Congratulations to our own Mary Ellen Wimberly, UK Homecoming Queen 2011! Wimberly, and her king, Micah Fielden, were crowned during halftime ceremonies at the UK Homecoming game this past Saturday. Wimberly is a member of the UK Alumni Association Leadership Committee for Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow and TEAM WILDCAT. A junior finance and economics major from Richmond, Ky., she was sponsored in the homecoming royalty candidacy by Governor’s Scholars Program/Governor’s School for the Arts Alumni Club.
The UK Alumni Association also sponsored the annual “Wildcat Cup,” a participation and points competition that runs the entire duration of homecoming. This year’s winner in the nonGreek organization category was our own Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow/TEAM WILDCAT group!
Congratulations again and thank you, all alumni, for celebrating Homecoming 2011 with us!
During this week of celebrating UK Homecoming 2011, we thought it would be fun to take a look back to life on campus 50 years ago.
By Warren Wheat ’61 CIS
First printed by The Kentucky Kernel on 10/14/11
Some call us the Silent Generation.
Born of the Great Depression literally on the cusp of World War II, wedged between the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers they sired, we grew up being taught to duck under our desks in case of nuclear attack.
The UK Alumni Association has invited us, the university class of 1961—septuagenarians all—back to campus for homecoming this year and to be inducted into the Golden Wildcat Society. The Thursday through Sunday weekend will include a reception and dinner, races at Keeneland, Homecoming Parade and football game, classes—without quizzes—and a tour of the campus.
A half a century since we received our degrees in Memorial Coliseum? OMG, or LOL, as the great-grandchildren of the Class of ’61 would say.
Most of us arrived at the University of Kentucky in 1957, the year a Soviet satellite, Sputnik 1, beat the United States into space, Arkansas National Guard troops blocked African-American students trying to attend classes at a white high school, “the Bridge on the River Kwai” won an Oscar and Elvis Presley ruled the pop charts.
We hit campus with little individuality in styles. Men sported flat top haircuts, crew or burr cuts, wore Bass moccasins and Weejuns, Converse Chuck Taylor high tops, crew neck sweaters, felt hats with brims and open collar shirts with tees. Women wore skirts below the knee, long socks, saddle oxfords and penny loafers. We probably didn’t even know the meaning of the word “cleavage.”
This time of year the pleasant scent of dried burley tobacco leaves stacked for auction in nearby warehouses floated across campus on brittle fall air. Believe it or not, we wore sport coats and ties or sweaters to most football games and felt hats with brims. Student ID cards admitted us and our dates to all football and basketball games, thanks to the $89-a-semester tuition.
In our day, so to speak, a joint was a place to drink beer; booty was a pirate’s treasure; thongs were what are now called flip-flops; and the only bogart we knew was an actor. The only time the word gay was used was in “Deck the Halls” and “My Old Kentucky Home.”
Few, if any, rode bicycles to class, and backpacks were considered fitting equipment only for Boy Scouts and soldiers, certainly not for college students. Many of our classmates were older, veterans attending college on the GI Bill hoping to resume their lives following the Korean conflict. They added a unique maturity and stability to campus life, not to mention stiff competition for grade curves.
Most of our favorite hang-outs exist today only in memory: The Buffalo on Euclid in Chevy Chase, the Paddock at Rose and what is now the Avenue of Champions next to a tiny eatery that specialized in fried baloney sandwiches, and a bar you got to by turning left at a bent tree off Richmond Road where beer was free at 3 o’clock. Tree’s gone; don’t know about the bar.
On special occasions we danced at the Circle Bar on the road to Richmond, ate steaks at Johnny Allmans on the Kentucky River, but “the place” was Danceland featuring the music of Little Enis, a left-handed guitar-picking rockabilly artist and Elvis imitator. We danced to “I wanna shout,” and did the Continental. Contrary to the hit “I could have danced all night,” we couldn’t; women who lived in the dorms and sorority houses had strict curfews. Many an embrace broke when the warning lights flickered. One thing though, when we danced, we actually touched, and you could understand the words of the songs.
When the class of ’61 left campus John F. Kennedy was president, Camelot was on, Americans were advised to build bomb shelters, the U.S. finally rocketed an astronaut into space, TV was labeled “vast wasteland,” a wall divided Germany, Elvis began his movie career, and “West Side Story” won the Oscar.
It’s nine presidents later. Everything has changed. The Civil Rights Act is law, the U.S. beat the Soviets to the moon, the Berlin Wall crumbled, the Soviet Union collapsed along with communism, an actor was elected president and now, and African-American. The U.S. fought a war in Vietnam, and wars on poverty and drug abuse, open-heart surgeries are routine, human organs are transplanted, airplanes fly faster than sound travels, unmanned aircraft piloted remotely take out enemies, handheld wireless computers provide instant communications and data.
So let them call us the Silent Generation.
We all want to leave a legacy, especially when it comes to those things we’re most proud of—like being a graduate of the University of Kentucky.
The UK Alumni Association’s Legacy Initiative provides benefits to the children of UK graduates who are members of the UK Alumni Association and is the perfect way to pass on your loyalty, tradition and big blue spirit!
So, what is a UK Legacy?
A UK Legacy is any child whose mother, father or step-parent has earned a baccalaureate, graduate, doctorate or professional degree from the University of Kentucky.
And what exactly does the UK Legacy Initiative include?
Gifts for future Wildcats:
During different stages of childhood (birth through 18 years of age), legacies will receive gifts from the UK Alumni Association to remind them that they are a part of the UK family.
Special events for Legacy Students:
Once enrolled at UK, Legacy students will have the opportunity to take part in special events and programs.
The Legacy Tuition Program: Legacy students who live out of state and meet certain criteria, including UK Alumni Association membership, can attend UK at discounted tuition rates.
There are so many reasons to pass on your legacy of pride at the University of Kentucky! For more information about UK Legacy programs, visit www.ukalumni.net/legacy.
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It’s midterm exam time and aside from putting in long hours of study, students can use all the luck they can get! A campus tradition is to rub the foot of the James K. Patterson statue, the university’s first president, for good luck before an exam. Did you ever rub the foot of the Patterson statue before an exam? Did it help?
The centerpiece of the upcoming Wildcat Alumni Plaza, a bronze Wildcat sculpture, is well underway! The sculpture is on schedule to be completed and standing as the focal point of the new Wildcat Alumni Plaza by April 2012.
Get a first-hand look at how the sculpture is coming along: