Graduate school is fraternal, eternal, and can sometimes be as pleasant as a stale urinal. But one thing for sure: the people you work on a day-in and day-out basis are memorable, and there are hundreds of stories that only that group of people can truly understand. You just had to be there.
We were all members of Barry M. Trost’s research group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. At some point, we started to call ourselves The Trostketeers. We had a theme song (because M.I.C. – K.E.Y. – M.O.U.S.E. has the same numbers of letters and matches the tempo as B.A.R. – R.Y.M. – T.R.O.S.T.). I already had a caricature of Trost that I was drawing, and so it was a short distance between that and its added mouse-ears.
Sometime in the late summer of 1979, we made up t-shirts with the cartoon logo. Although this sort of hijinx is pretty common today, it really wasn’t back in 1979. “What would Trost think?” was a question that came pretty late in the game. We all agreed to wear the shirts at one of our regular Wednesday evening group meetings, and we got extras for Trost and his family. And it was up to me to present these to him before the group meeting that night.
He took it really well, which I understand completely… now. This sort of bonding and group identification is actually pretty cool. But it seemed awfully risky as I was walking to his office – with all those rat-like beady eyes of my lab-mates wondering if I was a Dead Man Walking.
It went well. He put his shirt on and we took this now-famous picture (above; within our little fraternity).
There is one picture of the group at group meeting.
And then, later that year, a small group of us decided on being even more irreverent at the annual holiday party: wear the t-shirts with ties and coats and grow out a few days of whiskers.
Perhaps the most amazing thing is that the color in physical photographs is all screwed up with age. The group photo looks like this. But clearly, the color information is still there – simple auto-balance in photoshop and it all looks great again.
And, a few years ago, we recreated our famous moment (sans t-shirts).