1969 Graduates Remember Historic Time of Protests, the Draft … and Streaking
Graduates from UMD's Class of 1969, returning to campus for their 50-year reunion tomorrow, remembered unrest over the Vietnam War, the hippie movement and the infamous nude runners from their time as Terps.
Richard Nixon was getting settled in the White House, unrest over the Vietnam War was growing. Just months away were the Manson murders, the moon landing, the Stonewall riots and Woodstock. This was the uneasy, yet unforgettable world that University of Maryland seniors were entering when they graduated in the spring of 1969.
“This is the year of change,” the 1969 Terrapin yearbook read. “The year of diversity, rebellion, contrast.”
It was true on campus as well, as students in that chaotic year demanded an end to racial discrimination, marched on President Wilson H. Elkins’ house to seek more rights, and called for an end to the war. They held panty raids in the face of the women’s lib movement, successfully lobbied for co-ed residence halls, and hailed the arrival of a Latin American studies program.
In their quieter moments, Terps saw Simon and Garfunkel and the Serendipity Singers perform, grew out their hair and began embracing “flower power”—“the do-your-own-thing thing,” quipped a Diamondback review of “The Hippies Handbook” by Ruth Bronsteen.
With several dozen “Golden Terps” returning to College Park for their 50-year reunion, hosted by the University of Maryland Alumni Association, and to take part in the main campus Commencement ceremony tomorrow, take a look at what ’69 grads remember about their experiences on UMD’s campus:
* Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Baltimore Hall was one of the oldest dorms on campus: one bathroom on each floor. You had to be careful when taking a shower in case some rookie would not yell “Flushing!” to warn you that the cold water was being diverted to other uses.
I lived in the same room all four years. I think we had 28 guys in the dorm, and one phone for everybody. We had one TV, down in the rec room. Each year there were certain programs that drew sellout-level crowds: “The Man From Uncle,” “Batman” and “Laugh-in,” among others.
I had a chance to visit the moving Vietnam veterans wall (last) weekend. I managed to find the name of one of my roommates. That was one of the things that was important to everybody back then. There was the draft. A lot of people were really sweating that.
We did have the nude runners. People would turn out their lights and wave and look. It was just springtime, everybody was going crazy. One of my neighbors was an editor of The Diamondback, and he told me that they had to black out some strategic parts of a picture of one of the nude runners who was shown carrying a flag from the golf course.
My freshman year I lived in Annapolis Hall. The thing I remember most about freshman year was the NCAA championship in Cole Field House between Kentucky and Texas Western, (the team with five black starters that defeated the Wildcats, 72–65).
The Maryland basketball and football teams were terrible. You could go to any game you wanted at Cole Field House and even put your coat on the seat next to you. They did have a good track team.
I can remember all the work I had to do for chemical engineering. I was constantly busy. Senior year, very hectic schedule. I was able to get 144 credits in four years.
Graduation was in Cole Field House. They had everybody line up in Byrd Stadium. The grass had not been cut. We’re standing there in 90-degree weather in caps and gowns. It was a big mess with all the bugs.
The most popular music was Motown. The hippie movement started toward the end of my junior year. People had really long hair, and women wore flowers in their hair.
1969: the year of the nude runners. In the dorm, we would hear this yelling as the young men were urged on by their male peers, and we would run to the windows to watch the action. Then we would throw our slips, underwear, petite (we called them petty) pants out the window. I had these so cute petty pants that were all the colors of the rainbow, and I threw them out the window one night. The next day as I was walking around campus, I saw a guy with them on his head. So funny! I couldn't believe it. Never claimed them as mine.
I lived at Montgomery East just off Route 1 my four years at the university. I was a desk receptionist at the dorm and remember the rules for keeping the boys out of the girls’ rooms. If you did have a boy over, the door had to remain open.
I recall the incident of the cow in the new high-rise.
I loved the cherry blossoms on the mall in front of the library and going to the Dairy for hot fudge sundaes.
James G. "Jim" Howes
I was a graduate student studying for my MBA in 1969 and living on campus in Calvert Hall as the area coordinator for housing. My apartment was a rarity in that it was air-conditioned, and student visits increased noticeably on hot, humid evenings. But some things haven't changed: Sliding down the hill on dining trays* "borrowed" from the nearby North Dining Hall was a popular diversion when it snowed. My business school professors, especially Rudy Lamone and Stanley Hille, were outstanding. I can say with absolute certainty that much of my success is owed to the education I received as a Terp.
