Memories of UofC
By Ron D., alumnus
My first glimpse of The University of Alberta at Calgary, as it was then called, was to my small town mentality, an amazing place. The Education and Science buildings and The Physical Education Centre were our lives. Dust was blowing everywhere as construction projects dominated.
Frosh Week was important for my friend Al and me because we didn’t know anyone else. This hit me hard one day when I wandered into the makeshift Students Union room in the basement of the Education Building. A chess game was in progress and I put my name in to take on the winner. I thought that I was a reasonable player, but when my turn came I came to grips with reality. I never realized that I was playing one of the best players at the university. We were quickly encircled by about twenty observers who proceeded to criticize and make fun of every move I made. It was mind warping and I panicked. I threw the game just to get the horror to stop. That was my last chess game there.
As I went to my classes every day I would pass the bridge players sitting beneath the stairwells. They were basically unchanging, constant and comfortable features in my constantly changing life. This was a time of folk singing and music was a feature in our lives. Rod Hayward and others entertained us with impromptu hootenannies (sic). I remember seeing Joni Mitchell at the Stadium Shopping Centre’s Pigs Eye II. As I remember, she was just passing through.
The Engineering building was a long way from the Education Building, but I had a math class there. The snow was deep and a freezing Northwest wind was blowing. It was probably fifteen degrees below zero. When I got out of class an hour later, there was no snow. Kids were running in all directions as the Chinook took over their minds. Class was a write-off for the rest of the day.
Bermuda Shorts day was getting started and provided a good excuse for taking the day off. Education Undergraduate President Skip Shaffer and I felt that it was too tame a day and Skip decided to ask local car dealers to borrow two convertibles and organized a parade for Bermuda Shorts day. I won’t comment on how exciting it was for two young kids who drove junkers to have brand new convertibles to drive. My old flathead 6 Pontiac had failed me more than once in the cold months.
My friend Francis Somerville decided that he wanted to run for the position of Education Representative on Council and asked me to be his campaign manager. He was running for one of two available positions and faced a full slate, including two Campus Queens. Gary Schell came up with the idea of using a donkey as a campaign mascot and we got a lot of mileage. The picture taken shows Francis the mule, Francis and me. After the vote, Francis lost to the two girls by a handful of votes and decided to run for President of the Education Undergraduate Society. This time he won. The next year he approached me and declared that it was my turn to run. I don’t remember much about the campaign except that my friend Murray Lovelace made several very distinctive posters for me that made an impact. I won a position along with Brian Hebert. That was a tough year starting with a week of late night Council meetings to ratify every student organization on Campus with Mike Alcorn as Council President. It was fun, but there was no time for class assignments.
All in all it was an exciting time and I am happy to have experienced it, but to be honest, I learned more about teaching with kids in the High School trenches.