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Have Bucky, Will Travel: 1960s

We asked our Badger Insider readers to share their favorite college travel stories. Here are the memories we received.

Bucky Badger lounging in cave with a waterfall in the background.

Have Bucky, Will Travel

By Badger Insider Readers

Two-dollar pitchers of beer at Johnny Logan’s bar and the fireman folk singers on weekends. The great friendship of fellow students and the great weather in May 1969 — swam in Lake Wingra and cooked out and played baseball after school. The best of times!!!
Tom Flowers ’69

My travel story related to the UW was an opportunity borne out of the Civil Rights Movement. It was in 1965 or 1966. It was called Project Understanding. Project Understanding selected 30 undergrads and six professors to experience what it was like to attend a historically black university in the south during this time in a similar fashion as a “junior year abroad” student. We lived in the dorms, ate in the dining hall, attended classes (and took tests), etc. Applications included freshmen through seniors. Once selected, we began intensive education.
We drove by bus to North Carolina. We stayed at homes of Civil Rights leaders along the way —I stayed at Stokley Carmichael's home, for example. We learned what it was like to be a sharecropper. We went “undercover” to attend a Klu Kux Klan meeting. I saw drinking fountains labeled “colored.” We all participated in voter registration. I attended a school in Durham, North Carolina (North Carolina College — now known as North Carolina Central University). This exchange program lasted only weeks, but it left indelible memories on my mind.
Christina Nolan ’68
Ridgefield, Connecticut

Last August my wife and I went on a Danube river cruise. It included a stop in Bratislava, Slovakia. The trip included a home hosted visit where we had lunch with a local family in a town about 30 to 45 minutes outside of Bratislava. While touring the family’s home we noticed the UW decal on the window of an upstairs bedroom door. It was brought back by a nephew of the family who had made a trip to Madison.
Gerald Herbst ’61
Hudson, Wisconsin

Sunwapta Pass, Jasper National Park, Canada
As a UW doctoral student in geology I had the tremendous pleasure of camping 4-6 weeks ear Nigel Peak in Canada's Jasper National Park during the summers of 1962-64 wit undergrad Bill Berge (the first year) and master's student Bob Rospenda (the other two years). Besides getting to collect oodles of fossils from the Banff Formation at elevations of 7000+, I got to watch Rocky Mountain sheep up close, hike all over the Athabasca glacier, and have snow from clouds below me go up my pant legs. When the snow became too thick to work, we spent our days chatting with the waitresses who worked at the nearby chalet and our early evenings singing songs around campfires with the snowmobile drivers who took tourists out onto the glacier. Those were undoubtedly three of the most exciting summers of my life.
Bob Howe MS’62, PhD’65
Simi Valley, California

Ah, spring break 1958 was coming! I knew my parents would never allow me to do anything as frivolous as just go to a beach in Florida. So when I heard the Hoofers Club was planning a Florida camping and canoeing trip, I saw a way to get there! Not being much of an outdoorsy type, I paid my Hoofers’ dues and signed up for the trip along with two of my friends. My parents were pleased that I was finally taking an interest in canoeing!

I remember we left Madison with trailer loads of canoes in a blizzard, but otherwise the trip went well. We settled into our tents in the Ocala National Forest. The three of us managed to find our way to sunny Daytona Beach everyday while the other dedicated Hoofers indeed spend their days canoeing on the St. John’s River. I recall they came back to the campground each day disappointed they had not seen any alligators.

As the week was coming quickly to an end, my sun-bathing friends and I decided we should do one canoe trip. After all, we WERE Hoofers. We could hear alligators making funny noises which we non-naturalists interpreted as mating calls. We decided to paddle slowly and separate our canoe from the other noisy Hoofers in hopes of seeing alligators. And we did. LOTS of them. I vividly recall one even swimming alongside our canoe! It got even scarier when it started to pour down rain and we had nothing with which to bail. We improvised and ended up using my canvas hat out of desperation. Hunger set in and we were happy we had packed trail mix. We called it “gorp” in those days. Not much food for an all-day trip.

Eventually, our lone canoe came to a fork in the river and we had to decide which fork to take. That decision was really scary. Luckily, we guessed correctly and eventually came to our take-out point.

