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Tube Paintings

January 8, 2011 at 9:46 pm
By Collin Hazlett

(In which I describe a little-known but well-established Carleton tradition involving these two weird ventilation tube things that come out of the ground near Lyman Lakes.)

I first set foot on Carleton's campus when I was twelve years old, at my oldest cousin's graduation. In between marveling at the Chapel (which seemed so huge back then!) and eating those pulled-pork sandwiches which they always serve at Carleton graduation receptions, I took a walk around with my parents, came to a bridge over the Lyman Lakes, and saw these two weird little tubes sticking out of the ground.

They were shaped like candy canes, and, indeed, someone had painted them to look like candy canes. They were ventilation tubes of some sort, and they would have looked really ugly if they weren't painted to look like candy canes. I thought whoever had painted them had done a good job turning these two ugly weird tubes into a charming part of the landscape.

When I visited again a few years later for the graduation of my second-oldest cousin, I saw those two tubes again, but they were painted differently- I don't remember how exactly, but it might have been polka dots.

In fact, they were different every time I visited. Sometimes landscapes were painted on them, sometimes they had words, and sometimes they were covered in abstract doodles.

Now that I go to Carleton, I am able to keep tabs on how often the paint job of those two tubes changes. It seems to happen once or twice a term.

Right now they are outer-space themed, with stars, a swirling galaxy, a comet, and a little Goodsell Observatory painted in at the bottom. Before I went to Budapest, they were an elephant and a mouse, with the curvy part of the tube forming the elephant's trunk.

I don't know who paints those tubes, but I'd like to take this space to thank them for years of variety and entertainment.

Thank you, Tube Painters.

(When I get a camera again, I'll take some pictures of those tubes and post them here so you can see what I'm talking about.)


  • January 10 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Hi Collin - I found an old photo of the tubes and posted it to the Campus Photos site. I think you should document the changing look of the tubes for the remainder of your time at Carleton!