If you don't know what "phone booth packing" means, take a guess. It's what it sounds like : a bunch of people cramming themselves into a phone booth. Sounds pretty silly, huh? Well, to college kids in 1959, it wasn't silly at all. It was the thing to do with all of your friends. It involved getting at lest ten people toghether and seeing how many you could get to fit into a phone booth. The easy part, though, was that the door could be left open so as long as half of the person was in, it counted.
It began when a South African college said it had been able to fit twenty-five students into a booth made for one, setting a "world record" that has never been defeated. This set the competition off to a start that very same spring. Before coming to the North America, a group of London University students packed into one of the wide-body booths that were made over there. Unlike the inventors of this craze, they were only able to fit ninteen even though their booth was bigger.
As of early March, cramming sessions were under way on many U.S. and Canadian campuses. Some tried using extra-large fraternity hall phone booths, and a group of Canadian boys was able to jam forty of themselves into one. However, this was considered cheating, and from then on, usually only standard American sized booths were used to pack people in. Another rule that was soon made was that the phone booth had to be upright. At a junior college in Modesto, California, a phone booth was donated by a phone company and the students turned it on it's side. They succeeded in going thirty-four people high, but their record was argued as invalid.
Some real fun was had in April when seven young men from Fresno College crammed while underwater in a swimming pool. Not to be outdone, though, were theor co-eds who succeeded in jamming eight in the Fresno Hacienda Motel Pool.
A British rule was that one of the inhabitants had to either place a call or answer a ringing phone. While this was soon the case all over Britan, here in America only a few followed that requirement. But something that slowly changed everywhere was the neccessity for planned-packing. At the beginning of this fad, people would get in a booth like they were stuffing crumpled paper into a drawer. When they wanted to cram as many as possible in, though, they had to be a little bit more sophisticated about it.
One of the first planned styles of cramming was sandwhich-style. Ryerson Tech students in Toronto made this one up, but it was soon disregarded becuse of all the protruding legs coming from the booth. Students from MIT took a "scientific" approach, and were able to seat nineteen carefully and comfortably in a fraternity phone cubicle that was much larger than the regularly used type of booth. But the most efficient by far was the group at St. Mary's College in Moraga, California. They were encouraged to "Beat South Africa" and almost did. They were the group that came the closest by fitting twenty-two smallish students into a booth with a carefully planned and well-executed crosshatch stacking technique.
This fad began to expire when cramming of a differnt kind was introduced. Studying for May and June finals meant that students had to cooncentrate on other things. So when the stuffing stopped, it marked the end of an era, bringing on new things in the sixties.
*Return To GGG HomePage
Any suggestions for or comments about our site? Visit our general message board and. . .well. . .leave a message! You can also e-mail us and we'll try to get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks once again for visiting our site!