Whether they're drama queens or campus kingpins, our college friends are all aces. They're the heart of our Wisconsin Experience. Whether we find our circle of friends in formal or informal clubs, they're as precious to us as diamonds. (Okay, maybe now it's time to end this card metaphor.)
We asked you readers to tell us about your "in crowd" of UW pals. Your responses showed the myriad ways that Badgers group together in quirky, supportive, memorable cliques.
No doubt about it, playing with the mens' ultimate frisbee team was a formative part of my adulthood. It reminded me that hard work and dedication will get you almost anything. And it reminded me of the importance of friends.
—Brian Frederick ’05, MS’06, MD’10
I was on the Daily Cardinal staff for a few semesters and in ROTC for one semester. In my freshman and sophomore years, I hung out with friends in my dorm. But my favorite “in crowd” was the group of people I lived with in my junior year at a boarding house called Conklin House. It was a crazy house off the edge of campus, off a long alleyway that got dangerously icy in the winter. We each had our own bedroom but shared bathrooms, a kitchen and a laundry room.
The group of us in the lower part of the building pretty much hung together throughout the year. They included two brothers, whose friend Tom wound up marrying another member of the Conklin Clan, my friend Melinda. We’re still friends after all these years. We became a family and enjoyed off times and parties together. We even had our code for answering the phone, which would include phrases such as, “Conklin Cookie Jar. Which Crumb do you want to speak to?” There are no real exciting stories I can tell, but I have memories of a fun year – as much fun socially as it was challenging academically! One of the people we hung with, by the way, helped me get through (barely) my course on economic statistics!
—Barb Kelley ’80
I belonged to the Stick Your Neck Out Club formed by Prof. Agard at the time of the McCarthy hearings. Also belonged to the Spanish Club sponsored by Prof. Singleton. Rather different groups, but both stimulating. Recently I attended The Rose Bowl and had a good time despite the outcome.
—Diane Weinstein ’55
Sherman Oaks, California
We were a group of six that met in Sellery Hall in 1976 where we lived our first two years at Madison. Back then it was called the Gay House. Our third year at UW, we moved into the house on Frances Street and coalesced our friendship. In 2010, we reunited at the same house on Frances St., were invited in by the girls living there and got a shot of us on the staircase where we lived 30 years earlier. Our reunion was fantastic, we picked up our camaraderie as if we had just seen each other yesterday! Our nostalgia tour of our old haunts did not disappoint. The Fluno Center is now the front view from the house, instead of Bob and Gene's. Enclosed is a shot of the Frances Street Foxes, 30 years later. Still a good looking bunch!
—Mary Pence ’80
White Salmon, Washington
Two words: Crease Creatures! Being a Badger hockey fan was the entity of being a Badger for me. From the days where we had to camp out (a.k.a. skip class and sleep outside the Kohl Center) in order to get FRONT ROW tickets to the days of the lottery/point system they developed later, I will never forget my times as a Crease Creature. Badger hockey made my Wisconsin experience memorable and fun. The cheers, the atmosphere, the band, the players! I will never forget any of it.
—Liz Denter '09
I was part of a few different crowds during my time at Madison. I was a proud member of the best band in the land, the University of Wisconsin Marching Band all four years. It was great going out for rank dinners and preparing for road trips. I was also part of the Daily Cardinal staff. Not only did I write theater columns, I was a copy editor, which meant a lot of fun Monday evenings, poring over Tuesday's paper, as we searched for errors and traded stories and laughs as well. I was also a member of Hillel, where I helped lead Israeli dancing every other Thursday night and contributed to their newsletter, “The Voice.” Working at WSUM was a great time too, especially when we were planning and running Party in the Park. Finally, being part of the School of Journalism, or "J-school" was just like being part of a school organization. You could always count on seeing your friends hanging out either on the steps of Vilas Hall, or going over lecture notes in the fifth floor lounge. But one thing that was a constant in all of my "crowds" was that we were Badgers, and proud of it. On Wisconsin!
—Robyn Kaplan ’05
Mount Prospect, Illinois
I was a GDI and fortunate to have a “meal job” that enabled me to work in exchange for three meals a day. I worked at Lowell Hall, newly built and the top-of-the-line women’s dormitory (including swimming pool) and the best food. My “crowd” was the waiters and kitchen crew. Many were in fraternities and they always invited me as a guest to Saturday night parties. The “pots and pans” guys were off-season athletes not eligible for training table. Lynne Shuster presided over the early morning crew and David Adamany handled the night-time snack bar. Harriet Shapiro was the dietician—one of the first for any dorm. Mrs. McCann was Housemother and Bob Levine presided over it all. We played other dorm waiters in touch football for bragging rights: our ringers vs. their ringers! An eclectic group but we were family. A great four years. Not to mention meeting, rather, serving some very interesting people. The night after the Wisconsin-Notre Dame Game at Lowell is legend-one reason we no longer play Notre Dame! But that’s a whole other story!
