It was late April, maybe early May, of 1975. We were juniors, 16 and 17 years of age. It was Spring, almost Summer, and we would finally be seniors in the ensuing Fall. After that there would be graduation and college, and that was probably about as far ahead as any of us had thought at that time.
But being a junior at MBA in 1975 also had its fair share of responsibilities. Exams were one of them, and – for those who were taking AP courses at the time – there were the dreaded AP exams. A score anywhere between 3 and 5 could equate to three hours of college credit. Anything less than a 3 meant that you had ended up taking an extra-challenging course just for the heck of it. But if you made a 3 or above, that was one less class that you’d have to take in college, which seemed like a worthy reward at the time.
But it’s important to remember that this was early Spring and that boys will be boys sometimes (shades of Mr. Novak’s shouted-out admonishment of “Boys! Boys! Act like boys!”). As it turned out, there happened to be a group of boys at the time who decided that a study break from AP Modern European History (Mr. Drake’s lectures were the best of the best, as many of us may recall) would be in order. Not just any ordinary break, mind you, but a break that would involve an all-out assault (consisting of water balloons and fire extinguishers, that is) on the very vestiges of young womanhood located just around the corner on Estes Road.
That’s right – the attack site was the hallowed grounds of Harpeth Hall; and the attackers consisted of none other than (in no particular order of degree of culpability, mind you) Skip Woolwine, Freddy McLaughlin, Clay Whitson, David Jones (does anyone remember David’s lock-out of Miss Harris in 8th grade? I thought so….), Bill Rich, and Brion Friedman. And the soon-to-be victims were none other than several dozen unsuspecting HH sun-bathers attired in various stages of half-dress lying innocently under the mid-day sun, oblivious to the onslaught that awaited them.
How did the “MBA Half-Dozen,” as we’ll reverently call them, learn of the sun-worshiping habits of the green-plaided, half-clad HH’ers? Clay’s girlfriend at the time (who shall go nameless for witness protection purposes) served as an informant and co-conspirator, spouting forth behind-the-lines information on timing, location, and access points for the attack.
It was a Tuesday or maybe a Wednesday, around 11:30 a.m., when the attackers convened. No one can remember who purchased the water balloons or how many they filled with cold water on that fateful day (estimates range from as few as 50 to as many as 1,000), but it seems to be the consensus that Half-Dozen’r Skip Woolwine brought along the fire extinguisher for added ammunition.
It was a blitzkrieg attack by masked avengers, originating from a wooded area and descending upon the tennis court area. Members of the Half-Dozen tell us that, as with most battles marked by the element of complete surprise, things grew chaotic rather quickly. First there were shrieks and screams, followed by the clutching-shut of previously opened blouses and the frantic downward-adjusting of formerly hiked-up skirts. Water balloons exploded in all directions like scattered hand grenades, and the infamous fire extinguisher left a trail of drenched destruction wherever it was aimed (and it was aimed almost everywhere).
The Half-Dozen agree that the attack lasted mere minutes, but they were significant minutes to be sure, with the victims putting up virtually no defense at all except that of futile attempts at reclaimed modesty. Once the balloons had all been tossed and the extinguisher had been fully extinguished, a hasty retreat by the Half-Dozen ensued. Most of the doused HH’ers remained on the battlefield, left there to dry themselves off and curse the heartlessness of the Half-Dozen. One of the victims, however, saw fit to give chase, and give chase she did, running down track stars Clay Whitson and Bill Rich (perhaps they could have run faster if MBA had actually had a track back then). During the foot-race, Whitson and Rich foolishly removed their masks and turned to taunt their pursuer in utter disrespect, thereby revealing their respective identities to the fast-approaching follower (who likewise shall remain unnamed for witness protection purposes but who later competed in the Olympics as a long distance runner).
The revelation of the two taunting members’ identities would prove to be the downfall for the entire Half- Dozen. They were soon called to the carpet by a disappointed and disapproving Mr. Carter and eventually forced to apologize en masse at the beginning of our senior year to HH Headmistress Mrs. McMurray, who we are told accepted their apology with grace and forgiveness.
Surprisingly, no demerits were given out to any members of the Half Dozen. And – while it has never been revealed as to which members of the Half Dozen made exactly what scores on the AP Modern European History exam that year – it has been reported that they arrived for the taking of the exam on the day following the blitzkrieg balloon barrage relaxed, fully refreshed, and in exuberant spirits.
It is believed that all six members of the famed Half-Dozen have gone on to lead productive lives and somehow managed to avoid incarceration over the past 42 years. Still, the legend of the clandestine yet courageous attack lives infamously on, much like a deftly-tossed water balloon suspended and drifting timelessly in mid-air.
submitted by Jerry Patterson '76