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South Campus memories: Love stories, laundry lessons

Hamilton-Whitten and Atkin-Colby residence halls and the Feeney Dining Center were decommissioned in summer 2012, after 50-plus years in service to Illinois State University.

To mark the occasion, we asked for your memories of life on Illinois State’s South Campus, and you delivered. We got back dozens and dozens of personal stories about Southside – from finding love and long-lasting friendships, to sliding down the bannisters from top to bottom.

Here are some of the best submissions. And don’t forget: We’ll be collecting memories throughout 2013 as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Alumni Association.

Top floor friends

Lisa (Landl) Scherer ’77

“My very first day on campus (August 1979) after my parents left, I went to the basement of Atkin-Colby to check things out. I was shy and nervous about finding my way around. I met another girl there who felt the same way I did and we became friends. Being night owls and living on the 10th floor at the very end of the hall allowed us to go up to the 11th floor after-hours to study, make popcorn, share dreams and make what are now very fond memories. Fast forward 33 years later, you will find we are still best friends who met in the basement of Atkin-Colby and dreamed up on the top floor! I will be sad to see our dorm close and I am sure we will make a trek back to ISU to have a final, fond farewell memory.”

Finding love

Megan (Thome) ’06 and Derek Eskew

“I met my husband while living in Atkin Hall, and when we got engaged, he set up a scavenger hunt for me all through campus, leading back to my room where he was waiting with my ring! We will always remember Southside with fond memories of love, friends, and late-night movie sessions.”

South Campus open house

Alumni tour South Campus during an open house in summer 2012.

Sliding around

Pete Schulte ’80

“Living in Hamilton-Whitten on the sixth floor, it was an easy trip down to the first floor. The stairwells had continuous bannisters from top to bottom of the building (now probably part of the fire code problem). It was possible to slide down the bannisters, going around corners all the way.”

Cubs win!

Lisa (Dickson) Pena ’96

“I lived in Hamilton-Whitten for two years, from 1994-96. One of my most vivid memories is from the day the Cubs won the pennant. My roommate and I were sitting in our room doing our homework and we heard this roaring sound coming from outside. We looked out our window and saw that there were hundreds of ISU students walking through the quad cheering! It made the paper the next day. I loved living there. It was in such a great location and being right across the street from Avanti’s was definitely a bonus!”

Laundry lessons

Carol Sue (White) Bufka ’65

“I was an incoming freshman in September 1960, the first class to live at Hamilton-Whitten. Because the rooms on the first floor were not finished by the time classes started, those of us assigned to that floor spent our first three weeks living in the infirmary! That’s where I learned some valuable laundry lessons: how to iron using a hospital table as the ironing board and not to wash my white towels with my roommate’s navy blue skirt. The experience of living in such an unusual space helped us to bond and become very close friends in a short time. All in all, it was a great start to four wonderful years at Illinois State!”

Curfew time

Rita (Meeske) Hensley ’70

“Coming to ISU in 1965 was a big adventure for me. I lived on the third floor of Whitten for my first two years. Great friendships were started that are still going strong today. I met my husband, John, while living in Whitten Hall. Oh how I remember those revolving doors as curfew time approached. It was a crazy last-minute dash to get inside! I have a lot of great memories that were created while I was living in Whitten Hall.”

Starting a fire

Betty (Mitchell) ’75 and Leon Savage

“I lived in first-floor Atkin during my freshman and sophomore years at Illinois State. In the spring of 1971, I had decided to allow my perm to grow out so I could wear an Afro. I was wearing a wig during that process. I left my wig on a Styrofoam wig stand under the hairdryer while I went to take a shower. When I returned, there was black smoke pouring out of my room. The dorm was evacuated and I was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation. It was not really a fire, but the wig stand melting. There was a blurb in The Pantagraph. They boarded up my room I was moved to the suite for the remainder of the term.

Good times in 229

Mike Miserendino ’76

“I lived in Whitten 229 for three years, from 2003-06. I have many memories of doing homework late at night, practicing my theatre and musical numbers in the second-floor lounge and in the basement, having a great view of the mini-quad between Walker, Dunn, and Barton, eating the best dining food on campus at Feeney, and, of course, the late-night Subway cravings. I also loved cramming 23 people into my dorm room during the 2007 postseason Cubs vs. Marlins game for the Steve Bartman incident. I then proceeded to dress up like Bartman for Halloween that year, ran around the Quad, and stole baseballs and footballs while people played catch on the Quad. Good times in Whitten 229!”

