IUP Home | A–Z Index | Apply Now | Support IUP | News and Events | Find People |
 

Long Time Gone

A 45 Record Found in Whitmyre

A 45 Record Found in Whitmyre

Whitmyre Hall Renovation Turns Up Treasures

Workers last fall unearthed a trove of buried treasure on campus, left behind not by pirates but by students.

Instead of plunder hidden away by Blackbeard, they found an assortment of items that reflect what residents of Whitmyre Hall kept—and lost—in their dormitory rooms over a span of 60-plus years.

In advance of renovations that commenced in December, maintenance employees removed built-in desks and dressers original to the building, which opened in 1952. They discovered an abundance of material that had fallen into cracks behind the furniture—what Housing and Dining Director Valerie Baroni M’07 terms “pieces of the past.”

A Calendar from 1965

A Calendar from 1965

The collection includes a Penn student newspaper dated February 10, 1961, the lead story hyping a scheduled visit to Fisher Auditorium by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; numerous record albums (The Dave Clark Five, Barbra Streisand, Louis Armstrong, and Eric Clapton, among others); personal photographs; greeting cards sent by friends and family members; artistic sketches; a floppy, red L.L. Bean hat; several student I-Cards; a lunch menu from the University School for February 27, 1990 (fish sandwiches were served that day); and a trick-or-treat placard students could hang from a doorknob on Halloween, indicating to visitors they were handing out candy.

“There’s some really random stuff here,” said Special Collections Librarian and University Archivist Harrison Wick, who will catalog what’s salvageable. “There’s a little bit of everything.”

NEA Journal October 1952

NEA Journal October 1952

Cartons bulging with material were delivered to Wick’s office. Some items hadn’t seen the light of day since Whitmyre, now one of the oldest buildings on campus, was one of the newest: room inspection reports from as far back as 1953, when IUP was known as Indiana State Teachers College; a pocket schedule for the 1956-57 basketball and wrestling seasons; a 1955 ISTC Glee Club folder containing choral music; a Student Christian Association handbook from the 1955-56 school year; and the oldest item exhumed, an NEA (National Education Association) Journal from October 1952 with the name Norman Smith written on the cover.

The only Norman Smith then enrolled at ISTC pleaded ignorance when told about the find.

“I’m afraid I can’t lay any claim to it or give you additional information,” said Smith, a 1953 graduate who retired in 1989 as superintendent of the Huntingdon Area School District. “That’s a long time ago. Maybe it is mine—I don’t know. But I never lived in Whitmyre Hall. I was a commuter, a local boy.”

A few days later, after an image of the cover was e-mailed to Smith’s State College home, the mystery deepened. The handwriting, he affirmed, is not his.

The NEA publication is one of thousands of items entombed for decades behind Whitmyre’s desks and dressers until workers stirred up some ghosts of the past along with a fair amount of dust.

“Our temporary maintenance crew was in there tearing out the furniture and started finding things,” said Jennifer Trimble (J. T.) Faught ’03, M’05, associate director for Occupancy and Marketing. “They alerted our office, and Val and I went over there to see what they were finding. We never expected this much material. It really is like a time capsule. There are artifacts from all different years, different generations. Pretty neat.”

Faught and Wick were alternately amused and puzzled by the contents of the cartons. They pulled out a lid from a peanut butter jar; a 45 rpm record featuring the music of jazz saxophonist Georgie Auld, a bite seemingly taken out of it; a Smurf card; coupons from the Bonanza restaurant once located at the edge of campus; and a letter mailed to students from a long-gone downtown Indiana business, Star Furniture, soliciting their patronage and offering a tantalizing deal: a metal wastebasket “for only a quarter!”

One item proved a real head-scratcher: an IUP paycheck from 2002 for the sum of $126.72. The recipient never cashed it.

“That would be a lot of money for a student,” Faught said. “I wonder if they went back to payroll and got a reprint or if they just chalked it up as a loss.”

No one knows. It’s yet another mystery—possibly the biggest—surrounding the buried treasure unearthed in Whitmyre. Well, maybe the second biggest. After all, what would possess someone to take a bite out of a 45?

Anyone interested in learning more about the materials recovered during the renovation of Whitmyre Hall can contact Wick at 724-357-3039 or hwick@iup.edu.

Documents Found in Whitmyre

Documents Found in Whitmyre

Items Found During Renovations

Items Found During Renovations

Renovations in Whitmyre Hall

Renovations in Whitmyre Hall

Whitmyre Hall Renovations

Whitmyre Hall Renovations