The spooky story of “Trust Your Buddy…”

Last night, I was interviewed by a fellow WHCL on-air personality and current Hamilton student Kate Miller (no relation). Her show, “Hamilton Haunts,” airs on Wednesday nights at 1pm on WHCL, and I encourage you to tune in. Over the years, Kate has found what she considers evidence of the college being a repository for spirits and apparitions. And she recounts those stories on her radio show.

With that in mind, I told her of the creepy story of “Trust Your Buddy.”

Follow me on this.

Back in ancient times (okay, the early 1980’s), Hamilton College had several fraternities. And realistically, at that time Greek life was important for undergraduates. If your family had lots of money, you joined Alpha Delta Phi. If you had some money, you joined Delta Phi. Chi Psi was the home of the pre-meds and pre-laws, Theta Delta Chi was the home of the outdoorsmen, football players joined Psi Upsilon, lacrosse players went to Delta Upsilon, the Deadheads and Ultimate Frisbee aficionados lived at Sigma Phi, while the arts people (including me) bunked at the Emerson Literary Society. There was also a Delta Kappa Epsilon, but they seemed to always be on double secret probation for one offense or the other.

And if you know anything about fraternity life, you know that fraternities will put their pledges through any sort of initiation to join their ranks. Scrub the main hall with your toothbrush? Yep. Eat a jar of mayonnaise straight out of the fridge? Certainly.

One fraternity at the time, and for the life of me I can’t remember which one, had a unique initiation in the college’s Root Glen. It was called “Trust Your Buddy.”

Pledges were taken to the Root Glen in the middle of the night, where they were blindfolded. Then they made a human chain by putting their hands on the back shoulders of the pledge in front of them, who in turn would put HIS hands on the back shoulders of another blindfolded pledge. They then had to walk across the Root Glen, blindfolded, trusting the pledge in front to make the right step.

Oh, and if I haven’t shown you this before, THIS is the Root Glen.

The Walkway. Rolleiflex Automat MX camera, efke 100 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

I should note that the Root Glen goes for about a mile with these bridges.

You can imagine what might happen.

One student claimed his hands were on the shoulders of his pledge buddy, as they all traipsed in some half-inebriated conga line, from one end of the Glen to the other. And then … whether he slipped on a leaf or whether some ghostly hands guided him to turn left when everyone else was going right …



It took some time for the paramedics to arrive. The kid suffered a fractured pelvis, and I can’t remember if he ever returned back to campus to finish his academic stint or not.

But yeah, something may have happened on that cold, chilly evening.

Spooky stuff, I think…

Anyways, take a listen to Hamilton Haunts on WHCL every Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. Fun stuff.

And make sure to listen … with the lights on …