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Homecoming Time Capsule

October 8, 2013
By Melinda Swenson

Stories and ads from the Homecoming editions of the Rocky Mountain Collegian reveal a lot about what Colorado State has experienced in the 139 years since the University's first building, nicknamed 'Claim Shanty,' was erected on campus in 1874.

A parade on College Avenue in front of the gymnasium, 1930.As Colorado State University approaches Homecoming and Family Weekend, 2013, it’s astounding to think about the history that’s behind us.

Homecoming editions of the Rocky Mountain Collegian, the student-run newspaper founded in 1891, disclose a wealth of historical perspective. Each story in these issues and every detail is a reflection of the times.

Breaking story

In the October 27, 1938 edition of the Collegian, one of the “breaking stories” was headlined, “Coeds cut by glass.”

The paper reported that four “Aggie girls” were injured while riding south of Fort Collins. A pheasant flew in front of their car, striking the windshield and shattering it. The girls received minor cuts on their faces and arms from the flying glass.

At the time of the story, Fort Collins had a population of just over twelve-thousand and was still very rural.

The milieu of World War II

The October 11, 1945 edition, published near the end of World War II, carried classified advertisements for Bomber crew electronic flight trainers. The simulators were created by Bell Telephone Laboratories for the Navy and simulated flight perils such as fouled fuel lines and “conked” motors.

Dress for the Homecoming Dance, October, 1948 was dresses, hose, and heels for women; suits, ties, and shoes for men.An article in this issue of the Collegian stresses that dress for the 1945 Homecoming dance is nonnegotiable. "Women are to wear dresses, heels, and hose and the men were to wear suits, shoes, and neckties."

A sampling of Collegian classified ads in the post-war era can be found in the October 31, 1947 issue.

Inside the large-page format you'll find ads for Arrow shirts and ties, the Parker 51 pen, Coca Cola, RCA Victor Victrola radio-phonograph, Scott’s Radio and Appliance, Paramount Laundry, the White Palace restaurant, Beauty Haven, and Conrad’s Shoe Department. There are half-page ads for Phillip Morris, Chesterfield, and Camel cigarettes.

The 60s

According to an October, 1963 issue of the Collegian, Homecoming planners faced a disaster when, the night before Homecoming, a prankster set fire to the mountain of wood that had been stacked in preparation for the bonfire.

Things went from bad to worse when a student’s car was discovered parked next to the inferno. The window of the car had to be broken so that the brake could be released and the car pushed out of the way.

Homecoming organizers then had to work feverishly to gather more wood and rebuild the bonfire.

The first of a new type of Homecoming

The October 29, 1970 Collegian carried a story titled, “The First of a New Type of Homecoming at CSU.”

“Although the traditional Homecoming dance no longer exists at this university,” the story begins, “dances have not been forgotten. A dance will be held from 8 midnight at which Jose Feliciano will perform. The formal dress code of the past has been dropped and the dance will be a come-as-you-like affair.”

The issue featured ads for Johnny’s Liquor, Scot’s Ltd. Clothing, Campus West Liquors, Montgomery Ward, Center Theatre, Little Red Hen restaurant, Whatchmacallit’s Film Shop, Ghent’s Auto, Poobahs (clothing store), Moe’s Sight and Sound, Sunset Drive-in Theatre, Countryside Mobile Homes, and Rocky Mountain Bank.Rally bonfire in the 1930s.

"Homecoming Person"

During the 1975 Homecoming the committee was thrown into a bit of a tailspin when the student body selected a man for “Homecoming Queen.” Votes were taken in the form of donations to charities.

A student named Theron Abbott received the most donations. His picture can be found in the 1975 Silver Spruce above the title, “Homecoming Person.”

World War I to the New Millennium

Each of these stories reveals something about the eras that CSU, as well as our nation, have lived through since Colorado Territory Governor Edward McCook signed an act that created Colorado State University.

In that span of time, we’ve made our way through World War I, the Depression, the Dust Bowl, World War II, the Korean War, the Civil Rights Movement, the 60s and the counterculture movement, the Cold War, the Vietnam War,  the end of the Century, and the start of the new millennium.

It’s fun to look back, and we can, because of the student staff and reporters with the Rocky Mountain Collegian and because of Morgan Library's Special Archives and Collections, which for all these years has kept a “time capsule” of our history at CSU.

A special thanks to Vicky Lopez-Terrill and Gordon "Hap" Hazard from Special Archives and Collections.

The 2013 Homecoming and Family Weekend is Oct. 11-13. Learn more about our events.

Contact: Alumni Association:
Phone: 1-800-286-2586