The Second Glance essay in the Fall-Winter 2013 issue of ACU Today magazine provides the campus legend an opportunity to explain himself and several of the memorable stunts he and a band of merry-makers pulled as students at Abilene Christian University more than 40 years ago.
He began what he calls the “Fullerton Plan” in Fall 1962, taking leave of school to join the U.S. Coast Guard in Spring 1964, then rebooting his college career as a 25-year-old in Fall 1969 and even becoming editor of The Optimist newspaper for the 1970-71 school year.
One example of Fullerton’s eagerness to embrace new ideas – in addition to what he writes about in ACU Today – took place in Fall 1972, when he attempted a bicycle jump of the GATA Fountain in the campus mall. That was not today’s GATA Fountain, which features recirculating water jets to spray water in the air, then quickly drain it away, giving little opportunity for some of the pranks GATA Fountain v1 provided.
Prior to its reconstruction, the fountain was surrounded by a low, round concrete wall that held about 18 inches of water when full. That’s not a lot of liquid, but it was enough for students to toss each other in on birthdays, to sustain large catfish transplanted from area lakes, or to host a very short lap on skates when frozen. University administrators tired of paying for the fountain to be cleaned every time some freshman thought they’d be the first to pour in a box of laundry detergent. The fountain was just too easy a target for pranksters and too expensive to maintain every time a not-so-new bright idea was born.
We are aware of only one student to attempt to jump the fountain on a bike, a la Evel Knievel, the famous motorcycle daredevil who made a reputation for cheating death in much-publicized events during the 1960s and 1970s. The GATA landmark was not exactly the Snake River Canyon, but even Knievel might have given an ACU jump a second thought if limited to a motorless bike and makeshift wooden ramp.
You get two guesses as to who tried to fly across GATA, and the first doesn’t count.
Fullerton explained that an Optimist photographer had acquired a new motor drive for his camera and wanted to test its ability to record up to 10 frames a second, slowing the capture on 35mm film of an otherwise fast-developing scene. “We bumped into one another after supper in the Bean and he asked me to ‘help’ him test it,” Fullerton said. “The result(s) are timeless. I was a 28-year old senior, still searching for the meaning of life.”
He also was soon searching for dry clothes, his bike clearing only the entrance ramp before dumping Raymon in the drink.
Enjoy “Making Amends,” his essay about life as a ground-breaking prankster who appreciates his life-changing ACU learning experience more every day. Fullerton lives in New York City with his wife, Lindy (Kyker ’74).
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