Category: Memories and Nostalgia

What you said…in November about Tech!

From Facebook:

“I do believe a Taco Bell 100M dash was a thing in the early 90s” – Susan C.

“I remember walking downtown late at night with the snow softly falling with no other noise or sounds.  It was perfection” -Chris Z.

“In 1959 got my BS in Chem Eng.  Back then none of that existed (new eclectic diners, boutiques).  Still, best years ever! Greetings from Caracas” -Enzio M.

“Downhill skiing during a 1984 snowstorm: On Pewabic St., starting from Houghton High School to a stop directly in front of the Hallmark Store (and one of Houghton’s finest walking the beat) on Sheldon: skeptical policeman– “Evening boys, how long do you expect to be skiing this evening?” Us– “Oh hello officer, it seems we’ve just finished up’.” -Bill S.

“(I remember) Watching the Northern Lights from the roof of our garage, with everyone in the neighborhood clapping and cheering like it was fireworks.”  -Becky S.

“Still go to the Ambassador, Downtowner, Dog House regularly. After I graduated from SBEA, raised my daughters who both graduated from Tech and one son-in-law. They moved away but love coming home for Winter Carnival and Ambo pizza!”  – Gary J.

“In all seriousness though, the beauty of a fresh snowfall in the UP can not be beat. I loved every second of the winter up there (even the sometimes -40 wind chills)” -Eric S.

“The winter of 78-79”  -Melodie H.

“Well when I was at Tech in the early 70s we drove to Marquette for fast food. I did love the pasties at the Kaleva Cafe. My roommate made really great pasties too”  -Carol B.

“Pasties. Had to drive to Marquette for McDonald’s. No such thing as Starbucks in the 70s.” –Steve B.

“Taco Bell after last call at any of the Houghton/Hancock drinking establishments. Drive thru was open until 4 am… and we would be back at Tech for an early round of golf by 6 am. Summer ’93 and ’94. Great times.” –EJ L.

From Parent Network on Facebook:

“As our kids get ready to take their finals, I wanted to share with you “why it is all worth it.” In these photos are people that graduated from Tech 30 years ago to 6 months ago to a current Freshman. They are people who took a half day off of work to cheer on my daughter and the MTU soccer team or drove 3 hours just to have dinner with their sorority sisters. We are all thankful for the education we received, but more importantly cherish the support and friendships that we made through Tech. This is my “Why Tech.” -Michele M.


Pasties, Taco Bell, Starbucks: Where did you travel for food as a student?

By Emily Riippa | University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections

woman making pasties
Preparing a batch of mouth-watering pasties. Undated photograph from the Harold Putnam Collection (MS-050) in the Michigan Tech Archives.

If there’s something you take seriously in college, it’s food. Whether it’s driving to Marquette to get some Buffalo Wild Wings or strategically planning a day around which presentations or campus orgs are offering free meals, you don’t get between a college student and food. At Michigan Tech, sometimes that meal takes on a special local flavor. You’ve seen them around town; you’ve eaten them at your desk, on the beach, or maybe even in the dining halls. How much do you really know, though, about the famous pasty?

A good old song from the English region of Cornwall proclaims, “There’s something about a pasty that is fine, fine, fine!” Huskies and friends know the truth of those words. The delicious dish nourishes the body and warms the spirit with its blend of meat, potatoes, and rutabaga, all nestled inside a flaky crust. It’s the kind of meal that gets you ready for a day of cross-country skiing on the Tech Trails or a hike up Mount Baldy. Nothing is quite like the smell of a pasty baking; nothing tastes quite like that first bite. But how did a meal synonymous with Cornwall become a staple of the Upper Peninsula?

Let’s take a quick peek back into history to answer that question. Cornwall’s long track record with copper and tin mining led the rest of Great Britain to remark wryly, “Wherever you find a hole in the ground, you’ll find a Cornishman at the bottom of it.” Life in the mines of England often meant low wages and back-breaking labor, but it also cultivated a skill and knowledge of the work that made the Cornish miners a gold standard. When Michigan’s copper mines–the very ones whose ruins now lie in Houghton, Keweenaw, and Ontonagon counties–were first being opened for industry, their founders looked to Cornwall for able laborers, and the people of Cornwall, whose mines were tapering off, looked to Michigan for a new hope. One scholarly article on the history of the pasty noted that twenty Cornishmen were already at work in the Copper Country in 1844, just one year after industrial mining began here. With them came their favorite workday meal, which was subsequently adopted en masse by colleagues of all backgrounds.