Fresh and modern

Katherine (Beeson) Hurst ’64

“In September 1960 Hamilton-Whitten Halls first opened. That was when I began my freshman year at ISNU and moved into 909 Hamilton Hall. Everything was new and fresh and seemed ultra-modern for 1960. However, by current standards, life was pretty primitive. There was no television in the building and only two telephones per floor. Of course, there were no computers and no one had microwaves or refrigerators in their rooms. Our parents could rest easy back home. In those days no “men” lived in the building, and none were allowed above the first floor. Curfew was 10 p.m. weeknights and midnight on weekends. A few minutes after curfew honor residents checked to make sure we were safely in for the night and enforced quiet hours. On Saturday mornings the HRs inspected our rooms to see that they were clean and tidy. Some girls felt they had been sent to prison, but Hamilton Hall was really a great place to kick off our college years.”

Feeney Dining Center

The Feeney Dining Center at South Campus.

Getting a workout

Gayle (Lorenz) Morrell ’75

“I lived on the sixth floor of Whitten, for the 1971-72 and 1972-73 school years. My good friend from high school, Doreen K., and I lived right across from the laundry room. (I can’t remember the room number.) It was the best room to have, since we didn’t have to haul our laundry down the hall and we could stay comfy in our room waiting to change the loads. Living on the sixth floor inspired me to walk the steps, several times a day, for exercise. Since there were two flights of steps between each floor, my legs really got a workout. I also worked at Whitten’s reception desk for most of the same two years. I remember checking out cookware for the students to use in the basement kitchen, and albums for playing in their rooms. I used to like to sort mail into the boxes, except when free soap/detergent packets broke open and made a smelly mess. I remember being at the reception desk the night the dorm director – I can’t remember her name – the night she showed a stag movie to an all-girl audience. I think there was some “fallout” after that. I’m going to miss the “Virgin Towers” when I visit ISU next.”

More than a job

Terry Molloy ’81

“I worked at Feeney Cafeteria from fall 1977 though graduation in May 1981. My primary jobs were always on the morning shift – first as the deep fryer cleaner three days per week under Head Chef d’Cuisine Ray Schildt, then on to “cooks help” every morning, and finally as dish room captain for the last two years. In the dish room during those early morning shifts, I always had two pots of coffee heating on a burner – one for me, the other for everyone else. I also volunteered for the Saturday evening dish captain shifts, where I had a different treat available; those who worked those shifts will remember what it was. Let’s just say that it was nice having an ice machine downstairs. I met a lot of great people while working at Feeney, from student coworkers, to the Civil Service – George, Frank, and Jean-Jean-The-Cooking-Machine, and administrators Ray, Marge, and Debbie G. The time I spent at Feeney was more than a job; it was a very memorable part of my experience at ISU.

Being the ‘Condiment Girl’

Sheila (Hassler) Scruggs ’71

“I lived in Hamilton Hall my freshman year, 1967-68. I also worked in the cafeteria the same year. The first semester, I lived in one of the quad rooms at the end of the hall, sharing the space with three other freshmen. Needless to say, there was little privacy or even personal space, as my bed slid under another bed or sat out in the middle of the room. But it was fun, and certainly a new experience. The spring semester, one of my quad-mates and I moved to a double room on the same floor, after it became available. Much better living conditions! The cafeteria was really interesting. I was the “Condiment Girl” the first semester, with the responsibility of setting up four condiment stations around the cafeteria. This meant putting out peanut butter, jelly, cottage cheese, and peaches by the gallons daily, or chopping up heads of lettuce or whatever was needed as a condiment for the menu that day. I had to scoop the peanut butter, jelly, and cottage cheese from 5-gallon containers into serving dishes and then replenish it as it was eaten. I didn’t like eating cottage cheese before this experience, but after smelling gallons of it five times a week, I learned to eat it with fruit and to this day, eat cottage cheese most days for lunch! The spring semester found me washing dishes downstairs during lunch time. Before the dirty dishes went through the dishwasher, we used a water sprayer, hanging from the ceiling, to rinse off the food. Did you know that when uneaten Cream of Wheat sits in a bowl for a couple of hours, it congeals into a big “hockey puck?” Fun times in the dish room!”

Do you want to share your own memories? Post in the Comments below!



Atkin-Colby was my first home at ISU, then referred to as "The Virgin Islands" since it contained only underclassmen females. I will never forget the date I moved in, August 16,1977, because just before we reached Normal the radio announced the surprising news that Elvis had died.

I was introduced to Avanti's the first night when another freshman introduced my roommate and I to gondolas saying, "you've gotta taste these things!", I often bring one home whenever I travel through Normal yet today!

There were bolsters on the wall along our beds; I remember that by removing one screw in the bolster in our room we could take a bent wire hanger and knock the bolster in the adjoining room open as a joke on our friend's next door.

Another memory is a houseplant auction held in Feeney with the director of Residential Life, Floyd Hoelting, as the professional auctioneer. During a break Hoelting came over to speak to my roommate and I; he recognized us a veterans of auctions and we joked about how inept many of the Atkin-Colby buyers were that night. Houseplants were a HUGE interest in the late 70's! I held out for bargain prices and bought a zebra plant and a dieffenbachia both of which thrived on the ledge of Colby's huge windows.

