Tales from the Library

By Emily Riippa and Allison Neely | University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections

library_sign_mids_legacyWhat parent wouldn’t be impressed with a Tech child’s newfound studiousness after yet another story of long hours spent at the Library? How often did a distant girlfriend call Wadsworth Hall or Douglass Houghton Hall in the 1970s, only to hear that her boyfriend was at the Library yet again? To graduates of other schools, it was a place one went for books. For Tech alums, it was a hot spot for good food and better brews. The Library Restaurant and Brew Pub holds a storied place in university lore and culture.

You might be surprised to learn that space that The Library now occupies has a long history as a place to dine. In November 1899, the adjacent Shelden-Dee Block first played host to a restaurant named “Board of Trade,” which largely catered to rail passengers at the nearby depot. The Board of Trade offered two private dining rooms and a spacious “Palm Garden Room.” Imagine Venetian marble, gold trimmings, green velvet, and rich red wainscoting–the works. With its reputation for opulence and a wine cellar that would please the most discriminating of sommeliers, it quickly became known as one of “the most exclusive eating establishments of the area.” Over time, however, the splendor of the Board of Trade faded.

The first iteration of the Library, soon to be beloved of Michigan Tech students, opened in 1967 under the ownership of Jon Davis. The little pub on Isle Royale Street in downtown Houghton began as a place to hang out and enjoy favorite beverages. The Daily Mining Gazette in 1972 went so far as to say that the Library boasted the largest selection of fresh cold draft beer in the Copper Country at that time. A Sunday pizza buffet also proved a smashing success. By 1978, Davis had added a spiral staircase of barnwood that led to an upstairs dining room with red carpeting and drapes that subtly hearkened back to the Board of Trade’s bold style. Custom stained glass windows added another elegant touch. At roofed tables and a circular bar in the upstairs room, dubbed “the Homonym,” diners enjoyed a wide range of dishes, including escargot, beef tartare, and Jon’s own famous chili.

The business evolved over the decades that followed but remained popular with the student body. In 1989, James (“Jim”) Cortwright, Linda Beeckman, and Jerry Mostek assumed ownership of the business; in 1995, they secured a loan to purchase new brewing equipment and transform the cozy bar into a thriving brew pub. On September 5, 1995, however, disaster struck. The operator of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge spotted smoke billowing from the Library shortly before 5am and quickly called the fire department. The fire, which is believed to have ignited in the kitchen area, quickly spread throughout the cherished building, collapsing ceilings and threatening the adjacent block. Through more than twelve hours of concerted effort, firefighters managed to spare nearby businesses and apartments from the worst of the fire, although smoke and water damage proved extensive. The Library, on the other hand, was a total loss.

In some places, this might have been the end, but this is the Copper Country, where sisu abounds. A little over two years later, the Library reopened, and it has remained as much a staple in the community as ever. The old brick walls and famous sign continue to greet patrons daily.

What memory does the Library bring back for you? What was the best item on the menu? Did your friends and family fall for the old “I’m at the Library” line?


From the Archives: History of Cardboard Boats at MTU

By Emily Riippa | University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections

cardboat boats_goldsIn almost any circumstances, a person would have serious second thoughts about getting in a boat made of cardboard. These aren’t just any circumstances, however, and these are no ordinary cardboard boats.

Those who may have missed this part of homecoming tradition should know that cardboard boat races–dare we call them regattas?–have been a part of Michigan Tech’s homecoming activities for well over a decade. The intrepid crafts seem to have first joined the Friday night fun in 2005, when students gathered at what is now Kestner Waterfront Park in Houghton for the big launch. A pep rally got Huskies fired up about getting wet before, in caulked and duct-taped cardboard splendor, teams of students took to the Portage Canal and hoped to stay afloat. Unfortunately, the record of which team took first place honors in this inaugural race does not seem to have been preserved.

By 2006, the cardboard boat race had been thoroughly embraced by the student body, and organizers had codified the rules for competition. An article in the Michigan Tech Lode that year explained that at least eight team members had to be in the boat for the entry to be legal. Judges awarded points on the basis of design qualities and speed in completing the race–or, in the event of “large variety of things that go entirely wrong,” portion of the course completed.

Over the years, cardboard boating at homecoming has seen some tweaks and the introduction of new elements. A 2007 race saw teams, in the words of the Lode, “man-power[ing] their way through a watery obstacle course.” Spectators that year witnessed a thrilling four-way tie as Sigma Tau Gamma, Healthy Living House, Midnight Express, and Shangri-La all secured the grand prize. The location of the cardboard boat races has also jumped around, from Houghton to Hancock and back to Houghton.

