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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Skymall soars on ethereal plane

From the outside, 1008 High St. could be mistaken for just another normal house. It is only when viewed on an ethereal plane that 1008 exists completely outside of and beyond the physical confines of our mortal world. Christened Skymall, though pronounced ‘skihmuhl’, the house’s name refers to a Nordic word for love. Its members Chris Gallo, Emily Mester, Cassie Nedoroski, Abby Stevens and Sylvie Warfield (all ’14) live the Skymall lifestyle of transcendental wisdom, material consumerist ethos and ethereal consumerism.

“We want our home to be open to all ages, all states and all spiritual planes,” Stevens said, during the house ritual of ‘Séance Tuesday.’

Séance Tuesday arose as a weekly attempt to communicate with the departed. Past sessions have included attempted conferences with Richard Nixon, Brittany Murphy and victims of the Hindenburg disaster.

Candles are lit, lights are dimmed and a Séance Tuesday Spotify playlist is started. From there, the group is open to any ethereal being interested in a palaver.

A life-size ceramic Baby Jesus, which came included with the house, lies amidst a splayed deck of cards, a bottle of oyster sauce and knives. When all of these amulets are combined on the wooden table, handcrafted by Nedoroski, it facilitates an inviting environment for the souls of the eternally restless.

“Without her, the house just … wouldn’t exist,” Stevens remarked on Nedoroski’s impressive handicraft skill.


Chris Gallo, Cassie Nedoroski, Emily Mester, Abby Stevens and Sylvie Warfield (all ’14) pose with the many souls of Skymall. Photo by Joanna Silverman.
Chris Gallo, Cassie Nedoroski, Emily Mester, Abby Stevens and Sylvie Warfield (all ’14) pose with the many souls of Skymall.
Photo by Joanna Silverman.

The house is full of odds and ends. There isn’t a room that doesn’t have some material novelty to it.

“We strongly believe in materialistic animism. We believe all objects in this house have a soul and an essence, and they are trying to communicate it to us,” Mester said.

Their desire to be in touch with their house does not exclusively apply to the objects in it. In an effort to be in touch with their house, the members also started ‘Floor Fridays.’ where everything normal done on furniture is moved to the floor.

“The floor is an underappreciated thing, we couldn’t get anywhere in the house without the floor,” Warfield added.

The group has adopted Aubrey Graham, also known as Drake or Wheelchair Jimmy, as their patron deity and Dwayne “Lil’ Wayne” Michael Carter, Jr. as the guardian protector of the home. A shrine venerating Drake overlooks the comfortably organized living room, named Marvin’s Room, while a large picture of Lil’ Wayne gazes coolly over those who dwell within.

Adjacent to the dinosaur-necklace-wearing shrine hangs a house painting of a fire breathing Border Collie frolicking in a meadow. A large tapestry depicting an underwater coral reef covers one full wall. The house casually uses the tapestry as a portal for swimming with their imaginations.

“The goal is that if Drake walked in, he would like it, and if the Holy Ghost walked in, he would like it, too,” Mester explained.

The residents emphasize their openness to anyone and anything. There is a strong paranormal gnome presence some days and on others, and the ghost can be heard in the walls. The house is the second oldest in Grinnell and dates back to the 1850’s. One barman at Rabbitt’s Tavern swears the house is haunted.

The group does not mind sharing the house with the supernatural, however, rather embracing this element.

“I will say I am a shape-shifter. I can take on any form. Sometimes it’s three women and one man and one tennis racket,” Mester shared.

The group does bond over non-paranormal activities, as well. Other themed days include ‘JSTOR Thursdays,’ a day dedicated to appreciating the fine articles that can be found on the digital library. ‘Jell-O Shot Saturdays’ is a delicious and self-explanatory day, and ‘Scooter Sunday’ is where movement throughout the house may only be facilitated by scooter.

Each of these weekly traditions continually develops the group dynamic that places this house on a completely different plane.

“[The house is] like a holy unity, it’s like the Sister Wives and Real Housewives combined with a touch of 7th Heaven and a bit of Jersey Shore,” Warfield described. “It’s resulted in a magical harmony.”

Though much of the life at 1008 High St. is on planes unknown, there is the reality of rent, grocery runs and cleaning. The group manages the responsibility of adult life admirably, however, while still making time to eat meals together or watch classic World Wrestling Entertainment reruns.

“Sometimes it’s tough, I’ll admit it, but at the end of the day we all love each other,” Gallo said. “Whether they love each other, they each love me and so by the transitive property we all love each other.”

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