A Christmas Concert by the University of Detroit Madrigal Singers

The Madrigal Dinners (1964-1966) were sponsored by the University of Detroit Chorus and the Student Union. Members of the Chorus in full medieval costume, welcomed the diners at the door of the student union decorated in middle English ‘Great Hall’ trappings.

Guests are called to the table by heralds playing fanfares and a processional of tasseled trumpets, which also hail the arrival of each course on the menu.

The traditional Yuletide meal of Old England consisted of traditional roast sirloin of beef with Yorkshire pudding, wassail, and flaming pudding.

A recording of the Songs by the University of Detroit Madrigal Singers is available on CD at the library.

Registering for class-before computers!

Once upon a time, before online registration was available, thousands of university students had to fill out all kinds of forms and stand in line to register for a class. Sometime in the early 1960′s they moved from the long form to keypunch cards.

There was some organization to the chaos of registration. Students were given specific dates when they could register depending on your last name, day or evening student, graduate or undergraduate level. So for example here is what the schedule would look like:

There was of course the possibility that by the time you got to register, the course would be full or the time you wanted to take to class was no longer available. Somehow things got worked out so the student could graduate in a timely manner.

Football at Mercy College of Detroit

Did you know Mercy College of Detroit had a football team? It was only around from 1967 to 1971, but there was a team! Ok- so it was a flag football team, no helmets or padding as part of the uniform-but still it was a football team!

Mercy College of Detroit Football Team 1968Left to right, bottom row: Mark Livingston, Leo Compliment, Tom Eansor, Bob Perry, Stu Griswold, Alex Bardoni, Ed Williams.Top row: Bill Leddy, John Hammang, Mike Peitrzyk, Jay Deering, Mick McCabe, George Marchinkowski

The teams they played: Detroit College of Business, Midwestern Baptist, Detroit Institute of Technology, Shaw College (formerly Michigan Lutheran College), and Detroit Bible College. Their first game was with the University of Detroit Bulkers on September 22, 1966, which they lost 26 to 0. As far as I can tell the last scheduled game was November 13, 1971 against Midwestern Baptist College but I can find no news reports of the final score if it was played at all. The previous scheduled game with Detroit Institute of Technology was not played because D.I.T. did not show up for the game until 35 minutes after the scheduled kick-off time and Mercy was awarded a forfeit.

All the home games were played  at Peterson Field at the corner of Greenfield and Curtis. Not counting the first game with the U of D Bulkers, the Mercy College Crusaders had a record of 19 wins and 12 losses (pending whatever happened to the last scheduled game).

The Flag Football Program came to an end for a number of reasons as cited by the  1970-71 Athletic Annual Report: ” injuries which occur (because proper padding and helmets are prohibited by the league), a lack of qualified referee assignments and a lack of commitment on the part of the other colleges who run their programs in a slip-shod manner.”

University of Detroit Marching Band

The University of Detroit had a marching band to go along with some of their football games. The first student band were engineers dressed as clowns, played at a football game in which U of M defeated U of D, 39-6 on November 1, 1913.

The first organized band was formed in September of 1919 when a call went out for volunteers and twenty-five musician showed up. The first appearance was for a performance of As You Like It by the Thespians in April 31, 1920 at Orchestra Hall. The band was supposed to make its debut at a St. Patrick’s Day dance, but due to the fact that a local fraternity held a party on that date, it was postponed. After practicing all summer, the band was ready to perform for the football season of 1920. The band got new uniforms in November  1920 as a result of an interested alumni, Tom Chawke, who raised $1,000 in three days. Although the school colors of red and white was adopted back in 1892, these uniforms were blue and black. In October of 1925 a student band of 45 pieces made its first appearance in new red and white uniforms.

During WWII, the band had been disbanded in 1941 and university football games were suspended from 1943 to 1944. The first all university marching band was reorganized in 1947. Prior to 1947, a majority of the band members were recruited from the local high school or from professional musicians in the city. The new group had five women including Phyllis Gibson who brought her own tuba.