I only lived in Colby first semester of my freshman year (Fall 1977) but I continued to eat at Feeney on weekends during my remaining college years as a resident of Fell Hall / International House. When I moved in 1987 to the school district where I still teach one of my new colleagues and I recognized each other. It took us a while to realize she worked in Feeney and we had seen each other many, many times in those years.

Our daughter moved into Colby for her first home at ISU in Fall of 2008, and other than no bolsters and the addition of air conditioning it was exactly the same.

I must say that while I do not have any regrets about the closing of Southside as student housing, I cannot say the same about the changes to Fell Hall in the early 1980s. As the first dorm on campus - an experiment in the grand new idea of residence hall living - I fought along with others to keep it open as International House. I researched its history and had part of my research published in the Alumni news. All these years later I still think it is a shame Fell was gutted and changed into offices.

I lived in Hamilton from '99-'00. The only place I lived in my two years at ISU. I loved the locale and the food court. Quiet enough to study yet lively enough to seek fun at any time. The perfect college dorm. I don't get back to campus very often but when I do I try to stop by Ham-Whit. I will miss my old home.

Hi Marcia, I was Whitten 331, 1976 to 1978. I loved Avantis too. Every Saturday night I would get a Gondola and watch SNL. I am Catholic, so it was so cool to have Mass right on the other side of the road. Could sleep and still get to Mass.

I lived in Whitten for 2 years 1985-1987 along with a number of fellow ROTC's. I wasn't a math major, but figured out pretty quick that girls out-numbered guys by 7 to 1. Rooms 544 and 543. I loved being up 5 floors. I can't imagine how many whopper juniors and gondola's I ate. Sad to see this. Are they tearing them down? Walker hall is gone - my other dorm.

Hi I'm Terri T. Davis, 72-76

It was in 1972 when I moved into the Hamilton dorm. I had just turned eighteen yrs. old and I was a freshmen. I'm smiling as I write this because I recall the joy, freedom, expectation of being away from home for the first time. I was excited about so much that was to take place. I was almost on my own. I loved it... My dorm room number was 315 and I had a roommate during the two years I lived there before moving off campus. (another story) I was so happy about having my own space, the twin bed, the bolster (where I stored my most personal items), the counter top where I placed my brand new pioneer stereo turn table and eight track compartment with the speakers and stored my albums. I also had posters plastered to my wall space. My books were placed on the connecting desk and my red, Black and White TV was in the window on my side of the room. I recall my closet and dresser with my bathroom bucket on top. Also, I recall the Monday mornings taking my bed linen down to the laundry room for washing and they would exchange it for clean linen for the week. I felt so privilege.

I would sit in the window counter and look out at the cars pulling up in the driveway below, or at the guys walking up to the building to pick up someone, or coming for me. (after all it was called the Virgin Islands) There were always men around the building. They were across the street in Walker Hall too. I just loved all of the action that view provided me. It was perfect.

Also, we had a party phone line. My ring was two long rings and a short one. Everyone, soon learned each others ring tones. Once my neighbors answered my ring and told my father I had left the dorm for home a day earlier. I later let them know I did not like that and for them to not do it again...(LOL) . I also recall liking that our dorm closed at 10:00p.m. and later 12:00a.m. and then we voted for 24hour openings...There was a freedom in knowing the dorm was closed to just us girls. Now there was a time when some friends and I arrived back to the dorm after it was closed. We had to sign in with the dorm matron and that was scary because if you came late three times a letter would be sent home to your parents. (Woo)

I can go on and on about the memories, but I'll stop here and say there were private study rooms in that dorm too where we would go for all night studying, and I recall the large TV common room we shared for watching some popular showing... it was nice living there. I am sadden to here its being torn down. It's a part of me. Although it was a very short stay, it was my very first home away from home and a new beginning of me establishing my Life. I'm so thankful to the Lord God for that experience. I wished I had stayed in the dorms the whole four years, I think.

I lived in Whitten 342 for the '98 spring semester after moving over from Tri-Towers. It was great being closer to class. I worked at Papa Johns at that time, so a two minute walk to work was wonderful, plus I would always bring a pizza home for roommates and neighbors. The Walker and Dunn-Barton mini quad was right there, we would play sand volleyball quite often. Also every Sunday night it would be a race to get over to Chatters right as they closed at 10pm. We enjoyed writing silly names on the order sheets so the workers would have to yell them out to us. I had a lot of classmates that lived in South side as well, our lounge became the study place for a few classes. I don't care what anyone says, when I was there South side had the best dining center. Sad to see it go.