One of many variations on the pasty recipe held at the Michigan Tech Archives.

We don’t know for certain who invented this tasty pocket of joy, which has seen considerable changes over the years, but we do understand why it was so appealing to the men who worked in the mines and the women who prepared their dinners each day. The pasty’s hearty fillings can be prepared in a large batch and energize a person for a day of hard work; the meal can be held in the hand and eaten without utensils; and it’s easy, relatively speaking, for a miner to reheat a pasty over his candle far underground. By the time the mines of Michigan closed, the pasty had become a staple that the Copper Country was determined to keep. Nowadays, you’ll find them around the local lunch table, sold at community fundraisers, eaten at picnics by the shores of Lake Superior, or on parade at places like Calumet’s annual Pasty Fest.

Let’s raise a pasty toast to the Cornish who brought us a meal worth celebrating!

people eating pasties
Alfred Nicholls and his family show the joy of pasties at the Central Mine Reunion, undated.

What food brings you back to your college days? Was a special meal in particular that you drove to Marquette (or further!) to enjoy? Who makes the best pasties in the UP? And, do you like ketchup or gravy with your pasty?



What you said…in October about Tech!

From Facebook

Just curious—my grandmother Sylvia Combellack used to feed boys from Tech. She lived in the red house on the corner of Houghton Avenue and Garnet. She cooked for boys from 1945-1986. I was wondering if anyone had a family member eat there. –Debbie

“I went there 84-85. Awesome home cooked meals! Great couple.” –Scott Z. 

Yes, I ate there.” –Dennis L. 

Yes I did. 80 through 83. Great food. Turkey meal and steak meal once a quarter. She told us a story about some foreign students who told her they didn’t like her soup because it was too rich. She said what soup, we had gravy. –Frank L.

I tried my hand at a vegan pasty. Does anyone remember Funky’s Karma Cafe or Conscious Stomach at MTU? Anyone remember Marie’s Deli in Houghton? It was where I first tasted hummus and falafel. Marie remembered all of us MTU grads when we visited her Grand Rapids restaurant. Her son is writing a cookbook and is looking for photos of her days in Houghton if you have any to share. –Cynthia H.

I remember meeting her during orientation at Tech. A group of us from my high school class were walking across the bridge and we met Marie. She stopped and talked to us for about 10 minutes and then told us to come to her deli. We did go and I went with other groups of friends off and on but she always remembered who I was and when we met. Marie’s Deli had the best food! –Anne C.

“Of course!” –Mary H.

“The hummus and Turkish coffee! I doubt I have any pictures and if I did they’re in a shoe box somewhere!” –Stacey K.

“I don’t have any pictures but I remember her deli fondly. I lived above the Lode and had many delicious cheesecakes over the years! I would totally recognize her if I saw her in person. She left a huge impression in my years at Tech.” –Dino F.

“Went on my first real date with Mike Simon at Marie’s, and 27 years later we still remember her and our meals at her restaurant fondly. Her son was sometimes there with her, such a cute little guy! Wish I had thought to take a photo at the time. –Beth S.

Keweenaw Day (K-Day): A Fine Tradition

By Allison Neely | University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections

While the start of fall semester at Michigan Tech heralds the beginning of a new adventure for new and returning students, it also brings back many fond memories for our alumni. For some, it’s memories of moving into the dorms or buying textbooks; for others, it’s their first class on campus and meeting their advisors for the first. However, most would agree that it was the student activities outside the classroom that they remember the most. Whether it was their first Tech football game or homecoming activities, if you’ve been a student at Tech since the early 1950s, you remember the fun and excitement of K-Day.

