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 Winter 2011

On A Cold Winter Evening in 1964

On a cold winter evening in 1964, a small group of Antioch students were discussing the relative thermodynamics of how to stay warmest in sub-freezing climates.

graphic image of icicle piercing an ice cream sandwich

One of us suggested that warmth was relative and that if one consumed something cold, the body’stemperature would decrease and you would actually feel warmer.

There was a brief moment of consideration, then much laughter. Afterwards, someone asked: Who would believe such a ridiculous theory?

I suggested the local press. Antioch had been the subject of a lot of inaccurate reporting on the part of the local press due to recent anti-segregation demonstrations, so we decided to float our ideas past the local press to see how far things would go.

The next day, we called the local papers in Xenia and Springfield and told them that at 8 p.m. a group of ten Antioch students were going to perform an experiment under hyperborean conditions. We suggested they send a photographer and reporter to record our scientific findings.

Either it was a very slow news day or the press must have thought that anything the wiz kids did at Antioch was news worthy; maybe they liked our scientific jargon.

At around 7:30 p.m., a photographer and reporter from Xenia arrived. We were in the process of bringing down our beds to the snow-covered ground. We had brought mattresses, pillows, sheets, and one thin blanket per bed. We were setting them up in a circle in the area in front of Antioch Hall.

The photographer got busy taking pictures while the reporter asked us about the experiment.

We informed him that by eating something cold, such as an ice cream sandwich, our internal body temperatures would be so lowered that we would be comfortable sleeping outside with the minimum of blankets.

We told the reporter we had been theorizing about this for several days had discussed it with our professors and fellow students. Now, we intended to prove or disprove the theory.

The reporter watched as we finished making our beds outside in the snow, with only sheets and thin blankets. We took off our warm coats, sat on our beds and ceremoniously slowly ate our standard ice cream sandwiches. We were all wearing our normal night shirts. We pointed out to the reporter that none of us were wearing any thermal underwear. We climbed into our beds and pretended we were not cold.

After about a half hour of this foolishness, the reporter was convinced we had successfully proven our hypothesis.

Of course after the press left we all scrambled to grab come warm clothing (we were really, really cold at this point but laughing hysterically). It turns out that eating something cold before going to bed does not keep you warm but laughing your ass off does.

When the next edition of the newspaper came out, there, on the front page, was an article about how a few brave Antioch students had proven that eating something cold before retiring to bed would allow you to be more comfortable due to the relative difference in body temperature. There was a great picture of us sitting on our beds eating the ice cream sandwiches.

My sister keeps a scrapbook of my exploits during college and every time I see that picture I can’t help but laugh out loud. It clearly warms my heart.

LR Silver ’68 runs a marketing company in Dillsboro, North Carolina.