Archive for Sunday, May 19, 2013

Lawhorn’s Lawrence: A night of partying in Oread

May 19, 2013


Students party at a Tennessee Street home before heading out to the bars on Stop Day on May 10.

Students party at a Tennessee Street home before heading out to the bars on Stop Day on May 10.

Kansas freshman Jenna Adams, of Mahtomedi, Minn., left, and Natalie Dufek, of Green Bay, Wis., talk over a slice of pizza at Wheel Pizza Co., 507 W. 14th Street, during a night out in the Oread neighborhood on Stop Day.

Kansas freshman Jenna Adams, of Mahtomedi, Minn., left, and Natalie Dufek, of Green Bay, Wis., talk over a slice of pizza at Wheel Pizza Co., 507 W. 14th Street, during a night out in the Oread neighborhood on Stop Day.

It isn’t exactly a dish I had heard about on Food Network, but I like the sound of it: Rum Ham.

An exuberant female who probably is not going to become the next Rachael Ray is trying to explain. I catch bits and pieces, such as the involvement of a plastic swimming pool in the back yard, a keg of beer next to the swimming pool, and multiple people enjoying both devices.

But I’m still a little confused about the ham and the rum, until a slightly calmer voice chimes in.

“We bought a ham, we soaked it in rum, and then we just ate it,” says Joe Schuler. “It wasn’t hard.”

Not hard, but perhaps genius. And people say there is no intellectual activity among Kansas University students on Stop Day.

Maybe you have forgotten Stop Day — the day has damaged many a memory — but it is the one class-free day that separates the last day of classes from the finals testing period. (In case you somehow missed it, it was on May 10 this year.)

For some, this Stop Day is the last one. There are just a few finals and a graduation ceremony left in their college careers.

“I’m going to miss it a lot,” Schuler, a KU senior, says as the music blares, friends dance on the couch and the alcohol flows. “But I’m just trying to live it by the moment. You’ve got to do it while you can.”


Somewhere in the Oread neighborhood there surely must be a sign with that slogan on it: “Do it while you can.” It’s the mantra that hangs over this entire city. Maybe us adults who spend our time at City Hall meetings or PTO events or dinners where ham isn’t bathed in rum have forgotten the mantra. But large groups of KU students — the fuel that makes this city’s economy run — rarely ever forget it.

And nowhere in the city does the sentiment hang heavier than in the Oread neighborhood — the residential neighborhood largely east and north of the KU campus. The longtime epicenter of the Oread neighborhood is 14th and Ohio, where the tradition-rich bars The Wheel and The Hawk operate and tons of student housing is just a short walk away.

That intersection is where our photographer and I start our evening. And with the very first group of students we talk to, we get invited back to their house. It is just a little after 11 p.m., so they are just getting warmed up to go out to the bars.

We hear stories about the previous night — Stop Day Eve may be even wilder than Stop Day — when the party ended up on the roof, and a few folks spent the night out there.

And then there is the story about how timing is everything. One young lady — a graduating senior, I believe — tells us we needed to be just 30 minutes earlier. Why? Because 30 minutes earlier her hair was down to here, she says while pointing to a spot a bit above her navel. Now it barely touches her shoulders. In case we doubted her, she comes back with a handful of the freshly cut hair, places it on her face like a mustache, and parades for photos.

Maybe she can show them to Mom and Dad today to explain why her walk down the Hill includes a new ’do.

No, most stories don’t make it back home. But, my, there are plenty of stories, even for those who are just getting started with their college careers. Kayla Pisoni is finishing up her freshman year. For the sake of her parents, I should disclose she wasn’t at the rambunctious house party. She was behaving herself while having a slice of pizza outside The Wheel. But she had a simple sentiment on college and this Oread night scene.

“I want to be a freshman forever,” she said.


More genius. This guy is standing in the middle of a gigantic house party with a shirt that says: “This Guy Needs Beer.”

Here, the beer is free. The cups are not. They’re $5 apiece. It’s an old trick to try to get around the illegality of selling alcohol without a license. It probably doesn’t work any better today than it ever did.

But don’t get me wrong, the cups are very popular. In this mid-sized Oread home, about 200 cups had been purchased by a little after midnight.

