"If you can't show us how to kill the grasshoppers, you can do nothing for us."
Skeptical farmers, to the newly hired agricultural agent
In 1913, the college dairy department announced it had manufactured a new food product, "lacto," which closely resembled ice cream. Lacto was made from skim milk treated with a commercial pure lactic acid, making it both cheaper and healthier than ordinary ice cream.
Although the hope that there would be a market for such a product went unfulfilled, making better ice cream continued to be serious business in the dairy department. An article in a 1935 issue of The New Hampshire boasted that the dairy produced about 12,000 gallons of ice cream annually (9,000 of which were consumed on campus). There were 30 different flavors, including ginger, fruit salad, and mint pineapple, plus several kinds of sherbets and a chocolate ice cream sandwich.
The 1914 Smith-Lever Act provided funds for cooperative extension work in agriculture and home economics between the land-grant colleges and the US Department of Agriculture. These funds made it possible to organize demonstration work on a county-wide basis.
Arthur Davis, Class of 1912, was hired to serve as the agricultural agent for Merrimack County. The farmers, many of whom were skeptical of the program, told Davis, "If you can't show us how to kill the grasshoppers, you can do nothing for us."
Davis turned to his alma mater for help. The solution proposed was a poison bran mash. Davis gathered a group of farmers together one afternoon, mixed the mash and spread it on the field, anticipating the hungry grasshoppers would eat it the next morning. Many farmers returned the next day, but, to Davis' horror, there were very few dead grasshoppers.
"If you can't show us how to kill the grasshoppers, you can do nothing for us."
An entomologist from the USDA office read a newspaper account of the failed experiment and offered his advice: make sure the aroma is strong enough to attract the grasshoppers. Davis called the farmers together again, mixed the mash at 3:30 AM, and applied it to the fields just as the sun was coming up. Twenty-four hours later it was hard to find a live grasshopper or, one suspects, a still-skeptical farmer.
In 1951, the university won a gold medal in the All-American trials for its hybrid watermelon, the "New Hampshire Midget." This melon subsequently became popular with consumers because it was a size that could fit easily in refrigerators.
The plant-breeding team of the late Dr. A. F. Yeager '52 and the late E. M. Meader '37, '78H continued to make improvements to the melon (the original Midget had a brittle rind that sometimes would break during transit or storage). They also increased the length of time the melon would remain deliciously edible. Seeds for their new introduction, the "Market Midget," became available for sale in 1960.
When UNH produced its first microchips, they were two millimeters square and had the work capacity of 3,000 transistors. (Modern microchips contain billions of transistors.) The chips were designed using the university's mainframe computer with the aid of advanced design tools from the Massachusetts Microelectronics Center.
Production of prototype chips had previously been done exclusively by industry at a cost of millions of dollars each. The center made the design of chips possible at a relatively low cost.
Southwest of Durham, near the Lee boundary, lies a unique geological formation called a kettle bog. Created at the end of the last ice age by immense chunks of melting glaciers, this area, known as Spruce Hole, is the last of six similar sites in New Hampshire.
In 1996, a team of researchers led by civil engineering professor Tom Ballestero used sophisticated equipment, including mini-piezometers, to determine hydraulic conductivity values at the site.
Back in the winter of 1918, two UNH students, armed with 200 feet of line, a five-pound weight, shovels, axes, measures and notebooks, set out to conduct their own research at Spruce Hole, exploring the age-old legend that the depth of the bog was unfathomable.
The New Hampshire reported on their findings:
By careful measurements the center of the surface was found and a hole chopped through twenty-five inches of ice. The line and weight were made ready and when all was clear the iron was started on its descent into the traditional bottomless pit. The line played out rapidly. Foot after foot was reeled off. Still the line disappeared into the depths below. Then the pull on the cord ceased abruptly. The watchers glanced hurriedly at the remaining line, and after vain attempts to sink it farther, pulled it in and measured off the distance. The pool is twenty feet deep at the middle.
On April 16, 2004, the American Chemical Society presented Prof. Allen J. Bard of the University of Texas with the W. H. Nichols Award.
The award was established in 1902 by Dr. William H. Nichols, a pioneer in the US chemical industry and an early champion of the importance of chemistry in the future growth of the nation. A charter member of the American Chemical Society, he maintained a deep commitment to research and development and to the importance of supporting science education and students of chemistry.
The University of New Hampshire is pleased to be able to count two Nichols Medal winners among its faculty. In 1904, Prof. Charles L. Parsons, received the second medal ever awarded for his research and subsequent revision of the atomic weight of beryllium. In 1912, UNH was honored again, when Prof. Charles James was awarded the medal for his work in rare earth compounds.
Mr. Watson—Come Here—I Want to See Ewe
It is not generally known that the inventor of the telephone, Alexander G. Bell, was also interested in scientific sheep breeding. In 1885, he bought a summer home on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Bell became fascinated by the sheep that lived there.
Observing that those with more than two nipples produced more twins, he decided this could be an important means of increasing wool and food production. Thus he launched enthusiastically into a study of the breeding of multi-nippled and twin-bearing sheep that continued for the rest of his life. He died in 1922.
Meanwhile, down in Durham, the Agricultural Experiment Station was also conducting experiments in applied genetics in sheep. Different breeds were crossbred, then selected over several generations for rapid growth, market conformation, and wool quality.
A bulletin, written by Prof. E.G. Ritzman about the experiments being conducted at the university, attracted the attention of the Bell heirs, and arrangements were made to transfer Dr. Bell's sheep to Durham. By adding the qualities of the Bell sheep, they eventually developed a strain with good growth and conformation, a high incidence of ewes with a high incidence of twinning, and wool of excellent quality.
Salute to Sousa
When we think of university research, the Department of Music may not be the first one to come to mind. However, research was the impetus behind the "Salute to Sousa" clinic held at UNH on January 13, 1951.
John Philip Sousa wrote his marches "on the fly," taking no time to record dynamics, accents and special effects, and published Sousa manuscripts were actually incomplete. Copyrights on his music were running out and abridged editions had already been published, thereby moving the music world further and further away from the real Sousa. Only those musicians who had performed under the baton of the "March King" himself possessed the knowledge of authentic Sousa tradition.
In a first-of-its-kind clinic, university band conductor George E. Reynolds arranged for three former Sousa band members to head all-day sessions to demonstrate the showmanship patterns and techniques of the late band master. Sousa music publishers provided condensed scores so that the clinic members could write in the additions and effects.
Band masters and music lovers from all over the East were invited to attend. Sousa's two daughters, Priscilla Sousa and Mrs. Helen Sousa Albert, were guests of honor. The day culminated in a concert by the 88-piece UNH band conducted by Dr. Frank Simon, former assistant conductor of the Sousa band. The band clinic received national recognition and the following year Sousa clinics were held in the Midwest and the far West.
Sciences of the Home
From the 1913 college bulletin introducing the new four-year course in Home Economics:
The College has been for many years coeducational, and has offered its facilities alike to men and women. The new course is arranged to provide for young women special and technical training in subjects of greatest value and interest to them the same way in which other subjects of particular interest to young men are provided. It is a recognition of the fact that the sciences and economics of the home are as important as those of the shop or farm.
Although the Office of Sustainability was not established at UNH until around 1997, the idea of sustaining the environment is not a new one on campus.
In the December 10, 1919 issue of The New Hampshire, Prof. K. W. Woodward of the Forestry Department suggested that instead of cutting down a tree for Christmas, it would be better to set one out.
"It usually happens," he says, "that the straightest and most likely trees are selected for Christmas and are afterwards thrown away. Not only are the woodlands deprived of these trees year after year, but the tree's usefulness is only a transitory one."
He suggested a permanent community Christmas tree set out near the church or town hall. For family Christmas trees, Prof. Woodward suggested, "a conifer from three to four feet high be dug or purchased and afterward set out on the lawn."
In the spring of 1920, New Hampshire College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (as UNH was then known) offered farmers and gardeners of the state the opportunity to learn how to operate tractors at the first Tractor School ever held in New England.
Tractors were first mass-produced starting in 1916, and Prof. Taylor of the agricultural department estimated that their use in New Hampshire was increasing at the rate of fifty new tractors a year.
For three days, students listened to morning lectures on such topics as "Motor Farming" and the "Principles of Tractor Design." The afternoons were devoted to practical field instruction in tractor operations. Demonstrated by company representatives were five large tractors—two Fordsons, a Cleveland, an International, and a Moline—and two small garden tractors or motor cultivators, a New Britain and a Utilitor.
Eighty-one people, both men and women, took advantage of the Tractor School for a registration fee of $1 plus $2 a day in room and board.
Mrs. Lucinda Smith was a popular English teacher at UNH from 1920 to 1957. When asked to talk about some of her experiences during her long career, she remarked, "Teaching students sometimes educates the teacher." She continued:
One evil day, I slipped a theme of my own in with the typed unsigned themes of my students… I wriggled and squirmed as my work was thoughtfully read, critically evaluated and finally pronounced ‘fair with a tendency to sentimentality.’ And they were right.
The Last Supper, 1939
One of the more astonishing photos in the university's historic photo collection is this one, titled: "Depiction of Last Supper at UNH," 1939.
A little sleuthing through the archives and the mystery is solved. For many years the university hosted the Northern New England School of Religious Education. Young people and adults came from eight states for the week-long program of Christian leadership training, which included "a complete curricula of lectures and discussion courses in the morning and a well rounded recreational program of games, drama and stunts in the afternoon."
Mister Kara's Neighborhood
In 1952, the Federal Communications Commission set aside 242 television channels for the use of non-commercial educational and cultural interests. After almost a year, only one station was on the air and 11 construction permits had been granted. The future of educational television looked bleak, unless you were one of the 200,000 weekly viewers of UNH physics professor John Karas' show, "Science Sketches," airing on Boston's WBZ-TV.
Ignoring his critics, Karas felt that to hold an audience, educational television needed to be entertaining. He gave each show an intriguing title and used simple terms and household items in his demonstrations so they could be repeated at home. He often invited guest scientists to keep the show interesting and varied.
His most successful teaching aid was a robot named "Tobor." Although touted as a mechanical genius, Tobor sometimes made mistakes and often found it hard to understand everything, which allowed Prof. Karas to make his explanations simple enough for all to understand. Although his show was aimed at children, fan letters indicated that the show was popular with adults as well.
Live! From Durham
When Channel 11 was established at UNH, it was expected that the TV station would be used in the instructional program of the university, but only two attempts were made to do so.
Under Prof. George Moore, lectures for the basic freshman course in biology were broadcast starting in 1960–61, with students gathered in a large lecture hall that had been equipped with TV receivers. Prof. David Long gave his course in US history over open-circuit TV. Long's lectures appealed to the off-campus audience and were picked up by stations in Boston and Albany.
University students, however, did not like the television classes, preferring live, if less colorful, teachers. Both experiments were soon abandoned.
Carroll S. Towle taught creative writing at UNH from 1931 until his death in 1962. His students frequently won national recognition in the Atlantic Monthly contest for college students.
Towle once described his approach to teaching as "inductive," distinguishing it from the deductive methods of his colleagues. From Dan Ford '54, a former student of Towle, who is now a successful writer:
Whatever it meant in theory, inductive teaching was chaotic in practice. Take, for example, the Case of the Sixth Point. Towle came into class one morning and announced that we would consider the Sixth Point that day. There had never been any consideration of the first five points, at least not to our knowledge, but we dutifully recorded the numeral in our notebooks. For the next 50 minutes Towle lectured us upon some esoteric technique of the writer's art—point of view, perhaps. And just before he dismissed us he said, 'Unfortunately, we didn't manage to reach the Sixth Point today, but we will take it up next time.' We never heard of it again.
In a poll of "best-remembered" teachers, conducted in connection with the Golden Jubilee fund drive in 1972–73, a total of 365 teachers were named by the 2,044 alumni who voted.
William Yale, history, took top honors, ranking first with classes graduating from 1930–49. Other firsts were Ernest R. Groves, sociology, before 1919; Donald C. Babcock, history and philosophy, and Leon W. Hitchcock, electrical engineering, tied in 1920–29; G. Harris Daggett, English, 1950–59; David F. Long, history, 1960–69. William G. Hennessy, English, impressing students over three decades, tied for second in 1940–49 and received honorable mentions in 1920–29 and 1930–39.
At a disadvantage in the polling, because of their more limited exposure to students, teachers in the agricultural and technical departments who ranked high included Frederick W. Taylor, agriculture, before 1919; Charles James, chemistry, before 1919 and 1920–29; Harold A. Iddles, chemistry, 1930–39 and 1940–49; and Edmond W. Bowler, civil engineering, 1930–39.
Life Studies, Rest in Peace
One of the most innovative additions to the university's offerings was the Life Studies Program, initiated in 1970. This experimental program was designed as an alternative path to "general education" in the first two years of the student's college career.
Instead of traditional classes, there were workshops designed around multi-disciplinary themes such as Perception and the Creative Arts, Spirituality, and Environmental Issues. The students were expected to share actively in the decision-making process regarding the structure of the course. No tests were given and the only grades were credit/fail. The student was counseled in their course selections to prepare them to enter their major's curriculum by their junior year.
Seventy-five freshmen enrolled in the program, but few were willing to assume the active leadership roles that the program required to function. Life Studies was dropped after only two years.
When the historic submarine USS Albacore was being docked in its final resting place in Portsmouth, NH in 1986, it hit the steel structure on which it was to be placed for display. As a result, the Albacore had to be floated into position and supported aft by temporary cradle blocks.
Eugene Allmendinger '50G, '92H, professor emeritus of naval architecture and vice president of the Portsmouth Submarine Memorial Association, put out a call for volunteers to submit designs for a new cradle to replace those rejected by the Navy.
Mechanical engineering technology students Randy Colby, Ray Hebert '87, and Matt Parker '87 answered the call. Their successful design was done as part of a design course taught by Prof. Ralph Draper.
In the fall of 1978, 45 students in the civil technology program at the Thompson School of Applied Science enrolled in the Energy Management program, the first of its kind in the Northeast. The program prepared students to become certified technicians who could analyze the interrelated possibilities for making buildings more energy efficient.
The program came to the attention of Boston's best-known meteorologist, Don Kent. In the summer of 1984, he donated a wind turbine and an electric generator for use in the Alternative Energy Systems course.
The wind turbine stood about 90 feet high with a 24-foot-diameter propeller. The 5-kilowatt generator was connected to the UNH power grid, with the expectation that it would save the university about $200 a month. Thomas March, mountain climber and associate professor of agricultural mechanics, and Arthur Leclair, instructor of applied plant science and tree climber, were recruited to help install the turbine near Putnam Pavilion.
Five years later on a bitter cold winter day, March's talents were again called upon when an eight-foot section from one of the blades broke loose and crashed through the roof of greenhouse No. 5. The only way to completely stop the off-kilter windmill was to climb up and manually disengage the mechanisms. The wind turbine and generator were deemed beyond repair and both were scrapped.
Either Better Batters or Worse Pitchers
The 1897, the New Hampshire College team experienced one of the most unusual baseball seasons in history. The nine played seven games but only one score reads like modern tallies: Exeter Athletic Association 16, New Hampshire 2.
In the other six games, of which the college team won only one, New Hampshire amassed 241 runs to their opponents' 279. The highest scoring game was against Colby College, in which the Maine Mules squeezed out victory, 60 to 55. Other high scoring games included: Andover 34, NH 37; Bates 49, NH 40; Bowdoin 49, NH 33; Brewster Academy 49, NH 42.
It was "Old Home Week" in 1935 when many of the university's best athletes returned to campus for the New Hampshire Banquet. During the inevitable round of stories, baseball coach Hank Swasey told this one about Ralph Brackett '18, who was then coaching baseball at Portsmouth High School.
Swasey noticed that the ball had rolled far into the underbrush, so when the teams changed sides, he hurried to the spot where Brackett had picked up the ball. Bushing aside some leaves, he discovered a half dozen baseballs hidden but still within reach.
Ralph played right field when he was not catching, and the home field had a short right field, with a thick underbrush, where baseballs had habit of disappearing with amazing frequency.
After a time, Brackett began to reappear more and more rapidly with the balls, and soon long drives were being held to singles.
On a day off, Swasey decided to investigate. He parked himself along the right foul line, and sure enough, a batter drove a long hit into the bushes. Brackett chased it, reappeared suddenly, and threw the runner out at second. Swasey noticed that the ball had rolled far into the underbrush, so when the teams changed sides, he hurried to the spot where Brackett had picked up the ball. Bushing aside some leaves, he discovered a half dozen baseballs hidden but still within reach.
Whatever You Say, Coach
Andy Mooradian '48 coached the UNH freshman baseball team for thirteen years. The game he remembers best is not one of the many he won: The UNH frosh led Exeter Academy 2–1 in the ninth. Exeter had two outs and two strikes on a batter who swung and missed a pitch in the dirt.
As the UNH catcher dug the ball up, the batter, still not out, broke for first. The frosh catcher, excitedly celebrating the apparent victory, did not notice. "Throw the ball, throw the ball," Mooradian shouted from the dugout. The catcher promptly threw the ball to Mooradian! Awarded second base on the overthrow, the Exeter boy scored on a blooper just over the infield to tie the game at 2–2.
Earl E. Lorden, a distinguished coach of the University of Massachusetts baseball team tells this story.
UNH loaded the bases against their Bay State rivals and a Wildcat pounded a pitch over the right fielder's head. The ball rolled to the fence with the fielder in blazing pursuit. In fact, the UMass player was running so fast that he put his foot up to keep himself from crashing into the fence. His spikes got stuck in the fence. He could not free his foot and, with the ball just out of his reach, the UNH runners gleefully circled the bases.
Green Monster Memories
On a beautiful May afternoon in 1990, 400 fans accompanied the UNH baseball team to its game against Boston University. The team was on a seven-game winning streak, but better than that—with the Red Sox away on a West Coast road trip—the team was playing in Fenway Park!
