USF Curiosities: Chickens in the elevator?

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Well, you can’t say that we don’t have fun at the University of South Florida…

Portrait of Phyillis Marshall with a construction hard hat on her head.
USF Digital Collections, “Phyllis Marshall at Special Events Center construction site” (U10-00193)

As one of the first resident instructors at USF, Phyllis Marshall came to the Tampa campus in the fall of 1960. At the time, Marshall was in charge of 47 women, who lived on the 4th floor of the University Center. She remembers the way the residents developed a set of rules for themselves and created new social organizations. She also remembers how the residents participated in some early antics.

Marshall admitted that she was being a “professional” resident instructor, who was perhaps a “little stodgy.” One morning, she woke up and “was amazed to see what those young women had done while [she] was asleep.” They had wrapped the entire building in toilet paper! The residents were quite proud of the job they had done; “they thought it was really funny because that was a hard job to wrap this entire building.” Laughing, the residents cleaned everything up in the early hours of the morning.

Then, one night, Marshall recalls getting a call from the front desk downstairs. The young man on the other end of the line said “Mrs. Marshall, there is something coming up in the elevator for you.” When she opened the elevator door, she found that the elevator was full of chickens! In response, she “just punched the button and called the young man at the desk and said, ‘There is something coming down the elevator for you.’”

An elevator sign with a cartoon chicken in the elevator

Discover more unique, and sometimes curious, stories from the early days of USF by listening to the recollections of faculty, staff, and students in the USF 25th Anniversary Oral History Project, housed in Digital Collections.


Want more USF Curiosities? Check out the posts in this series:



[1] Marshall, Phyllis. (2007). Paul Griscti, Interviewed by Hewitt  [Transcript]. USF 25th (1985) Anniversary Oral History Project (U14-00027). USF Digital Collections, Tampa, FL. Specific quotations were found on p. 7-8 of the transcript.

Image note: This image was created by merging two separate public domain images: 1) “Drawing Chicken Cartoon” by Piotr Siedlecki of and 2) “Elevator Freight Elevator Handicap” by philippeschneider of


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