The Legend of Bart and Rat – Encore from Issue 31 / 2005
7064 Dave Skinner (RRMC RMC 1966)
I’ll take a run a telling this classic Skylark tale because probably most will have forgotten it. In the event that the perpetrators render an original first person version I will gladly yield. This tale is told from my eyes and remembrances as a “first classman” at Royal Roads in the fall of 1962…the old days now.
I use the term “first classman” and not “recruit” because these memorable events occurred precisely at the end of what used to be called “recruit term”, just after completing those first six weeks of hell topped off by the awesome Royal Roads obstacle course (that made the RMC one seem like a picnic). The “recruit” survivors, me included, were now promoted to “first classmen”, freed of our “fraust” magnetic fuzzy-wuzzies and now replete with our one pair of red striped pants and looking forward to being treated as slightly human.
At Roads, in those days, recruit term was followed by the unimaginable luxury of a weekend off, known as “stand-down” weekend. We could all leave the college for a couple of days, and for the few that stayed, a total relaxation of all things military. By 5:00 PM on stand-down weekend Friday the college was like a an empty tomb…except for Bart and Rat.
Bart and Rat were seniors, or second classmen in the lingo of the day. Since Roads was just two years in those days (we all assembled at the RMC shrine for 3rd and 4th years), the second classmen had the same status and privileges of RMC seniors including cadet rank and unlimited powers of aggravation over everything junior. But Bart and Rat were amongst the rankless few seniors for reasons that apparently had to do with past misdemeanors during their previous first year. But to us they were seniors all the same, and beyond all reproach. Until stand-down weekend 1962. By the way their real names as I recall were Barton and Rattray.
Faculty member Dr. Bricknell was a great teacher and a chemist of some renown. According to the rumors, he had been working for many years on a very sensitive experiment. His apparatus had been carefully and custom designed and his operations and results religiously monitored. The final phase of his experiment was underway and featured an important low temperature requirement. True to his dedication he returned to the college early on the Sunday morning of the stand-down weekend, hoping it is said, to make some final observations in the relative peace and quiet of the deserted campus.
His observations were twofold…first, his temperature sensitive experimental apparatus sat in a pathetic pile of melt on a lab counter top and, second, his freakin’ fridge, in which the experimental apparatus had recently been an occupant, was missing, gone, AWOL.
For first classmen it seemed peculiar to see that our much vaunted seniors were not above rather stern military chastisement. The resultant daily spectacle of Bart and Rat in almost permanent fatigues gave us all a very long object lesson, tinged with no small admiration for having had such balls. Rat once said that it was still a really great weekend because at least the beer was cold!