The Colgate Maroon News archives have some surprises buried in their yellowed pages—including some interesting article titles. Students opened up the September 13, 1988 issue of the Colgate Maroon to see “Life Off Campus Goes Plunging Down the Drain” written by Diane Bailey and Justine Bouldin, two seniors that ran into some technical issues in their off-campus house. 

The two moved into their home knowing it wasn’t in perfect condition. “Walls needed washing, the floors were filthy, and the upstairs bathroom lacked a window,” they wrote in the article. They also knew about the “alleged bat family living upstairs,” but thought they and their four other roommates could handle it. Apparently, “never before had six human beings been so wrong before.”

Flash forward to them flushing a toilet for the first time when sewage erupted from the girls’ shower drain. 

The girls had been told not to use the upstairs bathroom, but figured the downstairs plumbing was in order. After the shower drain started spewing sewage, they immediately called the plumber. After the plumber—who was also the local carpenter and dentist—power-plunged the toilet, the girls were confronted with an eye roll and assurance that the plumbing was fine before the plumber drove away in his truck. 

The housemates decided to trust the plumber-carpenter-dentist and ignore the gurgling noises that continued to come from the pipes for the remainder of the day. Then, later that night when most of them were asleep, a roar was heard from the basement. Once they went down to investigate, they discovered, “a veritable Niagara Falls of sewage gushing from the ceiling.” 

After realizing that nothing could be done until the next day, the girls went down to the Hourglass for “Corona night,” which is what I imagine most current students would do after posting videos of the incident on social media.

The next day, the multi-talented plumber acknowledged the gravity of the situation and proceeded to tear up the driveway in order to gain access to the ruined drainage system.

Left with no plumbing in their home but nowhere else to move into, the girls had to hop from bathroom to bathroom but were, “repeatedly banished and accused of bringing our plumbing curse with us.”

The incident caused Bailey and Bouldin to miss the “good old days” of on-campus housing when the timely Buildings and Grounds crew was available  and the bathrooms were cleaned by Colgate staff.

Many current underclassmen dream of living downtown in a house or apartment and some manage to secure a space as early as their sophomore year. However, dealing with incredibly old and sometimes not-so-incredible amenities can quickly make those dreams into what for Bailey and Bouldin was a very smelly nightmare.

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