In the back of the truck was nothing more than a keg of beer, that Messo was placed in charge of "guarding" for the short trip from where the truck was parked, over to the Mardi Gras site which was the big athletic field by Drake Stadium.

Now that's how you make a sunroof !!
So the lads man the truck, and proceed to head over to the field.  Without giving it too much thought, Pete took the road from the parking structure that goes onto campus where you have to proceed through an underpass in order to get over to the street which takes you onto the Mardi Gras field.  One problem though……the truck was about 1 foot taller than the underpass…….and the rest goes down in Lambda Chi history……Pete drove that truck at about 35 mph down the road, wanting to get back to the field and help the "bros" with the load-out……and hit that underpass perfectly……

Mardi Gras Manager Jim Lacey - EpSig 621
Gary Messerotes, dutifuly guarding the keg in the back of the truck, recalls only hearing a "tearing" sound, then looking up to see light coming in from the roof….then watching as the entire top of the truck peeled back like a can of tuna!  Yeow!  The pictures speak for themselves.

I remember Jim Lacey flying into my room over at the house in a panic saying something about Pete ripping the top off a rental truck……sensing an historic moment, I grabbed my camera and ran across the street to witness that which I have only seen once in my life……a somewhat bewildered Pete Phelps standing along side a "Pepsi" rental truck….with the entire cargo area torn back and laying in the street……Pete was in no mood for pictures, but I begged him to crawl up on the back and pose, telling him…."my brother, this may not be funny now……but someday…….."

Obviously it would not have been funny had anyone been hurt, but amazingly, the truck was completely destroyed and not a single person involved got so much as a scratch……..and now the legend lives on!
The bro's pose in Pete's creation !!

The pictures are pretty self evident….the guy posing up against the VW Bus is the Infamous Jim Lacy….whereabouts unknown……but I always like this shot of him, and since he is part of the story, I thought I'd add his photo in…..

In the back of the post-accident truck, I can pick out Gary Williams, Pete, Vic Caldwell (I think) and Mike Wright.  Doug Ledsam is also in one of the frames…..I cannot id the other guys……

In ZAX…..Slick EPSIG 647

Editor's Notes:

1) If anyone would like digital copies of the photos in this blog post, send me a note and I'll get them to you.

2) If anyone else has any CLASSIC MOMENTS in EpSig history you would like to share, send them in and I'll get them published for everyone to enjoy.

EpSig 700


  1. Recollections from someone who was there and to this day still won’t sit inside the back of a boxed truck…

    Slick pretty much had the story correct, but there were a few items that need clarification. Phelps, who at that time drove a 2-door sports car (a Triumph TR7, I think), was used to driving under that bridge daily and never thinking much about it. He was focused on getting the smuggled keg to the thirsty Bros that were hard at work on the Fun House. As I was dutifully guarding the keg, I remember thinking…I wonder what route Pete was going to take back to the field….just as all hell broke loose. With the explosion of light and splintered wood, the truck’s forward motion was immediately halted, causing the keg to break away from my grasp and it's momentum slamming it into the back of the cab putting a hole in the wooden wall. The entire cab of the truck was lifted up reversing the keg’s momentum, now sending it back towards me. As the roof was pealing off, I dodged the keg, that then slammed into the back roll up door. As the roof, still attached to the roll-up door, was ripped off and lying behind the truck, I watching the opposing side wall of the truck fall out into the street. At this point, I reverted to my elementary school training (duck and cover) and laid down on the floor and tried to cover my neck and head with my hands expecting the last remaining wall to come down on top of me. All of this happened in a matter of seconds!!

    I really don’t remember who else besides Phelps was in the truck, but I think whomever was sitting in the passenger side was thrown out of the truck when the cab lifted up, causing his knee to hit the door handle and ejecting him onto the street (uninjured). As I lay on the floor of the truck, Pete came running back not expecting to find me in one piece.

    Now comes the divine intervention part…remember that we were under-aged smugglers of contraband onto campus. The keg was still on the back of the truck, but now totally visible. Jim Lacey just happened to be driving his VW Bus about a block away and saw the accident. He decided to drive by and saw to his horror that his Bros were involved. Being the only clear thinker at that moment (which if you knew Jim, didn’t happened often) he quickly took control and transferred the keg to his Bus and drove off with it. Less than 30 seconds later the Uni-cops rolled up on us.

    Postscript….when Phelps returned the truck to the school a couple of days later, he walked in and told the person behind the desk that we were returning the “Flatbed Truck” that we borrowed. The individual looked at his inventory sheet and said…you guys didn’t borrow a flatbed. Pete then walked him outside and showed him that it was now!!!

    ---- Mezzo

  2. Guys.....Gary Williams, also a first hand account bearer of this amazing event has the following recollection......from Gary via Slick

    I've gotten a lot of mileage at cocktail parties telling the
    story about the infamous mardi gras truck escapade.

    Three of us were in the front seat. I was in the middle
    and a high school friend of mine, Steve Block, was on
    the passenger side. When the 15' 3" high truck hit the
    14'6" header, the front end actually lifted up. The top of
    the truck peeled back like a can opener and the slides
    collapsed, leaving Mezzo completely exposed as he
    hugged the keg in a fetal position...completely unhurt.

    The passenger side door opened up and Steve fell out
    but was uninjured. I simply had the joy ride of my life.

    Lacy, who was following us in his vw....immediately
    picked up the keg before the cops got there. I remember
    after it all happened, that the deans and such were
    threatening to kick Pete out of school but I that all
    that passed.

    I distinctly remember a bunch of us heading over
    for pictures next to the "trophy" which you have
    amazingly resurrected.

  3. From the MAN HIMSELF......Pete Phelps.....Pilot in Command of this amazing mission.....via Slick!

    Thanks for that (I think). I'd completely forgotten these pictures existed. I've often wondered how many bros opted out of running for public office for fear of something else like this being resurrected. Who knows what else Slick or the rest of you have stuffed in between your vinyl LP's.

    I believe Gary Williams (Willy) was one of the lucky passengers in the cab, too.

    One or two further notes: Messo was riding in the bed with his back up against the wall closest to us in the cab. The keg was heavy, and was only going from Sepi's to the IM field, so it was put by the back door of the of enclosed (soon not be enclosed) bed. When the roof and sides of the truck were torn off it brought the truck to an almost immediate stop. The keg never got the memo and continued on at 35 mph. It slammed into the same wall where Messo was sitting missing him by inches. Holy Shit!

    Lacey showed up in an incredibly short time, and did exactly the right thing. He grabbed the keg and drove off, leaving us to fend for ourselves with the campus police who showed up right after that.

    I look at some of the things we did in college and am amazed more of us aren't dead or vegetables. I'm glad you guys are still around and well.

    Nice work Mike for getting this started, and Dave for getting the money snowball rolling.

    Pete Phelps


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