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

Alumni Memories

  1. The night Kennedy came

    I was very excited to go to the Michigan Union to wait for
    Kennedy to visit (JFK at the Union, Jan 2008). I also saw Nixon at the train station when he came too. I brought my brownie Hawkeye camera and went with my boyfriend (later my husband) Jim Swonk and his buddies from South Quad.
    Hours passed and I grew tired of waiting in the crowd. I went to the second floor of the union and looked out the
    window over the entrance waiting for his arrival. When he
    finally came, I took a picture and without thinking ejected
    the bulb which dropped on him out the window. I have the
    picture of the top of his head and feet sticking out
    somewhere. I was afraid the security would come after me
    and ran away from the window.
    At one point I decided to stay out whether the dorms did or did not extend their hours for the occasion. They finally did.
    I lived on the hill in Couzens. Jim was so crowded by the crush of people when they separated the waiting students that he was lifted off his feet between others. After that he would not get in crowds for any reason for a long long
    time. It was one very exciting time. If the photo of him on the steps were from further away, you could have seen me hanging over the window ledge above, listening avidly.

    • Phyllis (Feldstein) Swonk
    • Cert Ed BS in Design MA
  2. Meeting JFK

    I was one of the students standing outside the Union (JFK at the Union, Jan 2008) when the open car with JFK and Jackie stopped–stuck in traffic. I stuck my hand out, shook hands with Sen. Kennedy and wished good luck to him and Mrs Kennedy. He smiled and said “Thank you.” I noticed how thin he was–still wearing a blue shirt from the TV appearance–then he got out, made the speech, and we went to our dorms. Great moment.

    • Gerald F Rosenblatt
    • JD
  3. Too Much! The 80s

    Re The day in loco parentis died (Nov 2007): I grew up in Indiana and moved to Michigan my senior year in High School. I had no preconceived notion of attending U-M or MSU and visited them both. I chose Michigan Civil Engineering based on that visit. I was placed in Bursley Hall on a co-ed floor in the 80s. My Male RA was openly gay and we had community bathrooms! (I think they were separated into boys and girls…but did that mean anything?) There appeared to be no rules and pretty much anything and everything happened. It was very difficult to study…ever!
    I actually think that more camaraderie is built on single sex floors. I was able to move to an all-female floor at Couzens as a Sophomore. Do they still have co-ed floors? I doubt it! We were the last year of the baby boomer generation so all norms were already disregarded! I did make it through…barely!

    • Kim Reno Danowski
    • B.S
  4. In My Day

    When I arrived in Ann Arbor in 1949 I was embarking on a great adventure. In loco parentis was simply part of the deal (The day in loco parentis died, Nov 2007). I was a child of my time, as were most of the young women I knew in the huge freshman dorm up on the hill. Most of us followed those rules. There were those
    who did not—their transgressions were whispered about, but detracted very little from their college life. We were all pretty busy adjusting to the new riches the University offered.
    As a junior, now in Martha Cook, I did laugh more at the child-like way we coeds were treated. But then, I found my own way to circumvent. As an editor on The Daily, I was allotted late nights, combining what I loved to do with a legal stretching of those rules. As a Senior Editor my nights stretched even later but, in company with a young man who frequently met me after we put the paper to bed, the five-minute walk to my dorm often took two hours.
    Way past my special curfew time I would creep in, sign the book that lay out for those of us who were (legally) out late and hope each time that the house mother was sound asleep. How silly of me. She probably knew every time what time it was, but wanted no scandal to fall on her domain.
    Today’s coeds may think we of the 50s were terribly put upon, but this was not true. We studied, we worked, we played, we fell in and out of love, made life-long friendships. The University resources were there for us to use them to the fullest. Remarkable women came from those “early” times, women who went into dozens of “male” professions, or who chose to continue a domestic path. I can think of only one reason for wishing I had been there in the 60s and 70s: I’d be younger than I am today.