"It's a dream come true for many of the kids," said coach Ted Conner before the game, gazing over the Green Monster toward the Citgo sign in Kenmore Square. Players, toeing the dirt in front of the third-base dugout, grinned at each other and spoke in hushed tones. All of the Wildcat players entered the game and had their chance to play. Keeping score was almost beside the point, but the Wildcats beat the Terriers, 13–4.
On to Victory
The November 1902 issue of the New Hampshire College Monthly was full of optimism for the football team that season:
We congratulate Dr. Scannel on the good results he is getting. The victory over Boston College was well earned. He is infusing the right kind of spirit into our men... The development of the college yells under the leadership of Professor Whoriskey and Adams, '05, has been very marked. One would hardly recognize the old 'Rick-a-chic-a-boom.' The cheering has proven a great help to the players and cannot but help them to victory.
Most Valuable Player
In the early years at UNH, it was a challenge to find enough men to play football and have a second team to scrimmage with. It was not unusual for faculty and staff to volunteer for the scrimmage team. One such man was physics professor Artie Nesbit.
Student Wilfred Osgood, Class of 1914, recalled seeing Nesbit, night after night, playing in the line against the students. "It was due to this spirit and encouragement that the early teams turned out as well as they did," he said. "A uniform at that time consisted chiefly of a jersey, a pair of pants, and shoes, and there were hardly enough of these to equip two teams. Any accidents to a uniform meant a repair on the field, at once!"
The November 1904 issue of the New Hampshire College Monthly has this account of a memorable celebration following a football victory over Tufts College:
The news that New Hampshire had won by a score of 4–0 was received about 7 o'clock in the evening Sept. 28, and almost immediately the celebration began. The student body formed in line armed with revolvers, guns, and other noise-making instruments, awaiting the arrival of the team, but it was soon found out that the team would not return until morning.
This, however, did not put a stop to the demonstration, for the line then proceeded to the houses of the different professors, announcing the news to them... The college bell rang out loud throughout the time of the demonstration. The following morning the student body was on hand at the depot and scarcely had the 8:17 pulled into the station and the member of the team stepped out, when each one was seized, cheered, and carried to his room on the shoulders of his fellow-students…
In spite of the rain, which poured during the afternoon and the first part of the evening, a large quantity of wood had been collected and everything was ready for a good bonfire at 8 o'clock. Everybody rallied around the fire, and the noise coming from that spot could be heard in the farthest corners of the town. After the bonfire a nightshirt parade was held and the celebration ended.
Back in the mid-twenties, UNH coach Bill Cowell and Tufts coach Arthur Sampson were bitter rivals on the field but boon companions after the game was over. In '26 the Wildcats defeated Tufts 28–3 and Cowell invited his friend to have dinner with him the following year after the game. He even agreed to shoot some ducks and prepare them at his house.
The game in '27 was all Jumbo; Tufts beat New Hampshire 39–0. Sampson looked up his old pal after the game, saying, "now where are those delicious birds?" To which an irate Cowell replied, "Go shoot your own ducks. And what's more, clean 'em and cook 'em." A 39–0 score stretches even the best of friendships.
A Shot in the Dark
In 1939, George Sauer and his Wildcats played an interesting night football game at Springfield College. The host had rented portable lights of dubious voltage, and after four periods of staggering around in the darkness, Springfield won the game 3–2; a field goal against a safety.
A sports writer covering the game sent in a flash lead with just the score. Before he could start to file his story his editor wired back, "Who pitched?"
In the 1940's, head football coach George Sauer considered going to the movies as perhaps a player's most valuable asset in perfecting his game. A salvaged wind-mill, stripped of its machinery and dressed with a covered platform, allowed UNH photographers to film the action on the fields below. The films were then shown in slow-motion to the team so players could see mistakes and good plays.
Glass Bowl Remembered
After 49 years as a major sport at UNH, football finally produced a winning team worthy of an invitation to the Glass Bowl at the University of Toledo on December 6, 1947.
The newspapers were all abuzz. A year before, in 1946, the football program had just resumed after a three-year wartime hiatus. Under the coaching of J. William "Biff" Glassford, the team ended its second season with a 6–1–1 record and won the Yankee Conference.
The following season, the team came out strong, winning games by resounding scores: 55 to 6 over Northeastern and 34 to 0 over Tufts. After six straight wins, the undefeated team found themselves looking towards the last two games against Boston University, and then their biggest rival, the University of Connecticut. They beat BU 13 to 7 in a rough, tough game. The game against UConn was another slam-bang affair, but they came from behind to win it 14–7.
The Glass Bowl matched the top Yankee Conference team with the Mid-American Conference champions, which that year was the University of Toledo. UNH was the underdog both because the Mid-American was the stronger conference and the Glass Bowl was Toledo's home stadium. The Wildcats fell behind early and lost by a score of 20–14, despite a record-breaking 84-yard touchdown reception by Bob Miksen '50.
It would be twenty-eight more years before UNH would again be invited to play a Bowl Game.
Putting Their Heads Together
During the Glass Bowl era, Coach J. William "Biff" Glassford had two talented quarterbacks, Bruce Mather and Bill Levandowski. Mather was acknowledged as one of the all-time greats in New England collegiate football, hence Bill spent most games on the bench.
Once late in the season, with the Wildcats on the ten-yard line moving into score, Glassford motioned Bill into the game. But not without certain instructions. As the team huddled Bill growled, "Now shut up you guys, the Coach says I'm the boss. I'm running this team, understand?" There was dead silence for about a minute, until Bill timidly mumbled, "Anybody got any suggestions?"
The Glass Bowl expedition, aside from its football aspects, was also a goodwill expedition to the Ohio hinterlands. Representatives for the State Planning and Development Commission seized the opportunity to advance the merits of New Hampshire poultry, among other things. They took with them on the team train a rooster of the New Hampshire breed and staged a contest for the best name.
The winning name, "Rocket Buster" was submitted by Al Juris '50, a lineman, who was awarded the five dollar prize money. "Rocket Buster" was photographed as often as the football team and graced the pages of the Toledo Blade before the game. During halftime, it was presented to the governor of Ohio.
The highlights of the 1958–59 freshman hockey season were a 7–1 win and a 2–2 tie, both against New Hampton. Their seven other games were losses.
That spring, when Coach Snively submitted his recommendations for class numerals to the Athletics Committee, there were 16 names on the list and this note:
Only six players have met requirements; however, the others have earned them through their loyalty, service to the above six in scrimmage, perseverance and determination and regular attendance. They did not have much playing time, but we could not have played our games without them.
The committee approved the awards.
Big Fish Story
Ever since UNH fans started throwing a fish on the ice after the first goal at UNH men's ice hockey games, some pretty good fish stories have evolved. In an article in the Winter 2001 UNH Magazine, UNH head coach Dick Umile '72 told the tale of the time the UNH mascot, Wild E. Cat, attempted to throw the fish in Snively Arena.
When Wild E. Cat threw the fish, it hit a Yale assistant coach. (The costume—as those who have worn it will attest—obscures all but a small line of sight.) "The assistant coach was an Italian guy, and they called him the 'Godfather'," says Umile. "They now call him the 'Codfather'. The guy came up to me after the game, and I apologized. What could I say? It slipped."
Bill "Butch" Cowell was hired in 1915 as the first full-time coach. He ran the athletic department until 1939. The respect he commanded is illustrated by this story.
At a Mass. State basketball game in 1935, the crowd began to loudly express their displeasure at the number of fouls being called by the referees. Suddenly, the booing ceased, and the crowd became tense. For Athletic Director Cowell was striding forth on the floor. He gruffly called the referees into conference.
The crowd waited expectantly, almost hoping that the Butch would side in. But old Bill Cowell was perturbed, and it wasn't at the referees. In very plain language he told the referees that if they wished to call a foul on the crowd for booing, to do so, and also to call any foul they saw for the remainder of the game. Butch retired and the crowd subsided, content to leave the matter in his hands.
The UNH Faculty Tennis Association was formed in 1914 when Dean Charles Pettee and two other faculty members each gave $100 to build their own tennis courts. For nineteen years, the members of the Association were exclusively male faculty who, at certain times of the day, were allowed to entertain "female guests."
Mayme MacDonald (second from left in photo), who joined the faculty in 1923 as head of the department of Physical Education for Women, was one of the association's most notable guests. MacDonald received her undergraduate degree in science from the University of Washington and a Master's degree in education from Columbia University.
Her serving wasn't much, but her placement drives were wonderful… Had a few more sets been played, it is probable that Dr. Howes would have been defeated.
In college, she played field hockey, basketball, baseball, and rowed crew, but it was in tennis that she excelled. When she arrived at UNH, she ranked with the first six women tennis players in the country and held the National Clay Court, Bermuda, and Ohio State Championships.
Physics professor Howard Howes, one of the more avid tennis players, was only too happy to pair up with MacDonald for a game of mixed doubles. Together they handily beat their opponents.
On the day they played against each other in singles, they drew one of the largest crowds ever to turn out for any of the faculty contests. Although Howes ended up the victor, The New Hampshire reported this about MacDonald: "Her serving wasn't much, but her placement drives were wonderful...Had a few more sets been played, it is probable that Dr. Howes would have been defeated."
When the late Edward J. Blood '35 was a little boy, he strapped a pair of barrel staves to his shoes and started skiing. After his family moved to Hanover, NH he borrowed a pair of real skis and learned by trial and error and by imitating others more expert than himself.
When he entered UNH in 1930, he took up cross-country skiing and the newer types of skiing such as downhill and slalom. During his college years, Blood made an enviable record as an all-round athlete, winning 10 varsity letters. In 1932, he was selected by the Olympic Committee to represent the US in the third Winter Olympic Games held at Lake Placid, NY. He was the only undergraduate on the American ski team competing in the combined cross country and jumping events. Of the 33 men in the event, he finished 14th.
In 1935, he was again selected by the Olympic Committee to represent the US at the 1936 Winter Games, opened by Chancellor Hitler in Berlin, Germany. Although the American ski team did not win any medals, Blood viewed the Olympic experience as a valuable opportunity. "The Olympic Games certainly make for better international understanding among athletes and, to that extent, may be instrumental in forwarding the cause of world peace," he later said.
In 1967, the University recognized the need for a new women's softball/soccer field. A field was designed for the area behind Snively Arena, but the projected cost of bringing in the necessary fill was prohibitive. The field plan was shelved for 15 years, until construction of the undergraduate apartment complex created an unforeseen but fortunate benefit.
Excavation for the new building created large amounts of dirt that would need to be trucked away, if no other use for it were found. By using this dirt as fill, the original projected cost of the field of $100,000 was cut to about $15,000. The Thompson School helped clear the area and did some of the surveying. The felled trees were used in its sawmill program.
Facilities Services Assistant Director John Sanders described the field as a university self-help project. "It really does your heart good, as corny as it sounds, to pull something like this together," he said.
Ralph J. Townsend '49, '53G, who was born in Lebanon, NH, graduated from high school in 1940 and enrolled at UNH. Along with studying horticulture, he was a four-event skiing star and a cadet in the Army ROTC program. His college career was interrupted by service in World War II.
Townsend responded to the National Ski Patrol's call for experienced outdoors-men to join the war effort. The Army's 10th Mountain Division, dubbed the "ski troops" by the press, specialized in mountaineering and cold-weather survival as well as military tactics, fighting on skis and snow shoes. He was a squad leader in the third platoon of K Company, 8th Regiment. In March 1945, K Company led the attack on the steep hill of Cimon della Piella. During the attack, Technical Sergeant Townsend was seriously wounded, for which he received the Purple Heart. Doctors predicted he would not be able to ski competitively again.
Townsend returned to his studies—and skiing—at UNH. During his junior year, he won the national Nordic Combined Championship, after which he was a member of the 1948 U.S. Olympic Team before repeating his claim to the Nordic Combined Championship title in his senior year.
Townsend began his career at Williams College in 1950 as assistant professor of physical education. During his 22 years as a ski coach, his teams regularly placed among the best in the nation. Among numerous other national awards he received for his career as both competitor and coach, he was named to the UNH 100 Club Athletic Hall of Fame in 1982, and the UNH ROTC Hall of Fame in 1988. Ralph Townsend died in May 1988, at the age of 66.
Faculty & Friends
The election of the Rev. Charles Murkland as the first president of the New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts took many people by surprise. Those who considered the object of the college to train practical farmers had expected an agricultural authority of some prominence to be chosen to lead it.
Murkland was regarded with a great deal of suspicion, even by some of his new co-workers. Dean Pettee, however, supported the selection. In a letter to his wife dated May 24, 1894, he wrote approvingly of the new president's reaction to a bit of inter-class rivalry:
On my return [from Dover] I found the freshmen having their pictures taken in front of [Thompson Hall]. The sophomores had taken looking glasses and reflected the sun light from across the road into their faces. The freshmen went down and caught two of the sophs and tied them and had their pictures taken with the looking glasses behind them. They all kept good natured so no particular hurt was done. It was nearly over when the Pres came out. As no one was being abused or injured he did not interfere.
No Place Like Home
In 1914, Oren V. "Dad" Henderson moved to Durham from Topeka, Kansas at the invitation of the President Fairchild, who offered him a job in the Business Office. He arrived on a Sunday evening and spent the night at the president's house. Here is his account of his first view of Durham:
The next morning I left the house early to get a look at the surroundings of our new location, and started down the street to find the village. I passed, what I afterwards learned, was the home of Charles Wentworth, the A.T.O. house, the Pettee Block, Charles Schoonmaker's house and barber shop, a large three story building, Frank Morrisons' house with a livery stable to the rear, then a large house on the corner of Main St. and Madbury Road. At this corner, I met a man and asked the location of the Village and he replied, "you've come through 'er." I stood there, a stranger recently from a city of 60,000, with muddy feet, as there were no sidewalks, on a dirt street muddy from a rain the night before, and I said, "What a dump. About five years of this and back West for me."
Dad retired from UNH twenty-five years later.
Brooks Brothers Meet Montgomery Ward
An anecdote written down by Oren V. "Dad" Henderson, dating in the 1920s:
Dean Pettee was, for years, chairman of the Loan Committee. Students desiring a loan were asked to submit a financial statement showing required expenditures for such items as tuition, room and board, books, travel, clothes, etc. Being a frugal man, the Dean carefully scrutinized each expense in the presence of the applicant. On one occasion, a young man indicated he needed $75 for clothes. The Dean quizzed the young man concerning the necessity for such a large amount. On being informed that it was for a new suit, the Dean proceeded to lecture the student on such extravagance and to clinch his point he asked told him he had only paid $17.50 for the suit he was wearing. He then asked the men in the office adjoining his how much they paid for their suits. "$15 from Montgomery Ward," one answered. The other said he'd paid $16 for his. Whereupon the young man shook his head, saying, "I couldn't wear such clothes, Dean."
Whether you're a UNH alum, a member of "Red Sox Nation," or both, you may be surprised to learn that the first man ever to pitch a shutout for the Boston Red Sox served as president of UNH from 1927 until his death in 1936.
Edward M. Lewis was born in Machynlleth, Wales, on Christmas Day in 1872. When he was eight, Ted's family moved to Utica, NY, where he learned the American national game. He entered Marietta College in Ohio and then transferred to Williams College in western Massachusetts in his sophomore year. It was there that he became a star baseball pitcher. Ted graduated in 1896. To pay for his further education, he turned professional with the Boston Nationals from 1896 through 1900.
Lewis was unusual for his time, being a college-educated ballplayer who did not drink, who refused to play Sunday ball, and who read the Bible and said his prayers every day (hence his nickname "Parson"). At one time, he had considered becoming a minister, but decided he could have more influence as a teacher.
He earned his master's degree from Williams College in 1899. "The Pitching Professor" coached baseball at Harvard while he was still playing professionally, 1897–1901. In 1901, he jumped to the American League as a member of the first-ever Red Sox team. He won their final game of the 1901 season on a 5–0 shutout against Cleveland, the first in the history of the Boston Red Sox.
After the 1901 season, Lewis retired from baseball to devote his full energies to teaching. His lifetime record was 94–64, with an ERA of 3.53 and a batting average of .223.
Reading the Defense
William H. "Butch" Cowell arrived at New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts in 1915 as the college's first full-time coach. Cowell was creative when it came to recruiting promising athletes. To make out-of-state students eligible for in-state tuition and scholarships, Cowell arranged for New Hampshire sports fans to "adopt" non-resident students, with court orders establishing guardianship.
In the 1920s, selective admissions policies and a restriction on enrollment resulted in some testy meetings of the admissions committee. Once, when Dean Pettee was ill and confined to bed, a member of the committee, Adrian Morse, who was more committed to raising standards than Pettee, took advantage of the situation by calling a meeting.
Pettee countered by asking for the meeting to be conducted in his bedroom. Morse realized he had been defeated when he saw Coach Cowell leaving the Pettee residence. The athletes whose applications were in question were not rejected.
In 1923, Registrar Oren V. "Dad" Henderson started a tradition of sending a summer letter to all the enrolled students telling them what had been happening in Durham during their absence. The 1926 letter includes these tidbits:
- "Coach Cowell spent about three weeks in Cape Breton Island. He returned Aug. 6 with a fine lot of fish which he generously distributed among friends. All fishermen will be pleased to hear the Coach's stories about how long it takes to land fish in that far off country.
- "As the street and roads in and about Durham are to become safe for driving, since the rule went into effect prohibiting a certain group from cluttering up the highways with cars of doubtful vintage, the following faculty people have purchased new cars: Profs. Richards, Case, McNutt, Woodward, Slobin, French, Wellman, Howes, Rudd, Swasey, Huggins and DePew. Taylor, Scudder and Ritzman have had theirs repainted while many others have had mud guards repaired.