K-Day, short for Keweenaw Day, has been a favorite annual tradition of Michigan Tech students since 1951. The first Keweenaw Day was established as a way to bring the campus community together. In response to a growing student body at the then Michigan College of Mining and Technology (MCMT), faculty member, Dr. Charles San Clemente, suggested to the Faculty Association in the spring of 1951 that the college consider a campus community-wide picnic to bring students, faculty, and staff together before the rush of mid semester.

The November 1951 edition of the MCMT Alumni News reported on the success of the first Keweenaw Day celebration held on October 9 held at the picturesque Fort Wilkins State Park. Over 1,000 members of the campus community and their guests attended the event, marking “the beginning of a fine tradition.” The sounding of the campus siren (sometimes referred to as the Engineer’s Whistle) at 11 a.m. marked the end of classes for the day and the beginning of Keweenaw Day festivities. Buses and vans shuttled people up the coast to take in the scenic vistas of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Upon arriving at Fort Wilkins, K-Day-goers were treated to a picnic lunch and a variety of activities, including games, sightseeing trips to the lakeshore and up Brockway Mountain, small game hunting, and fishing. A highlight of the day was the faculty-student baseball game, pictured here. While the game was all in fun, there are rumors that the students won. After the games and tours were ending, K-day culminated in a sing-along around the campfire.

In its 67 years a Tech tradition, K-Day has seen some changes, but at its core, the main themes of festivities, food, and friendship have remained the same. The event was moved to McLain’s State Park in 1976 to shorten the driving time from campus and reduce the road congestion that plagued the event in its early years. Picnicking and fun activities have always been central to K-Day, but additions over the years has kept K-Day a favorite among students. Inflatable games, live music, contests and informational booths; as well as demonstrations featuring medieval fighting, Bonzai bikes, and exploding gummy bears. The student organization fair has also been a great way for new students to learn about campus activities and organizations.

Generous financial and moral support from the College administration and the Student Organization helped to support the event in the early years before the Memorial Union Board took over responsibility in 1967 and Inter-Fraternity Council in 1976. Today, K-Day is sponsored by Fraternity & Sorority Life and Student Activities and still a much-beloved campus event.

As Michigan Tech welcomes a new class of Huskies to campus and another day of K-Day, take a trip down memory lane and share your own K-Day stories!

What you said…about Tech!

Here’s a few comments from Tech’s Alumni Network and Michigan Tech Parent Facebook groups

Friends and fellow MTU grads, BMS has a number of very good opportunities for staff and leadership positions. I have found BMS to be a positive, engaging company with a great mission. Is it time for you to consider a career in Syracuse, NY? I hope you do! BTW, before I joined, several people warned me about the amount of snow they get in Syracuse.  I tried not to laugh…

Back to school time again…so I’d thought I would share this example of when you are a Freshman and walk into MEEM 4220 instead of ENG 1101 somehow.
Still remember that feeling of buying the special paper (isometric dot paper) for the ENG classes and feeling like I had finally made it (get to do “real” design stuff!!)

Assistance needed. I’m a 2016 Army ROTC grad stationed in Hawaii. I ran into a 2006 Airforce grad, and only got his first name, “Scott.” He paid for my breakfast and left. Would anyone know who this is?

paversSo excited to finally see our paver by the clock tower!!!  My son just sent us this photo. On our way up this weekend to see in person! So proud to be a Tech mom and wife.




From the Tech inbox

Moving into McNair (then named Co-ed Hall) in the fall of 1968, the east wing was only finished on the top two floors and the elevators weren’t working yet.  My room was on the top floor so we had to schlep everything up the six flights of stairs. And, even though it was late September, it was warm so the heat in those stairwells was quite oppressive. -Kerry Irons  ’72; ’73

There was something magical about Houghton and Dad’s years there that were absolutely transforming. Incidentally, Dad is being buried in his Michigan Tech sweatshirt! -From the daughter of Evans Foertmeyer, Class of 1945 on the death of her father.

Why Did You Choose to Attend Michigan Tech?

I grew up in northern Wisconsin and knew I wanted to be an engineer so it came down to either Michigan Tech or the University of Wisconsin. The first time I saw the UW campus was a week after the Armstrong brothers blew up the Army Math Center on the campus in 1970. Seeing all the destruction convinced me Tech was my choice.

