Lehigh Lore column: ‘You would know that’


Kerry Mallett, B&W staff

“How does someone even get on ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’?” my friend wondered while we ate lunch.

“Oh, well, you have to take a quiz online, then there’s a phone interview, and if you get past those and go to a taping there’s still not a guarantee that you will be picked…”

I trailed off, realizing that her question was half rhetorical…and that I’d blurted out this random piece of information that had been caught in the depths of my brain without even thinking.

I felt sheepish and a little Hermione Granger-esque (circa the first book where her hand shoots up all the time), but my friend just laughed and said, “You would know that.”

I have heard that phrase more times than I can count and for a wider variety of topics than just game show eligibility. Greek mythology, modern politics, European art history, World War II, the Revolutionary War, developments in science or economic issues — you name it, I probably have some sort of tidbit or fact stored somewhere in my brain about it.

This does come in handy sometimes — like, when on a trip to St. Louis, I was able to tell my two friends all about the expansion of the West, the Louisiana Purchase and Louis and Clark’s expedition while we were in line to tour the arch. Or on trivia nights at MacGrady’s, when my knowledge of Olympic host cities comes in handy.

Other times, it just bemuses my friends that I can rattle off random (sometimes useless) trivia that I didn’t even know I remembered until the conversation turns to that topic.

I have slowly become this way for two reasons.

A)  I am a nerd who loves learning. Lots of things, even things that don’t relate to my majors at all, interest me. I love learning about my friends’ engineering classes and the projects that my business school friends work on.

B) I read a lot. The New Yorker is my periodical of choice, but I love reading news articles, fiction books, nonfiction books, blogs, memoirs…you name it, I’ve probably read something in that category. I like to say that it helps me better understand the world, but really, it gives me a lot of random knowledge.

I loved Lehigh from the moment I stepped on campus, and part of that reason is because of our cool history and quirky traditions. Bed races through campus? School colors that were chosen because of a woman’s stockings? Ties to a national steel company that operated in our neighborhood? There are so many interesting stories and so much background to our university. I quickly started reading about Lehigh, too.

I have often been told that I should be a tour guide because of my vast knowledge of Lehigh trivia, but unfortunately, I have still not found the time in my schedule, nor the coordination required to walk backwards, to be a tour guide.

Sadly, now, as a senior, I realize I won’t have the opportunity to encourage thousands of bright-faced high school students that South Mountain should be their home.

But I do have the opportunity to give you, the larger Lehigh community, some more Lehigh trivia, some of which you may have never heard before.

What I do want to do is give you a piece of Lehigh that many do not know about — both in good ways and bad. From foolish pranks like burying Marquis de Lafayette’s sword on our campus to interesting buildings, like Price Hall, which originally had a brewery underneath it — to the more serious topics, like how the university received the first female students back in the 1970s or our issues with inclusivity and race throughout the years — I want to delve into the parts of Lehigh that are often forgotten about.

Debunking myths? Exploring old buildings? Digging in the archives (quite un-romantically online)? Discovering the steam tunnels?  Showing you the oft-forgotten history of Lehigh?

All of this will come.

Think of me as the Lehigh version of National Treasure. However, I don’t anticipate gun chases, stealing national documents or finding a city of gold underneath Lehigh.

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