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Memories of John Part 2

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 3 months ago

Stories and pictures - Part 2



John the Prankster.


One of the more ingenious pranks John orchestrated on Wally and me happened in 1984. We'd gone off to spend Thanksgiving weekend with my folks in Bandera and left a key with Betty Yingst, who'd volunteered to feed the cats. Upon our return, we were expecting the worst; and when we found the 'dead body' in the pool and the inflatables in our bed, we thought we'd gotten off pretty easy.


Later that same week, I was fixing dinner and pulled a can of peas out of the pantry. When I opened the can, I was a bit taken aback to see that it contained corn. "Harrumph," I thought, "Serves me right for being so cheap and buying Rosedale veg at Food-A-Rama." I'm such a nu-nu head, the only other thing I was thinking was "Well, at least it's corn, Wally will eat corn."


The next morning, I discovered Wally in the kitchen, shaking his head. A breakfast eater (I'm not), he would generally pour a big shot of grape nuts with raisins into to plastic go-cup, pour milk on it, and eat it in the car before I dropped him off at the Neurosensory Center on my way downtown. Well, he'd opened a brand new box of grape nuts and dumped his usual ration in the go-cup. It was only as he was getting ready to pour in the milk that he noticed the cup was full of Purina Cat Chow.


For the next three months, opening cans from our pantry was like playing Russian Roulette. Not only did the switched labels match cans of the right size, they matched contents of the right "shake" and "weight." Were we getting minestrone soup or Rotel? Corned beef hash or frijoles refritos? Dinner has never been such fun! -- Ellen


What's the deal with John and Funnels?


Every time I saw John at Valhalla, I always walked away a little nervous but always with a smile as one was never sure what prank he was going to pull on someone (likely you) that day. Besides his beloved beer mug, John’s other favorite item at Valhalla was the funnel. If John had a funnel in his hand, watch out as you were either going to drink some nasty liquid from it or he would try to con you into putting it in your pants and convince you to roll a peanut off your nose into it. I have known John for about 18 years and have seen over 50 people fall for the peanut and funnel prank …. in poor Cormac’s case twice in one evening :)


He was such a special person. He would give you the shirt off his back or the last cent in his pocket. - Purvez




Above: John in his Funnel Suit.




John , being a scientist, was concerned with proper hygene. Here is an example of the process before the peanut was introduced. LisaR



John the Clown

John loved to relate one of his proudest moments. Once at a festival (Westheimer Arts I think) John was being his normal self. Out of the blue, one of the vendors walked up to him and offered him a job as a Clown doing festivals, kids birthdays, etc. He was severely tempted to make the career change (possibly because it pays better than being a scientist) and even read up on what the job involved, but in the end decided to retain his amateur status. - Richard





Pie Coronations


Valhalla incoming and outgoing managers go through a traditional "Coronation" ceremony every April to celebrate the changing of the guard.

John always came up with some diabolical prank to play as part of the ceremony. Afterwards the new managers are hit with ceremonial cream pies, and the ceremony ends with a traditional large scale pie fight between all the old managers. -- rgc


John came up with the brilliant idea of removing the internal ball valve that keeps the beer from exploding out of the keg for Coronation 2001. What a blast! When the unsuspecting victims, Eric and Michelle, were asked to step under a beer shower and ceremoniously "untap" their kegs and switch taps to seal their managerial partnership, two spectacular beer geysers about 15 feet high erupted. The kegs were, of course, highly overpressurized. -- Ed


One year we had promised the incoming managers that they would be hit by "at most one pie" during the coronation, John compensated for our promise by devising the Incredible 6-foot Pie, using 120$ of coolwhip and LOTS of cardboard and tin foil.




We had to haul it to the ceremony on my truck, poorly hidden by a tarp, and lord knows how the two of us had the agility run it up the beer-slick steps and hit the victims without killing ourselves. - Richard




Other memorable coronation pranks include the Strap-on Radio Controlled Pieing Helment, the Big Funnel, the Strap-on Beer Halos, the Pie Gun, and then the Five Barrel Pie Bazooka. -- Richard




John was an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church and has performed many weddings in Texas.


