Alan Palmer Leonard


Died October 29, 1992

College: Pierson

Al Leonard and I lived in the same entry in Durfee during freshman year. Perhaps because we were both Southerners—from Tennessee and South Carolina—we struck up a friendship. We also shared “Leonard,” though for me it was a given name and for him it was the name of his family.

There was much horseplay within and between the three-man suites in Durfee. In the suite below mine, John Pierce and Sam Beard played ferocious games of hockey on the bare floors; below them, Al and his roommates inflicted devilish tricks on each other. As a result, one of Al’s mates began to bear a sizeable grudge against him.

One night, I was visiting in Al’s rooms. The roommate with the grudge had gone to bed. Being eighteen and witless, the few of us who were gathered there decided to throw a firecracker under his bed. We crept into his darkened room, lit the firecracker, skidded it under the frame, and waited for the fun to begin. It exploded with enough force to wake the dead, much less Al’s sleeping roommate, who leaped straight to a standing position, a fighter’s crouch, really, with fists flailing. Everyone managed to burst out of the little room but me. I held my ground, confident, somehow, that all would be forgiven once he knew who I was. As he barreled toward me, I cried, “It’s Leonard Todd, not Al Leonard!” This made absolutely no difference to him. He ploughed right through me, leaving me with a black eye and maybe a small bit of wisdom from the school of hard knocks.

Al and I both went on to live in Pierson College. Perhaps he, too, had learned something from life in Durfee, for he requested single quarters, free of roommates.

—by Leonard Todd