The Pizza House and its upstairs apartments have miraculously survived at Indiana University of Pennsylvania as the school expands and replaces its outdated housing with hotel-like dorms.
By Scott Beveridge
The last college dump where I lived as a student had character.
Its 1940s-era in-wall kitchen unit in the living room was no more than 4 feet wide and 5 feet tall. Yet it held a small dead refrigerator, two stovetop gas burners that worked but stayed off for our safety, a sink with a dry faucet, a few drawers and a dish cabinet. It was nothing more, really, than a conversation piece in the two-bedroom apartment I shared with the friendliest of roommates.
He drank nearly a case of Heineken himself a day while also smoking enough marijuana to sedate a moose, and still he managed to ace his courses in the late 1970s at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
We shared the place above Pizza House on Oakland Avenue at the outer edges of IUP’s Oak Grove during the fall semester in 1977 when I was a senior and before I forever said goodbye to the campus as a student. It was time to student teach and return to the real world.
The clapboard Victorian-era pizza shop was then next door to the Theta Chi house. I first visited the apartment in the spring of 1977 when it was home to the fraternity’s officers before they decided to give the place up for good. The guys were happily preparing a “meal” for hell night, the big party before their pledges were welcomed into the club.
One frat brother urinated into the newer refrigerator in the living room, straight into a bowl of punch that would soon be served to the minions. Nearby, a few other brothers were preparing the evening’s appetizers, mini crèpes topped with shaving cream.
Oddly, it was the same night the fraternity brothers invited me inside for a tour, hoping that I would agree to sublease the apartment. The party-preparation scene was enough to convince me that I had made the right decision to follow a path independent of such fraternal organizations. This one would later be sternly disciplined for its hazing practices.
The apartment, though, would safely be mine for the next few months.
It also came with another benefit that was especially welcomed by this starving artist. The owners of the joint on the first floor generously gave us the leftover pizzas each night at closing time. And, it was not uncommon for us to place an anonymous order late in the evening to make sure there was some warm grub on our coffee table.
The Pizza House is still there, relatively unchanged save for a few new coats of paint.
Fortunately this house has survived as the campus gobbles up property and constructs new dormitories that have all the comforts of suites in a Marriott Hotel.
It’s hard to imagine a sterile room in one of those new dorms could ever compete with the charm of those living quarters above the Pizza House. College, after all, was supposed to be about roughing it and building scrumptious memories while also earning an education.