Nearly all myths and urban legends have several versions – all of them coming to the same bottom line but varying slightly in detail.
This one is no different.
All versions of the stories start with a group of male James Madison University students playing a sport on a muddy field somewhere on campus
In some versions, it's a bunch of guys from the same residence hall – or the same apartment complex. In other versions, it's members of a fraternity. The sport is most often football, but sometime it becomes soccer or rugby.
After the game, the mud-caked students head back to their dorm (or fraternity house or apartment complex) to shower up and go to dinner.
When they get back, they discover that the water has been turned off for some reason. They have no way to shower and remove the mud and grime of the JMU campus.
One of the muddy football/soccer/rugby players comes up with a bright idea. “President Carrier likes students,” he tells his buddies. “Maybe they'd let us use the showers in Hillcrest.” (From 1971 to 1978, President Ronald E. Carrier and his family lived in Hillcrest in the center of campus.)
The filthy crew marched up to the door of Hillcrest and knocked. Edith Carrier answered the door.
The dilemma was explained to Madison 's First Lady. Sure, she told the muddy students, come on in.
One by one, the mud-covered ball players trooped into the Hillcrest shower, scrubbed up, dried off with the Carriers' best towels, and went off – clean and happy – to D-Hall for dinner.
It's a wonderful story. Considering the close relationship the Carriers had with students, it very well could have taken place.