Bob Bomier ’75

Scholarship and location. I applied to a few colleges but my top two choices were Michigan Tech and University of Miami. Worlds apart. But Tech offered me a great scholarship and I already was a Yooper so the snow was just a normal part of life. It didn’t hurt that the girl/guy ratio was 4 to 1 in 1977, but when most of the year is cold and snowy, it is hard to tell under a parka, boots, scarves, and mittens who was who. I have wonderful memories of my time at Tech. Very happy with my choice.

Yvette Klooster, Class of 1981

I financed most of my college expenses and chose MTU because it was a respectable Engineering University and I was blessed with a significant 4 year scholarship. Being an outdoorsman, I also liked the challenges of snow and cold. My number one choice was Notre Dame University School of Civil Engineering, but decided it was not affordable. Don’t regret my decision and still root for both schools. Earned a MBA at CMU, but not as memorable as my undergraduate experiences at Tech.

Jim Kubiak, BSCE ’68

I was raised in that Tech snow. I was one of the “Local Macki’s” that frequented the back of the cafeteria in the basement of the Union Building. I wanted to go into computers since in grade school. Unfortunately, Tech did not offer such a degree in the early 1960s nor did a lot of major universities, including the University of Michigan. I settled for a Math degree at Tech and went on to learn almost all computer stuff on the job or a course now and then.

If you disregarded the 1-credit course using the Bendix G-15 digital computer that used paper tape input and a rotating drum main memory and the souped-up analog computer course, there were no computers at Tech. In fact, in my long career at technical labs and businesses, I NEVER EVER saw another analog computer.

I have accepted this lack of computing resources because Tech and a BS in Math was all that I could afford while living at home and paying my own way via a student job at Tech paying $1.25/hour. In fact, a less than $1,500 investment in tuition, fees and books turned out to be the very best investment that I ever made! Thank you Michigan Tech!

Jerry Davison BS Math ’66

Funny story… I was interested in MTU because of its good reputation, and I wanted to pursue engineering. I incorrectly thought it was near Houghton Lake. By the time I found out just how far away it was it was too late! Super happy that I went there anyway

Andrea Cole, BSEE ’90

As the 1967-68 school year rolled forward, I was faced with selecting the college I would attend after high school. I was interested in engineering—I was good at math and science, and my father, who worked in a factory, kept telling me engineers make all the money.

I really didn’t have much of an idea of what engineers actually did, though. It just seemed like the thing I was supposed to do.

I considered four schools: Rose (now Rose-Hulman in Indiana), Northwestern, Michigan, and Michigan Tech. Rose and Northwestern were just too expensive, even if I got financial aid. When I went to college night at my high school, the recruiter from Michigan made it really clear he didn’t care one way or another if any of us wanted to go to Ann Arbor. They had plenty to choose from. But the Tech recruiter was engaged, enthusiastic, and tried hard to convince me that Tech was a great place.

I was also a hockey fan, and, as best you could from suburban Detroit, I looked for their scores in the newspaper. Plus, it was so far away and seemed like an adventure, and almost no one else from my high school was interested in Tech. All of those factors weighed positively for a kid who wanted to escape from where he grew up. The cincher was a generous academic scholarship offer from General Motors.

So, I enrolled at MTU in September of ’68. I didn’t finish in engineering—but instead graduated with what eventually became the STC degree. I later got an engineering degree at Wayne State in Detroit, and still later ended up in Ann Arbor after all, where I picked up my MBA.

Michael A. Anleitner ’72

I had a very good friend in Detroit whose father went to Tech and he planned on attending. I spent the summer before college with him in the Copper Country and knew I wanted to got to Tech, too. My father taught at Wayne University and both my older brothers went to Wayne so I was expected to go there to. It took some persuasion but my parents accepted my choice. I have been forever grateful. I had a great career at Bendix Automotive Brake Systems with 48 patents in the field and felt that Michigan Tech contributed to my success.

Don Johannesen ’56

Houghton was my hometown.