- "That old and often discussed question, 'Resolved that there is more pleasure in pursuit than in possession,' will soon be decided by the following: Blake, Kalijarvi, Maitland, Gildow, Manton, Lloyd and Lowry. They will all be married before you see them again.
- "On July 17, I celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary by hiking to the top of Mt. Washington via Tuckerman's Ravine with my two youngsters, Helen and Hennie. Mrs. Henderson, not being a hiker, swatted flies in camp."
Doing What's Right
In his 1924 annual report, President Ralph Hetzel wrote: "No provision has been made... for retirement allowances to those who have given their life's work to the institution. The University has now reached the point where this question is acute."
The need for a retirement program was highlighted by the situation of Professor Charles Scott, who had started his career with the college in 1876. Following a stroke in 1918, having no other means of livelihood, he had returned to teaching in January 1919 even though he was nearly blind and deaf. He was able to read his lectures but was not aware of what was going on in the class.
History professor Donald Babcock went to Scott's class on the top floor of Hamilton Smith Hall one day, to discover that the boys had reached out the windows to get icicles off the eaves, which they were tossing about the room. Babcock entered by a side door and quietly chided the students for taking advantage of a man who could not defend himself. The class settled down, and Babcock left without Scott knowing he had been in the room.
In 1925, Scott was given an undemanding appointment as university historian, and relieved of his teaching duties. He died in August 1930. Fourteen years after Hetzel first broached the subject, the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association program was put into effect at UNH.
The Milk Man
In 2006, 1,850 undergraduates and 574 graduate students earned degrees from 216 different programs. The following fall, nearly 600 more freshmen than expected sent in housing deposits. One hundred and thirty years previously, the New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts (as UNH was then called) had the opposite problem.
In the fall of 1877, not a single student appeared to register as a member of the class of 1880. During the course of the year, two young men enrolled in the college, but both eventually dropped out. In the fall of 1878, Charles Harvey Hood of Derry qualified to enter the middle year, and thus became the only person to graduate as a member of the class of 1880.
After graduation, he joined his father's dairy business and was soon president of H.P. Hood & Sons Milk Co., one of the largest dairy product companies in New England. Charles Hood was an enthusiastic alum and a generous benefactor to the college. He was a member of the Alumni Council for six years during the formative days of the Alumni Association, and then served on the first board of directors.
In 1929, Hood was the unanimous vote for Alumni Trustee. Over the years, he also established a number of scholarships and achievement prizes. On the 50th anniversary of his graduation, he gave the school its first major gift from an alum: a modern infirmary with accommodations for 30 patients. Hood gave $125,000 for construction of the building and an additional $75,000 for its maintenance. Hood House was dedicated on June 12, 1932.
A Degree of Kindness
One Sunday in 1916, the president of Amherst College invited Prof. Edward Lewis, of the Massachusetts Agricultural College, to his home for a poetry reading. Well-known for his elocution, Lewis was asked to read the poems, including several written by one of the newest professors at Amherst, Robert Frost.
You don't know what ideas you were putting in my head… One dangerous one was that I ought to be ashamed to live anywhere but in New Hampshire. You watch the idea work. I predict that it will land me back in the state where my father was born and three fourths of my children and practically all of my poetry.
The two men discovered they had much in common and became lifelong friends. In 1927, Lewis became the president of UNH, and on June 16, 1930, he was delighted to confer an Honorary Doctor of Letters from UNH on the famous poet.
A week later, Lewis received a letter from Frost, who wrote:
The degree you gave me was different from any other I have ever had; the hood will be the one I wear if I ever have occasion to wear a hood. You made me realize that your friendship had in it an element of personal affection: it went beyond a mere admiration for what I have done. I deserve a little friendship of that warmth in a life mostly subject to cold criticism. At any rate it goes to my heart, and whether I deserve it or not, I am going to cling to it. We must see more of each other in the years to come than we have in the last few. I am coming for the visit in the fall and you must come for a visit here when you can. You were all so kind to us. It was family to family wasn't it. The honor was much, but the kindness was much more. Ever Yours, Robert
The sincerity and depth of their friendship is evident in the text of Lewis presentation, in which he chided Frost for leaving New Hampshire for Vermont. A few days later, Frost wrote to Lewis:
You don't know what ideas you were putting in my head... One dangerous one was that I ought to be ashamed to live anywhere but in New Hampshire. You watch the idea work. I predict that it will land me back in the state where my father was born and three fourths of my children and practically all of my poetry.
In 1937, two of the university's most respected men held very different views on the need for Daylight Saving time. Registrar Oren V. "Dad" Henderson, who was also the Speaker of the House of Representatives at the time, was the first to sign the Act establishing Eastern Daylight Time in New Hampshire.
Holding the opposing point of view was Dean Charles Pettee. Pettee's granddaughter remembers "There were two mantle clocks over the fireplace in the Pettee's home. My grandfather would have nothing to do with Daylight Saving Time. As a result, one clock was on "Pa's" time and one clock was on "Ma's" time, so we were constantly consulting both."
In July of 1953, the university's first "jet-age" president took his first ride in a jet plane and declared that if he were 20 years younger, "I think I'd like to do this for a living." President Robert F. Chandler Jr. rode in an F-94C from Otis Air Force Base at Falmouth, Mass., during a routine inspection of the ROTC summer encampment of 35 UNH students.
Major Chappy James, 260-pound air commander just back from Korea, said that the president "did everything we ask a pilot to do; he'd have been a natural flier."
Gremlins in the Basement
In the spring of 1967, the Outing Club found themselves in need of a large space on campus in which to build a number of kayaks. Just when they were beginning to think they were out of luck, Mrs. John McConnell, the president's wife, offered them the use of two rooms in the basement of their home.
Dick Roberts '67 (in photo) and at least seven other outing club members quickly began setting up shop with the infra-red heat lamps, exhaust fan, numerous vacuum cleaners, saber saws, paint brushes and rollers needed to build the 13-feet long boats. Each boat took two or three days to build and they planned to build a total of 12 or 13 kayaks before returning the president's house to its former condition.
President McConnell commented with a grin on the weird noises and smells emanating from his basement, but said he was happy a good use had finally been found for the space. And according to Roberts, "Mrs. McConnell sorta likes it. She enjoys the gremlins in the basement."
In 1971, when the selection of Thomas Bonner for president of UNH was announced, the Manchester Union Leader began a series of articles and editorials with the intent of persuading him to resign before he arrived. (His friend and former employer, Sen. George McGovern, was then campaigning for the Democratic nomination for president.) Undeterred, Bonner came to New Hampshire and began a statewide campaign to rally support for the university, with a goal of making UNH a truly public institution.
In the three years of his administration, he developed a School of Continuing Studies, making educational opportunities more available to adults, expanded the Merrimack Valley branch of the university, and increased support for Cooperative Extension programs. For two consecutive years, he was able to reduce the high in-state tuition rates while successfully lobbying for increased state appropriations.
Bonner also spoke out for equality on the campus. "If arguments against the complete equality of women are weak and contrived elsewhere, they surely are completely without merit in a University community," he said in 1972.
Bonner, who died September 2 in Scottsdale, Arizona, went on to become president of Wayne State from 1978 to 1982. A leading medical historian, he wrote seven books on American medicine.
When Joan Leitzel was inaugurated UNH president, the program read that she was to become the 18th president of the university. On November 22, 2002, when Ann Weaver Hart was inaugurated, the program described her as UNH's 18th president as well. It wasn't a typo. How can this be?
The mystery has its roots back in 1866, when the college was founded in Hanover, NH. To save money, the New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts was situated next to Dartmouth College so the two schools could share facilities and faculty. Each college, however, was to maintain its own identity and had its own governing body.
Between 1866 and 1892, three men served as president of the college's board of trustees: Asa Smith (who was also president of Dartmouth), George Nesmith, and Lyman Stevens. No one seemed to keep a count of presidents until the college, by then UNH, was getting ready for its 75th anniversary.
Since 75 years included the Hanover years, it seemed logical to include the Hanover presidents, even though they were actually board presidents not college presidents. By the time Everett Sackett's history of UNH was published in the mid-'70s, however, two of the early presidents had been dropped, leaving only Asa Smith. This new count continued until President Leitzel, overseeing a redesign of the university seal, discovered the error.
A mathematician by training, Leitzel ordered the mistake rectified. Thus, UNH's 18th president, President Leitzel, was quite correctly succeeded by UNH's 18th president, Ann Weaver Hart.
Albert Demeritt, a native of Durham, was born in 1851. The owner of a 300-acre farm, he was active in civic affairs, serving on many town and state boards, and was a member of the Constitutional Convention.
Demeritt was also an advocate of education and the fledgling New Hampshire State College. He drafted the free text-book bill, which became law in 1887 and was a model for other states.
In 1913, he helped pass an $80,000 appropriation for a new engineering building for the college, but he did not live to see its completion. While hunting woodchucks one morning, he climbed a fence and was killed when his gun accidentally discharged.
In his honor, the new building, dedicated in December 1914, was named Demeritt Hall.
Her Own Woman
Jessie Doe (1887-1943), an outspoken New Hampshire native and advocate for women's rights, served the university as a trustee from 1934-43.
The late Phil Wilcox remembered Miss Doe as a great supporter of home industries and arts and crafts.
She would wear the strangest collections of ornaments possible. One time she arrived at T-Hall for a meeting wearing a home woven skirt, head band, and a varied assortments of jewelry. On her breast she wore a very large carved wooden leaf (and it was remarked that she was wearing it a bit high up!) She also wore some sort of 'creeper' boots that were being experimented with by the Experiment Station.
Jessie Doe Hall was named in her memory.
In 1960, the last living member of the class of 1900, Charles E. Stillings, gave $228,000 to the University Fund in memory of his father, whose diligence and self-denial made it possible for him to attend college. Stillings majored in electrical engineering, and joined the New Haven at the Cos Cob power plant in 1911. He worked as a foreman for 37 years.
He never earned more than $100 a week, but he proved to his alma mater that he knew what to do with it. He had this advice for his fellow alumni: "Whatever your income is, save some of it. Buy common stocks—blue chips are the best—and don't sell them. Be an investor, not a speculator."
In an interview for the 1978 Granite, Rick Linnehan '80 was asked, "Is there anything that you wish you had known about when you arrived here as a freshman?"
He answered, "I wish I'd known I was going to be in a build-up. I was in one for half a semester, and if I had known then, no way would I have come here. I don't see why they don't put a higher priority on building a new dorm."
It's funny where hard work, study, a little stubbornness and a lot of luck will take you.
As uncomfortable as living in the build-up might have seemed at the time, perhaps it served him well 16 years later, when he shared the close quarters of the Space Shuttle with six other crew members.
Working on his bachelor's degree in animal science at UNH, Linnehan dreamed of becoming an astronaut, without really expecting that dream to come true. "It's funny where hard work, study, a little stubbornness and a lot of luck will take you," he has said.
His dreams and hard work took him first to the Ohio State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, then to the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, and then on to NASA. He has now traveled on three space shuttle flights.
On his second mission in 1998, he served as the payload commander on the STS-90 Neurolab mission aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia. He took aboard a UNH flag, presented to him by then-President Joan Leitzel, who attended the launch.
Since 1912, the University Folk Club has been promoting fellowship among women of the university community and helping women students. In December 1933, the president of the Club, Mrs. C. F. Jackson, submitted this announcement to The New Hampshire:
The University Folk Club were very surprised at their Christmas meeting by the announcement that their honorary president, Mrs. Lewis, together with President Lewis, had again given a generous contribution to the Women Student's Loan Fund of the above organization. This is the second year this gift has been made be Mrs. Lewis and her husband in place of spending the money for the Christmas greeting cards to the faculty as given in years past.
The Folk Club Loan Fund is not a large one, but at the same time has been able by its comparatively small loans, to help many a student girl in an embarrassing financial situation. For this reason, any contribution to this fund is reason for real rejoicing in the interests of our student girls attending the University.
Who Turned On the Light?
In 1944, then Governor Blood appointed Mary Senior Brown, a leader in New Hampshire Republican Party activities and a retired school teacher, to serve on the University Board of Trustees. Being one of only two women on the board, she was particularly concerned with any issues the women students might have. She made a point of arriving early to campus before the start of an all-day board session to visit the women's dormitories and to discuss their needs with the house mothers.
However, the house mothers' perceived needs for the students weren't always the same as those of the students themselves. In an interview with Brown in 1963, she recalled, "I don't believe the girls will ever forgive me for having a light installed outside of Congreve Hall. It was a lovely dark spots for dates!"
Forever in His Debt
In the summer of 1876, New Hampshire's fledgling state college was dealt a harsh blow with the untimely death of Professor Ezekiel Dimond.
Just seven years earlier, Dimond had been elected by the Board of Trustees to serve as the first professor of the College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts, an institution that existed only on paper. Dimond was the perfect choice. A man of unlimited vision and determination, he not only taught all of the chemistry courses for the college, he also served as the business manager, recruiter, architect, supervisor of construction, farm manager, and lobbyist in the legislature.
On his death, the trustees stated, "Without Dimond's zeal, faith, and personal labor on behalf of an enterprise that absorbed all his time and thought, it is believed by many that the College would today be a vagary of the mind, rather than an accomplished fact."
Shortly after his death, however, the trustees realized the true scope of the school's indebtedness to the professor, when they found that, not only had Dimond neglected to pay himself all of his last year's salary, he even had advanced money to pay some of the college bills. The total amount owed to his estate was $4,075, a sum the college did not have available.
The trustees turned to John Conant, a wealthy philanthropist and friend of the college, for assistance. With his help, they were able to settle the debt to Dimond's estate. According to the 1877 financial report, these transactions left just 38 cents in the treasury for the new administration to work with.
Dry (Ice) Humor
Prof. Charles Scott was hired by the New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts (as UNH was then called) as its first librarian in 1876. During the next 54 years he would also serve as a professor of English, history, and political science.
On the anniversary of his 51st year he was presented with a bound volume of letters of tribute to him written by former students, colleagues, and friends. The letters mention his unfailing courtesy, gentlemanly bearing, and dignity. Many also remark on his subtle sense of humor.
One example comes from Frederick Taylor, then Dean of the College of Agriculture. He wrote:
I recall very clearly, the first time I met you in the corridor of Thompson Hall about September 2, 1903. Being a newcomer I made some inquiry about the climate here and you replied with your characteristic drollery that 'most people enjoyed it very much in spite of the fact that the sleddin' got a leetle thin during July and August.
Fleur De Guerre
Dr. Ormond R. Butler served as head of the botany department from 1912 until his death in 1940. In 1919 his expertise was called upon to help settle a debate that was then raging in the New Hampshire legislature. The issue on the table was which flower was most deserving of the title of state flower. Rep. Charles B. Drake first introduced a bill to name the lilac New Hampshire's state flower on Jan. 9, 1919. Other legislators then filed bills and amendments promoting the apple blossom, purple aster, wood lily, Mayflower, goldenrod, wild pasture rose, evening primrose, and buttercup as the state flower.
A long and lively debate followed, regarding the relative merits of each flower. The apple blossom was a popular choice for many, but it was the prohibition era and some people regarded the apple blossom as a symbol of hard cider. Others took issue with the buttercup, since the color yellow was often equated with cowardice.
Finally, legislators agreed to abide by the decisions of two of the state's top botanists, Prof. Arthur Chivers of Dartmouth College and Prof. Butler of the New Hampshire College at Durham. Unfortunately, the two men found they could not agree on the same flower! Chivers favored the lilac while Butler championed the evening primrose. A vote was taken between the lilac and the primrose. The lilac won and was adopted as the state flower on March 28, 1919.
As a child, Evelyn Browne spent six months of the year going to school in Santa Barbara, California, and six months of the year in Canada with her family. Her father, Belmore Browne, was both a landscape artist and an explorer. For about half the year, the family led pack horses loaded down with tepees, cooking gear, an easel, and paints through the Canadian Rockies. When her father found a subject to paint, the family pitched camp.
In 1943, Browne joined the UNH faculty as an instructor in women's physical education. Because of the war and her own background, she believed that the time was right to teach survival skills and outdoor activities. The university, however, was not easily convinced. She established the university's riding program, coached riflery and basketball, and finally, in 1955, began teaching the first outdoor education courses.
Browne retired in 1981 and began her most ambitious project, the creation of an outdoor learning center on some of her property on Dame Road, now known as the Browne Center for Innovative Learning.
Hermon L. Slobin taught mathematics at UNH from 1919 until his retirement in 1948. Born in the Russian village of Smolian in 1883, he was 12 years old when he emigrated to America. Ten years later, he earned his B.A. from Clark University with highest honors. He continued at Clark to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics at the age of 25. His first teaching experience was at a night school, where the students were adults of foreign nationalities.
Devising his own teaching methods, he gave them any subject they demanded. In order to assure everyone's attention, he often had to keep his lectures going in four different languages: English, German, Yiddish, and Russian.
"I wasn't very big", he recalled, "and when one of those husky fellas started to get unruly, I used to back him to the head of the stairs so I could give him a push if necessary." Dr. Slobin was well known for his sense of humor. He told his classes, "Flunk is an intransitive verb. I don't flunk you, I merely record your flunk!"
The first UNH Faculty Club was formed in October 1910, "for social and intellectual purposes."
One of the events that fulfilled the social function was the annual Halloween party. Members bobbed for apples, held a balloon-inflating contest, danced, and dressed up for the competition for best men's and women's costumes.
Costumes ranged from the traditional witches and zombies, to farmhands, mad scientists, Dutch girls, and clowns. But occasionally they reflected current events, and in 1936 a group of nine got together to go as the Dionne quintuplets, their parents, a nurse, and the doctor.
It's Greek to Me
During her senior year, Doris Johnson O'Neill '38, recalled fondly that her favorite teacher, Prof. John Walsh, chairman of the Language department, was a huge baseball fan. "If there was an on-campus baseball game, Prof. Walsh would take his brief-case and we would all head for the field to watch the game. We were "in Greek class" as long as he had his briefcase with him on the bleachers."
