The Great Marlboro Contest

In late 1961 or early 1962, a rumor was floated in the Greek Community at 
SFVSC that the manufacturer of Marlboro, Parliament and Alpine cigarettes was sponsoring a contest, by the terms of which the organization which collected the most empty packages of its product would have an "iron lung" donated to a needy person in its name. Nobody really believed it, of course, and most of us were pretty sure it was a complete hoax. Nevertheless, nobody contacted the manufacturer to find out.

No. Instead we spent countless man hours "hunting Marlboros". Sometimes 
the hunt would consist of driving around slowly and trying to spot 'em at the curb, whereupon the driver would hit the brakes and the passengers would nab the little treasure. We cruised all manner of establishments which permitted smoking (which was all of them back then) and snaked 'em as soon as we saw another patron take his last Marlboro. Many of the smoking brothers switched to one of the coveted brands. We collected about 10,000 in just a few months. 

It was during one of our Marlboro hunts that I learned quite a valuable 
lesson, which has stayed with me for almost forty years. Someone, and it may even have been me, came up with the idea of going through the trash dumpster at the Van Nuys Drive In Theater. This idea, and it is flattery to call it that, proved to be disastrous, as well as ineffective. Four of us went. Sam was one but the passage of time has stolen all recollection of the other two. 

As usual, I was the smallest, and although the dumpster would have 
accommodated a baseball team, I was elected to go in alone. In retrospect, I 
was probably too compliant.  Reach into a receptacle without looking first and you can be surprised.  Perhaps you recall the news story years later of a lawyer reaching into his mailbox only to find a Python, thoughtfully put there by his friends at Synanon. I found a large trashbag and fearlessly reached in and felt around. 

Unlike our lawyer in the Python story, there was nothing alive in the 
bag--that is unless you count the bacteria and other micro-organisms 
associated with used sanitary napkins. A Python may have inflicted a serious injury on me, but would not have grossed me out nearly as much.
Well, the "contest" ended just as suddenly as it had begun. We just 
stopped hunting Marlboros, but not before the pledges stole our Marlboros and blamed it on the Delts and we retaliated by stealing the Delts' Marlboros (or silverware or something). As usual, our enthusiasm and participation made us the champions of all the Greek Organizations at collecting Marlboros.

Our days in the Fraternity were priceless. They taught us the principles of brotherhood, which, if practiced by the nations of the World, would lead to peace and harmony. They taught us the art of working together toward a common goal. Last but not least, they taught us that idle and useless activities were not, as most would have it, a complete waste of time as long as two or more of us did them together.

Stu Olster

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