Myron H. Berry, PE ’82

I grew up in a small town in New York State and our school was pretty small, with grades 7-12 totaling about 450 people. We had 80 people in our graduating class. So I was looking for a school that was medium sized, thinking it would be less overwhelming. I also wanted a science related career and Michigan Tech had, with the exception of business, all science-based curricula. In addition, being from a pretty chilly hometown, I was fond of winter sports and loved the idea of cross country ski trails right up the hill or right outside my apartment. In short, MTU was a good fit for me in terms of size, curriculum, and amenities.

Amiee Modic (Larchar ’84)

As I was a U.P. resident with a four-year full ride engineering scholarship from M.J. Bacco Construction at IMHS commencement and having an interest in Civil Engineering at Iron Mountain Senior High, I really only considered Tech (MCM&T then) primarily due to its solid and respected civil engineering reputation. I was pleased when notified of my admission and headed to Houghton for the Fall Term, 1959. The Business School’s three term B.S. Eng. Admin. Degree Program for engineers brought me back to MTU in Fall, 1967. GO TECH HUSKIES!

Bruce L. Gall

B.S. Civil-1963

B.S. Engineering Administration-1968

A Proud Alum

It started with my father attending from 1950-1954. My father, Robert (“John”) is a Civil grad who worked for many years in Michigan road building. You can see how the roads deteriorated since he retired if you come to Detroit now!

He was attracted by the Forestry program and taught me how to hunt as he was an avid outdoorsman.

I grew up near Detroit and was into cars. I was always taking things apart or making projects.  So of course my inclination was mechanical engineering. However, what really sold me was attending SYP. I think I attended 3 summers and lived in DHH or in tents while hiking Isle Royale, canoeing the nearby lakes, or orienteering around Ford Forestry Center in Alberta.

I was the only HS grad from my large HS class that year that attended MTU, but the two roommates from P-town were the best!

Of course you have to like SNOW to attend da Tech. That’s why 1978-79 was my favorite year! It snowed for a straight month and 27” over one night!

What’s not to like at MTU!  “And when we’re gone from here, all our friends will be drinkin’ all the beer!”

Brian R Johnson, BSME 1982

I spent my freshman year of college at the Calumet Campus of Purdue University in Hammond, Indiana. It was an altogether pleasant experience.

What was most satisfying about that year (1953-54) was the fact that, at long last, I was finally embarked on my journey to become a forester. I had made the decision to become a forester at about age 12. Now, I had an official letter from the Dean welcoming me to the Purdue School of Forestry. I didn’t give it much thought, I just assumed I would finish college down on Purdue’s main campus at West Lafayette, Indiana.

Spring arrived, and as usually happened, I began to think about and make plans for my summer trips with family to Upper Michigan and Cloverleaf Lake. I decided I’d do some serious exploring on my own that year, and in preparation I sent away to the Michigan Tourism Council for any maps they could provide of the area just west of the town of Watersmeet.

What I received was not the few folded maps I had expected, but a rather large, glossy magazine bearing the title “The Lure Book – The Lure of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.” It was standard tourist fare, full of pictures of grinning city folk holding up stringers of fish and ads for resorts with names like “Svenson’s Wilderness Retreat.” I was disappointed the State of Michigan would think I was just another one of “them” (i.e., tourist), so I tossed the magazine aside.

I picked it up a few days later and casually flipped through the pages. An ad caught my eye. It was a simple, quarter-page, single color ad that bore a replica of the Great Seal of the Michigan College of Mining and Technology in Houghton, Michigan.

“Wow,” I thought. “There’s actually a college in the UP!” Somewhat intrigued by the novelty of it, I scanned the listing of degree programs offered. Down the list I went – Mining Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Forestry, Medical Technology………. Wait a minute, what was that? Forestry?

At that instant, a blinding flash of inspiration descended from the heavens, accompanied by a full-throated clap of thunder. The gods had spoken. If there was a college in my beloved UP, and that college offered a degree in forestry, there was no doubt where I would be spending the next three years. Michigan Tech, here I come!

That decision turned out to be one of the best of my entire life.

