Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2008 12:00 am | By C. Christie Nute '67

"Alumni Tales" is a new web-only feature where alumni bring you stories of their days at Grinnell.

C. Christie Nute ’67C. Christie Nute '67 kicks off our new feature with her adventures on a unicycle. What was life like when you were a student?
Share your own alumni tale.

One of my favorite tales happened during a long weekend break sometime in the late fall of my sophomore year. I got a telephone call from a friend, Robin Konikow '66 (now called Bob), who asked if I would like to join him and his unicycle buddies to do a halftime show at a basketball game in a few days. I asked him if I would need to learn how to ride one of the unicycles, and his response was that no, I would only have to ride about on the shoulders of someone riding a unicycle! Then he said, "Oh, by the way, Barb [Breckenridge '65] will be there, but she'll only do it if I can find another girl to join us." After some serious encouragement, I agreed to come to Darby Gym and see which unicyclist would get to carry me around.

There were four or five guys there, including Robin, Jim Williams '70, and a few others whose names I am sorry to say I no longer remember. We practiced for several hours over the next day or so, and I rode around on Jim's shoulders, and Jim rode the "giraffe" unicycle, and we ended the show with a "three-two pyramid." We had a ball, and our little demonstration was a great success ... and that was how Jim and I became a couple, and boy did we make a strange-looking pair going across campus, he on a unicycle, me on my bicycle, holding hands! (Jim, if you're out there and read this, give me a call and let me know how you and your family are doing!)

Jim did have another adventure on one wheel. Leaving Burling Library to join me for dinner, he rode his unicycle down the ramp with a load of books under one arm. As he took the right turn to head to the Quadrangle, he "peaked out" (head and body going just a tad faster than feet and wheel). He flew in one direction, the unicycle in another, and the books in a third ... all in the midst of a group of prospective students and their parents taking a campus tour! I think they all got a far more stimulating sense of campus life at Grinnell than anyone could have anticipated!

three guys ride unicycles, holding up two women
Barbara Breckenridge Franklin ’66 and Christie Nute ’67 are riding high on the shoulders of unicyclists (l to r): Donald Potter ’66, Robert "Robin" Konikow ’66, and Jim Williams ’70. Thanks to David Doty ’66 for identifying Potter; Doty writes: "When not riding a unicycle, Don rode a Harley Davidson . . .and competed in hill climbs! Does anyone know where Don is today?"
Two men on unicycles hold a woman's hands as they ride around her, resulting in her crossed arms
Tied in knots! Left to right, Jim Williams, Barb Breckenridge Franklin, and Robin Konikow.
One man dunks a basketball from a unicycle that makes him about twice as tall as normal. Another man on a unicycle looks to have just passed the ball up to him
Slam dunk! Jim Williams on the "giraffe" sinks the ball after a pass from Robin Konikow.
This article appeared as a web extra for The Grinnell Magazine, Fall 2008.