In 1907, Dean Fred "Pa" Taylor became the proud owner of the first four-cylinder car in Durham. It was only the third car in town, since A. W. Griffiths of Packers Falls owned a one-cylinder Oldsmobile, and college president William Gibbs owned a two-cylinder Ford. Taylor's car, also a Ford, had no headlights but was equipped with two oil lamps on the sides. For ignition, it used dry cells instead of a battery. The tires were 3 inches by 28 inches, cost $20 each, and were good for an average of 2,000 miles.
One day in the summer of 1908, the Taylor family climbed into the car, with Ma and Pa sitting in the car's seat and young Ralph ensconced in a box that Taylor had attached to the back of the car. On the first day of their journey to Crawford Notch, two consecutive blowouts forced a stop in Wolfeboro. While the Taylors and their car recuperated, the dean telephoned Dover for a new supply of tires.
On the second day, they ended up at the Flume House at Franconia Notch, where the car ran out of gas. Taylor walked the three miles to the nearest gas station, gas can in hand. On the third day, they reached their destination safely, with only a minor setback when they had to stop at the base of Mt. Washington to let the steaming engine cool down. The trip home was uneventful and was completed in one day.
In the five years Dean Taylor owned the car, he traveled 12,000 miles.
Pottery teachers Ed Scheier and Mary Scheier worked at UNH from 1940 to 1960. One of the activities Ed Scheier expected his classes to engage in was the digging of a new supply of clay from the clay pits behind the outdoor swimming pool. One student remembers:
Mr. Scheier gleefully provided us with an array of funny-looking accessories. At 103 lbs., 5'3", I was the smallest, so he had me wear a pair of yellow slicker trousers with suspenders that would have fit a man of 300 pounds, plus he had me carry a shovel with an eight-foot handle. The tallest person in the class, a lanky young man, was told to carry the smallest tool.
He outfitted the others with similarly silly-looking gear, pick and shovels, etc. Several were given five-gallon glass jars to carry, which we assumed were to be used to bring the clay we would dig back to the studio.
He marched this very peculiar-looking group single file across campus to the clay pits, attracting quite a few stares as we labored under our loads. When we finally got to the clay pits, he announced that we were not actually going to dig any clay! He had an abundant supply, but he wanted us to see what clay pits look like. The pick, shovels and slickers were just to attract attention, for the profile. And the glass jars? "To catch frogs!"
Since 1928, hundreds of UNH undergrads have attended summer classes at the Shoals Marine Lab on Appledore Island at the Isles of Shoals. The original lab was the dream of zoology professor C. Floyd Jackson and his wife, who also taught science at UNH.
Floyd G. "Stubby" Bryant '31, '33G was the first student to register for the first lab. He also helped get the place ready, arriving with the Jacksons one late night. "It was ghostly; an eerie, barren-looking island with just one dim light shinning. And it was terribly quiet," he recalled.
An existing two-story Federalist house was converted into the lab's main building, and the students put an end to the quiet. Bryant remembers the professor gritting his teeth and hurling the record, "Muddy Water," into the bushes when students had taken to playing it nonstop on the Victrola.
New Hampshire's Bread Loaf
Carroll S. Towle taught English at UNH from 1931 until his death in 1962. Because of the success of undergraduate writing at the university and the growing prominence of several young graduates, Towle initiated the first Writers' Conference of the University of New Hampshire in 1938. Held each August on the Durham campus, it was one of the first popular university writers' conferences, and attracted a large number of distinguished authors each summer.
Eventually, it became one of the important centers of literary development in the East. In 1962, a review of summer writing conferences in Saturday Review rated the New Hampshire Writers' Conference as one of the Big Four of such conferences, and regretted its cancellation that summer. In fact, the conference was never reinstituted due to Dr. Towle's poor health. His collection of materials relating to the UNH Writers' Conference is housed in the University Archives.
William Yale, an authority on the Middle East, taught history at UNH from 1928 to 1957. For a number of years, Yale had a small dog that frequently accompanied him to class. The dog was well behaved, sitting quietly and attentively in the front of the room during the professor's lectures.
One day, however, as Yale lectured to his summer-school class on European and world history, the dog sat back, yawned quite audibly, got up, and left the room. This was too much for Professor Yale. Slamming his books together, he said, "If it's too dry for my little dog, it's too dry for you! Class is dismissed!"
Prof. Nobel K. Peterson taught in the Natural Resources Dept. from 1957 until his death in 1987. His course in Introductory Soils was very popular with students in part because of his extensive use of creative audiovisual effects.
In 1977, one of his classes presented him with a long black cape and the poem below.
As we watched you day after day it
Soon became obvious that you were
More than a teacher.
You bore the eccentricities of
Genius and Magic
But you were missing something
As you displayed your wizardry of
Media and soils
A wizard without a cloak?
A sad situation indeed
We could not bear to see it continue
So, from the Soils 501 Class of 1977
We add this cloak to your wardrobe
And the word wizard to your title.
Irma Bowen came to UNH in 1920 to teach classes in the history of fashion and dressmaking techniques. During the course of her tenure, she collected many examples of clothing for use in her classes. By the late 1940s, the collection numbered over 600 items, including fashions from the 18th through the 20th centuries, children's clothing, and accessories.
After Miss Bowen's death in 1947, the Board of Trustees voted to name the collection The Irma Bowen Memorial Collection, as a tribute to her dedication as a teacher in the field of textiles. On September 20, the university hosted the fall symposium of the New England and Eastern Provinces of the Costume Society of America. The highlight of the day was the opportunity to visit the costume storage area of the University Museum.
Much to the surprise and delight of the participants, a blue-and-white striped homespun gown, circa 1800, was discovered. The gown is an example of "everyday" clothing from this period, which is extremely rare since most were discarded or used for rags once they were worn out. For more information on the dress and the costume collection visit the University Museum exhibit.
At a senior tea in 1944, Prof. Donald C. Babcock, head of the department of philosophy, gave a fanciful speech on an imaginary 25th reunion of the class of 1944. Among his visualizations for the future were roads consisting of two smooth lanes; one for pedestrians and one for wheeled traffic. People got around on motorized roller skates and there were landing pads for helicopters on campus.
Nation-wide television hook-ups lined the Field House walls, so alumni who could not attend the reunion in person could still be there. Course registration was done through the Central Scheduling System in Washington DC and lectures, transmitted electronically, were conducted only by the best men in the world.
In an article in the March 26, 1915 issue of The New Hampshire, Professor Otto L. Eckman of the department of animal husbandry urged New Hampshire farmers to continue to raise horses, saying:
The automobile is not only not going to put the horse out of business, but that there are today more horses in the United States than there were 15 years ago when the auto was first coming into use, and that the average value of the horse is greater than at that time. (#109)
Hitting the High Notes
In 1942, the music and art departments were quartered in Ballard Hall with the pottery studio in the basement. The pottery instructor, Ed Scheier, wanted some life object for his students to model, so he obtained a fine New Hampshire cockerel from the poultry department.
Working alone one afternoon, Scheier was surprised by the arrival of a girl, with fire in her eyes, demanding to know who had been imitating her in her vocal efforts. Just then the cock crowed, thereby answering her question.
Last Wish Honored
University librarian Thelma Bracket's 1952 annual report includes this note:
The library has treasured since [the death of former librarian Charlotte Thompson] a box of letters written to her by her "boys" in the first world war; letters from all over the world. Previously undiscovered in the box was a request in Miss Thompson's handwriting that the letters all be burned at her death. The librarian, of course, had no choice but to obey.
Dressed for the Occasion
Prof. Loring V. Tirrell taught animal husbandry at UNH from 1920 to 1966, and was head of the department from 1930 to 1963. Of the more than 4,000 students he taught, few left his classes without catching some of his contagious enthusiasm for the subject.
Tirrell initiated a program at the university dedicated to improving several of the horse breeds. It was not unusual to see his big black Cadillac, racing through Durham in the early hours of a spring morning, on his way to the stables where a mare was about to foal.
One such spring morning, after a foal was born and the excitement was over, one haphazardly clad student noticed that Mr. Tirrell was impeccably dressed in a business suit. Yes, he confirmed, he had been called out of bed by one of the stable helpers.
Everyone attributed his appearance to years of practice getting properly dressed in a hurry. But a few moments later, someone noticed the edge of a pajama pant leg showing below the professor's trouser cuff. Then the great confession came: "For a week before a foal is due, I leave a suit on a chair, a necktie attached to a shirt, and I never get the top button fastened until the first stop sign."
Enthralled With Shawls
Ms. Daisy Deane Williamson was a home demonstration leader for the New Hampshire Cooperative Extension between 1920-42. As she traveled through the state giving lectures and demonstrations on a myriad of home economics topics, Williamson—who collected shawls of all kinds—was always on the lookout for a possible addition to her collection. A gift of an antique wedding shawl had inspired her hobby.
Ms. Williamson died in 1942 and bequeathed her shawl collection to UNH. At the time of her death, her fine collection numbered 160 shawls. Her interest in Paisley is apparent, as one third of the collection is Paisley-related, including examples of various techniques and designs.
To learn more and to see a few example of her shawls, visit the University Museum exhibit, Daisy's Paisleys: 19th Century Shawls from the Daisy Deane Williamson Collection.
During the summer of 1949, UNH baseball coach Henry C. "Hank" Swasey managed the Kentville, Nova Scotia Wildcats in the Central League. One day when only seven of his players showed up for the Amherst game, Hank himself stepped in to play. He used his 13-year-old bat boy to round out the team. He got one hit in three times at bat, and his team was leading 7-6 when the rest of the ball club showed up.
They went on to win 13-6. But the Amherst team, managed by Ed Pesaresi '41, former varsity pitcher for Swasey, protested the game, on the grounds that the winners used two ineligible players.
Long-time chief of campus police, Louis Bourgoin retired in June 1955 after thirty-seven years. Although he had left grammar school at the age of fourteen, Louis was a master in dealing with his better-educated charges. From 1928 to 1955 he jailed only four students. Countless others, picked up by the police of neighboring communities, were released to Louis without being taken to court.
Professor William Hennessy said of him: "Louis tempers justice with mercy...good judgment, fairness, and humanity." Of himself, Louis said: "If I caught them a second time, it went pretty hard on them." He once stopped, in the space of thirty seconds, a pitched snowball fight between the residents of three dormitories.
In 1956, the Cooperative Extension services owned one car for use by its field agents, and assistant director Sam Hoitt '28 decided the 1950 Ford should be traded in for a newer model. The car was being used by Margery Nickerson for her work as the Home Demonstration Agent in Hillsborough County.
Hoitt placed an order for a new 1956 standard six-cylinder, 4-door sedan equipped with "2 sun visors, 2 arm rests, recirculating heater, defroster, directional lights, 2 ash trays and undercoating." But apparently he failed to specify the color of the car.
In a letter to Hoitt, Mrs. Nickerson wrote, "The Ford Company called me this afternoon about changing the car. He asked me to choose a color, so I picked Spring Mist Green."
Your letter of June 18th indicates that the Ford Motor Company in Milford asked you to select the color for the new car and you have selected Spring Mist Green. Probably I would have suggested Black or Deep Grey so we have you to thank for the gayer selection. We will be glad to concur with your choice.
It was a big day for New Hampshire at the national conference of the University Photographers Association of America in April 1967. Richard D. Merritt, university photographer, was honored as "University Photographer of the Year." In addition to this coveted award, he received mention for two of his prints.
John P. Adams, Merritt's assistant, was one of three college photographers to win three honor awards apiece in the competition. From 300 prints submitted, 29 were given awards. A large collection of university photographs, including those by Merritt and Adams, are stored in the University Archives in Dimond Library.
Merritt, now retired in Exeter, NH, is an associate professor emeritus of UNH. For more on UNH Photographers, please visit the University Museum exhibit, A Campus in Focus: UNH Photographers.
Ye of Little Faith
Each year in April, the University celebrates the birthday of Benjamin Thompson, the Durham farmer who left his entire estate to New Hampshire for the founding of an agricultural college. All but forgotten are some of the editorial reactions to announcement of his will.
The Dover Democrat insisted the will was the "last epistle of St. Benjamin" and claimed it was "Thompson's intent to establish a turnip yard over in Durham, if the state will agree to fence it and keep it fenced." The Mirror and American of Manchester voiced a strong side of the question when it referred to the need for such a school as that of a "million dollar pesthouse."
A Barn is a Barn
The first college barn built in Durham was a magnificent structure, the largest and best of its kind in New Hampshire. Today it would be called state-of-the-art, but back in 1892 not everyone was impressed.
The local newspaper reported some of the criticisms offered by the local farmers.
What are they going to do with a barn fixed up as nice, outside and in, as our houses are? What is the use of painting and varnishing a cow tie-up? How are they going to keep such a big thing clean? What are they going to do with it anyway, there ain't grass enough grows around here to half fill it with hay?
The barn burned down in 1894, and a slightly less extravagant one was built to replace it.
Now That You Mention It
The question of advanced degrees at the New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts first surfaced in 1895, when Charles A. Hubbard requested that he be granted the degree of Mechanical Engineer upon presentation of a suitable thesis. Judge Isaac W. Smith investigated the matter for the trustees.
The judge reported: "You probably have the same power to confer the degree of M.E. as of B.S. and that may be none at all. If you have the right to confer B.S., why not M.E., and other kindred degrees?" He suggested that, to settle the matter, the trustees should seek legislation giving them degree-granting authority.
The only serious train accident in Durham occurred early on the morning of January 22, 1905. The St. John's Express, running more than an hour late and rushing south at about 50 miles per hour, struck a defective rail just about where Kingsbury Hall stands today. The last four cars—sleeper, smoker, and two coaches—were badly damaged, tearing up 300 feet of track in the process. Within a few minutes, students and faculty members arrived and began assisting the 85 passengers out of the cars.
There were no fatalities, but 11 seriously injured passengers were taken to nearby campus buildings. Doctors and nurses were rushed from Dover on a special train. A few days after the accident, the president of the railroad gave the student body $1,000 in appreciation of their help. The students voted to put the money into a fund to help purchase equipment for the new gymnasium (now New Hampshire Hall), which was under construction at the time.
In the early 1900s, the Durham-New Hampshire College fire department's response to fires was haphazard, to say the least. When the fire alarm sounded, anyone who was so inclined could run to the shed on campus behind Thompson Hall, where the hose was housed on a reel, and haul it by hand to the fire. At times, help from the college men was requested by neighboring towns, as was the case in the following story, reported in the 1905 New Hampshire College Monthly.
On the morning of Fast Day, a call for help came from Newmarket: a large forest fire was in progress in the Packer's Falls neighborhood near the Durham line and several farmhouses were in danger of being burned. About 25 students, together with professors Pettee, Rane, Elson, and Sanderson started at once for the scene of the fire. Directed by Pettee, the fellows fought the blaze for several back-breaking hours, digging furrows and building back-fires. By noon, the flames had died down and the farmhouses were saved. So was a nearby cider mill-which had apparently received a great deal of the students' efforts. When it was all over, the owner of the mill "set 'em up" at his place--ample reward for their good deeds.
The History of a Park, in a Nutshell
In 1911, the college received a gift of an eight-acre plot of land in Lee, NH, known as Davis Park, from Thomas J. Davis in memory of his parents. The gift had two purposes. The first was to provide the college with a forestry laboratory. In addition to the chestnut, pine, catalpa, and basswood already planted on the parcel, the forestry department undertook to plant conifers in a clear area.
The second purpose of the gift was for an annual nutting party, to be known as Davis Park Day, which would be held each October during the lifetime of the trees that Davis had planted. Since such trees usually live for one or two centuries, the memorial park was one of a lasting endurance, but not so the nutting party. Unfortunately, nutting parties had quite gone out of fashion by the time the bequest was accepted, so the college lost, before it ever gained, this pleasant custom.
The Way Home
The Durham Historic Association recently interviewed Thomas Moriarty, the "second oldest man in Durham." Moriarty's father died when he was a baby. To support the family, his mother got a job in the kitchen of The Commons (now Huddleston Hall), where she worked for 20 years.
He tells the story of making the two-mile trip into campus at age 4 to pick up his mother:
They hitched up the horse and put a lantern on the floor of the sleigh—this was in the winter—and put a blanket over me and then I drove into UNH to pick up my mother...
It was dark, and I remember going up there and going to The Commons and I went in and I saw her and I said I'm waiting for you outside... She got dressed and she came out, took the horse by the bridle and turned him around heading towards home, and got in the sleigh with me—it just had open sides—and she sat by me. I can remember just like it was yesterday, and she said 'Gitch gitch,' just like that and the horse started up and she put the blanket over our heads. Of course, this was a long time ago, over 85 years ago. We rode down over the Newmarket Road, the horse knew just where to go, up Bennett Road and when he stopped just in front of the barn, we knew we were home. Boy, I tell ya, a lot of cars might try that, but it don't work!
In 1924 the eight inch pipe that lead from the college to the reservoir began to slowly clog up. By the time the college decided to flush the pipe to remove the obstruction, there was not enough head pressure at the reservoir to do the job, so one of the Dover fire engines was obtained to clear the clog by back pressure.
The plan was successful, and the obstruction was removed—in the form of about three bushels of lamprey eels that had apparently entered the pipe through the quarter inch mesh screen covering when very young and then grown up there.
Those alums who were on campus when the library was located in Hamilton Smith Hall may recall walls covered with huge murals depicting life, from farming to publishing, in New Hampshire. The murals were part of the Works Projects Administration (WPA), created under President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal program in 1935 and designed to provide relief for the nation's unemployed, through public work programs.
Three New Hampshire artists, Gladys Brannigan, Arthur Esner, and George Lloyd, were hired to paint a series of murals for the University Library under the direction of Omer T. Lassonde, State Supervisor of the New Hampshire WPA Art Project. When the library moved out of Hamilton Smith Hall and the building was converted to classroom and office space, most of the murals were removed or covered. Fortunately, one mural remains, and can be still be seen in Room 141.