Sorry, the end of the story is such a let-down. The alligators didn’t hurt us. We didn’t swamp our canoe from the rain. We didn’t starve from lack of food. We found the rest of the Hoofers and got back to Madison with lovely tans and feeling a whole lot wiser.
Sally Hartford Rudolph ’61
Bloomington, Illinois

Yukon bound! I took Dr. Laudon's summer 1969 geology field trip across Canada and the Rockies to the Yukon. Besides the sights — Alcan Highway, Tagish Lake, Whitehorse, majestic mountains, blazing purple fireweed — I remember the food. Wild strawberries, lake trout, fresh bread at a trapper's cabin, and 101 recipes with Bisquick!
Nancy Muenkel Crossfield ’69, MA’70
Clovis, California

Before I was a student, the Memorial Union was a stop for food on our way to my grandparents in Cedar Rapids, Iowa! My parents were Iowa Aggies! Guess they wanted me to get oriented to the UW and become a WI Aggie!
Kathleen Briggs ’68
Milwaukee, WI

In the summer of 1964, after my freshman year at the UW, we headed west in search of adventure. We ended up at a real working cattle ranch in Big Piney, Wyoming. Big Piney is located in far west central Wyoming on the high plains. The elevation there is 7,000, and as a result, the summers are short. Locals say that summer in that part of the world is between July 1 and August 15. The weather is unpredictable before the beginning of July and after mid-August. During that core summer period, the days are warm but the nights are cool and we needed extra blankets to stay warm in the old, unheated, bunkhouse.

The first few days of our adventure we spent on a cattle drive. Ranchers in that part of Wyoming would lease government-owned land in the high country and drive their herds there for summer grazing. The days were long, starting before sunrise and going until after sunset. We experienced but a small taste of what cowboys endured on the long cattle drives of the late 19th century.

We spent our remaining days on the cattle ranch putting up hay that would be used to feed the rancher's cattle during the long, cold winter months. All considered, we had a great time. We departed Big Piney for Madison on August 29 amidst snow squalls. Although the snow wasn't accumulating, it was a sure sign that summer had come to an end in West Central Wyoming.
Charles Hurlbut ’69
Prince George, Virginia

I received a call from my good friend, Mike, who was in grad school in Kansas. He said he would be getting married in Hutchinson, Kansas, the day before Christmas. He asked me to be a part of the wedding party, and suggested that I bring Susan ’68, who was soon to be my wife. This was in 1968. The airline industry was not yet computerized. The process of flying to a remote town in Kansas was no simple matter. I put it in the hands of a travel agent who, using a massive book full of flight departures and destinations, was able to make reasonable flight connections. In those days the tickets were filled out with flight numbers, dates and times written in by hand. Timing was important because Susan and I both had other obligations the next week. For me it was returning to Madison to research and write a paper that was due after the Christmas break. (Of course, I had put off doing the research until the last moment.)

The day following the wedding, I found a cab and asked him to take us to the airport. He asked me why I wanted to go there. He said it’s Christmas, and there are no planes scheduled. I calmly advised that I was holding tickets for today, so to the airport we went. Arriving at the tiny airline counter posed no problem. The usual lines were not to be found. Neither was there a ticket agent. However, a pleasant fellow standing nearby asked if he could help. I explained the situation. He then called over to another young fellow, “Is Yellow Tail Airlines flying today?” The Yellow Tail agent looked at his watch and said, "I can get them to Wichita. I think there’s a flight to Chicago leaving about when we would get there, but we have to leave now."

The Yellow Tail gate agent wrote two tickets to Wichita, put on his leather jacket and told us to go out the door. He drove the plane up and we hurried on board. It was a tiny plane. I sat in the copilot seat and Susan sat in a small seat behind, looking petrified. I don’t recall what he did with the luggage. The pilot got on his radio and made arrangements for our connecting flight. When we landed in Wichita, he taxied over to the connecting flight and we walked directly onto the plane. No stop at the airport desk, no lines. We just walked on board and arrived more quickly than the time shown on our original tickets.

Air travel was easier than. Had they been around, the TSA would not have been happy.
Joel Pittelman ’65
Naples, Florida

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