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In 1973, I enrolled in a small agricultural and technical college in central New York state. My major was Journalism Technology (a program which required us to write, edit, and take photographs. Not to try to save the world from conservatives, as most journalism students want to do these days).

Naturally, my fellow students and I were living on the back end of the cultural revolution of the Sixties, which meant we had to screw up our lives as quickly as possible with dope and sex, just to catch up. Most of us were living away from home for the first time, which gave us ample opportunities to piss the days away, if we didn't go to class.

The college was part of the state university system, but its rules and policies were generally monitored by a board of trustees, chosen by the system from the surrounding community. This meant the board was somewhat old-fashioned in the creation and application of the school's rules.

Unlike many of our big brother state universities in Buffalo, Albany and Stony Brook, our little ag & tech didn't have co-ed dorms. The school had strict visitation hours, and rather archaic rules regarding how boys or girls had to behave in each other's rooms (at least one foot on the floor at all times, the door must be open at least half-way, visitors had to have escorts, etc.). We male students from Long Island found these concepts amusing, figuring that the locals were looking to protect their virginal farm girls from those lusty miscreants from down near "the City." (what Farmer Dad and Mom didn't realize was that their little girls were the horniest residents on campus). And even the casual mention of recreational mind-altering substances brought the campus police swooping down on your dorm for a room-by-room search. I'm convinced that we invented the masking-tape-and-wet-towel-around-the-door trick to keep the smell of cannabis out of the halls. Naturally, we made it a goal to peacefully break every rule as often as possible.

One afternoon, during my third month on campus, I returned to my room after class (yes, I did go to class) and found a note on the door:
Meet us on the big hill in back of the dorm. -- Billy

I worked my way out the back of the building. The dorm was in a quadrangle of newer residence halls, and the perimeter of of the quad was bordered by lines of parking spaces. Behind the building were some hills. One of them was a slightly steep climb, but when you reached the top, you had a conviently panoramic view of the small campus, including all the roads around the area. This made it a good place to do something illegal and still see campus security coming.

I arrived that the top of the hill and found seven of my friends waiting. Billy, a Bob Seger look-alike, motioned me over to where he was crouched on one knee, looking at something on the ground. Look, he said. I've built the world's biggest carburetor.

And he had. The body of the pipe was a three-foot long, heavy cardboard tube, of the type left behind from a large roll of paper or other material. Billy was an auto technology major, and he had free access to a wide variety of tools. He had taken the doorknob assembly off an old door he found in the basement of the dorm. From one of the knobs, he had fashioned a bowl by slicing away its flat, outer plate. He then welded a fitting to the bottom which would hold it in the tube. Near one end of the tube, he cut a hole and glued in a threaded insert, into which the doorknob-bowl assembly would screw tightly.

I watched as he filled the bowl with approximately three-quarters of an ounce of pot.1

The trick was now actually smoking from this thing. The length of the tube, the weight of the bowl and the payload on the end required the participant to use both hands and arms spread apart to steady it. The carbuerator effect was provided by the open end of the tube at the bowl end. This required an assistant to hold their hand over the open end, and possibly a second assistant to light the enormous bowl of dope, as the smoker drew on the other end. After drawing what was sure to be a sufficient amount of smoke, the first assistant would remove their hand, allowing air to rush into the smoke-filled chamber, and subsequently into the smoker's airway. This would create, obviously, a massive hit.

Naturally, the first couple of people to try this pulled too much smoke and air, reeling them backwards to the ground (you really had to sit to do this) and causing fits of uncontrolled coughing. We quickly learned that smaller hits were healthier, and we were soon happily puffing away. Someone observing from the bottom of the hill might have thought were passing around some large ancient peace pipe.

Oh, yeah, we all got really wasted.

We only had two or three opportunities to use the pipe. Billy, its inventor, apparently stopped attending classes the third week of the semester, and the college decided that they really need his dorm room for someone else. He left school shortly after, taking the briefly legendary shotgun home with him.


1This would be a good place for some historical information; an ounce of decent pot cost about US$20 in 1973. This was still a lot of money for us back then, as we were nearly always broke.)

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