    • Donna Hendleman Rubens
    • B.A.
  5. In Loco Parentis: Reassuring for Me

    When I attended the U of M, in loco parentis was in effect (The day in loco parentis died, Nov 2007), and I felt it was very reassuring to me and my parents, and did not feel any real constraint at all on my freedoms. Of course, I was very busy studying most of the time. At that time (1959-1963), the nursing students were required to live in Couzens Hall the last two years and all three summers of our program, when we did clinical classes every summer except our graduation year. So we put in almost 5 years total to get our B.S in Nursing.
    Some of us often worked at the University Hospital as student float nurses to make extra money. We also had almost all of our clinical experience, except for Public Health Nursing (which, if you had a car, you could do nearby, or if you did not have a car, which I did not, then we did it in Detroit, which had good bus service). It was safe and convenient to be across the street in Couzens Hall especially if we worked during the evening or night.
    I fondly remember studying in the wood paneled library in Couzens, with the leather chairs there, and also in the Medical school. I loved the Graduate library for “the stacks,” and the reading room with the heavy wood tables and lamps and subdued lighting. Oftentimes, I would put my head down and take a little nap and help clear out the clutter in my head before tackling more studies. I was glad to find this place, since the undergraduate library was one big party palace by comparison, and after trying to study there for two weeks I knew that was not going to work out!! So, I moved next door to the grad library and to this day, it remains an integral part of my memories of the U-M.
    During the summers it was quite nice and much quieter on campus, so you almost felt like you had it to yourself!!
    I really felt it was nice to come home to the dorms and feel that someone was looking out for our safety. Even at Markley Hall during my first 2 dorm years.

    • Frances Walts
    • B.S.N.
  6. The Flip Side - the 80s

    As a second generation Michigan graduate I grew up hearing about the Michigan of the 50s – housemothers, strict rules about visitation, and silly panty raids (The day in loco parentis died, Nov 2007). My years were a definite contrast. When I arrived on campus in 1983, there was 24/7 visitation, the norm was sexual promiscuity including frequent overnight co-habitation, smoking in the dorm hallways, and rampant alcohol abuse. Given that I had never experienced any of these conditions prior to my arrival, although growing up in Ann Arbor my entire childhood, I know I would have been less inclined to experiment with these experiences if the rules hadn’t been so lax and the norms what they were.
    My parents were somewhat aware of these factors as they sent my sister and I to U-M, but they hoped for the best and did not discuss their concerns with us. I am concerned about sending my own children into these conditions because I know the peer pressures that await them. I’m aware of how lucky I was that there was no lasting damage to me, only some regrets. I, however, will not hesitate to discuss the influences that are present in college life with my sons.

    • Donna
    • B.S.
  7. I just sat down to read through Michigan Today, one of my montly rituals. The headline: The day in loco parentis died. A little bit of a history buff, especially if it involves my alma mater, I proceeded. I was sitting at University Hospital in my Dad’s hospital room. My Dad, a grad from the Pharmacy program in 1961 was in the hospital for a kidney transplant. My brother, also a nursing graduate in 1991 (I think), was his donor.

    We were all being rather reminiscent of our days on campus, what had changed what had stayed the same. So, together we proceeded to read about the repeal of the dorm restrictions. Especially, the inequality in treatment of women and men on campus.

    The biggest surprise was that “Three feet on the floor rule.” I thought that was something my dad had made up. Growing up, every boyfriend I ever had, I would hear my dad call in, “Three feet on the floor Toni.” A little embarrassing to a kid, but one always complied. Otherwise, Dad would be in there, then the real embarrassment would start. What I didn’t know was that this wonderful rule was a throwback to his Michigan life.

    Once Blue always Blue. It exudes all facets of our life. A tradition, down to something as simple as “Three feet on the floor.” Thanks, University of Michigan!

    • Toni Lowery
    • BSN, MS
  8. Re: The day in loco parentis died (Nov, 2007): When I got to Ann Arbor in 1953, the women’s dorms were overcrowded, so Chicago House, in the previously all-male West Quad, became a women’s dorm. We rotated between dining rooms, so the men could share the unpleasantness of having to come to breakfast fully dressed!
    The fire doors which allowed passage between the houses of the quad were locked, but that didn’t stop the boys from taking them off their hinges. It was a pretty wild year.
    Men in our rooms? Immediate discipline or even expulsion, but that hardly stopped the adventuresome.
    Now all of the girls get to enjoy what so many in Chicago house got away with!!

    • Shirley Tepper LaMere
    • BA
  9. I received a Regents Alumni Scholarship in 1946 at age 16. This was when many veterans from World War Two were starting college under the GI bill. I had only what money I was able to earn during the summer on a farm to pay for my room and board and books, etc. So I worked in the dining hall. I lived in the same room (504) on the fifth floor of Williams House in the West Quadrangle all four years. Irene Boeltz was the head dietician and Mrs. Tervo was in charge of the dining rooms. Both were really wonderful ladies. Irene loaned me her car so I could pick up my girlfriend at the airport in Ypsilanti when she came down for the prom during my senior year. She even let my date stay with the dieticians in their apartments which were just off the lobby.
    My senior year I had so little money I had to work four jobs – dining hall, switchboard operator, chemistry store and weekend night watchman in the West Quad. In those days, we were not allowed to have girls beyond the lobby (that’s the way it should be today).

    A couple of times I sold a pint of blood for $25 at the University Hospital, and then hitch-hiked home to the U.P. to take my girl to a dance, and then hitch-hiked back. It was worth it. We have now been married 57 years.

    • Henry Stevens
    • B.S.