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Memories of a 1964 College Student

Paul was an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin from 1962 through 1966. He took pre-med courses and majored in chemistry.

My Junior Year Dormitory Unit at the University of Wisconsin

Junior year dormitory unit at the University of Wisconsin.  Picture was taken in 1964.  The author is fifth from the left in the third row.

Junior year dormitory unit at the University of Wisconsin. Picture was taken in 1964. The author is fifth from the left in the third row.

1964 College Memories

In 1964, I attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison. I was a second-semester sophomore and a first-semester junior almost halfway through a pre-med course of study.

In this article, I first relive a very successful end to my sophomore year. After remembering a productive summer at home, I then recall a very challenging beginning to my junior year.

All of my classes, living in a dormitory, and extracurricular activities are detailed for 1964.

Disappointments in January 1964

The beginning of 1964 left a bitter taste in my mouth. I was dealing with disappointment both inside and outside of school.

At the University of Wisconsin in Madison, I had just finished the first semester of my sophomore year during the third week of January. My grade-point average for that semester was awful and the worst of my life. It was only 2.43 because my grades in third-semester calculus, organic chemistry lab, and contemporary English literature were only C.

Outside of school, there were also problems and disappointments at home. My parents were heavily in debt and had to sell their dairy cattle at an auction right before New Year's Day. My dad had also recently lost his millwright second job.

Our string of bad luck had to change as I returned to Madison in the last week of January for the second semester of my sophomore year.

Sophomore Year Second Semester Classes: January–May 1964

After arriving back at Madison, I registered for the following classes:

  • quantitative analysis — 4 credits
  • organic chemistry — 3 credits
  • Greek and Latin origins of medical terms — 3 credits
  • intermediate English composition — 3 credits
  • contemporary English literature — 3 credits

Second Semester Classwork and Grades

Since I was in a pre-med course of study, quantitative analysis, organic chemistry, intermediate English composition, and contemporary English literature were all required courses. Greek and Latin origins of medical terms was an elective.

The classwork and grades for each of my classes are now detailed.

Quantitative Analysis

Quantitative analysis is one branch of analytical chemistry. It deals with the measurement of the quantities of particular constituents present in a chemical substance.

This class had both lecture and laboratory sessions. I remember attending two or three hours of lectures and working six hours each week in a laboratory. The course was very enjoyable and I earned an A in it.

Organic Chemistry

Organic chemistry is the study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation of carbon-containing compounds.

This was a lecture course and a continuation of the organic chemistry that I learned during the first semester of my sophomore year. This course met three hours per week. In the course, I had to remember the formulae and reactions of many organic compounds. With a lot of study, I earned a B in organic chemistry.

Greek and Latin Origins of Medical Terms

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This was a fun course that examined Greek and Latin prefixes, suffixes, and roots present in medical terms.

It was a lecture class that met three hours per week and I earned an A in this course.

Intermediate English Composition

I remember using a required book called Readings in Rhetoric. This was a small group class that met three hours per week. In this class, we had to do a lot of writing and make choices about the content, structure, and style of our writing. With hard work, I made a B in this course.

Contemporary English Literature

This course examined contemporary American and British literature from the late 1800s up until 1960. In this class, we were required to read novels. short stories, and poetry. This was a lecture class meeting three hours weekly and I earned a B in it.

Second Semester Dormitory Life

I lived in a school dormitory during my sophomore year. It was on campus next to Lake Mendota and about a 10-15 minute walk from my classes.

Tarrant House was one of eight dormitories in the Adams Hall quad. I had a small single room on the fourth floor. Our house had about 40 undergraduate residents with a graduate student resident to keep order.

Except for Sunday evening supper, all meals were served in nearby Van Hise Hall which is now called Carson Gulley Hall. Self-operated washers and driers were in the basement of a nearby Adams Hall house. A TV room was also in the basement of another house. There I watched the Beatles appear on The Ed Sullivan Show in February. We also had individual mailboxes in a small room at the entrance to our quad.

Tarrant House in the Adams Hall Quad

Tarrant House was through the door on the right in the background.

Tarrant House was through the door on the right in the background.

Carson Gulley Hall Previously Called Van Hise Hall

Carson Gulley Hall (aka Van Hise Hall) where I had my meals

Carson Gulley Hall (aka Van Hise Hall) where I had my meals

Second Semester Extracurricular Activities

Tarrant House had an elected government with a president and social chairman holding the most important positions.

Candlelight dinners and parties were organized by the social chairman. At the dinners, we all had blind dates. One of my blind dates was a nursing student who I took to see The Sound of Music in April. Due to my heavy coursework and study time, I had no other extracurricular activities. I was determined to redeem myself for awful first-semester grades.

My Sophomore Year Dormitory Unit at the University of Wisconsin

My sophomore year dormitory unit.  Author is in third row on extreme left.  Picture taken in 1963.

My sophomore year dormitory unit. Author is in third row on extreme left. Picture taken in 1963.

