Alumni Reunion: Golden Years, Great Memories
by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor
"Anybody here still use a slide rule?"
That refrain meant the Class of 1960 was back in town, some for the first time in a half-century, and they were being honored at the Golden M pinning ceremony.
President Glenn Mroz ’74,’77 and Alumni Association President Mark Mitchell ’77 handed out the pins and enjoyed the stories and shout-outs along with the rest of the nice-sized crowd in the Memorial Union.
The alums approached the front, and their spouses clicked their cameras as their significant others ambled, jogged and/or waved to the crowd.
"He played a little hockey, too!" someone shouted to Dan Farrell, 1960 alumnus and assistant hockey coach under the legendary John MacInnes. "Johnny Mac" was also fondly recalled.
Mroz revealed fun facts from fifty years back.
Bob Carlson '60 was the national bowling champ. No one could recall the commencement speaker. The Portage Lake Lift Bridge was just built (and its current problems caused a few ripples of laughter).
"A dress code was created for Douglass Houghton Hall," Mroz stated.
"And I bought my first pair of blue jeans to protest!" an alum offered. "And the administration backed down later," he emphasized.
Some alumni of the Tech Sault branch were in attendance.
Tales of Frosh Week came next.
Ted Grezlak recalled, fifty-four years ago, a pickup football game, at a Huskies night game, that turned into a huge pile-on. "Anyone remember people pulling guys off, so we didn’t suffocate?"
Joe Wickley remembered, as a local high school student, a run-in with the “Toots (Tech Out of Towners)." "They marched in a parade in Hancock, and we knew they were coming over to steal our girls, so we mixed it up and ended up in jail. But, next year, I was marching right along with them!"
Anna Hradel represented the few, the proud, the women.
"Anyone still have your freshmen 'MT' hats?" she asked. "We didn’t know they [upper classmen] would pronounce it 'empty.'"
The women couldn't wear pants, except on Fridays, and then the men routinely wouldn't open doors for them since they were "dressed like men."
The curfew for the Tech women was 10:15 p.m., and the enrollment numbers weren't much: 21 in Smith House, 21 living at home.
"That's about one percent," said Mroz. "But they did have a record snowfall that year," he laughed.
Some mentioned that they still had their old army-style book bags.
And they recalled the nightmares of picking classes, which were cards on the wall in the registrar's office, just after someone beat them to it. They'd have to start their whole schedule over.
"No computers then!"
Another recalled machine shop with teacher Jacobsen and his "ayustable yaws" on the lathes.
A road trip to follow the hockey Huskies to the playoffs in Boston was remembered, with a couple of entrepreneurial students making a little extra spending cash selling sandwiches and beverages at a tidy profit.
The Quonset huts for married housing were less than fondly recalled. "We had holes in the walls and ice in our closet."
Snow removal came in the shape of a noisy, old, diesel D4 bulldozer that was fired up at 4:15 a.m. every morning.
One laughed at "school closings of today's Tech," and remembered fighting through snowbanks for an 8 a.m. class and seeing his professor standing outside. "He entered the building, only after I broke the trail!"
In a new tradition, alums Ron Harma and Norb Verville read off the names of their deceased classmates. The moment was touching.
But, beforehand, Norb asked, “What happens if I read someone's name, and he's here?"