What’s remained constant? Husky spirit and ingenuity, for one. It isn’t every school that could manage to fashion cardboard and home supplies into a craft that actually floats, but Michigan Tech students do it year after year. The sheer audacity of the competition is another pillar: It takes a certain kind of guts to be willing to sail a cardboard boat on a lake not known for being warm and gentle. Last but not least of all, the fun never changes. As long as there’s cardboard to be had and Upper Peninsula water to launch it into, Huskies will be grabbing their friends and racing their way toward the finish line, sparking laughter and creating memories that will endure long after graduation day.



Presidential Council of Alumnae (PCA) Inducts 20th Class of Leaders

PCA Group Photo 2018Michigan Tech’s Presidential Council of Alumnae (PCA) honors some of Tech’s most successful women alumnae and recognizes them for their personal and professional achievements.

In September, 13 new members were inducted into the Council. They are:


What you said…in September about Tech!

From the Inbox

“I recently visited the 40-acre site near Gratiot Lake where a classmate and I viewed the area where we planted red pine seedlings with a planting machine in 1958. The seedlings we planted then were three logs high and measured about 10 inches diameter breast high.” -Larry Golin ’58 Forestry

Husky Connections

“I’m starting a new job thanks to a connection with a fellow MTU alum who works there. Totally random connection too, she saw me wearing a Michigan Tech hoodie waiting for lunch at a food truck and said hi. She was working for another mining consulting firm at the time and we stayed in touch ever since. That is one of the best parts of my degree from Tech is the instant connection you have with other alums.” Walt ’08

From Facebook

Kaet“Funny story: This weekend I was at a Ski Patrol meeting and during that meeting we did a bit of training. My training partner, from Minnesota, turned out to be, likely (since there were only two at the time and he looked familiar), my statistics prof from Tech!!! Such a small world. For alumni reading, it was Peter Wollan. I was at Tech from 88-92. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I hardly attended his class. It was part of my “Thematic” 9 credits. Not a clue what the other 6 credits were.” – Kaet ’92

 

Comments from a Facebook post about the passing of former Tech President Ray Smith

“Wonderful man and leader. Had the pleasure of getting to know him while I was at Tech from ’65 to ’69. RIP. – John D.

“Dr. Smith along with Prof. Joe Kirkish helped us get Tech’s first educational FM station on-the-air; WGGL-FM.” – Stan S.

“I was at Tech 1973-1977. I remember the administration building referred to as Fort Smith.” – Kenneth H.

“Have his autograph on my diploma.” – Ellie C.

“RIP Great Man, President Raymond L. Smith.” – Genny Z.

Comments from a Facebook post about 906 Day

“I graduated in 2014 and moved to the East Coast afterwards. I still keep my 906 phone number and I am proud of it. Reminds me of good old days back at Tech.” – Jasem B.

Comments from a post about the Tech Wives cookbook

“I met my husband at Tech… although while in school (late ’90s) we were all about the $0.99 Whopper Wednesday! I do use a B&B recipe variation to make my pickled eggs.” – Stacey K.

“I’m not sure when the Michigan Tech Wives Club ended. It was for wives of MTU students. I think early 80s.” – Cynthia H.

Comments from a Facebook post about relocating wolves to Isle Royale

“Though I fundamentally disagree with the decision, it will be interesting. The case for wolves in Yellowstone and ISRO are vastly different, and it feels to me like the park has gone out of its way to ensure an allure for visitors and continued research, for a “playing god” philosophy that is inherently in opposition to the core values of the NPS. Still, interesting!” – Darren T.


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.




Celebrate with President Mroz and Mrs. Gail Mroz

President Glenn Mroz and Mrs. Gail Mroz
President Glenn Mroz and Mrs. Gail Mroz

On June 30, 2018, Glenn D. Mroz will step down as Michigan Technological University’s ninth president and return to the faculty. Additionally, Gail Mroz will retire from her position as stewardship officer in the Department of Advancement and Alumni Engagement. All alumni are invited to celebrate President and Mrs. Mroz’s transitions.

A celebratory reception will be held Thursday, June 7, 2018, from 4-6 p.m., with remarks at 4:30 p.m., in the Rozsa Center lobby on the Michigan Tech campus. Nothing would please Glenn and Gail more than to celebrate their transition with you over hors d’oeuvres and beverages.

In anticipation of the festivities, the University is collecting personal messages and memories that will be shared with Glenn and Gail at the reception. Those with best wishes, fond memories (including photographs), and notes of appreciation are encouraged to send them to Mroz2018@mtu.edu by May 18, 2018.

Please RSVP by phone (906-487-2200) or email jetapani@mtu.edu by May 23, 2018.

A block of hotel rooms has been reserved. Those interested are encouraged to contact Joan Tapani (906-487-2200 or jetapani@mtu.edu) for more information.