Paul attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison in the 1960s. He lived in both a dormitory and fraternity house on campus.
Memories of College Dating in the 1960s
Memories of college dating in the 1960s recall a special time in my life. It was a social reawakening from suppressed interaction with coeds during unhappy high school years.
While attending the University of Wisconsin in Madison from 1962 through 1966, I lived in an on-campus dormitory for four years. During this period, I dated several coeds who lived on campus, especially during my last two years.
In this article, I begin by describing the dating culture on campus. Next, I recall the type of coeds I dated, how I met them, and what we did for fun on dates. I especially reminisce about my first date, hot dates, and dates who briefly became sweethearts.
Dating Culture on University of Wisconsin Campus in the 1960s
The University of Wisconsin-Madison campus had approximately 20,000 students when I matriculated as a freshman student in September 1962. It seemed as if the campus was a small city. There were so many undergraduate and graduate buildings as well as student dormitories.
Unless a resident of Madison, all freshmen students had to live in an on-campus dormitory. Coeds and men lived in separate dormitories and many of them were adjacent to Lake Mendota.
I lived in one of the Lakeshore Hall dormitories where a coed dorm and men dormitories were co-located. We all had our meals in a common dining hall.
Socialization and dating between coeds and men were encouraged. Each 40-50 member living unit or house had an elected social chairman who organized parties, picnics, and candlelight dinners for its residents. As an aid to residents who were shy in dating, a social chairman of a men's dormitory would work together with a social chairman of a coed dorm in organizing candlelight dinners on a weekday twice a semester. Each social chairman had a list of attendees and they randomly paired men and coeds as blind dates. This was an excellent way to meet a person for future dating.
I lived in a dorm house that had freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior students. When dating, coeds had a 10:30 p.m. curfew Sunday-Thursday and a 1:00 a.m. curfew Friday-Saturday. The curfew was enforced by house mothers who lived in the dorms.
Men were free to take their dates on and off-campus. On-campus dating usually involved study dates in libraries or a snack bar, parties, dances, movies, or attending theater performances. Off-campus dating usually meant frequenting one of the off-campus beer bars.
Since I was from a farm and went to a small high school, this dating culture was mind-boggling.
My First Three Dates — 1962–1964
When I began attending college in September 1962, I had never dated before. I was very shy around young women and did not dare to approach and ask one out on a date.
After moving into my dormitory, Tarrant House in Adams Hall, I quickly found out that I wasn't the only shy young man. Fortunately, Tarrant House had a social chairman who helped introduce coeds to its residents. This was done in the form of candlelight dinners with coeds from dorms on campus. Everyone who signed up for a dinner was paired with a blind date. Before the dinner, most guys were excited to know whether they would wind up with a compatible fairly good-looking girl. I also thought this was an exciting way to get a date and immediately signed up for dinner.
My First Two Dates with Marilynn
My first date was held in the Hideaway just below Van Hise Hall where I dined every day. It was a real candlelight dinner and my date was with a freshman coed who lived in neighboring Schlicter Hall. I think her name was Marilynn but I do remember that she was blonde and slightly heavy. The only other thing I remember is that she was from just north of Chicago. I forget what we chatted about over dinner but I got her telephone number and wound up asking her to Tarrant House's first house party held on campus.
Around the end of September, I escorted Marilynn to my dorm's house party held in a special party room in one of the residence halls along the lake. The only thing I remember is drinking some 3.2 alcohol content beer and dancing to recorded music. It also felt uncomfortable not being able to place my arm completely around Marilynn's waist. I never saw Marilynn again after the party.
My Two Dates with Sally
I met Sally at another candlelight dinner around the middle of October. Sally was thinner and much better looking than Marilyn. During our dinner, I learned that Sally was from a small town in Northern Wisconsin and had been a member of her school band. She was also in my Zoology class lecture so we had some things in common.
A couple of days later, I called Sally and invited her to accompany me to the university's Homecoming Show held at the end of October. Sally readily accepted my invitation and we both enjoyed Bob Hope putting on a great performance in the old Field House on campus. I held Sally's hand on the way back to her dorm and it was the first time I had ever held a young lady's hand. Before parting that evening, I gave her a slight kiss on the cheek but never saw Sally again. I was failing calculus and needed to improve my grade in it and other classes.