The band played their last concert in April 7, 1962. The university could no longer support the expense of personnel salaries and instrument and uniform repair and upkeep. In the fall of 1963, the students formed a “pep-band” that continues to play at basketball and other student activities.

Robert Frost: Poetry reading and informal talk at University of Detroit, Nov. 14, 1962

Robert Frost gave one his last public readings of his poetry at the University of Detroit on November 14, 1962. (He died January 29, 1963, at the age of 88.) He was also awarded an honorary degree form the university in “recognition of the achievements of Robert Frost as a poet and humanist, who has advanced permanently the art of poetry and the importance of the liberal arts in our national life.” (part of the citation read conferring the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters upon Robert Frost by the University of Detroit, November 13, 1962). He spoke for over an hour before a sell-out audience of 9,000 people in the Memorial Building (now known as Calihan Hall),  reciting and discussing his poetry as well as commenting on a variety of subjects. Some of his quotes:  “I count cities as trophies of my life, especially if I’ve slept in them-alone. These big cities give me confidence. They hold the continent down.”, and “I never dared be radical when I was young for fear I would be conservative when old”. He even gave his version of the Mother Goose rhyme “Humpty Dumpty”: “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, and not all the psychiatrists nor all the psychologists could put Humpty Dumpty together again.”

A video of Robert Frost’s address and poetry reading at the University of Detroit is available at the library.

While Frost was in Detroit for his address, he stopped by the Fisher Theater the night before, noting its beauty remarked: “You should have a beautiful place in which to say beautiful things.” The theater manager, Joe Nederlander, invited him to watch the current attraction “Lord Pengo”, but Frost graciously declined. “If I was only 85, I might; but I have to get my sleep.”

U of D Class of ’79 Tower Yearbook: Finances, Food Fights and Football?

The 1979 Tower Yearbook almost didn’t make it out for publication. Severe budget cuts left no money at all for its production. Some students got together with the Dean of Students to gather the necessary resources to produce the yearbook. I am so glad they had the foresight to make this yearbook. One of the most common questions that comes to the archives is from someone looking for  information about a relative that attended the university. Outside of maybe a name listed in the Commencement Program, there is not much more information about the person.

Can you tell the movie Animal House was a big hit with the college crowd back then?

Even though the university football program had ended back in 1964, There were football games for students to attend. From what I can gather going through the Varsity News, the football field was used for high school games and intramural  teams of the fraternities on campus. Check out the special collection of UDMercy Football Program collection for the good old days when the University of Detroit had a football team that played such teams as  Purdue, Texas Tech and Villanova.

Safety Street: UDM Halloween Tradition

In 1990 the University of Detroit Mercy chapter of the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) started Safety Street out of the concern for the safety of neighborhood children. The first Safety Street was set up at Kassab Mall where the architecture students created cardboard facades for neighborhood kids to get their treats. Local schools and daycare centers were invited to participate. Now the Halloween tradition has expanded to take over the whole fountain area in front of the student center. It involves all the fraternities, sororities, student groups and various college departments to provide candy and games for all the neighborhood children. Even the School of Dentistry participates by giving out free toothpaste, toothbrushes and dental floss. In the past well over 400 children would come dressed up in their Halloween costumes to this free event.

U.S. Presidents in the UDM Autograph Collection

While we listen to all the political speeches and media speculation as to the outcome of the 2012 Presidential election, here are some of the autographs of U.S. Presidents, before, during and after their term in office. I am no expert, but I suspect some of the autographs may be just stamps or autopen as noted in Wikipedia. Here is a sampling of some of the presidential signatures we have in the collection in alphabetical order:

Grover Cleveland, 22nd & 24th President

Calvin Coolidge, 30th President

Dwight D. Eisenhower. 34th President

Gerald R. Ford, 38th President

James A. Garfield, 20th President (signature on envelope)

William G. Harding, 29th President

Herbert Hoover, 21st President

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President, (written and signed by Lincoln as a partner in the law firm of Lincoln and Herndon)

Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President

Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President

Harry Truman, 33rd President (Note date of letter)

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