Adding Insult to Injury
On the night of July 12, 1937, the Agricultural Engineering Building was destroyed by fire. While digging through the ruins to see what could be salvaged, George M. Foulkrod, assistant agricultural engineer, examined a group of 20 film canisters he had stored on his desk. One by one the brittle films fell apart. The final can was filled with water and although wet, the film was in good condition. Held up to the light, he could read the title: Farm Fire Loss.
After the same fire, Prof. Walter Ackerman, head of the Agricultural Engineering Department, needed to move a tractor that had been partially burned. He managed to do so despite the burned tires, but when he tried to get down, he found himself stuck tight.
Finally, with great effort, he managed to pull himself free; however, the seat of his pants remained glued to the tractor seat. Apparently, the heat from the fire had burned through the leather seat cover in places and the sponge rubber padding had melted to a sticky consistency resulting in a very effective adhesive.
Summer Abroad, of Sorts
This advertisement for summer work appeared in the April 1946 issue of The New Hampshire:
Men who are interested in working as cattle attendants in ships taking heifers over to EUROPEAN COUNTRIES. Men are needed desperately and the work is not hard. Seventy-five dollars a month, time in port, and knowledge of doing an important job should prove a very valuable summer job. Experience not necessary although preferred.
For a few days in April, 1949, the campus resembled a Hollywood movie set when Louis deRochemont '44H chose to shoot his production of Lost Boundaries in Durham. The documentary movie was based on the story of Albert C. Johnston Jr., a UNH music major from Keene, NH, whose Black family had "passed" as white for many years. Local scenes and buildings (Murkland auditorium, New Hampshire Hall and Thompson Hall among others) were used to keep costs down. Only a few professional actors and technical personnel were used as another method to cut costs. In the scenes shot in Durham, practically everyone in the act was either a student, a member of the faculty, or a town resident.
During the summer months at UNH, the lack of residential students is compensated for with a wide variety of conferences, camps, reunions, music schools, and numerous other special programs. In 1962, the "Summer Journal" announced the return of pro football to Durham:
For the first time since the New York Titans trained here in 1960, there will be an intra-squad game by a professional football team in Cowell Stadium. This time the team is the Boston Patriots, who are pointing for the eastern division title in the American Football League this year. The Pats finished second in 1961. Those attending the two o'clock game Saturday will not only witness a rugged contest as the veterans and rookies battle each other to survive being cut by Coach Mike Holovak but will also help a worthy cause. Proceeds from the game go to the Portsmouth Rehabilitation Center.
In the fall of 1975, the Circulation Librarian received a package in the mail containing the UNH library's copy of "American Practical Navigator" by Nathaniel Bowditch. With it was a note from the borrower apologizing because it was overdue. He explained that he had tried to purchase a copy of the book before embarking on a trip from Halifax to the Azores in his sailboat. Unfortunately, the book was out-of-print, so he "took the liberty of retaining the library's copy."
The letter continued:
Bowditch may have saved our lives. On Tuesday, September 2 at 41° 48' N, 45° 20' W while beating south against rising winds and seas we were informed by a ship that Hurricane Doris was 200-300 miles south of us and coming right at us. We consulted Bowditch and followed his advice. We managed to avoid the hurricane, hardly getting wet, but not without some anxious moments and some hard sailing. We recommend Bowditch highly. Thank you for the loan.
In 1975, the University's cows, sheep, and pigs were removed to the college farm in Lee, in preparation for the demolition of their former home, a 57-year-old livestock barn near the Field House. The UNH Bicentennial Committee (appointed by President Eugene Mills to coordinate the campus efforts to celebrate the United States' Bicentennial) proposed that the barn be restored as a symbol of the University's agricultural heritage. Students organized their own Save Our Barn Committee in support of the cause.
In response, Mills formed the Barn Feasibility Study Committee, charging them with finding both a viable use for the barn and the funding needed for its restoration. Despite their best efforts, however, the committee was unable to come up with a satisfactory proposal in the amount of time they were given and the barn was torn down to make room for more parking spaces.
A keen observer on campus may notice when more students than usual take the paths between James and Morrill Halls. The purpose of their walk is to see the Ginkgo tree. One of the oldest tree species, the Ginkgo has existed for 150 million years and at one time was native to North America.
A distinguishing feature of this species is that all of its leaves fall within 24 hours. The Natural Resources honor society, Xi Sigma Pi, holds an annual raffle predicting when the leaves will fall.
The Office of Sustainability selected this Ginkgo (one of 12 on campus) for preservation given concern for its declining health. Stress factors include soil compaction, recent construction, salt application, and competition from turf grass.
Wild fires were a serious problem in southern New England following an extremely dry summer and fall in 1947. Fire watches were organized, and a large portion of the volunteer firefighters came from the university. Student volunteers rushed from Durham at all hours of the day and night to help combat fires in New Hampshire and Maine.
Since it was impossible to stop the main fire, emphasis was placed on smaller fires throughout the area. The prime objective of the firefighters was to protect the small farm buildings and save whatever livestock they could. Saving the woods was of secondary importance. Because all the streams were dry, water had to be brought into the area in tank trucks. On campus, crews of students were organized to rake leaves, cut dry grass, and haul away the debris, which was then dumped in the water underneath the Durham Bridge.
In the spring of 1955, Hurricane Carol ripped the weathervane from the Thompson Hall tower. While replacing it, workmen uncovered a small tin box containing yellowed slips of paper bearing the signatures of the men who built the building in 1892. The box was found at the very top of the tower and was apparently placed there as a ceremonial gesture when the tower was finished.
One of the slips bore the politically minded slogan, "Our president and vice-president: Cleveland and Stevenson," referring presumably to Grover Cleveland and Adlai Stevenson, who took office in 1893. Another worker, taking a dig at the new college, signed his slip, "Professor of Pipes." The box and its contents were replaced in the tower with one addition -- the story that the University News Bureau published when the box was discovered.
100 and Counting
The University has been able to celebrate its Centennial year twice. The first time was in 1966 when it celebrated 100 years since its founding as the state land grant college. The second time was in 1993 when it celebrated the centennial of the relocation of the college from Hanover to Durham in 1893.
Our next opportunity for a centennial celebration will be in 2023, when we will reach the 100th year of our charter as the University of New Hampshire.
In December 1985, the University announced that it would open the doors to its new observatory on three consecutive Friday nights, to give the public an opportunity for a close-up view of Halley's Comet. The 20-foot-high, steel observatory (then located on the western edge of the campus in Boulder Field) was built for the physics department with a grant from the Elliott Fund and was intended primarily for education rather than research purposes. It houses a 14-inch Celestron telescope mounted on a concrete pillar at the center of the 16-foot diameter building. When not in use by UNH students, the observatory is available to local astronomy clubs and other groups of people.
At the time, the observatory program was run by grad student Kent Reinhard '89G, who now teaches physics, astronomy, and engineering at Southeast Community College in Lincoln, NE. He warned visitors to bundle up, since the building is unheated to keep telescope's mirrors and lenses from fogging. He also cautioned that visitors expecting a bright picture-perfect image might be disappointed by the dim "fuzzy snowball" they would see in the telescope's eyepiece. But, he said, the excitement of seeing the actual comet should outweigh any disappointment.
Unfortunately, as predictable as Halley's may be, New England weather is equally unpredictable, and weather made the comet invisible each of the three nights. Better luck next time? The next predicted perihelion of Halley's Comet is July 28, 2061, when it will appear on the same side of the sun as Earth and is expected to be more visible than in 1985-1986.
For as long as the University has been issuing parking tickets, offenders have been trying to talk their way out of paying them. The parking enforcement office has established an appeals process for presenting evidence of enforcement errors or extreme extenuating circumstances. Appeals range from the perfectly sincere to the completely wacky. The best of these end up in the parking Appeals Hall of Fame.
Marc Laliberte '89, transportation operations manager, shares some of his favorites:
One young man noted that he was working at his part-time job in the art department posing as a nude model, and he couldn't very well run naked into the streets to pay the meter. (And, I suppose, had no pockets for change anyway.)
Then there's the guy who tells a vivid account of how he accidentally severed his toe and got a ticket while waiting for the "toe truck."
Another disputed the time of his ticket by submitting his wristwatch's certification with the Controle Officiel Suisse des Chronometres and requested an independent objective timing test of the parking meter in question.
Another invoked the great American founding fathers and the unalienable right they proclaimed so long ago to park your horse at any hitching post you felt like.
One young lady, apparently assuming that any kind of information or detail might prevent her appeal from being granted, simply said, "I would like to appeal this ticket."
Finally, one mom who seemed unusually involved in her son's campus life, submitted an appeal on behalf of an honest-to-goodness French maid she had hired to keep his dorm room clean -- good old Mom.
All of these appeals were denied, but are kept on file in the prestigious Appeals Hall of Fame.
In 1896, the college was the recipient of a gift in the form of a stuffed elk that had been shot in Corbin Park. The elk lived for many years on the first floor of T-Hall (where it made a convenient coat-rack) until it was moved to the third floor just outside of the girl's gym.
Imagine the surprise of the women who lived in Smith Hall when, one April morning in 1921, they awoke to see their old friend standing peacefully among the rocks on the little rise near their dorm. As reported by The New Hampshire, "This curious sight caused much laughter and excitement among all who saw the old fellow. After standing there for several hours, under the eye of so many 'fair ones,' the blushing old quadruped was finally relieved of his position, and carried by workmen to his old stand."
In the early days of the university, the fastest way to get to Dover was by train. Enterprising student found ways of avoiding paying the 20-cent fare. Students would pile into the "afternoon limited" in such numbers that despite the fast working conductor and brakeman, working frantically from either end, there was usually not time to demand tickets from every passenger. The more alert youths could nimbly avoid the conductor all the way to the city, then, as the train slowed down near Dover, drop off the center cars and hop on again at the rear for the final ride into the city.
May the Best Department Win
Anticipation ran high in 1924 when the college prepared for its annual Aggie Fair held in the gymnasium (now New Hampshire Hall). The Horticulture Department, which won first prize for the best exhibit the year before, had visions of winning another victory, while the Poultry Department hoped to regain the crown it lost the previous year. The Animal Husbandry Department was pretty confidant that they would take the big prize with their entry of a green pig. It was, according to Joe Horne '25, a "real and legitimate green." The Dairy Department promised that their exhibit would be a winner, or at least would "be less likely to arouse suspicion than the 'green squealer' being shown by the Animal Husbandry Department."
The Bells Toll On and On and…
One evening in early June, 1925, the University and Durham communities were alarmed when the Thompson Hall bells began to ring at eleven o'clock at night. At ten minutes past eleven the bell was still ringing when Henry Swallow, the genial night watchman, appeared on the scene. He found the door to the belfry unlocked and discovered that some "playful students" had hung two glass cider jugs from the striking apparatus in such a way that the thing was thrown out of gear so that the striking would continue indefinitely.
What's A Mother To Do?
The first recorded incident on campus of the infamous college prank known as the "panty raid" occurred in 1928. As Liz Roper '28 tells the story: One evening a guys' dorm marched on Smith Hall [a women's dorm]. The girls rushed about, quickly locking windows. At the time, Smith had a dear old lady for a house mother and she became confused in the commotion. Seeing her duty clear, the good soul also hurried about fixing window -- except, not realizing that they were already locked -- she unlocked them! The boys broke in and the panty raid was on. According to Roper, "Oh, the girls loved it!"
In February 1926, the Wildcat was voted the official college mascot. Several months later, some students heard that a farmer had captured a wildcat and they thought it would be a good idea to get the cat as a mascot to show at Homecoming.
Amanda Simpson '28 told the story:
Cupe Osgood, Eddie Simpson, and Gil Reed climbed into Cupe's touring car and headed off to get the cat. The farmer put the cat in a wooden box, nailed some slats on the top and placed it on the back seat of Cupe's car. A short time after they had left for Durham, the cat started raising havoc in the box, producing some of the weird sounds that only a wildcat can make. The three students became extremely apprehensive about the security of the box.
Stopping for lunch in Laconia, they took to the road again when one of the three men noticed just in time that the cat had chewed away one of the slats and was half out of the box. Cupe slammed on the brakes and Ed and Gil threw a blanket over the box, shoved it back in and hoped for the best.
After starting off again, Gil put his arm around the back of Cupe and jabbed him in the back of his neck at the same time giving his best imitation of a "wild" wildcat. Poor Cupe jammed on the brakes, leaped out of the car and headed for a cornfield. Ed always said that he wasn't sure who was the wildest in the car back to Durham. Cupe and Gil didn't speak for awhile but they always remained friends anyway.
Boys Will Be Boys
One morning in 1936, Guy Clark, principal at the Durham Center Grammar School, was shocked to find a huge pig in his children's playpen. Adding insult to injury, he received many telephone calls complaining about his keeping pigs within the town proper. Of course, town residents blamed the prank on University students. Few ever found out that Philip Wilcox, foreman at the University poultry plant, and Loring Tirrell, professor of animal husbandry, were the actual perpetrators.
The last football game of the 1939 season was scheduled against the highly-favored Harvard Crimson. One week before the game, the UNH wildcat mascot, Butch III, was discovered missing from his cage behind the Lambda Chi Fraternity house. Both Tufts (who had just lost to UNH) and Harvard were considered likely culprits, but searches for the cat in Boston and Cambridge came up empty.
Three days later, an insurance salesman was surprised to find the cat in a small carrier abandoned in his garage in Woburn, Mass. Having read of the missing animal in a Boston newspaper, he called the UNH athletic department. A delegation was dispatched to Woburn and returned to Durham with the cat, which was hungry and thirsty but otherwise unharmed.
Despite the fact that on top of the cage, in large letters, was written: "HARVARD 60, N.H. O," Harvard denied any involvement, stating that they had enough cats at Harvard already without adding a wild one to the collection.
Box Office Success
In the fall of 1968, the walls of the office of George B. Nako were decorated with artwork, a couple of diplomas and eight English 401 theme papers. Two swing-armed chairs, an empty cigarette carton, and an ashtray showed evidence that student conferences were held there. None of this was very unusual except that the "office" was located under a stairwell in Hamilton Smith Hall. His posted office hours were at the unconventional times of midnight to 3 a.m., which might explain why his office was always empty.
Students and faculty pondered the existence of Mr. Nako. Soon the inhabitants of Hamilton-Smith were leaving him notes and papers to grade (which he did -- often in several different handwritings). As the semester wore on, Nako's circle of fans grew, and he received gifts and even proposals of marriage. The statement, "Nako lives" chalked onto the blackboards answered his skeptics. Those students hoping to register for his spring classes were disappointed, however. When they returned from winter break, Nako's office had disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared.
Will the Real Professor Please Stand Up?
On January 31, 1954, it was revealed that a high school drop-out named Marvin Hewitt had been teaching physics at the university for a year. New Hampshire was not the only victim of this talented imposter, who in the previous ten years had taught at four different colleges under different names. In Durham he posed as Kenneth P. Yates, Ph.D., a physicist with a good record. He had been hired in 1953 after submitting fake letters of recommendation and a genuine transcript of Dr. Yates doctoral studies.
Although graduate students and colleagues noted inexplicable gaps in his knowledge, the self-taught genius escaped discovery until Wayne N. Overman, a graduate student, became suspicious of him. "Yates" was unfamiliar with the work of a certain German physicist and could not read German -- rare for a Ph.D. in physics. Inquiry revealed that the real Yates was innocently pursuing his career in the Midwest.
One morning in late May 1982, President Evelyn Handler discovered that sometime during the night, her front lawn had been turned into an encampment for a flock of flamingos, ducks, frogs, and rabbits. There were also a few gnomes, a donkey, and a lion in the mix.
Sgt. Robert Prince (above) was called in to round up the ornamental menagerie, which, it was suspected, had strayed from nearby homes. Faculty, staff, and local residents whose garden and lawn ornaments had mysteriously vanished were invited to come to the station to claim their missing creatures.
The first year of college is always a little scary as well as exciting for students. C. A. Wilcomb, Class of 1871, described what it was like to be one of the first students during the first year of the New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts (now UNH) when it opened its doors in Hanover, NH, in 1868.
Like all pioneers, for that is what we were, we had a variety of experiences not found in the 'curriculum.' Putting ten country boys in more or less proximity to 300 regular college boys was not calculated to promote much enthusiasm among the 'bucolic' as we were called. Oh yes, we had another rather pungent appellation, 'dungists.' Now with these names there was absolutely no possibility of our being mistaken for any of the high-brow students, although we may have been equal in horse-sense.
In 1871, three students from the New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts became its first alumni. By 1880, there were forty-nine alumni. A growing interest in starting an alumni association resulted in about thirty-five alumni meeting at the City Hotel in Keene, NH on March 23, 1880. At their first meeting, the alumni elected officers and appointed an executive committee. At the banquet that followed, thirteen toasts were offered, including toasts to former Dartmouth President Asa Smith and President of the Board George Nesmith, the buildings of the college, the "belles" of Hanover, the boarding houses of Hanover, and the alumni and their new association.
Edward M. Stone, Class of 1892, remembered the first graduation in Durham:
In May, 1892, Professor Pettee approached the members of the '92 class and informed them that the cornerstone of Thompson Hall was to be laid soon at Durham with appropriate ceremonies, and he would like to have our graduating exercises as part of the program.
We left Hanover in the morning of the selected date, arriving at Durham a little before noon, and went directly to the barn. There we were served our alumni dinner on the second floor. At 1 o'clock, we gathered at the site of the cornerstone at the front left-hand corner of Thompson Hall.
Soon after we gathered, a sudden heavy shower was pelting us, so we made a hasty retreat back to the barn, it being the nearest and only building on the campus. After taking a good look at the class and the layout of the lower floor, Prof. Pettee decided to back us into the corner of the calf pen and present us with our diplomas as part of the exercises.