The music blares from a block away, and the flashing blue dance light spills out into the yard. The consensus seems to be that these house parties are better dance venues than many clubs. No, these parties don’t have the same feel of a traditional bar “where everybody knows your name,” but maybe that isn’t such a big deal with this generation.

“I’m willing to just walk up to a place where I hear noise and just start meeting people. Lawrence is friendly that way,” says a young college student who is friendly but not so much so that he wants to share his name with me.

A tenant of the house — also not a real big fan of names — says he and his two roommates have one of these parties “once a month-ish.” (I don’t think he was slurring his words. Yet.)

“It is a good time. We’re just having fun,” he says.

I watch the fun pass by a cup at a time while sitting on top of a washing machine. It’s one of the few places where I don’t have multiple bodies rubbing up against me.

Yes, there are a whole host of stories I could write here: Safety codes, underage drinking, noise. Ask any nonstudents who have ever lived in the Oread neighborhood, and they can give you the full list at a moment’s notice. And yes, I’ll probably hide this article from my two young kids. But tonight is not the night to dig into those issues or worries.

Why not? Because you wouldn’t be living the mantra: Do it while you can.


In one house, there are 10 guys. In the house next door, there are nine girls. Add them together, and you get a lot of friendships.

“I’ve had the best year of my life living next to these guys,” Sally says. She’s graduating today, and in a few more weeks will be a teacher. “Maybe you shouldn’t use my last name.”

That’s the way it is with so many of them here. In a few more days, in a sense, they’ll be somebody else. One will be an accountant with a major accounting firm, another off to medical school.

And then there is Joe Schuler, the man with the ham. Yes, we’re back to the original house. There is probably hair on the floor, if you need proof.

Schuler is graduating and heading off to graduate school for civil engineering. He’s already been accepted into KU, but there’s a good chance he could wind up at another school.

Wherever it is at, he knows it won’t be here. This time and place is just for a moment.

“I’ll buckle down,” he says. “After tonight, there won’t be any more nights like tonight.”

And then he goes into the Oread night. It’s true: You’ve got to do it while you can.

But take solace: Grocery stores the world over sell ham.

— Each Sunday, Lawhorn’s Lawrence focuses on the people, places or past of Lawrence and the surrounding area. If you have a story idea, send it to Chad at


Frank A Janzen 5 years, 1 month ago

Unfortunately, the headline, "A night of partying in Oread", implied, to me, The Oread Hotel, the latest hot spot -- and eyesore -- in the Oread neighborhood.

fiddleback 5 years, 1 month ago

Do you mean Ugh? Or maybe Uuuggh?

That's my reaction, anyway. We already know that KU is fully stocked with C-/D+ young minds who are an oblivious disgrace to higher learning. Yes, we know these binging dullards are mostly uninterested in intellectual growth and merely seek credentials as tickets to middle class incomes. But do the more grotesque and depressing aspects of their sub-mediocrity need to be rubbed in our faces, on graduation day no less?

tomatogrower 5 years, 1 month ago

But then people who had nothing to do with idiotic behavior get sued.

workinghard 5 years, 1 month ago

Surely there must be an ordinance somewhere that prohibits people gathering on a roof not approved for such activity. If there is, the police need to enforce it. I see it happen all the time. Have you seen the house on Kentucky street where the porch roof is used for storage for trash and other things? It looks horrible. It has been going on for a few years so the landlord has to be aware of it.

irvan moore 5 years, 1 month ago

so did you lose the photographer to the lure of the wild, I don't see many pictures

Liberty275 5 years, 1 month ago

Looks like a kick. Just remember to avoid drinking so much you get alcohol poisoning, don't drive and no means no even when you are drunk.

pizzapete 5 years, 1 month ago

Smitty, is that your advice for students or is this an attempt at modern abstract poetry?

Paul Wilson 5 years, 1 month ago

Thanks Chad...just more good evidence for raising the age to vote.

ljwhirled 5 years, 1 month ago

They don't vote anyway. Bring back the draft. THEN they'll vote.

