50 Years Ago-Beatlemania at UD

beatles2By 1964 the “fuzzy unkempt mops and unsyncopated sounds and gyrations” of The Beatles had invaded the United States. Judging by the Varsity News Editorial, not everyone thought they were going to be the standard that future bands would be measured against.


With the likes of Miley Cyrus twerking across the video screen, the Beatles look pretty boring now.

Pat Higo, Archives and Special Collections Librarian

Ringing in a Happy New Year in 1922 at University of Detroit

newyearsThe beginning of 1922 started out with grand plans for the new location for the University of Detroit on Livernois, 42 acres which was recently purchased under the presidency of Reverend John P. McNichols, S.J. One of the first buildings built was the stadium, which was expected to seat 75,000, but was later scaled back to seat 20,000.  Oh well, a new year, a new location and high hopes for the future of the University of Detroit.

In the 1921-1922 Varsity News Holiday Edition there was the poem “A New Year Song” by Gene Devlin, a student at the university. The last line of the poem would have been appropriate if I had been doing this blog in 2000 or 2002.

















Pat Higo, Archives and Special Collections Librarian


Christmas Cigarette Ads from Long Ago

As kind of a follow up from an earlier blog on Christmas advertisements-here are a few Christmas ads for cigarettes. Think about it-when was the last time you saw an ad for cigarettes at all? The last time there were ads for cigarettes in the Varsity News was back in 1963.

Varsity News Dec. 14, 1938

Varsity News Dec. 14, 1938

Varsity News Dec. 13, 1939

Varsity News Dec. 13, 1939

Varsity News Dec 16, 1952

Varsity News Dec 16, 1952

Varsity News Dec. 13, 1955

Varsity News Dec. 13, 1955

Pat Higo, Archives and Special Collections Librarian




Riding Club at UD 1963-1970?


A Riding Club was officially recognized by the Student Council in November 1963 (Varsity News Dec. 3, 1963). It started out  strong with 52 members. The Klentner Riding Academy (KRA) in West Bloomfield Hills was the club’s riding site. Initially there were five weekly riding classes (by 1965 it must have gone down to only once a week) for beginners to the more experienced riders. Lessons cost members $2. Some of the members had their own horses! The purpose of the club was to offer riding instructions to members and encourage the sport of horseback riding. Membership was open to all students and transportation to KRA was furnished to and from UD campus.

horse2As part of the club activities, they sponsored their own horse show at the Klentner’s Riding Academy and participated in the Grosse Pointe Horse Show and the traditional fox hunts. Social activities included, trail rides, sleigh rides and hay rides. The Riding Club would provide a horse drawn carriage for their Queen candidate in the Homecoming Parade (1965) and on Orphan’s Day, each member would pay for a child from the St. Francis Home for the Boys to go riding.

At some point it looks like there was a drastic drop in club membership. The 1970 Tower Yearbook show only four members in the group picture for the Riding Club. There is no mention of the club activities in the Varsity News browsing through the 1969-1970 school year. Did the students that had the most interest graduate? Did the expense for lessons get too expensive for the student’s budget? A Google search for the Klentner Riding Academy came up empty except for one reference in our own Folklore database. So did the lack of a place to take lessons on horseback riding end the club?

Is there a UD alumni of the Riding Club who could say for sure what happened? How does such a popular club that starts out with fifty members shrink down to four in less than seven years?

Just looking for some “horse sense” on the demise of the Riding Club.


Pat Higo, Archives ans Special Collections Librarian

The University of Detroit Christmas Shopping Ads Some 60 Years Ago

As people head out to the malls for their Black Friday deals, here are a few ads from the Varsity News from 1949 to 1960 that I found interesting.

Happy Shopping!

November 28, 1960

Varsity News November 28, 1960

Varsity News Dec. 6, 1949

Varsity News Dec. 6, 1949

Varsity News Dec. 9, 1949

Varsity News Dec. 9, 1949

Varsity News Dec. 4, 1956

Varsity News Dec. 4, 1956

Anyone still have a “Musical Beer Mug” with a UD crest? I would love to have one for the archives!

Pat Higo, Archives and Special Collections Librarian





1947 Gobble-Hobble at University of Detroit


According to the Varsity News, the 1947 Gobble-Hobble ended a 16 year “No Dance” record at Dowling Hall. The dance sponsored by Sodality, was held in the Dowling Hall gymnasium. The ceiling was covered in balloons that would send down beams of colored light on the dancers below. Ted Esser’s Orchestra would provide the music.


and to all our Jewish Friends




Pat Higo, Archives and Special Collections Librarian

Works of Mercy and the Mercy Medallion

From 1980 to 1991 Mercy College of Detroit awarded Mercy Medallion to recognize and thank those honored for their service to the people of Detroit and Michigan through their own personal works of Mercy.


