50 years ago feels like an eternity. (Well, to be fair, these last two weeks of the semester also feel like an eternity.) I don’t know about you, but when I think of 1969, I picture tweed skirts, cat-eye glasses, typewriters and everyone talking like James Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Okay, okay, that last one is actually from the ‘40s, but you have a similar picture in your head now too, right?
A quick glance through the 1969 edition of the Golden Cords will confirm our mental image: female students rocked beehive bobs, while the guys looked like James Dean impersonators. (Some of your grandfathers were hot!) There are pictures of students writing Christmas cards for soldiers overseas in Vietnam and sweethearts talking on wall-mounted phones in Rees Hall.
Compared to campus life now, 1969 is a completely different world. Home economics was a popular major, featuring labs in meal prep and home furniture selection and arrangement. Engagements were tracked (yes, tracked) and wedding dates were published in the final issue of The Clocktower.
Students were so excited about the new addition of pizza nights and buffet suppers in the cafeteria that it was mentioned two separate times in the yearbook. And my personal favorite is that The Clocktower used to be produced in the actual clocktower of the old administration building! Yes, you read that right.
While many aspects of campus life have changed over these past fifty years, some similarities remain. Business and Nursing are still the most popular majors, the Christmas tree lighting party still provides a nice study break for students (although their Santa didn’t rappel down the clocktower) and cafe changes are still a hot topic. Union still places emphasis on hands of service: nursing students cared for wounded soldiers in army hospitals then while international rescue and relief students care for cyclone victims now.
Even though evolving technology and a changing society have redefined the feel of Union, the core struggles (and joys) of student life haven’t changed.
Throughout the yearbook, there’s a running monologue from the editor, sophomore Jerry Moon, “Are you taking calculus or is calculus taking you? … I’ve got French to memorize and psychology to study and a term paper and a quiz and a lab report and a field trip and an hour test and why don’t I just go to bed?”
Whether 1969 or 2019, we’ve experienced the same moments: struggling to get out of bed for morning class, waiting anxiously for grades to be posted, looking for a date to banquet or praying for a snow day.
As we wrap up this school year and look ahead to the next, remember that life evolves, and while some changes might not appear to be positive, it’s good that Union continues to evolve—I don’t know about you, but I’m glad we don’t still test students over their home decorating skills.
Autumn Mott Rodeheaver is a senior studying communication.