The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Writing on the walls: Going behind the walls of The Pub

Many Vanderbilt students have left their mark on this campus in a variety of ways — some students have left their legacies (and phone numbers) on the walls of The Pub. We called them to see what they’re up to now.
Bella Guzman
Entrance of The Pub at Overcup Oak, as captured on Feb. 11, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Bella Guzman)

Vanderbilt students have a certain ambition. Past, present and future, our student body strives to make their mark both on campus and beyond. Some take this personal challenge quite literally, leaving their mark on campus written on the walls of The Pub. On my very first trip to The Pub, I noticed how different the energy was from the rest of campus. The dimly lit booths, exposed brick and plethora of TV screens made it feel like an actual sports bar. What caught my attention though was the amount of scribbling on the walls, specifically the people who left messages of “call me” along with their phone numbers. I decided to take the invitation to find out who was behind the walls of The Pub. 

Writing on a brick wall in one of the booths of The Pub, as captured on Feb. 11, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Bella Guzman) (Bella Guzman)

Allow me to walk you through the process of this undertaking. Once I mustered the courage to actually commit to calling the numbers, I had to collect them. A group of friends and I took a trip to The Pub for dinner, making sure to hop in all the booths and take a picture of every phone number we could find. After a quick run-through, we found 15, although I am positive there are more. Then, it was time to make the calls.

I began my calls by writing an explanation that I would pitch to the person on the other end of the line and drafted a few interview questions. After calling about eight numbers and getting met with plenty of voicemails and one Google Virtual Assistant, I was getting a little discouraged and began to doubt if anyone would even answer. Then, on the next number, after a few rings, I heard someone pick up on the other end. To my delight, Portia Jones (‘23), agreed to the interview.

[Bella Guzman] “Okay, so my question is, why did you decide to write your number on the wall of The Pub?”

[Portia Jones] “It was a silly thing. I guess freshman year, a group of friends and I decided to all go eat at The Pub. We just saw all the writing on there, and the funny comments and numbers. We kind of figured that no one would ever call, but we were just like, ‘what if it happens?’ We decided to all just put our numbers up there and kind of see and so far, I’ve been called three times after I graduated.”

[BG] “That is intriguing, it’s like they had to wait until you were gone and completely forgot you wrote your number. What are you doing now that you have graduated?”

[PJ] “I’m still in Nashville; my mom just recently moved here. Originally, I lived in New Jersey, so I was hoping to go back home. But since my mom moved, I’ve been here, just working doing some graphic design and starting a small business for myself!”

Jones shared that while at Vanderbilt she studied art and worked with her professors on different projects such as printmaking and pottery, which she had been doing for seven years prior. One of Jones’ art pieces, “Melanated Drip” is even showcased on the second floor of Sarratt.

Wrapping up our conversation, it was time to ask Jones my last question.

[BG] “If you could give your college self one piece of advice, what would it be?”

[PJ] “I would probably say to open up a little more and experiment. I think, unfortunately, I was kind of closed off just because I’m more of an introvert. I did make friends, but I wasn’t always open to meeting new people if I already had a group to myself. I always just stuck to doing what I was told to do instead of maybe experimenting and exploring other majors, so that once you finally leave college [you] already have an idea of what you don’t like [and] what you do.”

Jones and I had a lovely conversation and it gave me hope that I would have even more with others. My next successful call was with current sophomore Ludvig Denker. 

[Bella Guzman] “Ludvig, I just have this question for you. Why did you write your number on the wall at The Pub?”

[Ludvig Denker] “You know, other people write stuff on the wall in The Pub. I felt like I was just gonna write my number, you know? There’s no other reason. It’s just that everyone else has done it.”

[BG] “So if everyone else did something, you would do it too?”

[LD] “Not necessarily, I wouldn’t jump off of a cliff if all of my friends did it.”

[BG] “I see, so low risk?”

[LD] “Low risk, exactly.”

Our conversation had gotten off to a good start, but I felt my participant was a bit skeptical. He flipped the script and ended up asking me a question.

[LD] “I have a question actually: Are you really from The Hustler?”