In September 1960, I enetered my brand new room at 928 Whitten Hall---it was so beautiful for everything was new. I meet my roommate Barbara ( we were both from chicago) and together we fixed up our room with a new hi-fi,stuffed animals and 33rpm records. We didn't need bedspreads for they were furnished---grey with ridges and no rugs on the floors-Only females were allowed above the lobby and if a workman came onto the floor he always yelled "man on the floor." We soon found 8 other friends on Whitten North and started to do everything together. I still correspond with Karen. We had a lot of fun with the junior counselors for they became our "Moms" and gave great advice. we had to be in our rooms each night by 10:00 p.m. for room check and were reported to the Dorm Council if we were not there. I missed a bus once and because I was late I had to go in front of the council and was given 3 days of room detention (except for classes). during this time I ran for class President and we all made banners for the campaign. Our dorm also won a competition for the best musical number---we dressed up as "cavemen"!!! The memories go on and now I am 70 and wonder where did the years go? I am healthy, have 3 beautiful children and 5 "grands"--one just started as a freshman in college.

in reply to Phyllis Oosting Aldag Beckley

Phyllis, I read your comments about ISU...My sister and I made a nostalgic trip to ISU last summer...I now live in Indianapolis and recently retired from teaching...I also have 3 children and 5 grands...would be happy to hear from you...I also still correspond with Karen, assuming you mean Karen Nail Schardong...

I attended Illinois State from 1957-1961, receiving my degree in English and Library Science. In my freshman year, I was on South Campus when I noticed an unfamiliar flag flying on the flag pole. When I returned to my freshman dorm, Walker Hall, I asked about the flag and was informed it was the tornado warning flag!

Also during 1957-1958, a small new building was erected on South Campus. It was a MacDonald's restaurant with a sign that read, "Over 1,000,000 Sold!" Hamburgers were 25 cents, French fries, 10 cents!

I attended Illinois State from 1978-1982. From my sophomore year thru senior year, i resided in Colby 3 as an RA. It was some of my best college years living in this hall. From wheelchair races to painting our floor to Sunday night dinners at Avanti's, there was never a dull moment. After I graduated in 1982 and gettting married, I lost touch with so many floormates and fellow RA's that I would love to reconnect with someday soon. I have fond memories of all the great friendships and fun we had and was really sad to hear that the hall was being decommissioned but the memories will live on for ever.

in reply to Debora (Gentzler) Mangis

Indeed, the memories will live on forever! Thank you for your story.

I lived on 5th floor Atkin in 1968-69, then at Redbird Court "off-campus-approved" housing my sophomore year, Watterson Towers International House my junior year, and Fell Hall/International House my senior year (except for the semester I student taught in Peoria). This past summer I drove through Normal and stopped at Noodles for lunch where I could see my old dorm. What memories that brought back! Trips to I-Hop for breakfast! Who knew college would be so much fun. A lot has changed on campus, but those years and the interactions with teachers and other students helped make me who I am today and for that I am very thankful.

I lived on the 6th floor of Whitten for three years (1971-1974), in 628 for two years with my high school buddy Gayle L., and then in 631 with fellow-English major Lynn L.
So many good memories of events and new friendships are centered around my years in the "Virgin Islands." Candle-lightings in the suite (held if anyone reached a new "milestone" in their relationship with their boyfriend: going steady, getting "pinned," getting engaged); pranks pulled with varying results (some brought about laughter, and others just made people angry) -- like balancing a waste basket mostly full of water against somebody's door so that when they opened it, the water would splash throughout their room. Or filling somebody's room with crumpled newspapers -- but that "victim" got us all back by waking the RA when she returned and couldn't get into her room, and we all had to get up and dispose of the newspapers in the middle of the night. Another time we emptied EVERYTHING from a friend's room - including her bed, the bolster, and everything off the wall --- well, her birthday was on April Fool's Day, so she had to expect some kind of prank, right? My roommate challenged us all to skip the long wait for the elevator and instead to climb the stairs every time we returned home. She was a good conscience for us all! I remember that one spring day every year when somehow the news went around that it was warm enough to "lay out," and hordes of girls would gather on the south side lawn in our bathing suits to start our summer tan. I remember intramurals, panty raids (from the guys in Walker, across the street), the refrigerator in the laundry room that we all shared (and had to take turns defrosting that itty-bitty freezer), and the joy of being able to go to meals dressed however we wanted, even in our pj's, since only girls lived in A-C-H-W dorms then. When I started at ISU, there was still a curfew, and I remember having to face the lady who checked ID's if we got back late -- or a few times, sneaking somebody in through the side doors to avoid the check-in. But mostly I remember all the long conversations with others on 6 Whit about goals, home life, classes, boys, how to succeed in such-and-such teacher's class, etc. etc. etc. Good times!