Brandon Deines 5 years, 1 month ago

Reading these comments helps give me context to a lot of comments I've read on other articles.

christy kennedy 5 years, 1 month ago

I'm not sure what the point of this article is other than Mr. Lawhorn enjoying a reliving-youth moment. We Oread neighborhood nonstudents he mentions do know full well that for every fun party there are many more that get out of hand and on occasion turn tragic—and yes, some KU students do indeed remain freshman forever. The lighthearted tone and description of some additional method of alcohol ingestion (ham, really?) as "genius" in a place where underage drinking to excess is so rampant and unaddressed is questionable at best.

ljwhirled 5 years, 1 month ago

Darn kids! Always running about all nimbly bimbly. Get off my lawn you little whipper snappers!

Brock Masters 5 years, 1 month ago

Guess it comes down to priorities. The CJOnline reported yesterday about a young Lawrence girl who won two gold medals in the state swim finals but no reports by LJ world.

Apparently reporting on KU students getting drunk is more important.

Brock Masters 5 years, 1 month ago

The cjonline article focused on another swimmer from Lawrence who was equally deserving of the press.

Anthony Mall 5 years, 1 month ago

Referring to the shooting in East Lawrence that apparently started at Magic is hardly a reference to KU students! You can walk through any area in Lawrence and smell marijuana, kids in college drink, they party, and they make a mess... If you don't like it, leave Lawrence! It's not going to change...

Bill Woodard 5 years, 1 month ago

I don't see how this necessarily glorifies binge drinking. It does, however, provide a look inside an aspect of Lawrence (Lawhorn's Lawrence is the name of the feature, after all) that happens regularly. Those whining about this need to lighten up.

jack22 5 years, 1 month ago

My dad used to always say, you work hard, you play hard. He thought it was perfectly OK to have a beer or two after a hard days work. I can understand these students wanting to cut loose a little bit after four or five years of studying and working through college. These kids have just graduated and are moving on to bigger things. This is one last chance for them to cut loose and have some fun with the many friends they've made while attending KU. If they're doing it responsibly I don't see any real harm in it. Congratulations students, get out there and make us proud.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 1 month ago

Oh, come on, people! Chad, this is a wonderful story and well written as usual. These young adults are just having fun and enjoying themselves. They worked hard to get those degrees. Yes, it is possible to be very intelligent, work your way though college, get that degree and still on occasion go out and have fun.

ljwhirled 5 years, 1 month ago

I agree with "Mrs_Estherhouse" the grumbly comments here help put a lot of the other comments on these forums in perspective.

"Get off my lawn!" seems to be the mantra of many of the regulars here.

Good to know.

Chad, glad the kids had fun and hope everyone got home safe. There are all kinds of aspects to Lawrence. City Hall, County Commission, School Board and others are just blips on the radar for most of our residents.

riverdrifter 5 years, 1 month ago

Get off my lawn -and take your flat tire with you.

Patricia Davis 5 years, 1 month ago

Today's rum ham drinkers may be tomorrow's brightest lights. Congratulations and good luck and be sure to spend all of your parents' money before you leave town. We need your sales tax revenue!

Jake Angermeier 5 years, 1 month ago

Damn, Chad. Sounds like you were partying with my grandma. Kids these days are such amatuers...

Hudson Luce 5 years, 1 month ago

Back in 1981, when I graduated from KU, I went to a house party where a bunch of punk rock bands were playing - one of them could have been the Mortal Micronotz, but I don't recall for sure, memories are fuzzy, not least due to the fact that there were four kegs of beer - ice cold - there in addition to clouds of pot smoke. One of the highlights of the evening - or early morning - occurred when some guy rode his motorcycle up the stairs, all 650 pounds or whatever of it and him, all the way up to the second floor. Oddly enough, the house is still standing, still has students living in it. It's the house on Tennessee Street, on the corner of 11th or 12th street, with the diagonal square window on the south side.

Elizabeth Halsey 5 years, 1 month ago

I really struggle with what I did as a kid and what I'd like to see as a parent. I'm young enough to remember everything pretty clearly, but old enough to be terrified in regard to my kids. Life is about balance. I don't know how successful I am at balancing my struggle, but the "kids" outlined in this article are achieving it. It makes me want to head back to Wheel later today...

Carol Bowen 5 years, 1 month ago

The picture is not what I would use as an image for a university. It's not good for the public or my grandchildren. Some of us think higher education is serious business. It costs the family a lot of money. Our kids need to study. Yes, they should have fun, but this picture should accompany an article on student drinking problems. No wonder KU is considered a party school.

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