Harrowing Halloween Headlines

by Mel Frizzell, Special Collections Assistant


Perusing through October and November issues of the Mace and Crown, I found the usual stories about Halloween parties and dances, reviews of horror movies released around Halloween, articles highlighting the “in” Halloween costumes for the year, promotions for the Rocky Horror Picture Show, an occasional article on the supernatural, and a few articles about the annual ODU pumpkin drop. Among those were a trio of truly suspenseful Halloween headlines about harrowing happenings at ODU.


On Halloween day in 1994, an ODU student tackled “an alleged larcenist” outside the ODU Library. Apparently, Norfolk police were attempting to apprehend the larcenist outside of the Mills Godwin Building when the suspect fled. An ODU student named Snapper Arnquist, who was sitting in front of the library when things went down, saw the suspect running. Arnquist quickly threw down his bookbag, dived over a small outdoor wall, and wrestled the suspect to the ground. The police were then able to arrest the suspect.


In 1995, three ODU fraternities where caught – apparently “orange-handed” – “committing a pumpkin heist.” Members of Delta Sigma Phi, Lambda Chi Alpha, and Pi Kappa Alpha were caught stealing pumpkins and Halloween decorations from the Larchmont neighborhood adjoining campus. As punishment, the guilty members had to do 230 hours of community service, pay for the stolen items, apologize to the children in the neighborhood, and most punishing of all — throw them a party.


The last story is less of a crime and more about crushed dreams. The October 29, 2003, article titled “’Great Pumpkin’ goes bye-bye” relates the story of two ODU students with hopes of adventures on a 26-foot sailboat called “The Great Pumpkin.” The students, Matt Cornelison and Robert Munson, acquired the 40-year-old boat for free through a newspaper ad. They had the boat transported from the previous owner’s back yard to a boat storage facility where they could fix it up. A few weeks later, they discovered a small crack in the hull. As time went on, the crack got larger and larger until they could see into the cabin from outside the boat. Unable to afford to fix boat, Cornelison did what he “had to do.” He had the boat demolished with a bulldozer “until there was nothing left of it.” Such is the tragic demise of “The Great Pumpkin” and the sailing dreams of two ODU students.

Ask the Archivist: “February Is Black History Month, Can You Tell Me Some Little-Known Facts in ODU’s History Involving African American Students?”

Steve Bookman, University Archivist


I recently received the following question for my “Ask the Archivist” column in the ODU Alumni News: “February Is Black History Month, Can You Tell Me Some Little-Known Facts in ODU’s History Involving African American Students?”

While folks may already know about the groundbreaking achievements of Ronald Horne, Margaret Simmons, and Arthur “Buttons” Speakes, there are some other achievements of African Americans at ODU that people may not know about. During segregation in the 1950s and 1960s, while other schools in Virginia denied admissions to African Americans, there were several instances where African Americans were able to take classes at the Norfolk Division campus. While not officially admitted to the division, as we understand it today, African Americans were able to take classes if they were not offered at area African American institutions such as what would become Virginia State University and Norfolk State University.


In 1968, Jackie Bryant (pictured) became the first African American to rush a sorority, and Bill Forbes became the first African American to win a bid from a fraternity at ODU. It would be another six years before the first African American sorority, Delta Sigma Theta in 1974, and fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi in 1975, would be established. In 1972, Jerome Nixon became the first African American Battalion Commander of the ODU ROTC.

More information about the history of diversity and inclusion at ODU can be found in the online exhibit: Celebrating Diversity and Inclusion at ODU: http://exhibits.lib.odu.edu/exhibits/show/celebrating-diversity-and-incl/introduction