Office of the VP for Communications – Keeping alumni and friends connected to U-M

Alumni Memories

  1. Having left the shores of India for UK in December 1949 by MV Himalaya and from there for USA by RMS Queen Mary, I reached Ann Arbor in January 1950. The first of many changes to take in my stride was the climate, coming from hot India to freezing USA. I rented a room at 927 Sylvan Avenue which became a home away from home, living with other Indian students and the land lady, Mrs. Mable E. Palmer. It was walking distance from the Engineering College.

    Being a vegetarian, it was tough to manage with the food served at the Men’s Union. Some respite was found at the Michigan League (where the quality of food & ambience were great!) and a corner drug store. Dinner on weekends at a downtown restaurant and watching movies at the theatre MICHIGAN were a treat. My first introduction to the banana-split was at the Men’s Union!

    The first alien experiences were to go through a dress-down health check, and registration & course selection with the help of a Counsellor. The campus was large. I have fond memories of the Department Faculty. Late Professor Harry Benford was friendly and I kept in touch with him for many years after returning to India, exchanging Christmas Cards. His Christmas Cards were self designed and always humorous. 50 years after I first arrived in Ann Arbor, I had the great pleasure of visiting the University again in the summer of 2000 with my wife and daughter. We stayed at the Artful Lodger Bed & Breakfast. We met my roommate and friend Dr. Keki Irani who was by then Professor Emeritus, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Unfortunately Prof. Benford was travelling in India at that time and I could not meet him. The expansion of North Campus was a big change to witness. We visited the beautiful botanical gardens.

    Of the few mementoes I have from my years at UM, is a metal measuring tape which I bought from a stationery shop opposite the West Engineering College. It serves me well even now!

    • AJIT CHOKSI
    • BSE 1953
  2. Flashback to the '50s

    I grew up in Detroit, attended Cass Tech H.S., and came to live in East Quad as a freshman in 1954. East Quad was experimenting with co-ed housing at that time. I lived in Hinsdale House with a courtside view of the two women’s houses. It was rumored that the women’s bathrooms still retained urinals but that they were then used to water geraniums that were placed in pots in them.

    Several of my classes were in the Natural Science building. Comparative Anatomy was held in the large lecture room and I remember needing to get there early for an 8 a.m. lecture class with Dr. Stockard who, by 8 a.m. had already filled two boards with drawings and lecture notes. It was common practice to have a friend draw while you took notes that could be shared and then switch off the next week. I also remember taking Physics and having Dr. Donald Glaser (recently deceased Nobel Prize recipient) as my lab instructor. He made us think that his inspiration for tracking atomic particles came from watching bubbles rise in his pitcher of beer at the "P-Bell."

    When a job opening occurred at the Botanic Gardens on Iroquois, I felt lucky to get that job because it led to my getting to know several professors who were either teaching or conducting research there. One was Dr. Elzada Clover, the first women to navigate the Colorado River in double -prowed plywood rafts. A highlight of her Botany 2 course was her showing the 8mm film of that trip from the late 1930s. We also learned that the Havasupai Indians introduced her contingent to peyote. Such a revelation to our not so worldly-wise sophomore ears! I later came to be one of her teaching assistants in Botany 2, a class that mostly enrolled female elementary school teachers-to-be. My wife of now 50 years was one of them.

    Going to summer classes for two years at the U of M Biological Station on Douglas Lake near Pellston led to several great adventures. One of the more memorable was spending a Friday or Saturday evening at Hoppy’s, a roadside tavern 3.2 backroad miles from UMBS in the company of several professors and many classmates. Another involved taking cages of Purple Martins to the Northwest Airlines terminal in Pellston to have them released by airline personnel wherever planes were traveling and then charting how long and well it took these homing birds to get back their house on Douglas Lake.

    Making new friends, being exposed to good and great teaching, being in the midst of wonderful musical and dramatic theater and observing Big 10 athletics as well as living at a time and in a place where history was being made gave me the unique experience of becoming the first college-educated member of my family.

