Echoes of ’58: Lights out

Author: Jack Barthel '58, editor

Editor’s note: Of the 1,249 men in the Notre Dame Class of 1958, who are now at or approaching the age of 80, almost two-thirds are alive. Jack Barthel ’58 solicited reflections from the surviving members and received contributions from 90 of them. On each of the five Fridays in July, this magazine is presenting excerpts from the book he put together: Echoes of ’58: Recollections of the Notre Dame class of 1958.

Bob Farrell

I lived in Dillon Hall in Junior year and, as was the rule in the 1950’s, lights went out at midnight.

To rectify the problem, we enlisted the help of a few Electrical Engineering graduate students, and they were able to obtain the keys for the attic from the Janitor. From there we were able to drop down the electrical wires into the third floor through the medicine cabinets. Then we covered the transit windows above our room doors.

The lines that had been dropped down were put into shaving mugs that we all had purchased and then we drilled a hole in the back for the wire and added a socket. We were then able to have all night-lights.

One night, Father Rudy Carchidi, who lived on the floor, knocked on my door and when my roommate opened it, he saw that we had lights.

Father Rudy reported the incident to the Rector, Father Broestl. We receive the following note from the good Father.

“You are hereby officially summoned to a formal meeting of Dillon Hall Local #93625 of the Electrical Union, to be held in the Rector’s Office at 10:30 PM on Friday, Feb. 1st.” — The Rector

A piece of the offending wire had been stapled to the invitation.

After our meeting, we received the resolutions adopted by the Union Officials (the four priests of the Hall) of the Dillon Hall Local #93625.

WHEREAS: the membership has been found guilty of violating certain by-laws and regulations of the Dillon Hall Local of the Electricians Union to wit:

1. The membership has been found guilty of clandestinely installed and utilized extensions, variations and ramification of the present system of lighting originally installed in Union Headquarters, thereby endangering life and limb of other residents of this hallowed and revered Hall including the Union Officials who in spite of advanced age are enjoying life and hope to do so for some years to come, and

2. Having thereby besmirched their otherwise unspotted disciplinary record by placing hereon an indelible and ineradicable stain for all time to come, and

3. Furthermore, by employing artifice and circumvention to cover up this illegal, illegitimate, infamous, and illogical operation by using a variety of devices to cover their transoms and windows to prevent the slightest hopeful gleam of these “night lights” from seeping out into the dark and abandoned world outside, and

4. Finally, by incurring the unnecessary, extraordinary, and exorbitant expense of employing electricians from another local to disconnect, disrupt, and totally destroy such installations,

THEREFORE, be it resolved, that:

1. The membership be confined for an indefinite period to Union Headquarters, reflecting seriously upon the enormity of their crime, and relying upon news of activities and events in the outside world, especially the metropolis of South Bend, from their many sympathetic friends.

2. This dastardly misdeed of the entire membership be entered on their permanent records for all succeeding membership to gaze upon with disdain and to ponder seriously the misfortunes that often follow the thoughtless, selfish, and utterly material machinations of mere man.

3. Henceforth, no covering, however decorative, imaginative or delicate, may entirely cover either the transoms or windows of the rooms of said members.

4. In order to meet the extraordinary expense incurred by employment of outside membership, each member will be required to pay $2 in cash, to the President of the Local, deadline for payment being midnight of February 3, 1957.

I’ve retained this tongue in cheek “resolution” for almost 60 years. Being campused and paying a fine were real.

Echoes of ’58, edited by Jack Barthel’58, is available as a paperback or ebook through It also can be found at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Net proceeds from sales of the book are being donated to Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns, founded by Father Don McNeill, CSC, ’58.