I explained to Denker that I was indeed with The Hustler and I was indeed writing a story about this subject matter, case in point. I must have provided a sufficient answer since we continued our conversation. He was a little skeptical still, so I decided to ditch the follow-up questions and ask a new one. 

[BG] “What has been your favorite memory at Vanderbilt so far?”

[LD] “My favorite Vanderbilt memory? I would say it’s hard to say one thing specifically, but it’s all the little things combined. In a way like just going to Rothschild with my friends and eating dinner. Or you know, going to The Pub and getting dinner or going to a random basketball game. It’s hard to say one specific memory, it’s just everything combined. That’s what makes this the best school in America, no — in the world!”

Take note friends, Denker has great Vanderbilt pride, and you should, too. I decided to ask him more about his Vanderbilt experience. 

[BG] “Which Commons house did you live in?”

[LD] “West House.”

What a strange coincidence, Jones had also said she lived in West House. That would be two random unknown numbers I called that both lived in West House.

After continuing our interview, I learned that Denker was in club tennis and Kappa Theta Pi, the pre-professional technology fraternity on campus. With our conversation coming to a close, I had to know what final insights Ludvig had to share with the world. 

[BG] “One last question for you. If you could go back to your very first day of college, what is one piece of advice you would give yourself?”

[LD] “It’s all gonna be great and work out one day. I think as freshmen most people come in nervous, but there’s absolutely nothing to be nervous about because it’s all going to work out and you’re at the best school in the world! Just go with the flow. Whatever happens, happens.” 

That conversation sure did happen and I think that Denker gave us some wholesome advice. On that note, it was time for me to complete my journey with my last call to Barrett Fix (‘20). 

[Bella Guzman] “Why did you decide to write your number on the wall of The Pub?”

[Barrett Fix] “The Pub was one of my favorite places to eat with friends and it was always fun picking a different booth every time and seeing what crazy things we could find on the wall. I thought ‘what better way to leave my mark on Vandy than writing something myself and trying to think of something creative?’ I decided to do something that would end up rewarding myself, and that was writing my phone number with the message ‘Send memes.’ Ever since then, I get the occasional meme texted to me every few months or so. It’s been a lot of fun having that connection to Vandy and the students currently and getting the occasional joke.”

This was the “Send Memes” person? I wondered what he could be doing now! Fix shared that he returned to the West Coast back home to Los Angeles to become a mechanical engineer for Northrop Grumman. He explained that since he is from California, he never got to see snow unless he went to the mountains, so his favorite Vanderbilt memory was his sophomore year when they had a snow day. Continuing with the interview, I asked a bit of a throwback question for Fix. 

[BG] “Alrighty. What Commons House did you live in?”

[BF] “I lived in West House.”

[BG] “Okay, this is bizarre. You are the third person I’ve been able to contact through all these phone numbers and you were also the third person who said they lived in West!”

[BF] “I think that says a lot about West House — the type of people that we are. The ones that will take the risk and put a phone number on the wall.”

The trend here is obvious. Unfortunately, it was soon time to conclude my conversation with Barrett. 

[BG] “If you could give your college self one piece of advice, what would it be?”

[BF]  “Oh, heavy question. I would say, don’t put so much pressure on yourself. You’re already at a great school. I know that. Vandy does a great job of setting the expectations high and pushing you to be the best version of yourself. Just remember to stop and smell the flowers. Enjoy your time there because it’s going to end before you know it.”

Such great advice, Fix. 

After hearing the stories of other Vanderbilt students, past and present, I realized that I too had made my own memories connected to The Pub. I think this ability to create memories is one of the most important parts of the college experience. It fosters spaces for us to live and learn together, making memories and creating a path for future students to come. That is one special thing about Vanderbilt — the students have such dynamic character. They are always up for an adventure or taking the risks that end up paying off. At The Pub, drawings, doodles and signatures fill the walls with character. The most intriguing of them all, the phone numbers that leave behind a rich legacy for us to discover. 

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About the Contributor
Bella Guzman
Bella Guzman, Staff Writer and Photographer
Bella Guzman (‘26) is from Charlotte, N.C., and studies human and organizational development and sociology in Peabody College. When not writing for The Hustler, you can find her training in the gym, listening to a new podcast or planning her next travel adventure. You can reach her at [email protected].
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