The Summer of 1964

The summer of 1964 was a happy time again. I had just earned a 3.44-grade point average for the second semester of my sophomore year. A summer job that I had after my freshman year was also waiting for me. In addition, my mother had found a full-time job as an aide at an institution for retarded children.

My summer job was with the Racine County Highway's western depot only five miles away. It was full-time work from 7:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

I was paired again with Rusty D who I worked with the previous summer. Our duties were to cut weeds along Racine County roads, collect litter along the road, and also see to routine minor road maintenance. When we weren't cutting weeds with tractors, we patrolled roads in a county truck. Rusty was in his 50s and a perfectionist. It bothered me during the first summer but now I was comfortable working with him. The work wasn't hard and I earned good wages.

My mother decided to get a job after we sold all of our dairy cattle and my dad lost his job. It was a necessity to make ends meet. My youngest sister was five years old so mom wasn't tied down in the house.

A neighbor introduced my mother to an employment opportunity at the Wisconsin Southern Colony outside of Union Grove about 10 miles away. The job called for my mom to supervise retarded children at the Colony. She worked from about 2:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. five days a week. A co-worker who lived in Waterford five miles away gave mom a ride between Waterford and the Colony. Either my dad or I would have to give mom transportation from our farm to Waterford and back. During my summer at home, I remember picking mom up at Waterford after work many evenings. A few months later, my mother was able to help my father also get work as a maintenance man at the Colony. With two incomes, our family's economic situation improved quickly.

Junior Year First Semester Classes: September–December 1964

With renewed enthusiasm for school, I registered for the following classes in September:

  • comparative anatomy of vertebrates – 5 credits
  • general physics – 5 credits
  • general genetics – 3 credits
  • American history 1607-1865 – 3 credits

American history 1607-1865 and general physics were required courses for a pre-med course of study. I chose comparative anatomy and general genetics as electives because I was majoring in biology at that time.


First Semester Classwork and Grades

Comparative Anatomy of Vertebrates

This course was a comparative study of the nine major organ systems found in vertebrate animals with consideration of human systems.

I had three hours of lectures and at least six hours of laboratory work per week. During the last six weeks of the course, I remember dissecting a cat. I bought a lab coat and spent extra time on Saturdays finishing up my cat dissection.

There was a lot to remember and learn in this class. With hard work, I made a B.

General Physics

This was the first semester of a year-long course. I remember attending three hours of lectures and having four to five hours of lab work weekly. Some of the topics we learned were force and Newton's laws of motion, friction, drag, and elasticity.

I enjoyed the lab work and made a B in this class.

General Genetics

This was a lecture course meeting three hours weekly. In this course, we learned how different human traits are determined and passed down over generations. I had a difficult time with this class and only made a D. I should have withdrawn from the class after the first graded test.

American History 1607-1865

This was a lecture class meeting three hours weekly. I enjoyed history very much and made a B.

My overall grade point average after the first semester of my junior year was only 2.85. It needed to be much better, but I was hoping to do well on the Medical College Admissions Test given the following semester.

My University of Wisconsin Undergraduate Transcript

My University of Wisconsin Undergraduate Transcript

My University of Wisconsin Undergraduate Transcript

First Semester Dormitory Life

I will always remember the picnic Tarrant House had with a coed dorm before the start of the first semester of my junior year. Our social chairman arranged an outing to Picnic Point with coeds from Chadbourne Hall. The guys and gals split the cost of food and drink that we carried to Picnic Point in the middle of Lake Mendota. It was a long leisurely walk around the lake to reach our picnic point that I will always remember.

During the semester, our social chairman also organized candlelight dinners with different coed dorms. I met Diana at one of the dinners and took her to the Homecoming Show on campus.

I had a heavy course load and studied a lot. On Sunday afternoons, however, I always watched Green Bay Packers football games. We also pulled a hilarious prank on our resident counselor, George, who was from Africa. While he was out of his room one evening, a few members of Tarrant House got into his room and removed all of the furniture and his personal belongings from the room. They were placed in the rooms of different residents. You couldn't imagine the look on George's face when he opened his room and found nothing there!

First Semester Extracurricular Activities

Since I was in class and the labs for many hours and studying, I had few extracurricular activities in the first semester. I did, however, attend the Homecoming Show and join the Young Democrats on campus.

In October, I attended the Homecoming Show with Diana whom I met at a candlelight dinner. We had a great time seeing Harry Belafonte perform at the old Field House on campus.

Earlier in October, I joined the Young Democrats on campus and helped to campaign for Lyndon Johnson during the Presidential election campaign of 1964. On at least one Saturday, I remember putting campaign bumper stickers on cars in Madison off-campus.

Throughout the year, I studied a lot, especially during the first semester of my junior year. I was never so happy to go on Christmas vacation. My books accompanied me home on vacation because I had final exams in early January 1965.

1964 Harry Belafonte Homecoming Show

1964 Harry Belafonte Homecoming Show

1964 Harry Belafonte Homecoming Show

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Paul Richard Kuehn

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