*Actually, this has changed: As of 2016, Dining Services no longer uses trays.
William “Bill” Kennedy
As a phys. ed. and later a recreation major, I had classes with, and was not close but friends with, the first two black basketball players in the ACC, Billy Jones and Julius "Pete" Johnson. As such, I was somewhat privy to some of the trials and tribulations that they encountered during their college careers.
I remember the closing of the campus after the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. and the unrest both on and off campus.
One thing that I'll never forget happened at graduation: We were handed actual diplomas as we walked across the stage in Cole. When we checked after returning to our seats, I had the diploma for the person on my right, and the person to my left had mine. Apparently one person decided not to attend after the lineup before we entered Cole.
My time as a student was, other than raising my children, the best of my life. After graduation I regularly returned to campus for the next 45 years, 43 of which I held season tickets for football.
In the mid- to late ‘60s, colleges and universities across the country were alive with protests, sit-ins, free speech, civil rights, women's rights. The University of Maryland remained firmly rooted in the ‘50s. In order to work on campus, one had to sign a loyalty oath, a vestige of the Red Scare. Women had to live in dorms or commute as freshmen. With this were sign-out books, curfews, judiciary boards if you used more than five late minutes. Parents had to sign a permission card each semester allowing the girls to sign out overnight, preferably to go home.
No pants for women at dinner in the dining hall and on Sundays. If you took a class in the school of business, you were expected to be in business dress. For girls, dress was Villager skirts and sweaters with Pappagallo flats and a Bermuda bag.
The quality of teaching and learning were all over the map. What edition is Dr. Goode's algebra text on now? It is so exciting to see the university shake its past and grow into a class institution.
Judith A. Lese
Sen. Muskie was a speaker (at graduation) 50 years ago.
With the experience and the faculty in the early childhood education program, I really felt committed. People in early childhood were so inspirational and so good. Same thing with human development. I think one tribute is I’m still teaching. I’m a cancer survivor, and 17 years ago I started a breast cancer foundation in the D.C. area. I’m trying to promote what I got from there—a love of learning.
Wolfgang M.L. Maier
I majored in German, minored in French. And I loved the open stacks in McKeldin Library, spent many hours there every day. The library staff was outstanding. I have also some very fond memories of the German Club, in which I was very active. What was also very educating was that the German department had regular speakers invited through contacts with the German embassy. One lady prof who sticks out in my mind is a Mrs. Weil-Malherbe, a very friendly, distinguished person: a cerebral mind, erudite, discerning, philosophical, just very European educated all around. I can even hear her voice today with my “inner” ear.
It was the best of times: Woodstock, $4 tickets at D.C.’s Carter Barron Amphitheatre, the moon landing.
It was the worst of times: using a manual typewriter to do research papers with those exacting footnotes, Nixon, “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies.
As much as I hated to leave the campus, I was so eager to be the one with the chalk in my hand. That fall I headed to Baltimore to teach high school English. Dr. Woolf and student-teaching at Coolidge High School had helped to prepare me. Well, as prepared as one can be for that first year.
Fifty years later (with some pauses in between), I am still in the classroom, now as an ESL teacher for refugees in a state-funded program at Montgomery College.
My great-niece recently started a teaching position at UMD while pursuing a Ph.D. I am so proud that our family now has two Terps.
My key takeaway during my years at Maryland pertains to the program in which I received my degree: information systems management (ISM), called information technology today. I believe I was in the second graduating class. I credit my success to the ISM program and my first job with RCA Corporation. It had a management information systems career path, and I was one of only seven from around the country to be accepted into it.
My graduation was overshadowed by the ongoing Vietnamese war and the thought that I would be called up upon graduation. The draft was instituted back then, and all eligible males were assigned a number. Mine was 17. I will never forget the spring of 1969. The poet Robert Bly and Sen. Eugene McCarthy came to speak to the student body with a powerful message against the war. I was a changed person after these events. The friendships I made and the events lived through can't be forgotten. I still try to keep in touch with those friends today. This time gave me the courage to stand for what I believe in.
The great University of Maryland provided me a valuable education. I am a Terps fan today and figuratively live and die with their lacrosse program. The English department helped me discover who I am and how I approach life.
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