On a beautiful day this past May, I had some business in the Dedham area, and decided to drive by Nobles and pay my good friend Brooke Earley Asnis ’90 a visit.
“We can take a tour of the Castle renovation; Rounsie, you won’t believe it!”
Having been a four-year resident of the Castle, with one year logged in the infamous “Round Room,” there was no way I could resist.
So I stop at the Development Office to find Brooke and we stroll over to the construction site. We don our hard hats, laughing at how goofy we both look in them.
We walk through the back entrance, by the kitchen, and I look up at the old dwelling. I look for the escape ladder that led up to my Class III year room —you know, the room with the 19th-century radiator that blasted 90-degree steam in the winter and spring? I think the ladder has been taken down, and rightfully so. Many times I had scaled up and down that rickety iron contraption with zero regard for safety. It is also the same room where the first Thunderdome occurred, a massive and vicious 30-man pillow fight that may have been responsible for more concussions than an NFL strong safety.
We walk through the kitchen, and my mind starts to map out the familiar areas. This is where you would grab a roll and munch on it while you waited in the lunch line. This is the staircase that I would slide down in another act of daredevilry, like a pool player leaning back on a billiard table and taking a behind the back shot.
This is the TV room, where we would watch the ends of Bruins games in some of the fuzziest reception allowed by the FCC. It’s the same TV that I watched the first episode of the Simpsons on, and Bird steal the inbound pass from Isaiah. In back of the TV room was another room that looked like a study. Brooke tells me that during a recent meeting in that room, a large hawk flew out of the chimney and started attacking the attendees.
All of these memories start to hit me.
We walk up to the second floor, and my mind continues to draw the familiar map.
As we open the door to my old Class I year room, the aforementioned “Round Room,” I see the old blue tiled and defunct fireplace. This is a room I lived in with my best friends.
Another memory hits me.
It is late November in 1989—that hazy time when the fall sports have ended and the winter sports haven’t really begun. All-League awards have been announced in the fall sports, and all of my roommates except one have been named to their All-League teams.
I’ve known him for a long time, and I can tell this bothers him.
To cheer him up, I decide to doctor up an All-League Award for him. During evening study hall, I hide myself up in the library loft with a hard copy of my certificate. I trace the full design.
This is not as easy as it sounds.
There is a fair amount of calligraphy, and each school’s crest is represented. I remember having the most difficulty duplicating the monk that is a part of the Roxbury Latin insignia. He had very difficult hair and what looked like a headband on.
I showed my roommates (except the intended recipient) my finished work. They loved it and we decided to give it to him in a formal presentation after study hall.
Later that night, we all waited in the room for our friend to come in.
In he walked, still looking miserable.
I said, “We just want to present you with this.” I handed him the certificate, my other roommates giving him a standing ovation.
On the painstaking forgery of the All-League Certificate read “All League Roommate” and his name.
Now, as teenage boys, we were definitely no strangers to a good teasing, but that’s not what it was and not how it was received. He was floored and I swear he had a tear of appreciation in his eyes. All of us were a little choked up.
He took the certificate from me and walked over to the mantle of the blue tiled, dormant fireplace, wanting to put it in a place of honor in our room.
One second, he was placing the piece of paper with two hands on the mantle, and the next second some unseen force sucked it downwards with a “phwump” and it disappeared. He had managed to find a hairline fracture that had developed in the molding between the fireplace and the wall, just wide enough for a piece of paper to slip through. It was as if some Castle poltergeist had snatched it away from him.
We all laughed very hard at that point.
“Imagine when they’re tearing this place down in a hundred years and they come across that. What will they think?” someone said.
-John Rounseville ’90