—H. Stephen Halloway ‘69
I pledged Sigma Chi fraternity as a freshman in 1960. This activity was both positive and negative. The negative part was that I was elected by my fellow pledges as social chairman of the pledge class. That later worked out to also be a positive thing. I also lived as a freshman in Jones House, part of the Kronsage dorms that had a reputation as the wildest house (most fun) house on campus. With senior engineers on the top floors, a group of juniors and sophomores on the third, and mostly freshmen on the first two floors, the reputation was, if anything, enhanced during my freshman year.
As a result of my pledge and dorm activities, it was a lucky thing that I was able to continue my college career as a sophomore. With grades not good enough to activate, I started my sophomore year still social chairman of the pledge class. It was in the fall of my sophomore year that the fraternity planned a hobo party in the house, then located where WAA is now (650 N. Lake St). The house had ceilings 12 to 14-feet high, and folding doors separating the living and dining rooms, which when opened offered a length of 40-50 feet. I created a suspension version with wire and crepe paper of the Golden Gate bridge, and a "shack" of corrugated metal, cardboard and other materials left over from various construction sites and stored in the attic. I had no date, planning to try to study to try to save my GPA. At the urging of fellow pledges, I called a high school "buddy", and she lined me up with a fellow housemate. This was my third, and it turns out, final blind date of my life, as Jeanne and I were married during my junior year, 49 years ago.
As a result of that party and a lot of study-dates thereafter, I was able to raise my GPA enough to enter Law School, and the rest is history, although I never activated. Thank you Sigma Chi!
—Robert M. Bell ’64, JD’67
Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin
On a spring evening in 1938, a boy and a girl trudged up to the entrance of the carillon tower on Bascom Hill where they found an envelope attached to the door. It contained the next “clue” as to the whereabouts of the prize for which they were searching. Bob was escorting Minette on this quest arranged by a mutual friend. It was a blind date to a “Treasure Hunt” sponsored by her sorority, AEPhi.
The participants of this venture were married in 1941 after both had received their bachelor degrees. In November 2011, after having in the interim produced three children and four grandchildren, they will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary together with 10 family members on a week-long cruise from their home in Los Angeles to Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
—Minette Barlow Goldsmith ’38 and Robert Goldsmith ’41.
Los Angeles, California
During the four years I lived in Gregory House in Tripp Hall, one of the distinctions of the residents is that almost to a man, we would deny affiliation with any “in crowd.” While our numbers included members of other more auspicious groups such as the varsity football and hockey teams, ROTC and the campus radio station staff, we had a kinship as residents of Gregory that transcended those associations, and transcended our other numerous and significant differences. That melting pot across from Carson Gulley Commons was home for all of us. Some, like me, were kids from Wisconsin who had never been more than 100 miles from home and wouldn’t have been comfortable on frat row, even if we could afford it. It was my first exposure to folks from such “exotic” places as Brooklyn, NY, Alexandria, VA., and California. Unlike the classroom, where you competed with others in the same major, the dorm house guys had backgrounds, goals and interests nothing like your own. Yet every year by the second week we were comfortably sitting together as a family in the “lounge” sharing newspapers and magazines, recuperating from the trials of the day and complaining about how much we had to get accomplished by the end of the day, week, semester, etc; From late afternoon until the wee hours, there was almost always a game of sheepshead, euchre or bridge available to lure you away from your studies. I hope if I went back today I would find a game in progress.
—Larry Carnahan ’70
When I was a student at UW from 1965-69, I learned to sing! Surprisingly, I wasn't in a music program — I was a linguistics major. Those of us who were taking Russian classes from Lydia Kalaida were "urged" to join her Slavic Choir. Since Ms. Kalaida's first love was music, she organized an extracurricular choir. We students sang all sorts of songs in a variety of Slavic languages (Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, etc.). You haven't lived until you've sung "The Carol of the Bells" in the original Ukrainian!
Ms. Kalaida transformed us from "a bunch of cats howling on a fence" to a viable choir that performed Christmas concerts and sang liturgical pieces for Easter at an Orthodox church. To the best of my knowledge, we were never pictured in the yearbook, but we were a club, nonetheless.
I joined that group originally to curry favor with my demanding Russian teacher, but I came away with a better singing voice and a greater love of music than I'd ever had. I also gained a lot of respect and admiration for the many talents of Lydia Kalaida.
It's been over 40 years since I've sung under Ms. Kalaida's direction, but I still sing in community choirs wherever I live. I will always remember her and that choir with great affection.