The Mercy Medallion was one of the highest honors the College could bestow. It was a sterling silver disc reflecting the Mercy College seal. The central ornament of the seal is the Mercy College Coat of Arms which consists of a shield symbolic of the Order of Mercy. The open book upon the shield is the traditional symbol of the College. Upon the open book pages is inscribed the motto of Mercy College: Maria, Sedes Sapien Tiae (Mary, Seat of Wisdom). The back of the medallion reads:

The Mercy Medallion

in honor of persons

whose lives speak the

humanitarian spirit

exemplified in the

“Works of Mercy”

Persons who receive the medallion eminently exemplify compassion for and commitment to their fellow human beings as they reach out to assist and improve the  condition of humanity. The medallion is given to those who have significantly helped others or have influenced society’s response to a particular concern.


Some of the recipients of the medallion include: Douglas A. Fraser, Joseph L. Hudson, Jr., Honorable William G. Milliken, Marjorie Peebles-Meyers, M.D. Monsignor Clement H. Kern, Honorable Damon J. Keith, His Eminence John Cardinal Dearden, Honorable Richard H. Austin, Dave Bing, Alexa I. Canady and Thomas V. Angott. For additional recipients see the Special Collection page on University Honors Mercy Medallion.

Pat Higo, Archives and Special Collections Librarian

100 Years Ago: Great Lakes Storm of November 1913

argus1913It was probably the worst maritime storm in the history of shipping that took place from November 7 through November 10, 1913 on the Great Lakes. More than 250 men lost their lives, twelve ships sank and some of them have never been recovered. You have to remember that during this period of time the technology for weather forecasting was very limited-no satellites or radar systems had been invented yet. How much attention was paid to the weather predictions seemed to depend on the Captain’s experience and his own observation of weather conditions.



In any case, no one then could have imagined how huge the storm would grow, its intensity and how long it would last. Although the term “hurricane” was considered to be a tropical storm term, this storm at its height would certainly be labeled as a hurricane with winds up to 60-70 miles per hour (these were land measurements – out on the great lakes they were probably much higher) with waves 35 feet high and lasted for about 16 hours. The city of Port Huron saw snow squalls create four to five feet snow drifts! The greatest loss of life and ships took place on November 9th on Lake Huron: Argus-28 victims, James Carruthers-22 victims, Hydrus-25 victims, John A. McGean-28 victims, Charles S. Price-28 victims, Regina-20 victims, Issac M. Scott-28 victims, Wexford-20 victims.






In the Marine Historical Collection at the University of Detroit Mercy Library, pictures and data on many of the ships affected by the storm can be found. A sample of the pictures have been digitized for viewing on the library’s Special Collections page of Fr. Edward J. Dowling, S.J. Marine Historical Collection.







Pat Higo, Archives and Special Collections Librarian

City of Detroit Mayors: UDMercy Alumni- Miriani, Cavanagh and Gribbs

As the city of Detroit votes for its next Mayor, the University of Detroit Mercy is no stranger to having former students get elected into the position.The University of Detroit Law School produced three students who eventually succeeded in their run for the office.  Don’t know what the odds could be, but it would be three mayoral administrations in a row; Miriani, 1957-1962, Cavanagh, 1962-1970, and Gribbs, 1970-1974.

Louis C. Miriani graduated from University of Detroit Law School in 1922. I can’t find a class picture of him because the university did not have a yearbook until 1923, and they did not have a class picture of graduating students that I can find in the Varsity News for 1922. Miriani initially came into the mayor’s office upon the death of Mayor Albert Cobo in 1957, but did win the position on his own in the city election that same year.

law54cavMiriani tried for another term as mayor, but was defeated by Jerome P. Cavanagh. Cavanagh had two degrees from the University of Detroit, Bachelor of Philosophy from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1950 and a law degree from the Law School in 1954. It was a pretty close race, according to the Varsity News, with the Varsity News being the only city newspaper to predict that Cavanagh would win the election. He was very popular in his first year as mayor, and easily won re-election in 1965. His second term did not go as well when the city had to call in the National Guard to quell a riot which started when the police raided a blind pig in 1967. He decided not to run for re-election in 1969.

Roman S. Gribbs won election for mayor in 1970. He also had two degrees from the University of Detroit, Bachelor of Science in Economics and Business from the College of Commerce and Finance in 1952 and a law degree from the Law School in 1954 (the same class year as Cavanagh!). As a student, Gribbs was very active in the university: president of the Student Council, member of the Governor (G. Mennen) William’s Michigan Youth Commission, vice-president of Alpha Sigma Nu and a member of  Blue Key, a national honor society. He declined to seek re-election in 1973 and as of this year,2013, was the last white person to hold the office of Mayor in the City of Detroit.law54gr

This year, as another race for mayor take place, there is another UDMercy alumni in the running, Benny Napoleon. Napoleon graduated from Mercy College of Detroit (which consolidated with the University of Detroit) with an Associate of Arts and a Bachelor of Arts in 1982. (Don’t know how that works out, but it was possible to get those two degrees at the same time at Mercy College.) I was a librarian at Mercy College and remember seeing Benny come in to use the library quite often. He always seemed to have a smile on his face whenever I saw him. I do not have a vote in this election, so all I can do is wish him well in whatever the future holds for him.

Pat Higo, Archives and Special Collections Librarian

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