Gallows Humor

The history of ECU I’ve been working on is a little dry. For example, one chapter was a line-by-line description of the university’s five-year plans since 1975. Imagine my delight at finding this story buried deep in the chapter on the history of the medical school. It’s told by the first dean of the school, remembering the days the twenty-student program shared space with the Department of Biology.

We once received a cadaver we badly needed for Gross Anatomy. The cadaver arrived unannounced in the late morning at the peak of campus activity at the loading dock of the biology building. The cadaver was a tall, large man, and we were unable to get his carrying case into the small elevator. It was necessary to remove the cadaver and stand him up in the elevator to get to the fourth floor. Unfortunately, this elevator serviced the entire biology tower. On our way to the cadaver storage area on the fourth floor, we were lucky that it stopped only on the third floor. But before we could get the doors closed, two chatting and totally unaware young coeds entered. When they looked up, one fainted into the arms of the other (fortunately), and the other was screaming. We felt bad that we had to leave them there, but we thought we would only cause more confusion and disruption by staying. By the time we returned to check on the two students, they were gone. Long gone, we were told. We never heard from the two unfortunate and scared young women, but we did hear from the elderly: the president, the provost, assorted deans, and an irate chairman of the Department of Biology.

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