When the New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts moved from Hanover to Durham in 1893, the students were eager to explore the advantages of the Seacoast, one of which was boating. In the first issue of the student magazine, they wrote, "While we were in Hanover it is safe to say not one in a dozen fellows enjoyed a boat ride, but as we near the salt water, we shall have much better opportunities, and we must take hold and make a success of this branch of athletics; at least we will have boating that will be boating."
By the last issue of the school year, they had discovered that boating on the bay wasn't always smooth sailing.
The chief difficulty in taking a sail down the bay is the lack of decent boats. Another difficulty is the scarcity of water at low tide... We have abundant example of sails that were not ideal, and one has recently been well illustrated by the experience of three of our best sailors, an experience which combined sailing, rowing, and swimming, and we may also say, diving. If we remember that 'variety is the spice of life,' we shall see that the ordinary trip 'down the bay' is a well-seasoned experience.
In the late 1800s, students at the New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts, by then relocated to Durham, were thrilled with the "exhilarating" sport of cycling. "Those who have ever tried the sport and have been able to keep it up for a short time, can't help catching the fever and will not be contented until they own a machine of their own," wrote one student. "But to own a good wheel is only one part of the sport; the great pleasure is in living in a part of the country where the roads are kept in such a condition that the cyclist can ride miles and miles without having to get off and trudge through sand, mud or walk up and down steep hills.
We are all proud of our Granite hills, but there is no reason why we should not have good roads, not without hills for that would be more than anyone could expect, but for roads that will be so much better than we now have that it will be a pleasure to ride over them. Durham is situated in a part of the state where the roads have received more attention than in most of the other sections. The country is somewhat uneven but there are few grades that deserve the name of hills, so that many miles can be made without getting down and walking.
Guilty as Charged
On April 19, 1895, the student organization known as the Culver Literary Society held a mock trial. The accused was charged with tampering with the ballot box at the election of the club's officers. The proceedings were conducted as gravely as circumstances would permit. The defendant was eventually found guilty and was sentenced to sing in the College Choir for one week.
Lesson in Fermentation
The New Hampshire College Monthly contains this report of an especially memorable meeting of the Chemical Colloquium, held on December 2, 1905.
After the customary proceedings, the meeting adjourned to the college club room, each man taking with him a 400cc. beaker for reference. At the College Club, a "feed" was soon under way. Beside the eatables, there was a goodly store of the product of the festive apple. The latter was contained in one of those dear old earthen jugs the size of a watermelon.
President Kennedy acted as Hebe for the first sendoff, and the atmosphere of solid satisfaction was profound when each happy "Chemiker" had been supplied with his 400cc. of the rusty nectar. Throughout the evening, the inspiring jug continued to be a center of attraction. It reminded one of a heavily "bonded" atom whose affinities were being satisfied by the ring of individuals around it.
When saturation was about reached the affinities disappeared, and the energy of the jug, and its contents became a minimum. At about 10 o'clock the festivities ended. The Colloquium adjourned, and each member went his way vowing himself glad to be a chemist, or one in embryo.
Blue All Over
The first page of a freshman's diary, found in the Modern Language room in Thompson Hall and dated September 5, 1905, was published in the New Hampshire College Monthly:
Arrived in Durham on the 2:30 train. On way down met a fellow named _____, who is a junior. On arriving at station paid man to bring trunk down to house. Then walked down to Mrs. _____. Not many students here yet, so place seems lonesome. After supper, as trunk didn't come, I walked up toward station to look it up. Found it on steps of another building, where it was left by mistake. Hired a boy for ten cents to help me carry it to room. In the p.m. and eve. unpacked and got settled. Felt homesick at times. At 7:30 p.m., being very tired, I went to bed, wishing I had never come to such a place.
In the college's early years, its small size allowed for more personal contact between the faculty and the students. It was common for faculty to host a party for a group of students, and just about anything that happened on campus was fodder for the student magazine. The March 1905 issue reported that:
[chemistry] Prof. and Mrs. F. W. Morse gave a very pleasant 'At Home' to half of the senior class. The evening was spent in completing the definition of words, card playing and singing.
The special feature, which was novel and extremely interesting, was an egg shell painting contest. Egg shells had been fitted with collars and hats representing students, admirals, brownies, etc. These were distributed and each guest was supposed to paint a likeness, which should be similar to that suggested by the hat. Everybody had a glorious time.
Luck of the Draw
Housing shortages at UNH date back to its very beginning. The original appropriations for the college did not include money for dormitories, so private enterprise in Durham did what it could to house both students and faculty. Smith Hall, the first college dormitory, was built in 1908, providing beds for 32 women students. Within seven years, the college had to lease two more buildings to accommodate the demand for housing.
Due to the differences in comfort levels provided by the three women's dorms, a certain proportion of women from each class were required to live in each building and rooms were assigned by lottery. The arrangement was as unpopular then as it is today.
Good Look to You, Too
On January 13, 1911, patrons of the college Lecture Course were treated to an evening of musical selections performed by Victor and his Venetian Band. Signor Victor and his twenty-six band members had been touring the US for ten months before they performed in Durham.
The fraternities served as hosts to the band members during their stay on campus. The following note was left at a fraternity house by one of the band members. "If we might explain to you we would like to tell many kind words, because everyone of young man of this college they are all of the best gentleman very kind and honest, the their manner it is very affabule and cortese. We leave from here very sorry. We left many friends. We wish good-look with best regards to them."
Don't Fence Me In
From 1842 to 1912, the B&M Railroad ran through the middle of campus. From the point near the shops (now Hewitt Hall) to Main Street, the B&M erected a board fence on each side of their right of way.
A short cut from one side of campus to the other was to go through or over the fence. It soon dawned on the resourceful youth that the easiest way was to kick out a panel of fences. Thus began a duel between the students and the section men.
As often as the students kicked out a panel, the section men would restore it. After this continued for a while, the boys discovered an empty boxcar one evening and loaded the fence into it. The next morning, the B&M picked up the car and unwittingly hauled their fence out of the state. The fence was never replaced.
The early decades of the 20th century were the heyday of inter-class rivalry. The annual class banquets involved elaborate scheming by the freshmen and the sophomores to have out of town banquets, which the other class would attempt to prevent by kidnapping and other tactics.
On April 29, 1912, the banquet contest led to one of the more notorious incidents in the history of UNH, known as the Strike of 1912. That year, the sophomores contrived to distract the freshmen by ringing the Thompson Hall bell, which served as a fire alarm. Class president and star athlete William Brackett did the deed, and while the freshmen responded to the "fire," the sophomores successfully boarded the train to Boston where their banquet awaited them.
The ruse worked perfectly until President Gibbs, catching Brackett red-handed and presumably red-faced, suspended him for the remainder of the year for ringing a false alarm. The sophomores objected, saying the punishment was too severe since Brackett had rung the bell as an agent for the class and not as an individual. They voted to stop attending classes until Brackett's suspension was adjusted to what they considered to be a fairer punishment. The freshman class and then the junior class also voted to follow the lead of the sophomores.
The strike dragged on for more than a week before some of the trustees intervened. After consultation with President Gibbs and the class representatives, Brackett's punishment was reduced to suspension for two weeks and probation for the rest of the college year. The students returned to classes, and the student strike was over.
In 1913, through the efforts of the Women's League, the administration granted the use of a room on the first floor of Thompson Hall for the use of commuting women students who came to campus by train each morning and often stayed until the evening trains departed.
With contributions from interested clubs or individuals, the room was equipped with all the comforts of home, including a piano. The furniture of this room proved to be very popular for use as theater props and also for social events and dances held on the third floor of Thompson Hall (which housed the only stage or auditorium on the campus).
This use became so frequent and so disastrous to the furniture that in 1917 it was voted that nothing could be taken from the room without written permission, and a charge of twenty-five cents was made for each article borrowed by any organization or individual.
In the early 1980's, at age ninety-two, Albert Erlon Mosher penned his reminiscences of his years at UNH, Class of 1914.
I am a two-year student alumnus. Two-year students were referred to as "Shorthorns", and came very close to being considered second class persons in the eyes of many four-year students, but not all. I had many friends from both that I cherished all my life. Like most students I came to Durham by train... Each morning the conductor, instead of calling "Durham" would announce the stop as "Cow College." The students got rather irritated at this and when the conductor got off the train one morning he was greeted with barrage of rotten eggs. Passengers heard no more of the "Cow College."
The October 6, 1914 issue of The New Hampshire included the following account of an automobile accident, the first ever reported by that paper:
The New Hampshire College wrecking crew began its season of activities last Sunday night. The three students who comprise this crew were enjoying a moonlight stroll along the Madbury road when they ran across the auto of a well-known Dover resident lying in the ditch. The owner of the auto went to the nearest telephone to call for help, while one of the students drew out his slide rule and attempted to solve the problem of rescuing the auto.
While trying to make sin 30 equal tan 0 plus cos 0, Pa Stone and Frank Morrison arrived on the scene with a flask of gasoline and two feet of logging chain from the aggie department. A few well chosen expletives from Frank scared the auto to its feet and with the aid of the gasoline, the slide rule, and the three husky students, the auto was soon in the road again and on its way. The road being narrow, the three young men obligingly picked up Pa Stone's and Frank Morrison's Fords and turned them around, then rode
Reven to the Rescue
Riding the train was a rather mundane event back in the early part of the 20th Century. Occasionally, however, it provided a little excitement, as shown in an article for the October 7, 1916 issue of The New Hampshire:
With rare presence of mind, Roy Reven '19 snatched a woman from death under a moving train at the Dover station last Saturday morning. The woman, whose identity is unknown, attempted to get onto the rear platform of a coach as the train was pulling out. Hampered partly by her weight of two hundred pounds or more, she lost her footing and fell heavily under the train. Revene, who stood on the station platform with many others, saw her plight. By quick thinking and the use of his football-hardened muscles, he was able to rescue her when the wheels of the next coach were by a scant few feet from her body.
Dancing on the Grass
On May 14, 1917, the YWCA presented a four-part pageant on the east lawn of Morrill Hall. The pageant, called "The Ministering of the Gift" was performed by the women students of the college, assisted by the women faculty, the camp fire girls, and children of the Durham Sunday School.
Through short skits, song, and dance, they portrayed the work of the YWCA in its many forms (college association, country association, city association, and foreign association). The portion of the program titled, "The Association in the Open Country," included a maypole dance, performed by a group of students from the junior class.
Hold on to Your Hats
In 1917, "Tinker" Prescott ran a garage in downtown Durham. He owned a Stanley Steamer roadster which he used to taxi the Student Army Training Corps to Dover during their time off. Leon Batchelder '29 recalled:
Each evening he would drive up town about 6:00 PM and when enough fellows showed up, he would head for Dover City Hall. The number of men who could hold onto that car was unbelievable and what was more unbelievable is the fact that he would make the round trip in just 30 minutes to pick up another load. Around 10:00 or so, he would start bringing them back from Dover at the same high rate of speed... and as far as I know he never had an accident.
In 1919, The New Hampshire reported that those students who lived too far to go home for the winter break were not forgotten by the college.
On Christmas Day those students who remained in Durham during the vacation enjoyed a Christmas dinner at the Commons [Huddleston Hall]. Turkey, cranberry sauce, mince pie, plum pudding, and all the good things of which a Christmas dinner should consist were served. There were only ten at the table, among whom were an Armenian, two Greeks, and an Irishman, all of whom made the conversation very entertaining by relating their experiences. The chef acted as waiter and it is said that he "played the part well." After dinner one of the men waited on the chef and the assistant baker. This was Christmas spirit displayed at the Common.
A two-day winter storm in early March of 1920 rendered the B&M Railroad tracks impassable. The railroad recruited help from an ample supply of somewhat idle men at the local schools.
William E. Knox '21 gathered a party of nearly sixty college students for work on the tracks near Madbury. For quite a distance, both tracks were buried under several feet of snow, ice, and water. A snowplow with two engines behind it had tried to hurl itself through the icy mass, but failed miserably. Each man was issued a pair of asbestos gloves, and a shovel or an "Irish anchor."
When the men from UNH arrived on the scene, they found a large number of students from Phillips Exeter Academy valiantly wielding the shovel and pick in an attempt to clear the tracks. The college crew enthusiastically started to work, digging ditches to drain off surplus water, and clearing the snow and ice from the tracks.
Supper was provided for all by the railroad company at the Commons (now Huddleston Hall). Returning to work at 7 PM, the east-bound track was found to be cleared sufficiently to allow the passage of a snow plow.
Is This Dance Taken?
Dance cards were once used to record the names of the people you had promised to dance with during the course of the evening. Finding your partner once the dance number came around wasn't always so easy.
For the 1921 Junior Prom, the following arrangements were made:
The letters of the alphabet will be placed around the balcony of the gym. If the initial of the last name of the man with whom you have exchanged the dance comes before yours in the alphabet, you are to meet him under his initials. If your initial comes before his in the alphabet, he will meet you under your initial. Thus, you will find your partner according to the order of the letters in the alphabet.
In 1921, The New Hampshire reported that twelve forestry students had filed a formal application with Miss Isa A. Greene, head of the Department of Home Economics, asking to be given lessons in cooking.
The men, who expected to spend a lifetime in the forests, explained that they want to know how to cook the following articles of food, which they consider essential to the well-being of a forester, to wit: biscuits, doughnuts, and pie. Miss Greene promised to teach them to make all these, however, Miss Greene maintained that said articles of diet, while palatable in the extreme do not of themselves constitute a balanced ration, and so the twelve novices were further instructed in the preparation of other foods, so that every meal they cook in the greenwood would have all the calories it ought to have, and even a few more.
In February 1922, the Forestry Club undertook the first attempt at an organized winter carnival on the UNH campus. The plan was to make it an all-college outing rather than an exhibition of skill by a few experts. Events included a number of races on skis and snowshoes, and a ski jump competition, but the feature of the day's program turned out to be three innings of comedy baseball on snowshoes between the faculty and the seniors. The New Hampshire reported:
'Twas a gallant fight... The faculty started like a house afire and scored in the first inning. However, the starting pace must have been too fast, for that run proved to be the profs' lone score. The seniors, held scoreless by the superb twirling of Prof. Tirrell of the animal husbandry department until the beginning of the third inning, came out from behind with a rush and before the fireworks ceased, three '22 men had navigated the precarious path around the bases. The game ended with a 3–1 score in favor of the seniors.
In 1922, one of the student clubs at UNH caught the attention of the Manchester Union Leader, which deemed it "The most unique and exclusive club identified with any college in the East." The club was called the A.T.B. Club (the true meaning of which was never divulged).
The Union Leader reported: "The initiation requirements are as unusual as they are exacting. To be eligible, a student must 'bum' his way 500 miles to attend athletic events in which the college teams engage. And proof of the 'bumming' by steam, trolley, or water lines must be provided."
The purpose of the club was to foster college spirit and to assure support 'on the grounds' for the Blue and White athletes when they were playing away games. When the club needed a place to hold its meetings, the B&M railroad donated an old freight car for its use. The club was denied official recognition by the Student Organizations committee, however, and was eventually disbanded.
The official dormitory rules were first published in the 1924-25 student handbook. Here are some of the rules in abbreviated form:
- The use of heat in the form of open flames, such as kerosene, gasoline stoves, alcohol lamps, canned-heat appliances, etc., is strictly forbidden.
- The use of electric plates, irons, and other electrical equipment is strictly forbidden, except in rooms provided for the use of such equipment in the women's dormitories.
- Tampering with the electrical wiring and electrical fuses is absolutely forbidden.
- Commercial enterprises such as pressing clothes, operating a barber shop, selling goods, etc. will not be permitted in any of the university buildings except on written approval of the President of the university.
- Radios require written approval of the Dean of Men or the Dean of Women.
In November 1923, the University rifle club sponsored a turkey shoot as a fundraiser to complete the new rifle range being built in the basement of the gymnasium (now New Hampshire Hall). The contest was open to anyone who wished to compete. Contestants could bring their own rifles if they wished, but they had to use the .22 short ammunition supplied by the Rifle Club at the price of twenty-five cents for a round of ten shots.
Three prizes were offered: a turkey, a rooster, and a duck. The duck was given to the person who got the highest total score on a checkerboard target made of one-inch black and white squares. (Each hit on a black square counted one point; hits on white squares did not count.) The rooster was given to the one who got the highest total score on a bull's eye target. Each contestant was also given a ticket with a number on it. At the end of the evening, the holder of the lucky number won the Thanksgiving turkey.
A Matter of Opinion
During a house meeting in 1924, the Dean of Women spoke to the Congreve Hall girls about their plans to sponsor a dance the following Saturday. She stated very definitely that: "Proper rules of dancing will be enforced by the chaperons. This dance must be free from criticism. The must be absolutely NO SPOONING!"
She also warned the decoration committee that the lights were not to be shaded and that there were to be no dark corners. She insisted that the girls give their word of honor not to stray from the first floor.
The students were less than enthusiastic about these edicts which raised the question: if these rules are observed, will this be a proper dance?
Pond to Pool
On a spring day in 1924, 200 male students armed with picks and shovels went to the somewhat boggy area behind the old gym (New Hampshire Hall) and made a good start on what would become the College Pond.
During the twelve years it served as the local swimming hole, however, the pond gradually became a source of worry to the university physician. It was finally condemned as a health hazard and drained in the summer of 1936.
Six months later, the administration succeeded in getting the promise of WPA labor for various campus projects, including a "modern, sanitary swimming pool with granite block tiling which will be filled with chlorine-treated water to be completely re-circulated every twenty-four hours."
It took a year and a half to transform the old pond into a modern swimming pool. The university held a grand opening for the new pool during the 20th annual Farmers' and Homemakers' week in August 1938. Draped with white cloth, the diving tower was transformed into a lighthouse for the folk extravaganza "Lamp Black and the Seven Giants."
