About a year ago I decided to translate my college years (1958-61) to a blogpost for posterity. The results can be seen here. Initially, my intent was to send my musings around to a few people I remembered from those long ago days, and certainly there was no intent for the post to be as long as it has become. A newly received college alumni Directory yielded over 300 e-mail addresses for persons who attended the college in my general time frame, and I decided to add them to the list as well. Most of them I didn’t know.
To anyone who has an interest, there is now a great plenty of information about those “olden days” of ca 1956-66 at “STC” within the boundaries of that single post for January 2, 2013.
Last Thursday, October 24, I happened to be in Valley City, and took some early morning photographs around campus. Most of these are in a Facebook album here. College was in session, but Thursday was a
lab day, and labs didn’t begin till 9 a.m., and by 9:30 I had left. So, while I didn’t avoid students, I didn’t see many either.
(click on any photo to enlarge)
“STC”, as we knew it, was still basically a “Normal School”, (“teacher’s college”), one of those underrated places of even less status than land grant “cow colleges”. I’ve always had pride in our small college, and the quality of people who went, and who taught, there, and I’m always looking for examples of success.
For instance, in the excellent history of the air war in Europe in WWII, “Fire and Fury” by Randall Hansen, one of the four most prominent American leaders cited was Ira C. Eaker, whose lack of pedigree was very clearly stated: “Eakers only education was at the undistinguished Southeastern Normal School in Durham, North Carolina” (p. 36)
Famed artist Georgia O’Keefe, began her rise to prominence as an art teacher in a west Texas Normal School in the 1920s. She was a farm girl from Sun Prairie WI. Recently, a guide at Frank Lloyd Wrights Taliesin, said that O’Keefe and Wright were friends, and he was the one who advised her to paint the red barns of Wisconsin, which she did, famously.
Her experience there is recounted in a fascinating book of letters about her relationship with photographer Alfred Stieglitz, “My Faraway One”.
In various ways, there are many people from STC who were (and will be) similar to Eaker and O’Keefe….
Even in a brief visit, such as mine was last Thursday morning, there are vignettes:
The lady in the coffee shop of the Student Center said she’d been there 26 years, and the place had been remodeled three times in her career. It was somewhat sobering to realize that when I left Valley City 52 years ago, that Student Center was still just an artist rendering, about to become reality. Time flies.
Where students used to gather in the previous “student center”, in the basement of old main, one now finds the technology offices for the college. VCSU has completely embraced technology.
Allen Library, which I remember for large study desks at which you looked at real books, is now mostly a lounge-looking kind of place, fully wired for the new generation of communications. The stacks are still there, but books, as books, for the time being at least, are almost novel.
The newest structure, just completed and occupied, is the very impressive L.D. Rhoades Science Building, very 21st century. Walking its halls, I came across a centerpiece display of Prof. Soren Kolstoe’s collection of bird eggs (see photos, caption and link below). Earlier this year one of Dr. Kolstoe’s kids wondered what had happened to his Dad’s egg collection. The answer was in front of me (see below).
There were few people around when I was on campus, but those I met were all welcoming. Yes, there was that student who met me, oblivious to my presence, with ear plugs and eyes focused on his smart phone…will this be a passing fad? One can hope, but not likely.
I was glad I stopped in.
Here are a few photographs from the most recent trip. There are a number more in the Facebook album for those who can access them.
Vangstad Auditorium, known to many generations of students as a place for convocations, programs, etc, is being closed for major renovation in January 2013. The historic integrity of the facility will be retained.
Dusty Rhoades was a legendary science teacher at ‘STC, holding forth in the old Science Building. He would likely have a hard time imagining that a major and very well equipped Science Building would be constructed at his old school in 2013. He’d probably be surprised that an actual building was named for him.
While Dr. Kolstoe was a Psychology professor, he had a great interest in the outdoors, and gained much regional prominence in his work with and for the North Dakota Outdoors. A previous post about Dr. Kolstoe, including his book of nature poetry, is here.
A relatively recent addition to the campus is the above plaque to several hundred students trained in the Navy’s V-12 program during WWII. Following the war, including into the 1960s, many students attended with help from the GI Bill.