The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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

High tides on Treasure Island

Gus Petersen, Michael Cermak, Remy Ferber and Eric Streed (all ’14) enjoy the high life. Photo by Dylan Fisher.

It’s 6:32 p.m. and the sidewalk bordering High Street is a pool of snowmelt. My sneakers are wet, my socks are wet. I am late. The walk from campus to the large white house halfway between Fourth Street and Third Street took longer than expected. I wade through the snowmelt and the shadows of nightfall that cast in angles across the street. At the house, the porch light is switched off. I can’t find a doorbell. Should I knock?

My mom was right. I am not a journalist.

Upstairs. I stare into a wooden coffee table. It holds a set of silver dumbbells and the early stages of a card game I don’t recognize. We begin with introductions.

The house, located at 814 High Street, is affectionately introduced as Treasure Island, a selfless gesture to Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise. The residents say the name almost in unison. Treasure Island has four known residents: Remy Ferber, Gus Petersen, Michael Cermak and Eric Streed (all ‘14).

“At one point in time we all played [Ultimate] Frisbee together,” Petersen revealed of the four.

We are in the upstairs living room, the residents’ unequivocally favorite room in the house. The room is lined with couches and comfortable chairs. I sit close to the door, across from Cermak, on the other side of the coffee table.

I distract myself with the voice recorder and Ferber and Petersen wave me back into focus. Streed is on my right. We played flag football together during the spring of second year. Does he remember me?

Jokingly, they offer me a “pirate shot” (the name evidently derives from a large pirate-themed shot glass). I laughed clumsily, neither declining nor accepting. Do journalists bring host gifts to interviews? Beer? Flowers? Humor? I have nothing. We tread forward.

Gus Petersen, Michael Cermak, Remy Ferber and Eric Streed (all ’14) enjoy the high life. Photo by Dylan Fisher.
Gus Petersen, Michael Cermak, Remy Ferber and Eric Streed (all ’14) enjoy the high life.
Photo by Dylan Fisher.

“We’re actually an island on High Street,” Ferber said with a laugh. Streed added, “We’re really far away [from campus and other off-campus houses].”

Reluctantly, the four known residents reveal their spirit animal. “We’ll go with the parrot.” Petersen and Streed respond in tandem. Cermak squawks.

The residents seemed happy to be together in the house. “Michael and I aren’t here a lot. We’re probably like the guests,” Ferber said.

“Eric and I are the residents,” Petersen added.

“It’s sometimes frustrating not being able to see these guys all the time,” Streed said. The rest nod in agreement.

Despite numerous commitments outside of the house, the four residents still try to find time to spend together as a house. In the past, they have embarked on spontaneous dance parties in a downstairs living room decorated in life-size cardboard cutouts of famous politicians and actors. I catch Hillary Clinton in a corner. She stares back at me. The house also prepares the occasional feast.

“At one point over the summer, we roasted pig testicles over a fire in the backyard on sticks,” Petersen fondly recalled. “They tasted pretty good.”

Though Cermak, Ferber, Petersen and Streed are the official residents of Treasure Island, it is quite possible they are not its only inhabitants. The downstairs of the house might very well be haunted. This is not the first ethereal episode Cribz has encountered. Scarlet & Black remains on the frontline of haunted off-campus student housing.

“The first night I slept here I felt like someone was walking past my door all the time,” Cermak revealed. As he spoke, I hold my tongue, almost suggesting the possibility of mass paranormal disturbances throughout Grinnell. In the past, the house has had many occupants.

“We get a lot of people’s mail,” Petersen said. This includes letters for one young woman who was involved in beauty pageants. It is unclear, which, if any, of these past occupants, currently haunt Treasure Island.

We are 16 minutes into the interview and I have run out of questions. Mick Jagger croons “Beast of Burden” from speakers on a desk in the corner of the room.

A final effort: I apply a brief Rorschach test to mixed results. The group exchanges comments on each inkblot. Streed breaks into the literary: “A boulevard leading up to the Eiffel tower. Trees. Bushes.” The group is in reverential awe. “I’ll go with that,” Cermak said.

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