*The Backdoor is a work of fiction and humor
By Stephen Hanley
From Oct. 5 to 7, Lewis & Clark buzzed with activity. In addition to celebrating the inauguration of Wim Wiewel as our 25th president, the administration hosted its annual Parent’s Weekend, or, as schools that care about their football programs call it, Homecoming. Freshmen seemed more than happy to give their parents an insider tour of the school, but the cheery families wandering the campus served as a shock to older students.
“Why do old people keep smiling at me in the Bon?” Presley Bingham ’19 said. “Don’t they know it’s social suicide?”
Most students think of Parent’s Weekend as a time-honored tradition. But for some members of the faculty, the event conjures memories of a less chipper celebration from the near past: Orphan’s Weekend.
“Oh yes, it was a bit of a disaster,” English department chair Priscilla Vigotski said. “Dirty little children in flat caps and knickerbockers skittering through the halls and looking at you with their big sad eyes whenever you came out of a classroom. It absolutely broke your heart. Wonderful promotion for our Dickens courses, though.”
Hidden deep in the LC website are photographs that corroborate Vigotski’s memory: grainy images of somber youths playing dice games by the reflecting pool and scavenging for food in the Templeton parking lot. When Bon Appétit manager Trent Burzum saw some of these pictures, he remembered one of the many incidents that led administrators to cancel Orphan’s Weekend.
“Look, I already didn’t like the thing,” Burzum said. “Every time this one kid came up through the line and got his food, he would pout up at you and go ‘please sir, may I have some more?’ And he was scrawny, so you know he wasn’t going to eat all of it. But the tipping point was probably when a white mouse drove his red toy convertible straight through the middle of the Trail Room. Huge health code violation. I had to chase him out with a broom.”
Though Burzum had harsh words for Orphan’s Weekend, he made it clear at the end of our interview that he “wasn’t making fun of people without parents, just commenting on how bizarre and sorta sad the whole situation was.”
Incidents like Burzum’s became more and more common until 2010, when an altercation between two of the invited guests put a permanent end to Orphan’s Weekend. Campus Safety filed a report regarding a fight that broke out between a Mr. Parker and a Mr. Wayne, both dressed in “wildly ridiculous animal costumes.” The conflict allegedly occurred after Wayne bragged that he was the only orphan rich enough to attend LC. The administration apparently agreed, changing the event to Parent’s Weekend in order to focus on people who could actually give them money.