A novel feature of the 1928 Winter Carnival program was the introduction of a ski-joring race. In ski-joring, a skier held onto long reins while being pulled by a galloping horse.
For this race, the skiers were to be male students and the horses to be ridden by female students, beginning on Main Street by the post office and ending in front of the men's gym (New Hampshire Hall). Unfortunately, on the Thursday before the Carnival weekend, all winter sports events were cancelled due to the lack of snow.
The Carnival Ball, held Friday night, went on as scheduled, and much to the surprise of the revelers, a full blown nor'easter was in progress by the time the students left the gym for home.
The New Hampshire reported what happened next. "Early in the morning the town became alive with skiers, snow-shoers, and tobogganists, and Main Street literally swarmed with ski-jorers, frantically endeavoring to maintain a state of equilibrium behind speeding automobiles."
Easy on the Starch
In the early 1930's, the railroad system started an Express service that tapped into the special needs of the college student. Designed to transport large amounts of luggage at the beginning and end of the school year and during holidays, it also served during the school year as a courier between parents and students delivering smaller packages of necessities and luxuries.
One of its most popular uses was for shipping laundry. Using special boxes, a student could send his or her dirty clothes home to Mom, where they would be washed, ironed, folded, and returned to the student within a few days -- often with some home baked goodies tucked inside as well!
On Pins and Needles
In his 1932 annual summer newsletter, registrar Oren "Dad" Henderson informed the students that one of their classmates, Donald Smith '34, had met with a serious accident at the Central Park Theater in Dover, N.H., on Aug. 5, where he was giving a performance. "He was performing his needle-threading trick when suddenly he realized the thread had broken," wrote Henderson. "He finished the trick, then was immediately rushed to the Wentworth Hospital where two needles that had lodged in his throat were removed. An X-ray showed that he had swallowed another one. He was rushed to Boston for observation and treatment." Smith eventually made a complete recovery.
Hardier Than Thou
In February 1936, a short article on the back page of The New Hampshire announced:
Fairchild Hall [has] again come through with an original idea—the UNH Brownies. The Brownies consist of hardy Fairchilders who desire to promote health by snow baths. The initiation consists of diving into a snow bank and rolling over. The initiate is allowed to wear a bathing suit and slippers. An active member, Dean Gardner '39, has been elected president.
In 1893, as the board of trustees of the New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts (as UNH was then called) made preparations for the removal of the college from Hanover to Benjamin Thompson's land in Durham, they considered the possibility of increasing their liquid assets by cutting some or all of the timber in Thompson's woodlot.
Advice was sought from the New Hampshire Forestry Commission, which recommended that no timber be cut except blown-down or decayed trees. As a result, College Woods was preserved, to the benefit of the forestry department and the delight of countless romantic student couples.
In the fall of 1921, the Forestry Club undertook the task of building a cabin in College Woods. Using mostly slabs from logs removed during salvage cutting, by forestry professor Karl Woodward, the students were able to put up a structure that provided a space for club meetings, picnics, cookouts, and rendezvous for faculty and students for seventeen years, before it was destroyed by the Hurricane of 1938.
Back to Basics
During the Great Depression, the University community did what it could to help students remain in college. Karl Woodward, professor of forestry, did his part by allowing eight male students to build cabins on his woodland across from the dairy barn, where they could live rent-free.
One of these student, Howard A. Geddis '38, recalled:
Our cabin (shack) was equipped with wooden bunks, a stove for heat and cooking, a private bath (outhouse) and running water (you ran over to the dairy barn to fill the water bucket). It was fun on a cold morning chopping the ice out of the bucket. Oh yes!! We took showers at the gym.
The Show Must Go On
In 1941, the Outing Club carnival committee found themselves facing a potential crises. They had scheduled the annual Winter Carnival for the same weekend that the male ski team was scheduled to be at Middlebury. A carnival without a ski-meet would surely be a flop before it even began.
The women's ski team, however, had been a major feature of the Durham snow festival the previous year, so it was decided that for the first time ever, co-ed skiers from colleges throughout New England should be invited to compete at the Winter Carnival. Thus, the carnival was saved.
The Sphinx, a sophomore honorary society, was organized in 1950. Its principal concern was to welcome the freshmen to the university and to initiate in them a strong school and class spirit. They guided freshmen through the first week of orientation, using good-natured "hazing" to teach them the traditions and ways of campus life.
The freshmen were required to purchase a beanie immediately upon arrival to campus. Only after the first varsity home football victory could wearing the beanie be discontinued. The proper response to the greeting "Cheery Hi, Frosh" was to remove the beanie from the head by picking it up by the button on top and answer most respectfully, "Cheery Hi."
In 1961, a group of students announced their intentions of protesting nuclear weapons by refusing to take cover during a statewide air raid drill. The state and local police were out in force and eighteen students were eventually arrested.
The arrested students appeared a week later before Judge Bradford McIntire '25 who fined them each fifty dollars. President Eldon Johnson declined to punish the students further despite the calling for their "prompt dismissal" by then-Governor Wesley Powell. Powell announced that he would attend the next trustee meeting to urge the board to overrule Johnson. A thousand students showed their support of Johnson by lining the walk from his house to Thompson Hall as he made his way to the meeting.
Twisting the Night Away
According to The New Hampshire, a handful of avant-garde students first tried the new dance called the twist in the spring of 1961, when Chubby Checkers' song of the same name was released. The dance style, in which couples did not have to touch each other, was met with reserved contempt. More students encountered the dance at beaches and resorts over the summer break.
In October, many UNH students made the trip to Hanover for the UNH-Dartmouth football game. After the then-Indians beat the Wildcats 28–3, Dartmouth fraternities opened their parties to UNH students. Nearly every party featured a band with guitars—and scores of couples wildly twisting. For many, the weekend marked their first exposure to the twist, and after that, despite complaints from at least one UNH man of cramps in his side from too much twisting, the craze was here to stay.
"What price beauty?" asked the author of an article in the February 13, 1964, issue of The New Hampshire. The fashion trend in question was the latest craze among co-eds of having their earlobes pierced.
There were three basic methods used for ear-piercing. Some women found medical doctors or dentists who were willing to do it for them. Another options was to wear "sleepers," tight earrings which took up to two weeks to work their way through the earlobe. But the quickest and most popular method was done by recruiting a girlfriend, who would freeze the earlobe with an ice cube (one woman used snow) and then punch a needle through it.
And what did the guys think about the look? "Aesthetically I like them," one senior said, "Pragmatically they just add to the frailty of the female frame."
Many of today's students would find it unbearable to leave their dorm room without taking along their cell phone. In 1965, however, staying in touch was a little different. The Freshman Handbook described the convenience the phone system provided in the women's dorms:
Dorms are equipped with pay phones for long distance calls and there are two extension phones on each floor for campus calls. Freshmen and sophomores are obliged to take phone duty. Actually the job is quite simple—answering the phone, taking down messages, and helping male callers buzz their dates. Buzzers ring day and night; from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and from 10 in the morning until 11 at night on Sundays. Each floor has a buzzer and each girl has a number when that special call or caller comes. Supreme delight and mad running down the stairs to the familiar sounds!
When the first UNH wildcat mascot, Maizie, died in 1927, the Student Council had her stuffed and mounted in a glass case.
Don Gordon '70 recalls she was on display at Huddleston Dining Hall when he first came to campus in 1966. He and two friends, "inspired by Freshman Camp with an excess of school spirit," decided that Maizie was ill-placed and poorly lighted where she was perched on that ornamental balcony in the dining area.
Nancy Wilbur, Jane Simon, and I surreptitiously entered the dining room—not to steal ice cream—but to place Maizie in a better light. We positioned Maizie over the door leading into the room on the Fairchild side... where hundreds of student noticed her for perhaps the first time. She remained there for many weeks, presiding over our meals, discussions, flirtations, chance encounters, and deep bull sessions over coffee—in short, over all the things (almost) that were part of our college life in those days.
Eventually someone who was in a position to do something about it removed her to the Field House where she remained for the next thirty-two years.
The chapter in the 1968 student handbook on university housing explains that the primary goal in the administration of the Residence Halls is to create an environment of group living which will contribute "to the maturity of the student and to his total education."
All students residing in campus housing signed a contract agreeing to abide by the printed terms and conditions of occupancy. However, within the individual dorms, unwritten rules were created by house councils, house mothers, resident assistants, and hall officers in response to specific idiosyncrasy of its occupants. These types of regulations did not appear on formal contracts, but were spread by word-of-mouth, signs posted on bathroom doors, or simply stern looks.
Some of these dorm specific rules include:
- No brushing teeth in the water fountains (Lord Hall)
- No throwing Coke bottles out of windows (Hunter)
- Wearing nightgowns in the main lounge was forbidden (Smith Hall)
- Screens must not be removed from windows (Stoke Hall)
- No sitting on the milk machines (Scott Hall)
- In Hubbard Hall, the side door of the hall must be locked at 3 PM while other doors weren't locked until 7 PM. The rule was to guard against the theft of a small, infrared hamburger oven.
On April 26, 1968, about 300 people attended an "Anti-War Fair" sponsored by the Student Political Union. The New Hampshire Committee for Peace in Vietnam, the Young Socialist Alliance, and the Cambridge Female Liberation Front were among the groups invited to speak. Folksingers and a rock band also entertained the crowd.
The New Hampshire reported, "Right-wingers, left-wingers, and moderates argued over war and peace, capitalism and socialism, and why the American flag should be raised, while a black flag, common symbol of mourning for those killed in Vietnam was hauled down."
The flag issue started at about 9 AM on the morning of the fair, when the SPU replaced the American flag on the Thompson Hall flagpole with a black flag. Later in the day, a group of students, some of them fraternity members, hauled down the black flag saying it was unpatriotic to use the same flagpole which flies the American flag as a tool to protest deaths in Vietnam.
A short time later, Mrs. John W. McConnell, wife of the university president, crossed the street from her house holding an American flag, which she raised and then left. She told reporters that telephone calls from Durham residents protesting the symbol of mourning prompted her actions. Members of the SPU then raised another black flag that flew on a separate rope beneath the American flag until the fair ended shortly after 5 PM.
The Hitchhikers Guide to the State
In 1973, the Student Handbook included a section on hitchhiking. After stating that hitchhiking was illegal in the state of New Hampshire, it went on to say the law was not strictly enforced (except in Dover), it was a relatively acceptable way to get around in the college area, and it was standard transportation for many students.
Advice to would-be hitchhikers included the best places to hitch from: "For Dover or Newmarket, stand opposite the Durham Post Office, and use a sign to indicate which town... For Lee, Concord, and Manchester, the intersection of Main Street and College Road has plenty of stopping room." The final word for safe hitchhiking was to stay well out of the path of traffic, use a sign, and be visible after dark.
In 1974, the Highland House Applied Science Project began as a joint undertaking of the Thompson School and Student Housing. The Highland House, a large, University-owned farm located near the campus was open to selected Thompson School students as a residential alternative.
Students lived and worked on the premises while attending school. They raised beef and grew vegetables for their own use and local sale, cut cord-wood, made maple syrup, and did all their cooking and baking. On the grounds, they maintained a nursery, a Christmas tree farm, an orchard, and forage crops.
A new law went into effect on June 28, 1976 that seemed to some of the UNH students, faculty, and staff to be the perfect solution to campus parking problems and the energy crisis. The law legalized the use of motorized bicycles, called mopeds, on all New Hampshire roads (except any highway that was posted against their use). This new mode of transportation was inexpensive to buy and some got over 150 miles per gallon.
Required equipment on the bikes were a horn or bell, good brakes, reflectors, and head and tail lights for night driving. For the commuting student, a milk crate strapped to the rear of the bike with bungee cords was also a necessity for carrying their books. Mopeds were a regular sight on the side of New Hampshire's road for a few years thereafter.
In 1978, a female student studying in the Dimond Library discovered she had been robbed and phoned the police. A short while later, the police arrested a 24-year-old Division of Continuing Education student, ending a year-long investigation into a rash of thefts from the library.
The thief was charged with stealing 48 items, including 14 wallets and purses and an estimated 26 pairs of clogs. A search of the suspect's residence revealed clogs and wallets hidden in pillow cases, two clogs underneath a pillow, clogs stuffed in a sleeping bag, clogs in a backpack under a bed, and clogs stashed in a bureau drawers.
The thief confessed to the crimes, saying he was glad he was caught, and claimed he had a neurotic problem and couldn't help himself.
1980 was the era of the MUB PUB and the annual Great Goldfish Eating Contest presided over by DJ Rick Bean. The winner of the second contest was Tom Michaud '82, who, according to the Granite, "jauntily threw off the coat of his three-piece suit and removed his shoe to the tune of "The Stripper." He then poured a beer and a live goldfish into the shoe and drank them both."
His reward was the approval of the crowd (with the exception of the "Save the Fish Coalition") and two J. Geils Band tickets.
Thanks for Some Respect
In 1981, Hunter Hall was home to the one and only Rodney Dangerfield fan club. To be a member, one just had to sign a list and agree to watch Dangerfield on The Johnny Carson Show once every three months. The fan club made Dangerfield an honorary member of the dorm, and the entire second floor bathroom was dedicated in Dangerfield's honor. Paul Fallisi started the fan club as a joke, but when he heard that Dangerfield would be performing in Boston, Fallisi and some of his brothers went down to meet him.
Several months later, Fallisi received a call from Dangerfield's manager offering him an all-expense-paid trip to Las Vegas where Dangerfield was being appearing on the show "This is Your Life." The New Hampshire fan would get to meet his idol onstage at the Aladdin Hotel and tell him what his club, with seventy-two charter members, had done. Afterwards, Dangerfield sent an autographed photo to the club inscribed: "To Paul and all the guys at UNH. Thanks for some respect."
Light Bulb Joke
When UNH students are ready to make the move from dorm living to apartment living, the town they chose to live in—Durham, Dover, Portsmouth or Newmarket—seems to reflect different personality types.
In the 1981 Granite Yearbook, these differences were expressed in the answers to the question, "How many students from (fill in the town) does it take to change a light bulb?" Their answers:
- Durhamites: Two. One to change the bulb, and one to make sure his shirt doesn't untuck.
- Doverites: One.
- People from Portsmouth: Two. One to call the electrician and one to mix the martinis.
- Newmarkettes: Two. One to change it and one to protest it.
- Madbury: Three. One to change the light bulb and two to make granola. -- Scott Wilson '82
"How many Doverites does it take to screw in a light bulb?"
Four. Three guys to sit around in the dark drinking beer and wondering if they even have any light bulbs and one girlfriend who buys the light bulb, changes the light bulb, and pays that month's electricity bill so the light stays on. -- Michelle Wilcox George '97, wife of former Doverite, Spencer George '97
The Casque and Casket, an inter-fraternity senior and junior society, was formed in 1905. Their annual spring dance was one of the major social events of the spring house party season. The opening ceremony, no doubt, added to its attraction.
The College Monthly carried a complete description: "A solemn procession, marching to the tune of a dirge, bore a casket, which was placed upon the platform, while dim lights were burning. Here a burial service was performed, and many of the study-worn books were conveyed to their last resting-place".
During the early years in Durham, one of the biggest social events on campus was the Annual April Fools Party. The majority of the participants came dressed in costumes and the evening began with a grand march during which the costumes were judged and later awarded prizes. The 1908 New Hampshire College Monthly provides this description of the variety of costumes:
There were 'ladies' painted with carmine and wearing number nine shoes, colored and mulatto 'ladies and gemmen' encrusted with charcoal and the contents of numerous ragbags, colonial 'peaches' and beaux in floured wigs, rubes, dudes, bums, rums, dunces, and chumps well mixed and well calculated to tickle the most fanciful fancy.
The parade was followed by a vaudeville show performed by members of the student body. Prizes were then awarded for best costumes and best performances. Dancing capped off the evening of frivolity.
One for All and All for One
The first annual New Hampshire Day was held on November 21, 1916. Classes were canceled and the whole college, students and faculty alike, devoted the day to labor on improvements on the athletic field, which is now Memorial Field. One group built bleachers while another dug ditches in which tile drains were laid across the field.
A lunch, which was served in the gym (New Hampshire Hall), consisted of oyster stew, rolls, ham sandwiches, doughnuts, and coffee. A barrel of oysters and 100 pounds of ham were used.
The annual New Hampshire Day continued to be celebrated until 1924 when the size of the college had reached the point where the event was no longer practical.
Remembering the Class Cane
One of the earliest UNH traditions (adopted from Dartmouth College) was the senior cane. The wooden canes were carried during their last term by both male and female members of the senior class as a symbol of their status and accomplishment. Friends and classmates were asked to carve their names or initials into the cane, thereby creating a lasting memento of their college years.
A cane committee was assigned to select the design for their class. Some years the canes were very plain with only a simple silver band engraved with "UNH" and the graduation year. Other classes chose more ornately carved knobs: the Old Man of the Mountain in 1925 and a Malacca walking cane in 1927.
Gradually, though, the canes began to fall out of favor. One student from the Class of 1929 suggested that using the cane in "stirring up a batch of home brew" was a more useful purpose than dragging it around campus. Each year, it became harder to sell the idea of a cane to the seniors. The Class of 1934 tried using a carved wildcat head on the knob and the Class of 1938 tried holding a Class Cane Day. But eventually, as much as the students regretted losing an old tradition, the Class of 1940 voted to replace the cane with a class ring.
A Chicken in Every Pot
Campaigns for Mayor of Durham began in 1926 and continued well into the 1960s. Candidates, usually sponsored by fraternities and dorms, campaigned by making speeches and distributing posters.
Students voted under the arch at Thompson Hall and the victor paraded as master of ceremonies during the Homecoming football game. The president of the college often gave a symbolic key to the town to the "Mayor," who responded with outrageous promises to the cheering student body.
