Set 1 of 7
Young Comellians pass four years struggling to get out: then spend the rest of their lives trying to get back in. Homecoming. school alumni associations. CAU. etc., all offer short-takes: the best way is reunion. For a spell, reunion will put you back on the Hill in real time, with contemporaries, classmates, and friends. Thus. for that window-in-time, like Janus, you can look both ways: envision what your Cornell was, and overlay the future on what you see in-situ now. As you gel older (and maybe wiser), the campus you remember fondly gets further away from the reality of the campus today. Depending on when you were a student, what of your recall was actual, and what have your memories embellished?
All things in nature grow or die. And growth brings changes: some good; some bad. Cornell. as a living entity thrives by physical and spiritual growth. From close range, over the past six decades. I've watched those elements evolve. But even that era is just an episode in the long life and times of our Alma Mater.
As I observe this new crop of incoming Fresh persons settle into what they regard as a staid old ivy clad institution. I think to myself that the current "Hill People" have no inkling of what Cornell used lo be even just a short while ago, let alone in my student days. Many of m\ con temporaries moan. "Cornell ain't what it used lo he in the good old days." My ambivalence about that kind of thinking lies in its incorrect datum. These are the "good old days," the ones we have right now! And whether the changes until now are good or bad depends upon the mind-set of the beholder; let's look at some:
Clark Hall now stands between Physics and Chemistry (Rockefeller and Baker). On that site once, there was a charming circle of wood frame houses that began as professorial homes. In my time they served as alternate, on-campus female housing, later supplanted by the North Campus dorms.
Sage Green originally was a sweeping meadow between campus and Cascadilla Gorge. It is now the site of the Engineering Quad. That replaced a random collection of Quonset Huts, set-up as gunnery school shops by the Navy in WW11. Post war, the huts sheltered the new Industrial Labor Relations School until it could occupy the Ives complex after the Veterinary Medical College removed to its own newly constructed east campus facilities.
Across Campus Road old Sage College begins a new life, rebuilt and enriched sufficiently elegantly to house the Johnson School of Management, moved over from Mallot. (that address only lasting well under half-a-century). Sage was one of the first buildings added to the original campus, and housed the women of the Nation's first true coeducational university.
Olin Library, with its new subterranean Kroch annex now stands where Boardman Hall once was the home of History. In Boardman. F. G. Marcham (a living treasure in his lime) held forth as Goldwin Smith Professor of English Constitutional History. A true Renaissance man, he was my boxing coach, and was elected as a non-partisan Mayor of Cayuga Heights, a post he held successfully for 20 years. At one stormy point, he was Acting President of this; University, then actively taught a regular class until the sands of time wore him down after 94 years.
Today Cornell football hardly draws the crowds it deserves, even though students get in free. Fans of “Hi-octane" bowl-chaser ball might quit looking down their noses at our home gridders after new Coach Pete Mangurian infuses fresh spirit, style, skill, and stamina into our players. But the Big Red will not depart from using student athletes to play Ivy League football.
Yet in the days of parity, before the post-season-bowl-mania set-in, Council teams defeated: Ohio State (twice in a row), Syracuse, Army, Navy, and I played on a squad that beat Penn State. Comell is one of only two schools to hold a winning edge (12-6) over Michigan. Once the Big Red ran-up three consecutive undefeated seasons, winning 26 games in a row, including 15 shutouts. And for a while each in '39 and '40 we were ranked #1 in the Nation and Schoellkopf crowds filled even end-zone bleachers. Now Ben Mintz's little wooden red-barn, press box is replaced by a concrete communications center towering over a four-deck indoor parking garage.
Until the early '50's Comell could not be host for a home swim-meet because our only pool was under sized and sub standard. So was every other aspect of physical education in the old Armory gym. When it was built it cost a bit over $30,000, a sum that could today buy a good quality family car. Today's Olympic size pools in Helen Newman and Teagle are just a fraction of the Physical Education and Athletics complex dominated by the palatial Field House that cost several million. Actually, the total cost (from concept to occupancy) of 16 new buildings added to the young campus between 1868 and 1883 and still standing today, was (you guessed it) $890,221.52!
As a first-term undergrad 1 was able to knock on the door of the AD White House, and get in to speak personally with its resident, Pres. Edmund Ezra Day. Years later, hastily I persuaded (then) VP Steven Muller to run with me across campus to stop a contractor from cutting down two stately Onstrander Elms on East Ave. East Ave is now the only direct N-S passage through Campus, and Dr. Muller subsequently became President of Johns Hopkins Univ. Eventually the Dutch Elm Blight felled all the trees, 'those majestic elms that made cathedral naves of East and Central Aves: all gone.