One of my favorite John stories, and one that showed his "character" was at my wedding in 1985. I had known John for many years and he had been one of my very best friends. So when we (Cathy and I) decided to get married, I asked John and Richard to be the ministers at the wedding to be held outside Valhalla. John had already performed a couple (?) before this, but this was to be Richard's first. Knowing these two, I realized there were some dangers present, some of which would be good to avoid in front of family and others who would attend. So we extracted two solemn oaths from these guys: (1) NO pies at all and (2) they would not deviate one SYLLABLE from the prepared script they were to read as the ceremony. I felt pretty safe in some regard because of this, but still a bit concerned.


Well the wedding day came and it was a beautiful summer afternoon, with a small stage J&R had made to be used for the ceremony just on the lawn outside the main door to Valhalla. A couple hundred (?) people showed up. Recovering from a very amusing, enjoyable, and eventful bachelor and bachelorette parties, we didn't fret about too much. But then John and Richard appeared in tie-dyed 3-piece corduroy suites. OK, what did we expect. As we assembled for the ceremony, I noticed a small gas cylinder near the stage, but didn't think much of it -- my mind was elsewhere. So we got on the stage and started the ceremony. Well these two prankster-ministers stuck to their words while reading the service: they read exactly what we had given them, but they alternated saying the lines. But before speaking each would suck on some helium in the tank! You can imagine how that sounded -- Donald Duck performs a wedding. Everyone burst out laughing. Then at the end of the ceremony a huge number of helium filled balloons were set free followed by Cathy and I getting hit with the contents of 48 cans of silly string that J&R had surreptitiously distributed. What a wedding! (I'll try to find some pics to put up)


I don't know of others who could pull all that off. John was always so full of energy, so willing to help, so kind, so creative, so smart, and so unique. All of us who were lucky to know him well will forever miss this merry prankster. But he will always dance in our heads and hearts, but with an occasional pieing. -- Dave Van Rooy in Bali




Boy do I remember Dave & Cathy's wedding. Dave handed me his camera and said "take pictures". Ellen was video taping the ceremony, for some reason this didn't make Dave or Cathy suspicious. I've found the tape and will make mpegs of the best parts for distribution at Saturday's memorial. At my second wedding, John was doing our ceremony. Laura was so nervous, she wanted it really small and private. John kept her loose by introducing a few "Spoonerisms" into the oaths at the rehearsal: "Wally, do you take Laura to be your awfully ledded wife". At the actual service John was a rock as usual. --wally.


This was one of John's favorite ministerial hats for the last decade or so. It can be flipped open to release butterflies.



When Alison and I married, John presided. Rather than wear the butterfly hat he borrowed my minister-cam hat (which was obviously calibrated for a much shorter minister.) He took beautiful video of the top of my head during the ceremony.

-- Richard


Above: John slips into something more comfortable to sign our marriage licence later that day. -- Richard





John always considered everything. When he had this costume on for our wedding, it did include the essential flask, from which he and I both required sustenance. --Ralph & Marcia



John was always up for a party.


In the 70's and 80s the monumental parties were Halloween and New Years Eve.


The Halloween Parties featured some spectacular costumes. Among my favorites of John's were "the big French Tickler" (an intriguing rubber foam construction) and "Tie-Dye with Pies" (he'd stuck very realistic smushed pies all over himself).

John stopped at nothing when going for shock and awe.



He had an unusual wardrobe --- some would say bizzare.


The early years' New Years Eve parties were called the "Bird Welcoming Razzmatazz," referencing the huge flocks of twittering, pooping, croaking, stinking grackles that used to winter in the campus oaks, especially the ones near Valhalla. I always looked forward to reading the list of "party attractions" on John's invitations. I also 'sorta-remember' some of the pre-party R&D evenings, when John would gather a group of enquiring minds to test and tweak the recipe for whatever "special theme drink" was going to be served at the event.


In later years, after the birds had departed, the New Year parties started featuring other themes and elaborate decor items. The Pickle Year, John organized construction of a giant pickle and bought a gross of Burger King Pickle Whistles from a surplus catalogue and passed them out in advance. I still have my Pickle Dress, which I created for the occasion (75 of those whistles sewn onto an iridescent green bridesmaid's gown). The Comet Year (I believe Khoutek was the honoree) featured a monstrous can of Comet Cleanser.


