Before the Magic Flying Cannon of ’67, there was the Great Blackout of ’63, precipitated by some of the same characters of disorder involved in the Magic Flying Cannon Caper. This time, instead of transforming into Coyotes, they transformed into flying Ravens.
This was before the big flood of ’65, which they didn’t cause, but their shenanigans surrounding the recovery from that flood caused a couple of tricksters to take an unplanned and early leave of absence from their pursuit of a higher degree.
Who are these characters of disorder?
The Navaho call them mischief-makers, thieves, or tricksters. The Spirit Chief sends them to the land of dream visions to confuse people and they come in the form of a Coyote or a Raven.
The characters of disorder seem to have supernatural powers which help them perform their tricks. They live, die, come back, shape shift, perform all sorts of magic.
Reality is nothing more than an illusion.
The Raven was the first bird out of Noah’s ark. It just didn’t return. It didn’t feel the need.
The one-eyed Odin, the Norse Lord of War, Death, and Knowledge had two ravens, Huginn and Muninn. They flew around the world every day bringing back up-to-date information on Odin’s enemies.
The Ravens in question, these characters of disorder, lived in Hans Reuter Hall, a freshman dormitory at the University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse, named after a professor of physical education who was instrumental in the development and refinement of many teaching and coaching techniques. Hans was a master in the use of the Indian Club, the oldest hand apparatus used in rhythmical gymnastics. He also invented a back quiver for archers which could be used from a seated position, a pendulum timer that he used in his classes, and a moveable manikin, a model of the human body used in teaching anatomy. Reuter received multiple university and community awards, including the naming of this campus residence hall in his honor.
The dormitory is located next to the university football stadium and the characters of disorder had to walk past the gridiron every day on their way to classes, or bars. At night, the lights in the stadium would be on to illuminate extra-curricular activities, not only on the weekends but during the week. This bothered the characters of disorder as the lights lit up their room and interfered with their sleep. So, they decided to do something about it and these mischief-makers didn’t always play by the establishment’s rules. They decided it would be in the best interest of those living in the dormitory if they turned off the lights – for good!
Exceptional thieves never leave a trace of their existence, so, to that end, they would have to possess something to carry away their bounty, but what could accommodate everything they apperceived they would procure? They decided on a suitcase, a large suitcase!
The caper went down at sunset on a Thursday when no evening activity was planned at the stadium. The late afternoon sky was afire with contrasting yellow, orange, and red clouds that streaked along the west side of the stadium.
The characters of disorder were in place and would wait for the sun to set. They had staked out the surrounding area of the football stadium to ensure no one was there. Students who spent the evening downtown would wander in at all hours, but the thieves weren’t troubled by them as they would be more concerned about keeping their balance and watching where their feet were going than they would be in their surroundings.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, it was time. The characters of disorder ducked limbs and slipped between the trees on their way to their destination.They flowed as if they’d been born in the wild. Their faces were streaked with black and one called out in a cry similar to the wolf.
The first Raven carried the suitcase and dragged himself up and flew across the open parking lot and up to the main entrance of the stadium. He turned his ankle upon landing and the pain was excruciating, but his survival instincts forced him to move out to another hiding place higher up the entranceway. Soon the remaining two characters of disorder were by his side and it wasn’t long before all three flew over the fence and onto the playing field. They skirted across the fifty-yard line to the visitor’s side of the stadium. That is the side they started on. Two tricksters picked the light tower they would attack first and flew to the top, reaching the box that contained what they wanted. They dropped the items on the ground where the third trickster gathered them up and placed them in the suitcase. They continued around the field until they disabled every light tower surrounding the football stadium. When they finished, they had everything securely packed in the suitcase. It was very heavy and they took turns carrying it as they headed out of the stadium back to their dormitory.
The three characters of disorder decided it was best to leave town that weekend. So, in order to document the activities, they planted a colleague at the Saturday night football game to observe what transpired.
Their comrade told the tricksters that as the visiting team’s fans, as well as the home team’s fans, were entering the stadium, total pandemonium broke out when the switches were turned on to light up the field and nothing happened.
Officials called both football coaches out of the locker room and onto the field, along with the referees, to inform them of the problem.
“What are we going to do?” asked the visiting team’s coach?”
“I’m not sure,” replied the head referee. “Isn’t there someone here who can fix the lights?”
The maintenance men were unable to determine the cause and they sure didn’t want to climb forty feet up each light tower to continue their investigation. That was an electrician’s job and there wasn’t one working on a Saturday night.
When they informed the coaches and referees that they were unable to locate the problem, the stadium announcer came on and enlightened the spectators of their only course of action, “Game called – due to darkness!”
The fans were in total confusion. How could this be? What happened?
The mischief makers had confused and flimflammed the fans and officials.
That Friday, before the game, the characters of disorder didn’t have a smooth departure as they fled the scene of their latest exploit. The generator went out in the car, a 1959 Ford, they used for their escape and they had to make an emergency stop in Sparta, Wisconsin. They found themselves short of money to pay the garage for a replacement generator, but, the tricksters, being the wily magicians that they were, struck a deal with the garage owner. They would leave one of their suitcases with him as collateral and when they returned that Sunday night, they would have the money and would swap it out for the suitcase at that time. The garage owner agreed.
That Sunday, when the mischief-makers returned, the garage owner remarked, “That suitcase sure is heavy, what do you have in it?”
Well, the mischief-makers couldn’t reveal that there were two hundred fuses taken from the university’s football stadium lights in LaCrosse, so, in staying in character of confusion and disorder, they told him it was filled with bones from the anatomy laboratory that they took home to analyze.