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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm
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S&B Cribs: All thumbs on deck at Thumb Thumb House

At 1030 East Street, Esther Hwang, Anh Thu Pham, Kyle Lindsey and Caelin Bryant, all ’19, and Judith Tong ’20, reside in Thumb Thumbs House, which, according to Hwang, is named after the Thumb Thumbs from “Spy Kids.”

At 6 p.m. on Monday Nov. 11, the five gathered around their dinner table eat homemade mac and cheese with fried scallions and tea leaf salad made by their friend Paul Chan Htoo Sang ’21.

Sometimes I come home and Esthers making food and shes like, ‘You want some?” and Im like, ‘Of course I do!’” said Tong.

The five have scattered various decorations around their house, such as the 3D vegetable stickers in the kitchen, the chicken wire earring hanger on the wall, and two plants hanging about the kitchen sink.

Im really into plants, Tong said. This guy is a water plant, so youll never overwater it.

Tong said that modifying the space she lives in is important to her, which is why she prefers living off campus to a project house.

Project houses and project floors are a bunch of strangers trying to come together, but were all familiar and friends with each other, said Lindsey.

Between the kitchen and the living room, the residents have hung a movie screen, and behind the house, they converted a chicken coop into an enclosed porch.

Hwang and Bryant began looking at houses last November, and saw 1030 East Street first.

It was this one or the one next door, and the one next door had a kitchen upstairs and a kitchen downstairs, said Hwang. Thats just too much kitchens.

Bryant said the house at 1030 seemed right for them immediately.

The living room really sold it for me, because when its sunny out, the rays come in, theres rainbows everywhere, said Bryant.

As to the reasoning behind the houses name?

“The joke is were five thumbs, like were five very capable people,” said Pham. “No fingers in here, just a handful of thumbs.”

Tong suggested that the group dress up as thumbs for Halloween, and although that did not happen, Tong believes the name still stands.

“Were still thumbs, were thumbs at heart,” Tong said.

Tong said that she can be whoever she wants while living with the other four.

“I think a large part of all of our experiences in Grinnell has been community and making our own community,” Bryant said. “These people are my family.”

Hwang said that she and Bryant only had two requirements in looking for roommates: the people had to be nice and clean.

Our kitchen sink is usually empty,” Pham said. We do each others dishes, and its very nice to know that I can clean up after someone and not be salty about if they’re going to do the same for me, because I know that they will.”

Tong said that the five share everything.

We wear each other’s clothes,” Pham said. Kyle doesnt. If he wanted to, he could, but he hasnt expressed interest.”

Tong said that she’s less stressed while living with her friends than she was living on campus.

This year is so much better for me, physically and also mentally,” Tong said. I come home and I dont have to be stressed out about everything.”

Initially, Tong worried that she would lose alone time from living in a house with her friends, but has loved living in Thumb Thumbs House this year.

I’m not a loner, but I really enjoy and value alone time, and I was wondering if I would have an issue living here, living in a room with all my best friends, but I have not had an issue at all,” Tong said. “Its always good, with everyone.”

Lindsey said that living together has brought him closer to the other four, and Pham says that living with friends helps her relax.

“Whenever I go home, being around people that I love helps me decompress. I dont have to decompress by myself,” Pham said.

Pham also said that because their house is not a party house, not a lot of people know about it.

“This is definitely one of the best off-campus houses to live in, but its like low key,” Tong said.

Pham said that the five have created rules to help them live together.

“We have rules? What are the rules?” Lindsey said.

One rule is that nobody can sit in the melon chair according to Pham. The melon chair is a chair in which the five store fruit, usually melons.

“Theres no more melons because we ate them all,” Pham said.

They also keep a mannequin in the living room, although the mannequin’s upper half is currently on loan to Art House. As a second rule, someone must touch the mannequin once a day, Hwang said.

“It needs physical love and affection,” Hwang said.

The house also boasts a stripper pole and a “floor bed,” which Tong and Pham created out of mattresses.

They gathered unwanted mattresses and blankets to cover the floor of their room with bedding.

Tong said, “Whenever someone had a mattress they didnt need, or whenever we go to someones house and see a mattress, were like, ‘Hey, are you using that mattress?and theyre like, ‘No, do you want it? A lot of energy was put into the compilation of all these things.”

The sixth member of Thumb Thumbs house is their stuffed seal, Platson-Finton Round ’19.

“Platson is our son,” Hwang said.

From left to right: Esther Hwang ’19, Judith Tong ’20, Caelin Bryant ’19, Kyle Lindsey ’19 and Anh Thu Pham ’19 gathered around the Thumb Thumb table.
Photo by Liz Paik
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