Warren Wilson College News

A Car in Carson

by Danny Starnes ’59 and Tracy Bleeker

This article is part of The Story Behind, a regular series that features extraordinary photos from Warren Wilson life. (Click here to see more.)

Thank you, Carson Hall, for the good years you gave us – more than 80 of them. We are sorry to see you go but your many memories will live on at Warren Wilson.

Car in Carson Hall

As Carson comes down, we’d like to share a story from Danny Starnes ’59:

“In the spring of 1958, during my freshman year at WWC, there was a young man who came to Warren Wilson, right out of Seminary, to be the Assistant Pastor of the WWC Chapel and to teach History. His name was Al Evans and he quickly became a favorite among the students.

“One night about midnight a bunch of boys from Sunderland decided to play a prank on Mr. Evans. We measured the entry to Carson, which at the time was the administration building and where many of our classes were held. We then measured Mr. Evans’ car, a Simca. Finding that the small foreign car would barely fit into the entry to Carson, we proceeded up the hill to where Mr. Evans and several single professors had apartments. (Jensen Building is now on that site.) His car was parked outside and was unlocked.

“One of the students got inside, put the car in neutral, and guided the car down the hill as the rest of us pushed it onto the lawn of Carson. We then opened the double doors, lifted it onto the new porch and then into the entry, and closed the doors to Carson. There were only a couple of inches between the car and the doors.

The next morning our “gang” was the first to finish breakfast. We hurried down the hill to see who would be the first to open the doors of Carson. There was a bulletin board across the street from the administrative building and we pretended to be reading the notices on the board. Then, we saw Dr. Henry Jensen, our beloved dean, strolling down the hill and up the sidewalk to Carson. We all thought, “Oh no! Not Dr. Jensen!” Doc, as we affectionately called him, was nearsighted and the glasses he wore were quite thick. We held our breath as he opened a door and stepped over the doorsill and immediately sprawled over the trunk of the car….”

Weeks passed and although Danny and his classmates worried about being “found out” for their prank, they were never caught or reprimanded by the dean. Danny explained that, in retrospect, Doc Jensen most likely suspected the boys and “knew they were the culprits,” because they were the first on the scene. They offered to remove the car and Danny had a camera with him. Because no damage was done to the car or Carson, “Wise Doc Jensen let our worries be our punishment.”

Car in Carson Hall

Years later, for his 45th year reunion at Homecoming 2004, Danny invited staff and faculty members from the late ’50s and early ’60s to join his class. Upon finding out that Mr. Evans was in the hospital with heart problems, Danny then confessed to the prank, first to Mr. Evans’ wife, Betty McFall Evans ’58. With her encouragement, Danny then sent the pictures included in this article along with a letter to Mr. Evans, who laughed more then he had in years as he told and retold the story to his children, grandchildren, and everyone else who visited him in the nursing home.

If you have a Carson story of your own, please contact John Bowers or call 828-771-7004.

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9 Responses to “A Car in Carson”

  1. Hannah:

    Thank you Danny!

  2. Anesh:

    Dearly miss Wilson…

  3. Joe Karpati:

    Oh, I remember it well…how could one forget that day, and the aftermath..??!.

  4. Jo Anne Lorensen:

    This is a fantastic story. I love the photos of the classic car!

  5. Melissa Davis:

    Loved this story. I worked for Doc Jensen on the landscaping crew in the late 60′s. I can just imagine what he was thinking.

  6. Beth Morrell:

    I’m sorry to see Carson go. It was a building with much character and many memories. Great story!

  7. Betty Nelson:

    Great story Danny! Funny how things go around – unaware of your prank in ’58, a group of us did the same thing with Mr. Ohler’s Karmen Ghia in 1961….we walked up to Preston House, slipped the Ghia into neutral and pushed it across the campus then lifted it into Carson! We, or at least I, did not see who opened the Admin (how Carson was known in those days)doors but Mr. Ohler reported getting a phone call from Doc Jensen asking him to come get his car out of the building!

  8. Phyllis Stevenson:

    Oh, Danny, do I remember that morning as the car was there when I went to work in the Post Office at 8am! Like everyone else I had to wait to “see what would happen” when Doc Jensen and Dr. Bannerman arrived. I believe they, too, had a laugh because the tiny (for its time) car was new on the American scene and we hadn’t seen too manny of them.

    We all knew it was you. Those were the days.

  9. Phyllis Stevenson:

    Sorry to see Carson go. I worked in the PO for Mrs. DeVries, did chores for Miss Schaefer and Dr. Bannerman, and Miss Law. Even cleaned the “girls” potty on the 2nd floor…