Senior pranks tend to be an unofficial tradition at most high schools, similar to the unofficial senior skip day. It is crucial to find the perfect prank; one must realized the fine line between harmless and mischievous and vandalism or criminal. Some of the typical ones are TPing the school grounds or passing a beach ball (no not Steve Roel) during graduation ceremonies. Or what Mac Meda’s, Donnie Tomlison, Willie Ronaldson and a few others did by cutting down a tree and got caught, and had to replant and maintain that tree as their punishment. But that is another post.
No doubt the best Meda style high school prank that left many school officials scratching their heads was the Jack in the Box head on top of the flag pole at La Jolla High gradating class of 1970. Even to this day it is still talked about, and many of today’s students claim it was ONLY Urban Legend. Well recently an alumni found a photo and that was posted on Facebook,
and what was legend … has now become fact!
How did we get Jack? Without naming names, let’s just say, it involved a lot of that liquid courage and the innocent request of Dean Burriston to “someone” and “her girlfriends” for a few Jack in a Box burgers at 2am; the only place opened in Bird Rock, which now is some clic strip mall.
Up until Jack’s flagpole début, he was a great drinking buddy.
It all started with Kip Ives and Bill Pfanner who late evening put together a commando group of 10-12 people. A precision Swat Team plan was placed into play at Kip’s parent’s house, that was right below the Bird Shit sign in Bird Rock. A pointer was used to infiltrate areas on a crayon drawn map of buildings and streets. The pranksters divided into two groups, one to place the Jack’s head on top of the flag pole, and two, to place two fire hydrants around campus that were conveniently borrowed when city workers were tearing up the streets on Hillside Drive. Again that will be another post.
At 1am, they all gathered a block away from the high school. A briefing was somewhat conducted that could barely be heard underneath the popping and gulping of that yeasted courage. Second later, they all looked like James Belushi in Animal House, darting from building to building in what was known in Meda lingo, COD, (Cover of Darkness) tactics.
One of the fire hydrants was cemented into the lawn to make it look like it had always been there and well the other was placed on top of the overhang (15 feet off the ground) at the entry to what was then, Social Science Building. Ten people struggled to put this one in place; it is a surprise that no one got hurt, considering these fire hydrants weighed about 600 lbs and was pulled up with a piece of hemp twine.
As for Jack, well it wasn’t for the gutsy move of Bob Noble it probably would have not taken place. To perform this monumental task an extension ladder was also conveniently borrowed from some construction company (it was returned), but the length of it was about 15 feet short of reaching the top. Bob climbed up the ladder with Jack in one hand and the other grabbing the ladder. When he reached the end, he took a deep breath looked down, gave the on-lookers a wink, and with one arm shimmed up the last 15 feet. When he reached the 30 foot top, he tightly wrapped his legs around the pole, and with both hands, quickly put Jack on top.
Those that watched could not believe what has just happened. Bob quickly slid down the pole. He was a bit shaken of something he would have never done sober - again that yeast tasting stuff was used to calm him down.
Jack twirled slowly round and round as a gentle breeze gave it life. The next morning they all got at school early to watch the expressions of the students and teachers.
Unfortunately the one cemented hydrant had been removed (there was no quick-dry cement in those days), but many saw the school officials and custodians scratching heads in “How in the fuck did they get Jack’s head up there?” and at this 600lb fire hydrant that rested on top of a overhang bending from its weight.
Jack was quickly removed by the brainstorm of one of the janitors, who tied a broom handle on the rope of the flag pole. All he had to do was run the broom up which knocked poor Jack off. A few watched in tears as Jack hit the ground hard, bounced a few time, and rolled down the embankment and came to a dead stop.
Unfortunately, Jack suffered injuries, a huge grass stained crack in the head.
As for the hydrant, now that was a chuckling sight to see. A ½ ton San Diego school truck arrived. With a ladder two men climbed to the overhang and push the hydrant into the bed of the truck. When the hydrant hit, it almost blew out the tires and you could hear the echoing “clunk,” even at WindanSea.
Even if Jack’s existence was short lived as Class of 1970 flagpole mascot, his memories will be with us forever.
The other Jack thought it was one of the most “bitchen” stunts he had heard about and congratulated the Meda pranksters.