The UP felt like home from day one. I even got to spend the entire summer between my junior and senior years living in Seney working on a timber cruising project. The Forestry program led by Gene Hesterberg et al prepared me well for a successful 33-year career in the Douglas-fir forests of Oregon.

Ron Sadler, Forestry – Class of ’57

First of all, thank you for continuing to send me the Michigan Tech Newsletter. I really enjoy reading it.

I graduated from Michigan Tech with BSc in Chemistry in 1993. I came to Michigan Tech in 1991. I completed my BSc for only two years because I obtained transfer credits from my 4 year Diploma study (Industrial Chemistry) at one of Malaysia’s Universities.

Staying in Houghton and downtown Hancock for two years, I gained a wonderful experience especially facing the weather. It was so cold, snowing throughout the year which is different from my country (Malaysia) which is hot and humid all the year. I also had a chance to travel to other places such as Detroit, Wisconsin, Duluth, etc during the quarter break.

During my study, American students were very friendly. I still remember when I was doing the Lab work/assignment/projects in a team of American classmates. They helped me a lot and I really enjoyed studying and working with them. I was the only international student during that time.

Since I entered directly into the third year of the BSc program, most of the subjects were very tough. However, I successfully managed to go through it with the help of the lecturers (Drs , Assoc Profs and Profs) and through discussion with my classmates as well as self study.

After I graduated, I returned to Malaysia with BSc in Chemistry and my working career had moved forward. I joined a multinational Oil & Gas Company, and several other giant companies as Chemist, Lab Manager and am now working with Oleochemical company as Section Head.

Thank you very much Michigan Tech, which has made my life very successful.

Mohd Kamal Mansor ’93

Thank you for keeping us informed of all things Michigan “Tech-ian.”

Sometimes we fail to remember those who keep us in touch with our training roots.

I do appreciate your work in this manner.

Mike Clauson

’80, ’81, ’82 and ’19 …  still a student and still learning.

More Slide Rule Stories!

In the mid-to-late 50s, the slide rule was the calculator of choice at Tech. Although a small computer found its way into the Math Department at the end of the decade, slide rules were the computer used by “Toots” and carried in a leather case clipped to your belt all day. Except when in one of Dr. McMillan’s math courses, at which time your slide rule was safely hidden in the bottom of your book bag. Math, you see, is a precise science and no estimating contraption was permitted in the good Doctor’s classes within his vision range. But, even when using 5 or 7 place log/trig tables for high accuracy calculations, the slide rule was a quick way to get an “approximate” answer to check your result. Unfortunately for the Doctor’s math classes, slide rule answer checking could only be used for homework.

My slide rule is made of bamboo – a exceptionally stable wood, very smooth sliding and a lot more elegant than the metal versions. I still have mine and after 60 years, I think I can operate most of the functions.

Pete Rankin ’59EE

I used a slide rule my freshman year at Tech. Sometime early in the fall quarter (1974) of my sophomore year I bought an HP 45. The price had recently dropped about $100 and it was only $325 or so. We were married that summer and my wife commented the day I purchased the calculator was the first night we didn’t go to bed together. I stayed up late with the calculator!

John R. Wiltse BSEE ’77

Yes indeed. Last time I laid eyes on it – sitting comfortably in the storage garage at my Portage Entry summer residence south of Chassell, alongside A Dana’s Handbook of Mineralogy and my old hand lens from Kiril Spiroff’s mineralogy class.

Dan Koss ’59

When I started at Michigan Tech in the fall of 1964 I had a Pickett metal slide rule with 33 scales and was a yellow-green color, taunted to be better to view than the white bamboo type. This slide rule was a gift from an aunt. No, I do not have it nor do I have my old book bag. Like all other engineering students at the time I had to take chemistry from Doc. Barry. His favorite way of arranging his multiple choice (guess) answers would be something like this:

  1. A) 0.167
  2. B) 1.67
  3. C) 16.7
  4. D) 17.3

Accordingly, you had to be efficient at scientific notation and moving the decimal point around, which I wasn’t. He should have been taken behind the woodshed and flogged. But he was a full professor and I was just a poor slob “student.”

Larry Joy

BSEE May ’77 (should have been ’68)