Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Architectural improvement ideas for the Mem clock tower

Illustration by Mikayla Kelly

If buildings could make wishes, the Memorial Building would probably wish that ducks could read analog clock faces. Beyond that, however, it’s difficult to think of anything this glorious edifice could aspire to. A hallmark of Whittie pride, it is glorious even in origin: its designer, one George W. Babcock, was a prominent architect of many Walla Walla landmarks and went on to serve as the town’s mayor. Babcock, while a visionary, was limited by the resources and conventions of his time. As a bearer of the proud George moniker, I have taken it upon myself to compose a list of possibilities for the spicing up of his legacy-defining work.

Idea 1: Spiral Waterslide

By all accounts, the first waterslide was built in New Zealand in 1906, seven years after Mem. One readily understands the impact of this temporal misalignment: had waterslides hit the world sooner, or had Babcock taken an eight-year sabbatical spent at least partially in New Zealand before designing Mem, our proud clock tower could have featured a sparkling, splashing waterslide for students and faculty alike to careen frolickingly down. True, the hypothetical is weakened by the fact that Babcock died in 1907, but who knows? Maybe the temperate New Zealand climate would have given him years more. Though we may no longer be able to send George Babcock to New Zealand, with a spiral waterslide around the clock tower, we can bring to fruition the dream Babcock never knew he would have had.

Idea 2: Tetherball Rope

In my research for this article, I discovered only one contender for the largest tetherball set: a roadside attraction in Appleton, Wisconsin, in which a cheap oversized metal facsimile of a tetherball is hung from a light pole, out of human reach. What I have in mind will knock the Appleton abomination out of the water: a rope hundreds of feet long descending from the peak of Mem, with a standard regulation tetherball at the end to facilitate real gameplay. Opponents, obscured from each other’s view, will fight valiantly to outdo one another, the suspense palpable until the moment the ball is coiled tightly around the obelisk, at which point there will be no way to get it down, except potentially with drones.

Idea 3: Second Perpendicular Clock Tower

Imagine it: a horizontal clock tower, one everyone has to tilt their heads to read. Jutting out from the first, it doubles the splendor: twice the clocks, twice the notability, after all! Examining my sketches, I see that this vision is ignominiously lopsided. We’d better add another horizontal tower pointing the opposite direction. Wait, now we’ve made a giant crucifix, that’s not good. I’ve got it! Two more vertical towers attached to the ends of the horizontal ones, forming a veritable trident of timepieces, displaying for miles around that this small inland college is master of the vast unforgiving seas. With luck, word of our oceanic dominance may even reach somebody living on the coast.

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