Central Ave originally ran past Willard Straight Hall (altered only internally) and the McGraw Libe. It dog-legged west between the Libe and Morrill Hall, then turned north again on the west side of Morrill, McGraw, and White to meet University Ave. Those three primary Comell buildings were constructed facing west. The Arts Quad subsequently closed behind them. Today, Central Ave from Campus Road North has been revamped to be the Ho Family Mall, an exclusively pedestrian plaza as a cul-de-sac between the Straight and the subterranean "Bombshelter book store" that superseded the Bames Hall "Co-op" of my time.
Downtown, these days, even "the busy humming of the bustling town" plays a different key, to a faster tempo. Finkey's hot dogs, and their memory, are gone, along with the Dutch Kitchen, and Zinck's. In College Town, Leonardo's Tavern is supplanted by Little Joe's, one of Ithaca's better eateries. The Home Dairy, unchanged for close to a century, (the place where I had my first Ithaca meal.) is still the same outside, but inside it is now a swinging coffeehouse.
Though the greenery shrinks before inexorable pavement, and granite curbs now define streets and walks, one specific change disturbs me deeply. Long before my time, winter and summer Prof. John Parsons gave cocoa or lemonade to skaters or swimmers, from his home at the Beebe Lake Dam. He bequeathed that house to become Johnny Parsons Club for students' early evening leisure and mid-week dates. Destroyed by fire in the mid-50's, "Japes" was replaced by Noyes Lodge. The was donated by my classmate, the late Blancke Noyes, for the express purpose of providing food and refreshment, for all of us to enjoy "the lake and dell." Entrepot did that job profitably for years. June '96 I was shocked to see a sign on the door, "Closed Forever." Noyes lodge was to become a language lab! Someplace without windows to break the concentration, someplace that could be housed in any basement on campus. By surrendering this unique site for student spiritual, visual and gastronomic refuge, the administration violated a bequest, and surrendered a great share of the quality of campus life.
Along with the great eastern blizzard, 1888 saw Lincoln Hall appear on campus to give Civil Engineering a place of its own, complete with all the latest facilities. As theseat of my first Cornel 1 career, I had grown fond of the old red brick schoolhouse with its now lost, legend of the light. By 1962, Civil removed to Hollister Hall, it's present home at the new Engineering Quad. And before the mice has a chance to reorient, the Music Dept. moved in. Music had been homeless since its 40-year-old Wait Ave. frame house burned down. This year a $17 million rebuilding and enlarging project will transform Lincoln into a musical education Mecca. But they promise, unlike other Campus makeovers, this one will be compatible with the original architecture.
There is a fine line between nostalgia and nausea. I don't mourn the "good old days." Some members of this year's entering "Frosh" may, in 2059 write longingly about "good old 1999." I'm not guessing things will be better then, than they were in 1899, or are now. But they will be different!
Ithaca, M.D. Morris, PE '47 AB, History '76, is a working writer, editor, and educator. He served as National President of the Comell Society of Engineers, and Pres. of the Cornell Alumni Association of Ithaca. Of his three alumni children, daughter. Misty '89 is attending her 10th, doing the same dance to a different drummer.
The war was over and I was stationed in Salzburg: part army, part recreational.
The latter took me to try my hand at skiing. Improper shoes, lousy skis, no prior experience etc.
Guess what: a tree got in my way.
My leg was broken and I ended up in a U.S. Army hospital in Salzburg. There I met an army nurse who look top care of me. Need I say more?
We just celebrated our 51st wedding anniversary.
At the end of WWII I was on Saipan and obtained permission to buy my military Jeep for $200 and bring it back to the Stales on my ship.
I was discharged ill San Francisco and planned to drive my Jeep to Cornell.
Celebrating my return to the US. I had too much lo drink at SF’s Fairmont Hotel. I then proceeded to head south in California in my Jeep - but I did so on the sidewalk.
On Broadway where many nightclubs are located. 1 continued to drive on the sidewalk. The swinging doors of a bur named Bea Goomes Gay '90's beckoned to me so I drove my Jeep into Bea's.
The police were right behind me - I was confined to the Fairmont and my Jeep was impounded. The next morning when I went to the police station they assigned two motorcycle officers to escort me to the outskirts of San Francisco - with the warning. "Don't return or you'll go to jail."