Bonfire of the Victories
For many years, it was traditional to celebrate a UNH home football win with a victory bonfire. Before the game, freshmen were required to collect enough wood for a huge blaze. To assist them in their efforts, Frank Morrison, owner of the Durham Livery Stables, let the students borrow one of his old wagons. (To rent a horse, however, would cost extra so the students hitched themselves by long ropes to the wagon and filled it with anything that would burn.)
Once, in their enthusiasm, they added the wagon itself to the fire. After the college reimbursed Morrison for the loss of his wagon, it became standard practice for him to leave an old, beat-up wagon in his side yard. Freshmen would happily swipe it for their bonfire fodder, and Morrison cleverly supplemented his income.
Finally, tired of paying for articles which "mysteriously disappeared," the college began to furnish a pile of wood and trash on Bonfire Hill.
In the early years of the college, the rivalry between the freshman and sophomore classes often degenerated into scuffles and worse. One opportunity for rough and tumble fun was the freshman picture. Sophomores would try to ensure that not all freshmen were present for the photo. In the spring of 1904, the Boston Globe reported the following:
The entire class quietly boarded the train at the Durham station, many of the members leaving their work in the college workshops and coming bareheaded in their working togs. The fact that they were not dressed for the occasion threw the sophomores off their guard, but the latter saw the game just as the train was starting and scrambled aboard, taking the car next to the one the freshmen had boarded.
As the train stopped there was a rush. Car windows were smashed in the frantic efforts of the sophs to capture the freshmen and keep them from leaving the train. Out of the train they all got, however, and the liveliest kind of scrimmage was begun in the square in front of the station. The police finally charged on the student crowd and scattered it. Three luckless freshmen were captured, however, and carried away.
The remainder of the class, including three young women, proceeded to a studio on Central Avenue, Dover, under police guard, where they had a group picture taken... A clothing merchant was called to the studio to supply clothing to the partially-stripped and mud-stained freshmen to make them presentable.
Ruling the Roost
"Freshman! Hear Ye these 10 Commandments and obey them faithfully."
That was the opening text for the Freshman Rules poster produced by the sophomore class in the fall of 1937. It was a campus tradition for sophomores to make up rules for freshmen to follow. The rules were intended to familiarize incoming students with the customs of the university and to promote a sense of school spirit.
Many of the rules were consistent from year to year: show respect for the faculty and upperclassmen, bury your prep school insignia, wear your beanie, learn the college cheers and songs. Others were more whimsical. At various times, freshmen were forbidden to carry a cane, wear a "stiff hat," go bare-headed on Main Street, or turn up the cuffs on their trousers.
In the early decades of the University, the rules were traditionally posted on the night before the first day of classes. The sophomores would hang the posters on poles and trees along Main Street, and unless the freshmen could get past the vigilant sophomores to remove all the posters by 7 AM, the rules had to be obeyed. The resulting raucous "poster fight" was abolished by the student council by 1933.
In 1919, the matron of Ballard Hall introduced bi-monthly afternoon tea parties to the student body as an opportunity to practice formal social etiquette. A tea was also a useful format for a short reception, such as the Freshman Tea. The customary tea party routine is described by an alum, Class of 1945.
One was greeted at the door, shown where to lay our coats, and ushered to the dining room for tea. You told the pourer what you would like, 'Tea, a little weaker maybe, no cream and one sugar. A slice of lemon would be fine. Thank you.' Then carrying the tea cup and saucer, one of the small napkins, a tiny sandwich or two, one proceeded to the living room to visit with other guests. This was polite chit-chat. It was proper to leave after 30–45 minutes. You didn't have to stay for the whole time.
As times and lifestyles changed, interest in formal teas began to wane. By 1959, the term "tea," although still used, was in name only. A description of a sorority tea:
In the first place, there isn't any tea. There is punch. A nervous concoction of banana peels, grapefruit sections, avocado juice, oyster shells for body, turnip juice for color, and quinine water for fizz. There is generally something dubious floating on top. Fortunately, the servers of said beverage recognize the risk involved, so they slop it out in little Dixie cups, and smile their sweetest as they proffer it to you. But there is usually more than just punch. There is popcorn. There are potato chips. And sometimes they are not soggy.
The War Years
Cut It Out
During WWI, citizens were urged to plant gardens to raise more food for their own use. Responding to the call, twenty-eight faculty members organized a "Factato Club" to raise potatoes. Once they had prepared the soil, the Factaters met in the basement of Morrill Hall to cut the seed potatoes.
The group was not given any instructions as to the method used in cutting seed potatoes for planting, no doubt believing that men in an agricultural college knew the process. In addition to a sharp knife, each man had brought a large pan to hold his cutting and when filled, would empty it into a barrel.
During the proceedings, one man emptying his pan let out a whoop and wanted to know "who in h--- is cutting French fries!" The samples he displayed to the group showed them to be skinless, eyeless, and cut out with geometric precision. The culpable instructor was then given the job of collecting and emptying the filled pans of the cutting crew.
Paving the Way
Prior to World War I, there were no sidewalks on campus, just cinder paths and during the spring mud season numerous duckboards were used to cover the worst places. The first sidewalks were laid with the help of the concrete division of the Student Army Training Corps. It was such a needed improvement and a great stride forward that it was felt that somehow it should be noted. Bronze plates carrying the inscription "NHC Training Detachment N A 1918" were implanted in the fresh concrete in strategic locations.
As the campus grew and the old sidewalks were relocated they were, for the most part, hauled off to the dump with the rest of the rubble. One marker remains today and can be seen implanted in the sidewalk just in front of Thompson Hall.
For Old Glory
Before the metal flag pole, the college went through several wooden flagpoles. Leon Batchelder '29 recalled the making of the second flag pole by the Student Army Training detachment during WWI.
A tree was selected in the College Woods and roped down, as they didn't want to take a chance of having it broken, or 'wind shook' if it was left to fall free. It was rigged up on two sets of wheels and George Ham and Fred Pulumbo hauled it up onto the lawn in front of T-Hall on the north side of the present walk, near the street where it was fairly level.
The bark was then taken off and the log was laid out into the largest tapered square that it would go. After the log was hued square (with axes), other marks were made on it and it was hued to a hexagon. After this was done the hexagon was divided in two again and hued out, and so on until it was down small enough so that the remaining edges could be planed off with a hand plane and made round. This took most of the summer.
Both the Morrill Act of 1862, establishing funding for the land-grant colleges, and the act of the New Hampshire legislature, incorporating the New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts in 1866, required the teaching of military tactics. In reality, this offering had to wait nearly thirty years until the college moved from its original location in Hanover to Durham.
Prior to then, it was impractical to consider assigning an army officer to command a group of students that never exceeded fifty people and was generally closer to half that number. The first professor of military science, Lt. Henry C. Hodges, Jr., was assigned to the college in 1894.
In 1912, trustee Lucien Thompson offered this optimistic comment on the necessity of the requirement: "The military drill, optional in the senior year, is a useful training for many, but will be abandoned with the growth of the college into a State University, for the time is hastening on when international arbitration will keep the peace of the world and the nations shall learn war no more."
Training for War
In the spring of 1918, to meet military needs for technicians, the US War Department organized eight-week courses to be given on college campuses to train auto mechanics, machinists, blacksmiths, draftsmen, cooks, and bakers. As UNH was chosen to be one of the first to offer this training, a committee was appointed to take charge of what came to be known as the Vocational Section of the Student Army Training Corps (SATC).
The first detachment of 341 men arrived on the 9:23 AM train on May 16, 1918. When only six weeks of the Vocational Section program had been completed, a request came for "Forty carpenters, fifteen gas engine men, and three heavy duty truck drivers for immediate overseas duty." During the seven months in which the vocational work was carried on at the college, a total of 1,269 men were trained and equipped.
When the word of the Armistice was verified early on the morning of November 11, 1918, President Hetzel and Major Stanley G. Eaton, the commanding officer, declared a holiday would start at 10 AM. The festivities began with a bonfire and a snake dance on DeMeritt Hall's lawn, after which all gathered around the flagpole. Sergeant Jack White led the crowd in songs and cheers, and President Hetzel spoke.
It was voted to parade to Dover, after lunch, with the women students riding in army trucks. The Dover Band met the procession at Sawyer's Mill and led it through the main streets to the City Hall. A Thanksgiving service was held in one of the churches, after which the city provided refreshments. After a brief rest, the company began the long walk back to Durham, and peace.
The College is Floored
To meet military needs for technicians during World War I, the US War Department organized eight-week training courses to be given on college campuses. As soon as it was known that the men were coming, a place had to be provided to feed them, so the gym (New Hampshire Hall) was turned into a mess hall. But traffic on the gym floor by so many heavy-footed GIs left it in bad shape. The college lacked the money to replace the floor, but on the other hand, the floor was in no condition to be used for basketball or dancing.
Students offered to provide the labor if the college would provide the materials. On "Floor-laying Day," everybody pitched in. To enable more students to work at the same time, one line of flooring boards were laid down the center of the gym, using a chalk line as a guide. The students were divided into crews of about eight each, working on both sides of the guideline. Some did the fitting, some nailed, and some fetched and carried. In this way, the entire floor was laid in one day.
Everyone who lived through it remembers where they were when they heard the news that Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor. Many UNH alumni remember listening to the broadcast of Roosevelt's "Day of Infamy" speech while waiting in line for lunch at the Commons (now Huddleston Hall).
Durham's proximity to the seacoast and to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in particular added to the general anxiety. One alumna recalls:
The next morning, I woke up and I heard this big bang and I thought they'd bombed the Navy Yard. I got out of my bed and looked around. Everything looked all right out of the window. Then I realized someone was taking a shower and had hit her elbow on the shower enclosure, which was a metal thing that resounded.
Nature's Nighttime Glory
Before the New Hampshire seacoast became so populated, it was not uncommon to see the aurora borealis on campus. On three occasion (in 1916, 1920, and 1939) the Northern Lights were so brilliant that they were worth mentioning in The New Hampshire.
During World War II, seacoast towns were in a brown-out zone, once again providing the darkened conditions needed for seeing the lights. One alumna describes a night in January or February of 1944:
Planes from [the air base] buzzed the college about midnight and out everyone went to enjoy a Northern Lights display unlike any I've seen before or since. It was cold and clear and the ground covered with the sort of snow that squeaks underfoot. The whole sky was lit by ever changing streaks of neon color - pinks, blues, greens, etc. There seemed to be no one spot from which it emanated, and for at least an hour we watched in awe and pleasure.
Because of the shortage of male engineers during WWII, Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Corporation established Engineering-Aide programs at the University of North Carolina, the University of Wisconsin, and UNH. One of the "P&W Girls" describes her experience in the program:
Our academic courses were all prescribed by Pratt & Whitney. However, most of the courses were the same as the Mechanical Engineering program at UNH. We did not take our courses with the men, but we had the same professors and we used the same facilities in the engineering school. That meant we became the first women to ever set foot in the engineering laboratories. We found them to be very dingy and dirty. As soon as possible we set to work to clean up the area. This did not make us popular with the men who also used these facilities. Perhaps they also disliked having the competition, for the P&W Girls turned out to be excellent students.
In the spring of 1941, President Engelhardt received this letter from the father of a graduate who wanted express his gratitude to the university for its part in shaping his son's future:
I thought it would interest you and your faculty members to know that my son David, one of your boys of the Class of 1940, is now an ensign on the Flagship Pennsylvania, stationed at Pearl Harbor. He was not an outstanding scholar before he entered nor after he left the University -- but I now realize that he had qualities that his stay at Durham enriched and enlarged. He occupied a great portion of his time while at school in making and keeping friends as president of the Phi Alpha, working with Mask and Dagger, working with the basketball team, and doing all this pleasant work with a serious fervor...
You would only have to read his letters to know how proud he is to be on the flagship of the Pacific Fleet... He started crew racing on his ship and now all the ships caught on to the spirit. This in spite of the fact that his officers felt the boys wouldn't pull an oar on their days off-duty. In other words, the glory of Durham has reached Honolulu and to me this means more than a magna cum laude combined with the Nobel Prize. I don't know whether, along with all other honors, your university has had an admiral, but you now have a great start in that direction. Yours sincerely, G.B.
Best Laid Plans
In the summer of 1942, education professor I. N. Thut (pronounced "Toot"), serving as the Faculty Armed Forces Advisor, sent a letter to all male students explaining the various enlisted reserve corps programs offered on campus. The letter stated that, "All of these reserve corps offer deferment from immediate military duty, and it is hoped that in most cases such deferment will enable the student to graduate."
As the war accelerated, however, the various reserve corps were called into active duty one by one. To the students, these disappearing groups of men became know as "Thut's Lost Battalions".
In 1942, the UNH Women's Athletic Association began an intensified physical-fitness program as part of the war training program. Life magazine photographers and a couple of newsreel companies arranged to come to campus to take pictures of the women as they worked out. As chance would have it, it snowed the night before they were to arrive.
Rather than delay the story, the women gamely donned gym shorts and blouses and at the photographer's request, tackled the men's obstacle course in the snow. The UNH coeds received national attention when the magazine hit the stands and the newsreel were shown in movie theaters. Some of the women received marriage proposals from men who had seen their pictures.
The Women's Athletic Director received several letters from other colleges and universities requesting more information on the program. She also received several letters criticizing her for making her girls exercise outside under such harsh weather conditions!
Margaret Edgerly Rhodes '45 describes how life on campus changed after Pearl Harbor was bombed:
In a very few weeks the university changed from a coeducational institution to almost a glorified women's college. Some of the women left also; either to join the services, or to answer the selling demand for defense workers. By the second semester, men on campus were scarce. Campus activities were sharply curtailed, as no large gatherings were allowed, and civil defense efforts were stepped up.
We were near enough to the seacoast to necessitate brown-out restrictions—lowered shades, dimmed street lights and so on, to avoid sky glow which might have outlined an outbound ship to enemy submarines lurking off shore. Dim-outs and air raid drills became a part of campus life as we settled into a wartime existence. The "man power shortage" on campus was somewhat relieved by the ASTP (Army Specialized Training Program) as there were opportunities for social interaction. We enjoyed having them around, and one of our favorite pastimes was for a group of us coeds to stand on a street corner as the troops were marched past, in strict formation. Some of us were good whistlers, and it was fun to watch the squad commander try to keep a straight face as he commanded 'Eyes FRONT!'
Behind the Scene
In May of 1945, four UNH students got a lesson in US war-time propaganda when they witnessed the arrival of one of four captured German submarines that surrendered at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Warren Robbins reported in The New Hampshire:
The first contingent of Germans to arrive consisted of twenty-seven men, four of whom were officers. To greet this motley group of bedraggled men was a veritable task force of about sixty helmeted Marines, heavily armed with sub-machine guns... Navy and civilian photographers called out instructions to the Marines: "Step a little to the left—that's it—hold your gun a little higher—ok now—look tough."
It got so that the Nazis themselves, along with the spectators, laughed as the Marines did their best to assume poses and facial expressions befitting their world-wide reputation. But only a handful of people saw this side of the story. Tens of millions of others will see pictures, posed though they may have been, and will put down their newspapers and magazines satisfied that the German prisoners have been taken into custody in a satisfactory manner and that they are not to being treated too softly.
Worth Fighting For
The attack on Pear Harbor by Japan marked a major turning point in the lives of all college students. One group that was affected more than many others were those of Japanese ancestry, who were interned by the US Government in detention camps around the country.
Rev. Bob James, director of the UNH Student Christian Movement, challenged the club to assisting at least one student in gaining a release from detention to enroll at UNH. When the SCM presented their proposal to the University administration, they were told that before Japanese-Americans could be admitted, every student group on campus first had to accept the students and pledge that no incidents of harassment would occur on campus.
Facing possible animosity and ostracism, club members met with every student organization on campus to try to gain their support. It took almost a year, but after some foot-dragging by a few groups, they finally reached their goal. Their triumph was quickly dashed by the registrar who informed them their student's name would be placed at the bottom of the waiting list just like any other student.
Frustrated to tears, Judith Austin Rantala '44 marched across the hall to Pres. Engelhardt's office, where she proceeded to recount the story from beginning to end. He told her he would look into it. To her great surprise, she soon received a letter saying their student's name had been moved to the top of the list. The next fall two Japanese-American students arrived to begin classes at UNH.
Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Student Council appointed a defense committee. Air raid wardens were selected and began a training course. One woman student remembered the drills.
We used to have fire drills and air raid drills in the dorms. It was interesting. You had to remember, which is this? Because with the fire drill, you left the curtains up in case someone's there in the window screaming so, I suppose, the fireman could see them. For the air raid drill, whew, pull down the curtains! Don't let anyone see anything. One of my friends was a girl who lived at the Navy Yard because her father was the foreman of transportation and she had a gas mask. That was pretty nifty. When we had these air raid drills, I stayed right close to her!
Submitted by James P. Kelly '52:
A note on my dormitory door instructed me to report to the Dean of Men. This caused me great concern because of an altercation two nights before in the dormitory lounge. I had requested a transfer to a single room, which was located in the dormitory occupied by veterans of World War II, directly across from the lounge where all night and day card games were conducted. Loud talking, laughter, smoking, and carousing made sleeping and studying impossible.
After two weeks of this, at one o'clock in the morning, I drove the card players out with threats of bodily harm. Now the dean wanted to see me. I thought I was in trouble. Dean Medsey caught me by surprise when he asked "Are you the fella that broke up that card game in the Veteran's Dormitory?"
When I told him that it was me, he waved his hand to stop my explanation. "Mr. Kelly, you've accomplished a feat that no other person has been able to do. I wonder if you would consider taking a position as a proctor? Mrs. Hyde, the house mother at Fairchild Hall, needs help with some unruly students. If you could handle a group of mature World War II veterans as you did, you can handle a bunch of hard cider drinking country kids in Fairchild Hall."
I became Mrs. Hyde's "special situation" proctor in Fairchild Hall with my own private room far away from the lounge.