My Only Date with Mary
I had no dates during the remainder of my freshman year and also in the first semester of my sophomore year. I had difficult courses and needed to study a lot.
In March or April of 1964, however, I met Mary as a blind date at another candlelight dinner. Although she was a little taller than me, we both were in the same class and a related field. Mary was in pre-nursing and I was a pre-med student. On one weekend, I asked her out to see a movie just off of campus. We went to the Orpheum Theater and saw Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. I forget why I never asked Mary out again.
My First College Sweetheart
I did not date from 1964 until the end of January 1965 when I was a second-semester junior. My courses were time-consuming during the second semester of my sophomore year and even more demanding in the fall semester of my junior year. When I almost had a nervous breakdown right before finals in January 1965, I decided to socialize and take some time away from the books. With this in mind, I ran for and was elected president of Tarrant House for the second semester of my junior year.
Working closely with our house social chairman, I helped to organize two candlelight dinners. At the first candlelight dinner at the end of January just at the beginning of the semester, I met a beautiful brunette from Philadelphia on my blind date.
Janice was about 5'5" and introverted like me. We talked about her home in Philly and I learned that she lived in a row house. It was love at first sight and a few days later I invited Janice to go with me to the Student Union to see a theatrical performance of West Side Story.
Janice and I greatly enjoyed the musical and after the performance, we went dancing also in the Student Union. How I will remember holding Janice in my arms as we danced to the Rollingstone's Time Is on My Side! I was in heaven!
I saw Janice again on February 13, the day before Valentine's Day. She was extremely happy when I gave her a big heart-shaped box of chocolates. On Valentine's Day, I walked past her dorm and saw the box prominently displayed in her window. Once again, I was on cloud nine, I didn't stay there long, however, because a short time later I saw her in the Hideaway on a date with another young man. It felt like my heart was ripped out of my body! I felt so heartbroken that I never called or saw Janice again.
My Second College Sweetheart
I met my second college sweetheart also as a blind date at a candlelight dinner. Max and I had already planned a picnic in May at a state park outside of Madison. Having a candlelight dinner with another coed dorm would be an excellent opportunity for Tarrant residents to find a date for the picnic.
At the dinner, I hit a home run as one of the residents remarked. Sherry was the most beautiful and friendliest coed I had ever met. She was outgoing and also a chemistry major like me.
I quickly invited Sherry to the picnic and she accepted. We had a great time at the picnic even though some of the guys threw me into the lake. When we got back to Sherry's dorm after the picnic, she gave me the longest and most passionate kiss I have ever had. I was hopelessly in love again but had no time to see Sherry because final exams were coming up in ten days.
Fortunately, both Sherry and I attended summer school in 1965. I took her out on two dates and we had a fun time drinking beer in some student bars just off-campus. The most exciting time of the dates was making out after I saw her back to her dorm.
When I called trying to make the third date that summer, my heart was broken again. Sherry frankly told me that she was seeing another guy and didn't want to date me again.
Dating as Tarrant House Social Chairman in 1965
In the fall of 1965, I had an easier class schedule and served as Tarrant House social chairman. One week before the start of classes in September, I arrived on campus early with the hope that I could organize a picnic with a coed dorm on Picnic Point. My hope was dashed when it rained almost every day. Holly in Goldberg House of Schlicter Hall helped me, however, in organizing a powderpuff football game among residents of Tarrant and Goldberg. At the game, I met several coeds like Sharon and Janet who became good friends. Usually, I would have dates with them to drink beer at the nearest off-campus bar.
During the semester, I organized a pep rally with a coed dorm for Homecoming. Our dorm also had two parties and a candlelight dinner. At the candlelight dinner, I met Sandy from Kenosha. She was a freshman and I remember that her dad was a judge. Sandy was outgoing like Sherry but far better at kissing.
Looking back at it, my college dating was very innocent because there was no sex involved. Just the same, I enjoyed dating and will always treasure it.
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.
© 2021 Paul Richard Kuehn
Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on March 20, 2021:
Thanks for the comment. I am happy you enjoyed this article.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 20, 2021:
Your have some great and interesting memories, Paul.