It was a pretty big deal when cable TV arrived at 28 City Hall Place in Plattsburgh. For those who know the town, this is the building right next to the eagle monument in City Hall Park.
The building has long since been gentrified, but back in September 1981 it was a squalid slum, a dirty firetrap on what was known as the city’s skid row. The occupants were mostly college students except for the building’s “managers,” an apartment full of sketchy local dudes who lived down in the basement. It was a far cry from the safety and comfort of on-campus life.
Our apartment was a complete dump and cable TV was our one luxury.
So there we were, watching Saturday Night Live, when the TV began sliding across the floor on its wheeled cart. It made it all the way over to the window and began jerking violently back and forth. The TV tumbled to the floor and the screen went to snow.
This was an amazing spectacle — and even though we were probably drunk or something, it didn’t take long to figure out what was happening. Someone had pulled the cable leading up to our third floor apartment right off the side of the building — and yanked on it until it came loose from the TV.
You didn’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to find the culprits. Following the wire, we discovered it was already snaked into the basement apartment. We knocked on the door, the sketchy local dudes apologized, and we used kite sting to hoist the wire back upstairs.
I don’t know what was more amazing: seeing the TV start moving across the floor or that these guys thought they could get away with swiping our cable wire? Either way, it was a fine introduction to off-campus life — and nothing that interesting had ever happened in my dorm.