Letters

Times Have Changed

These residents of John Sutton’s North Hall were all members of the Class of 1953. Their photo was taken “before dinner at noon on a Sunday in 1951.” Left to right: Dorothy Jakovac Wratcher, Gerry Thieman, Virginia Shirley Thieroff Stanley (deceased), Mary Lou Kline Hansen, and Faith Mattys Lovetro (deceased).

Progress in student housing has certainly come to Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2007. Suites with phones, private bathrooms, kitchens, etc. What a dream come true!

Back in the fall of 1949, I was a freshman at Indiana State Teachers College. Living accommodations were quite different. You shared a bedroom with another student. You had an iron-type cot with a four-inch thick mattress. Once a month was bug control day.  You turned the mattress in half toward the center of the bed. Later, a man came to spray the bed springs at both ends of the bed. I used to lay newspaper on the floor beneath the springs. Later, when I returned to my room, I wiped the springs with Kleenex™, sprinkled body powder on them, and covered them with plastic.

The rug in the room was so worn that a broom was better to use than a hand sweeper. You had a single dresser to share with your roommate—one narrow drawer and one wide drawer. Each roommate had a wooden desk with a single bulb on the wall above the desk.  The desk had one drawer.

We ate family style in the dining room. An upperclassman sat at either end of the table.  The boy passed the food. The girl poured the milk or water into glasses. Five students sat at each side of the table. Every fall we had plenty of corn and Waldorf salad. On Sunday you dressed in your best for the noonday meal. Cream of chicken over biscuits was a favorite. You passed the dishes of food quickly to get seconds of food. Sunday evening the meal was cold cuts and potato salad with onions and celery.

Dorothy Jakovac Wratcher’s desk in Sutton Hall, as described in her letter. Occupants supplied their own curtains. Radiators like the one in the photo still heated the building as the current century dawned.

Girls couldn’t wear blue jeans off campus. You couldn’t walk around campus with your hair in curlers. Convocation once a week was mandatory. Attendance was taken.

For me college was a whole new way of life. I was able to make choices. I met girls with whom I keep in contact even now.

I wouldn’t trade my four years at ISTC for anything. I got an excellent education for less than $5,000.

—Dorothy Jakovac Wratcher ’53 
Monroeville, Pa.

More than Fast

I retired this past June after thirty-seven years in education. I was a math teacher and department chairman at South Park High School in Allegheny County. (We don’t like to be compared to the TV show.)

It may be of interest to know that Sean Strauman [“Band(man) on the Run” from your last IUP Magazine] was one of my former students. Besides being a fast runner and a tuba player, he was an excellent math student. It may not be the reason he chose IUP, but I always encouraged my students to consider IUP for their college education.

—John Remensky ’67
Carnegie, Pa.

Remembering Emily

Editor’s Note: Emily DeCicco, an education professor at IUP from 1974 to 1994, died in January 2007. Publication of her death in IUP Magazine triggered several inquiries and responses, including the following letter. 

The workshop title “Humanizing the Classroom” sounded like just what I needed. As a music teacher, I already knew more music than I could impart in a General Music class for middle school. What I needed to know was how to motivate, create, and educate, using the music knowledge that I had.
 
Our class was seated and waiting for the professor when in walked Emily with a brisk step and a smile. Immediately, her enthusiasm was contagious, and we were anticipating a worthwhile week. We graduate students had a chance to exchange thoughts on the first day, and the chatter went like this: “She doesn’t look much older than we do!” “Where does she get her energy?” “She has a doctorate and two master’s degrees, and yet she wants to be called Emily!” “This is going to be a great class!” “I wonder what else she teaches?”

Emily gave us a lot of work to do. We had this workshop, which lasted a full day, for one week. We had research and papers to do for the evening. If it had been anyone else, I know we would have balked at the amount of work. The thing was, the research was worth our time, and we knew that Emily worked just as hard if not harder.

I believe it was in “Humanizing the Classroom II” where we asked Emily what her secret to great energy was. She said that she had granola in the morning and wine at night. We laughed, but I suspected that some students immediately went home and tried that out. She talked about gardening, home life, how pleased she was that someone had named their little daughter Emily, and her husband, Frank.

After that class, many of us were asking what other classes Emily was going to teach. I needed my twenty-four credits for certification and would have loved to have all of them in Emily’s classes. She was team-teaching (if I’m not mistaken; this was over thirty years ago, so have mercy) a class on law and education. I took that. She could have said that she’d be teaching thumb twiddling and napkin folding, and I would have signed up first!
 
Emily’s classes inspired me and revolutionized my teaching. There is no higher achievement than to have imparted the best of yourself into teachers who will, in turn, do the same for their own students. The only thing that Emily could not convince me to do was to eat granola.
 
I will never forget my time with Emily. She was a unique and precious person.

—Paula Turiak Terrana ’73
Lower Burrell, Pa.