Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Dorms, Food and Studies

(click here to read previous story: Wisconsin Rapids)

When Dinon arrived at the University of Wisconsin in 1949, he lived in the dorms and started out studying Chemical Engineering, just like his father.  

"I was in a dorm, and the men's dorms were at the far end of the campus.  I was in Gregory House and I was in the end room on the first floor the whole time I was there, in the same room all four years," Dinon said.  "The first year, I had a roommate named Kip Thorsen - he was from a Norwegian family - but he only was my roommate the first year, and after that he stayed in a private room in the dorm."

There was also plenty of comfortable public space for the boys to study and spend time together.
Dinon still has a pennant with
UW's Bucky Badger on it


"There was a door from my room to another room that was used as a 2-room suite for the house mother during summer school, so one year we decided we’d set up one of the rooms as a study, and the other one to sleep," Dinon said.  "On the first floor, there was a den, and we’d play cards in there usually – we didn’t have any machines for soft drinks or anything like that – but that was the place to gather.  Sometimes we had what’s known as a house meeting, because there were, I think, four floors in the house ... The window ledges were very wide, so that you could get a pile of papers or some of your books on there if you wanted to."

The young men in Gregory House lived in comfort and were well taken care of - for example, maids would tidy the boys' rooms on weekdays.

"On weekends we had to make our own beds," Dinon admitted.  "Now, for some guys, this was out of the realm of possibility, they didn't make beds, but I made mine because I was used to it."

They also never washed their own laundry - they mailed it back home for their mothers to wash.

"We had a post office right next to our dorm room, and we didn't have any washers and dryers, so every week we mailed our laundry home in a box with a strap to be washed and ironed," Dinon said.  "And then my mother would wash it and everything and then send it back.  And she oftentimes included some cookies or something like that in addition.  Everyone sent their stuff home – there was no other place to wash it."

He chuckled.  "I was very spoiled," he admitted.

Even the boys' cafeteria food was good.

"We had a chef who came to the University well-recommended, and he was the one who was in charge of the food for the dorm guys," Dinon said.  "We got used to lining up, getting a tray, and then just going through the line lickety-split, and quickly eating so you could get to class."

But that efficiency was disrupted when, during his junior year, one of the men's dorms was converted into a dorm for girls.

These might have been some of the
girls holding up the food line
"Well, it may have sounded OK, but the very first day when they were serving breakfast, the line, instead of just moving right along, was at a stand-still," Dinon said, still exasperated by the memory.  "The girls, I don’t know what they had in their mind, if they were looking at all the food and wondering if they were going to get something else, but the line hardly moved and the guys were all upset because we were used to going through, 'OK, you want it, put it on your tray, and off you go.' But, well, the girls kind of dawdled, and they dawdled the whole way along the line, and, well, it really created some chaos.  It probably took a good week or more before the girls finally realized that you weren't going to get another choice or anything – if you want it, take it, otherwise, move your tray, y'know?  So they finally got to the point where the line moved rapidly, and the guys were happy about that.  I mean, at first it was terrible, but the girls finally learned, if you want it, take it, if not, keep on going! Zip zip zip!”

While living in the dorms he attended full-time classes, pursuing a degree in chemical engineering just like his father.  However, after receiving five straight 'D' grades in chemistry classes, it seemed pretty clear that he was not destined to be a chemical engineer like Ralph.  His father permitted him to switch his studies to Business.

He did well in Business courses, eventually graduating with honors in 1953.  He not only kept up with studies, he made sure to enjoy all the social fun the campus had to offer, such as pretty girls, king and queen nominations, and ... cross-dressing fraternities?

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