But those weren't the only ones, not by a long shot. After all, John did love a party... especially theme parties. There was the "Dave" party... John had noticed that there were getting to be a whole lot of graduate students named "Dave," so he organized a party and handed out computer-printed "Hello, My Name Is..." nametags. Each guest's name featured some permutation of "Dave." My personal favorites were the Valhalla Beach Parties, where the entry well at Valhalla was transformed into a big basin with lumber and heavy plastic sheeting, and filled with water and beach toys. -- Ellen


And who can forget the Giant Orange Duck pinata filled with tiny ducks. What better way to welcome the grackles to campus! Or make them nervous to stay. -- Richard


Lest we forget! John was an impromptu party at all times. After four of us had brunch at an establishment with the gall NOT to serve Bloody Mary's, John insisted that he and I stop for mixer for the vodka he knew was in my freezer. As we tip our first 'tails, our brunch mates show up at the door, aware that such a bug in his ear couldn't go unheard. We sat on a beautiful day watching traffic and dog-walking. Like fishes and loaves the mixer and vodka remained strong while other folks simply showed up. Such was borne "Porchin'"



In recent years some of the most memorable Valhalla parties have been the Queenfest series, a yearly party to celebrate the music of the band Queen. John was particularly known for his amazing dancing.


Above is a picture of John at QueenFest 2004. He's in the "manager spot," at the nexus between bartending and just having a good time. All the manager-types like to hang out there, but if anyone ever belonged there, it's John. He looks relaxed, but if a keg ran dry, he'd leap into action and have a fresh one ready to go in a snap. John was a huge help when I was manager of Valhalla in, uh, 1994 and 1995. Managers had it pretty easy with John around; for example, most of us probably never knew exactly how much maintenance the aging basement bar needed. He was always taking care of the bar and the student managers. He fixed the coolers, flushed the lines, stocked the shelves, made bar supplies & chips appear, and repaired anything that could potentially interrupt the flow of beer and good times. John had decades of experience at much more than just the mechanics of a bar, too; I certainly benefited from his excellent advice. I always looked forward to seeing John, though that seems a silly thing to say. Anyone who knew John would say the same thing. He was incredibly generous (it was hard to to a favor for John--he liked to be the one doing favors), full of energy, very smart, and most definitely mischievous. When I think about Houston, I remember many good times at Valhalla, and when I think about Valhalla I always remember Schroeter in one of three ways: laughing, telling stories ("Well, you see, it's like this..."), or helping out--in every case, with a light beer in hand.--Karen K.


The first time I met John in the early 1980’s, Carol Overton introduced him to me as the Hood Ornament of Valhalla. He certainly spearheaded many events, including coordinating riders and chuggers in Beer Bike and helping procure a bike and helmet if needed. He always encouraged costumeware for the race too. John also spearheaded bowling for TV’s and procuring said TV’s and monitors. My memory of his appearance from the day we met compared to the last time I saw him is that he didn’t appear to age. I think his special dance style and high energy (and beard of course) contributed to his seeming lack of aging over the past 25 years. – Liz R.



John was a principle designer of The Sashimi Tabernacle Choir.

Details at: http://www.SashimiTabernacleChoir.org



Above, the Sashimi Tabernacle Choir honored QueenFest 2004 with an appearance and special Queen "Bohemian Rhapsody" performance.--Karen K.


I consider it one of the greatest gifts that I had the privilege of traveling with John and Sashimi, et al, throughout the country over the past four years. We covered over 15,000 miles in 21 states! Whether by radio or at a campsite we reflected on numerous experiences we both loved to share with one another and many of you. Many tales cannot be accurately relayed without censure on a public site, but I offer these catch-phrases you might recognize:

Head Skeg #1; Carthage, MO

What’s all this fussin’?

Apollo 13: Trip to CA

“I see neutrinos all the time.” Yup, John had an answer for this one, too.

Are all those cans yours?

Box Kite Tent

Lost Dixon again?

Taillight in Tuscon

“I’m a Billy Bass artist, too!”

Tourist Terrorists

If you know these tales, let’s tell ‘em again soon. If not, contact me (EB) and I’ll fill you in directly (depending on the story!)




John is being imortalized on more than one Art Car across the country





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