—Donna Hart Riddel ’69
Apex, North Carolina
In my case, I was a member of the program from 1982-1986, and it was definitely the center of my college experience — not only the required, official NROTC program events, but also the camaraderie enhanced by socializing together and participating in the many unofficial events we students organized. The shared experiences and our common goal of being educated and trained to become commissioned officers certainly led to lifelong friendships. I have maintained relationships with many of my classmates, and together we mourn those who we have lost. My role model was Dennis Dogs ’85, who was tragically killed when the helicopter he was piloting as a major in the Marine Corps crashed off of Southern California in 1997. One of my roommates for two years, Duane Hofhine ’87) was killed shortly after graduation during flight school in Pensacola. On a much happier note, I met my wife in the UW NROTC program, and Leslie (Hawkins) Dinauer ’88 and I recently celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary.
There are only a few of us who end up making the military a career. Most complete their active duty service commitment and become valued, successful members of their civilian communities. For those who’ve stayed on active duty or continued in the reserves, many have deployed extensively over the past 10 years to Iraq and Afghanistan. For myself, I will likely complete my military journey where it began, involved with NROTC. I am currently the Commanding Officer and Professor of Naval Science for the NROTC unit at the University of Colorado Boulder.
—Col. Steve Dinauer ’86, USMC
As a resident of Madison and living at home for my four years from 1955-1959, my "in crowd" became the group of "townies" that gathered at the Rennebohm Drug store at the corner of State St. Breaks between classes, after classes, skipped classes, card games and just lots of commiserating was accomplished and friendships made. It was always possible to see someone you knew and squeeze into a booth to catch up on news and relieve tension and feel a sense of belonging! My time was also spent having to work to pay fees and many campus jobs found new friends. I took a job as secretary to the newly founded UW Foundation and worked for Bob Rennebohm and Mr. Peterson. I worked as a waitress at a Howard Johnsons and met people from many walks of life. I basically would say I never was a part of an "in group" but did enjoy the diversity of my social contacts.
—Cynthia Wise ’59
My group was the Hoofer's ski team 1976, 1977. In the fall we played soccer by the natatorium and in the winter practiced slalom races on Tuesday and Thursday at Wintergreen. We then competed on behalf of UW-Madison at Welch Mountain, Hardscrabble, Frontenac to name a few. We would all pile in Bennett's old van and off we'd go for great weekends of racing and fun.
—Karen Griffin ’80
The time I spent at the University of Wisconsin was definitely a major milestone in my life. I have many life-long friendships that developed during my undergrad years (1948-52) and later in grad school.
One of the best places I found for making friends was where I worked meal jobs; my freshman year at "The Pharm" (Rennebohm Drug Store at State and Lake Streets) and the last three years at Liz Waters Girls Dorm. I received a Rennebohm Scholarship to attend UW and that included a job at one of the drug stores. We had a convivial group of students working at each place so we often had group parties, with or without dates. At Liz Waters we even included one of the young dieticians in our "fun bunch.” One of the rituals after a football game (only afternoon games in those days) was to stop at the Badger Tavern or the Hasty Tasty for a few beers on our way to Liz Waters for the evening meal. The dish breakage went up a bit after some of those escapades.
The other activity where I made life-long friends was rowing on the crew for four years. When we rowed 1,000-1,200 miles per year in practice, plus all the races in which we were involved, we developed very close friendships. We won the National Rowing Championship in 1951, Wisconsin's first, and never finished below third at the Nationals. Five of us rowed all four years together and others joined along the way. Four of us used to hunt pheasants and deer together and our families would take turns hosting the others as our kids were growing up. We are having a 60th Anniversary Reunion of the 1951 crew in early September.
Phi Delta Theta is my fraternity and I have enjoyed the friendship of this unique group of men while on campus and in later years. We had a beautiful house on Lake Street, one house away from Lake Mendota where we had listening parties, bridge parties, beer busts and other events as well as working on service projects. Several fraternity brothers rowed on crew so were double friendships.
I made friends as a result of these groups mentioned as well as friends through other University contacts that have lasted through the years.
—Robert Espeseth, Sr. ’52 MS’56
I came to UW in my sophomore year and immediately pledged a sorority (so I could dress up and go to dances) and simultaneously joined the Daily Cardinal as a proofreader. I did reporting and a little editing, but was not a J-major and did not go on in journalism; I was not politically active and was a preppy coed. But I was always welcome and the Cardinal was my family at UW — the place to go where there were always interesting and fun people, a place where I could know what was happening all over campus and all over the country. Whether I had work to do on an edition or not, the Cardinal office was the place to be. Not only that but working on the Cardinal gave me the right to stay out after curfew in the dorm. (This was 1964-67, and 'girls' still had curfews.)
The contrast was always amazing to me between the well-groomed sorority, that was supposed to provide lifelong sisterhood and friendship, and the ragtag folks at the Daily Cardinal, that did provide lifelong friendship and a family feeling. Now when I visit campus, on the alumni board of the Cardinal, I feel sorry for the students who file their stories by computer without coming into the office. It's convenient but I can't imagine how they will generate the in-group feeling that was such a significant part of my college life at the Daily Cardinal.
—Nancy Williams Olesen '67
San Rafael, California