    Peter Wilson ’54, ’58

    • Peter G Wilson
    • BS (Biology) 1958
  3. Our Good Life

    My experiences at the U. of M. were exceptional. I met my husband, George Carbon Wolfe (who had just been discharged from the service), my sophomore year. We were both sophomores as he had attended the U. of M. before he went into the service. We met bussing dishes at the Men’s Union. (I had just joined a sorority and thought I had better make some extra money). We fell in love and were married on June 12,1947 and graduated together on our first wedding anniversary, June 12,1948. He continued at Michigan for another year when he received his MBA. We moved to Ohio and had two daughters, (both are grandmothers now).
    We have traveled all over the world and leave for Perth, Australia tomorrow for an 18-day cruise on RCCL’s “Radiance of the Seas.”
    Truly, Marjorie L. Wolfe

    • Marjorie Wolfe
    • B.A. 1948
  4. The video sent today about receiving one’s letter of acceptance to UM reminded me of mine for the Law School in the spring of 1965. The letter was addressed to me in my full name: Michael Patrick Sullivan. That alone would not have made it memorable, but then I noticed the date on the letter: March 17, 1965 (St. Patrick’s Day). I knew right then that somebody in the Admissions Office had a sense of humor and that I was going to love Michigan…and I do! Somewhere, I still have that letter.

    • Michael P. Sullivan
    • J.D. 1968
  5. My experiences from'63-67'

    I started in Jan 1963. I did not enter a degree program. I had a very rich uncle who gave me a blank checkbook and said “Go to school, but remember that whatever you spend, you have to pay back!” Well, I took whatever courses I felt like.
    I received a great education. I lived in east Quad for a year or 2 and then an apartment on Lawrence Street. My best memories were all the great motorcycles parked in a row across from the Union.
    Basically no two alike. What I liked best was the openness of all the labs. Even the Phoenix Reactor wasn’t off limits. I have since then started numerous businesses, most of them scientific. I make (grow) laser crystals…..ruby, NdYAG, TiSapphire, sapphire, cubic zirconia, etc… I make speciality paints and lacquers also. I went to MSU later, but absolutely hated the environment…..everything was far less open and I felt highly regulated. My time at U of M is what I attribute my success to.
    Thank you U of M!!!!!

    • Larry Paul Kelley
    • none
  6. I am the 3rd engineering graduate from our family. Father (Casimer,1930(?)BSME; brother Jan, 1956,BSEE) and distinctly remember my first few weeks as freshman in the South Quad.

    I had the privledge of living next door to two distingnuised enginering students who somehow built a car engine piece by piece and started it up in their room. When it fell off the block, that went over really big on campus.

    We had this nasty habit of turning on all the hot water faucets in the men’s room at the end of the hall and letting it run, creating a great steam room. That didn’t go over very well either.

    • Paul Gogulski
    • BSCE
  7. I’m wondering what ever happened to SCHWABEN INN, which was a popular bar and hangout for Michigan students, located on Liberty and Ashley streets in downtown Ann Arbor in the 1950’s. I remember the place well, and wonder if anyone else does and could offer some info. about its history and demise.

    • Robert Bell
    • AB 1954
  8. Does anyone remember House Mothers at residences on campus? I certainly do…I lived in East Quad. and also the SAE fraternity in the 1950’s. Both had live-in House Mothers, who were great additions to the quality of living. I guess this is a thing of the past but I believe was a great help in keeping life good in those days. The “Good Old Days” were actually GOOD.

    • Robert Alexander Bell
    • A.B. Economics 1954
  9. I remember taking classes in a Quanset temporary building across from the old University Hospital on campus in 1951. I also remember many hours spent in the old Economics building, which I understand burned down. My favorite professor was Prof Huber, who never failed to entertain us particularly at 8:00 a.m.early class. Great Memories. I hope students today have great memories as I have.

    • Robert Alexander Bell
    • A.B. Economics 1954