In the Summer of 1999
, the Johns Hopkins University Barnstormers
began preparation for their annual Orientation
performance. The show to be produced:
' "All in the Timing
." One of the plays, Words, Words, Words
called for a tire swing
to be suspended from the ceiling
of the theater so that a
character representing a monkey
could swing on it.
Since the "theater" was actually a converted lecture hall, there was no lattice
of supporting beams from which human-and-tire-load-bearing ropes could be hung. Enter
one anonymous yet creative technical director who, with the help of some scraps of
lumber, a concrete drill bit, and several 3/4" bolts, attached a rig to the building
structure that could be used as an attachment point for a variety of set pieces.
As the show closed, it quickly became apparent that the administrators of the
building were suspicious of the hack-job that had been accomplished, so it was
by the production staff of the show that the rig should be removed and most
covered up. During the typical set tear-down, the
technical director who built the
ceiling-mounted atrocity climbed a ladder with a circular saw and went to work on
destroying his masterpiece.
One of the scraps of lumber that fell back to earth consisted of a 4x4 with a 2x4
securely attached to it. There were two slots in in the 4x4 on the side facing the 2x4
such that a person with large enough hands could carry the piece of scrap and have his
or her fingers "guarded" from any attack. This particular piece of wood also had a
short length of 4x4 attached at a 90 degree angle on one end. Thus, with someone
holding the wood by the "handles," it appeared to be a large wooden Thor-like hammer. The Official Barnstormers Beat Down Stick was born.
The implement of destruction was quickly dubbed The Godfather and was used for
dismantling remaining portions of the set. It has remained in the custody of
Barnstormers technical crew and has been decorated numerous times in the shows that
have occurred since.
Names have been removed to protect the guilty.
There are unsubstantiated rumors of students crying for the Gods of
Dongtar prior to swings of The Godfather.