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Summer 2011, Vol. 14, No. 3
Feature
 

Sweatshirts and Rock 'n' Roll


By Nicholas S. Romanetz ('65, '67)

Northeast Missouri State Teachers College Sign
 

Several changes took place during my years as a student from 1961-1966 back when Truman State University was known as Northeast Missouri State Teachers College. I arrived on campus in late August of 1961 from New Jersey and soon became aware of life in Kirksville when, during the week, the campus was alive with students, however, on weekends, it seemed that most students who lived within a few hours of campus went home. Aside from the local movie house, there was little to do on weekends, especially for those students not yet 21 years of age and without a car.

There were about 100 students who were from the New York City-Philadelphia corridor enrolled at various grad levels. We hung out together and were called “The Easteners” by the locals. We had an identity crisis when returning home and telling people we went to school in Kirksville, Mo. “Where’s that?” we were asked. The small bookstore on campus offered a variety of sweatshirts and window decals identifying our college as “Kirksville” something, but did not carry any items that identified the college as Northeast Missouri. The 1962 yearbook called us Northeast Missouri, but nearly all of the copy within the yearbook still referred to Kirksville State Teachers College. Troester’s Clothing Store came to the rescue. A group of us contacted Troester’s, and they designed and made available sweatshirts and window decals using Northeast Missouri in place of Kirksville. The items quickly sold out and more sweatshirts were ordered. Thanks to Troester’s, when I hit the Jersey shore that summer, no one asked me “Where is that place?” By the next year, the bookstore had started carrying items using Northeast Missouri.

 
The Delphis were among the local groups on the music scene in the ’60s. Front row, L-R: Ed Corte and Gary Smyth. Middle row, L-R: Carl Foultz (’71), Mac Pendelton (’69), T.J. Jackson (’68), Nick Romanetz (’65, ’67) and Frank Gantt (’66).

In the early 1960s, there was a small student lounge under the lobby of Blanton Hall, an all-female dormitory. The lounge consisted of a small soda fountain, a coin-operated jukebox, two pinball machines and a few lounge chairs, and the maximum occupancy was around 25 people. At that time, there was no Student Union on campus, and the Bulldog Inn, a privately owned café-type eatery located across the street from the main campus, provided a gathering spot where students could hang out and get breakfast, coffee and sandwiches. About two blocks from Brewer Hall, Vic’s Pizzeria was another place that was popular with dormitory residents. Where else did they cut a round pizza into small squares instead of pie-shaped pieces? A few other eateries were located in town and the Brazier Burger (Dairy Queen) was on Highway 63 about a mile from Dobson Hall. The ever popular

Elaine’s was also located on Highway 63 on the outskirts of town where you could get cinnamon buns and coffee, and if you really wanted a feast, a hamburger steak with a baked potato. Around the fall of 1962, several students convinced faculty members to volunteer as chaperones, and we hosted our own Friday night dances in the Kirk Building gym. Someone brought a record player, many of us brought our own records and we had a “free” dance. Thanks to those faculty members for volunteering their time for us students.

The college athletic teams were very competitive, and home games gave us something to do, particularly on the cold winter nights. The football team won the conference championship a couple of years, and the basketball team ranked near the top of the conference. A thorough and competitive intramural sports program provided an opportunity to stay active in a competitive environment. The usual array of clubs, college-related activities and Greek life provided opportunities for student interaction.

Elaine's 
  Elaine's

The University offered an outstanding Lyceum program which offered performances by groups such as the St. Louis Philharmonic, ballet/dance and professional choruses and Hal Holbrook doing his Mark Twain readings. These programs were all of a high cultural level. Events such as the Homecoming, Echo and Spring Dances always featured a ’40s type “big band” reminiscent of Glenn Miller, but how much of that could young college students take when rock ’n’ roll had firmly established itself within the fiber of their youth? Did I mention The Beatles and the British invasion in American pop music which was dominating the music charts, not to mention a whole lot of Motown? Two local bands dominated the music scene. One group was The Red Blazers, and the second was The Del-fi’s. I was the founder of

The Del-fi’s, a rhythm-and-blues group which also included fellow NEMO students Ed Corte, Gary Smyth, Carl Foultz (’71), Mac Pendleton (’69), T.J. Jackson (’66) and Frank Gantt (’66). Some of my greatest memories include playing at the lake parties and block dances on campus during spring student council elections.

Bulldog Inn 
Bulldog Inn Interior
PHOTOS ABOVE: Bulldog Inn

During the 1964-1965 school year, I was elected vice president of the Student Council and as part of my duties, I was chair of the Student Social Committee. With the blessing and support of the Student Council advisor and the school administration, Student Council President Nate Frazee (’66, ’68) and I contracted to bring Johnny Mathis to perform on campus in Pershing Arena. We also contracted a year in advance to bring in from St. Louis Bob Kuban and the In-Men, who had a Top 40 hit called “The Cheater,” to play at the Homecoming Dance. In 1966, Paul Comer (’68) was the Student Council vice president and chair of the Social Committee and he was up to the task in following through on this new and exciting direction in student entertainment on campus. Needless to say, the Mathis concert and Homecoming Dances were a great success.

Thanks to the vision of Walter Ryle, who served as University president from 1937-1967, his administration and the commitment of students, the University planned and built a beautiful and functional Student Union Building (SUB) which was officially opened in October 1967. By providing a place where students could gather on campus, the SUB further enhanced college life and the outstanding educational experience found at Truman. I hope we left a good legacy for the University, and students continue to enjoy entertainment and events as they evolve with the times.

 

Truman Review magazine
Published by Office of Advancement, Truman State University,
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Copyright © Truman State University 2011.