No cross-country incidents took place and I got to Comell safely.
At Cornell, John Whittemore, Larry Quinlivan. Ken De La Roza and I left the Psi U house late one evening. It was suggested that we drive over the suspension bridge. A good idea - a challenge. I drove down the steps to the suspension bridge. Fortunately, the bridge was too narrow for the Jeep. The four of us were really lucky, for if we had made it onto the bridge we would have fallen through its wooden floor to the gorge far below.
Stuck at the bridge. 1 tried to drive up the footpath toward the Chi Psi house but the path narrowed. I then, unfortunately, tried to back the Jeep down the path to the bridge but hit a small wooden fence along the gorge and became wedged. It now was very dark so the four of us decided to abandon the Jeep and gel it out in the morning.
Next morning, there were hundreds of students (Who told them?) at the bridge, not to mention the Proctor and the campus police - all looking for me. I said that my Jeep had been stolen the night before, so no charges were made against me by the Cornell authorities.
1 believe in telling you this story now since the statute of limitations apply and I could not he incarcerated when I attend our 55'1' Reunion on campus.
Lest you think this is a Falkenstein Fabrication. I have provided you with several photos of the Cornell part of this "saga."
Don't bother to check with Bea's or the San Francisco police, that was more than 50 years ago and I'm certain there's been a turnover in both organizations since then.
In January 1943. Ithaca had a big blizzard that nearly paralyzed the city. The campus was blanketed with new snow and the Libe slope just begged for action. Toboggans and skies appeared from everywhere. By Saturday night there was a glow-in-the-snow atmosphere.
At the Theta C'hi house, (then on Stewart Ave. below Myron Taylor Hall) a few of the brothers decided on the spur of the moment to break out the old double-rip bobsled from under the porch and take it for a spin A few quick calls to Balch and elsewhere pulled together a motley crew of coeds and brothers including (as best I can recall): Boh Clement '43. Janet Sutherland Clement '46. Chuck Iliff '43, Barbara Reuter Hill. Turner Wilson '44. Dave Maclean '44. Nancy Hubbard Perryman "46. Ruth Vanscoter Henry "46 Gordon Clement "44, and perhaps others. (Correction and omissions please). The plan, if you could call it that, was to start at the Libe Tower and follow the path down behind the Straight to the edge of the campus. Then we'd haul hack up.
As we gathered at the top, it was clear that it was going to he a tight squeeze to gel everybody aboard, hut not wanting to leave anyone behind, we squeezed. All of us interlocked knees and led. (It was more fun that way). The last guy on, yours truly, had a terrible time getting the whole thing moving.
But once we got started Katie bar the door - What hath God wrought? The lights in the Straight began to blur and we had gone critical before passing the back door. Any bare spots in the path just polished the runners and spewed -sparks like an afterburner. My brother. Bob. was steering, if you could call it that, and had only two ropes to the front of the sled to turn. With all that weight it was a wonder he could maneuver at all. As we approached the street at the edge of the campus, it was obvious we could never stop. Of course, this situation had never occurred to us at the top. but now it was too late and we shot out into the street. At our speed, we'd have passed anything going our way. Almost immediately we swung onto Stewart Ave. and headed for Collegetown at something under Mach 2.
Then came the real hair-raiser! So far. we had been lucky with cars. but as we approached the bridge over Cascadilla Gorge, we saw an old city bus grinding up the street toward us at the other end of the bridge. Since it was dark and the driver couldn't see anything coming, (we of course had no lights) he was cutting the corner short and left us only half a lane or less. 1 still don't know how Bob threaded the needle through there at our speed, but we sure woke up that bus driver, I can just imagine him doing a double take and thinking "My God, what was that!"
The next moment. JIM'S PLACE fashed by in a neon haze. Then came the stop signs at Buffalo Street and Seneca Street. We ran both of these at full speed without so much as a "by your leave." Fortunately, no one was coming up (or down) those streets. They couldn't have made it anyway in those slick conditions.
But now, State Street was looming up and we had to make a turn there. Somehow Bob coaxed us into a wide turn down toward town crossing uphill traffic and hugging the far curb. A couple of parked cars gave us another challenge but State Street was wider and we didn't get squeezed. Finally, downtown we leveled out and pulled up somewhere short of the Ithaca Hotel. What a ride!
What started out as a quick spin on the Libe slope sure turned into a real thriller.
Looking back on it. I must admit that instead of realizing how fortunate we had been, I realized only what a gawdawful job lay ahead us to get that monster back up the hill.