Elvis. Aerosmith. Elton John. Frank Sinatra.
The greats all performed at UD Arena, on the same floor that also welcomed boxers, comedians, gymnasts and other entertainers, said Gary McCans ’68, the director of event services at UD Arena.
The Arena opened in 1969 to entertain men’s basketball fans excited by the team’s 1968 NIT victory and 1967 NCAA Tournament run to the finals.
“When the Arena opened, we were the largest privately owned facility in Ohio,” McCans said.
McCans started working in the ticket office at the Arena immediately after it opened. Every time a new act came through, his staff would have to set aside tickets for a year, in case the IRS or a promoter needed an audit.
After a year passed, McCans grabbed a few tickets from each event and started placing them in a box.
He now has hundreds of tickets, colorful mementos of a bygone era — when a night watching the Beach Boys cost less than $10. It turns out there was an event at the Arena for just about everyone.
“We’ve gone from Lawrence Welk to ZZ Top to country and western — Kenny Rogers and Alabama,” McCans said.
The Portland Trailblazers and Milwaukee Bucks played an exhibition game Oct. 4, 1974, featuring Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It was the first time in their Hall of Fame careers that the former UCLA centers had faced off.
A post about McCans’ tickets on Facebook brought out more memories.
“My very first concert was at UD Arena — Def Leppard’s Hysteria Tour 1987,” wrote Michelle Brooks.
“(I) think I was paid $20 to be a student usher for Queen. Great show,” wrote Tom Didato in another post.
While the Arena still hosts the circus and WGI Color Guard World Championships, many other acts now choose larger venues in Columbus and Cincinnati, where promoters can sell up to 20,000 tickets, compared to UD Arena’s 13,455 or fewer, depending on stage configuration.
Back when the Arena first hosted concerts, acts would bring three or four semis of equipment. Now, McCans said, acts can have 20.
“We can’t fit the shows into our building anymore, they just got so big,” McCans said.
Concerts at the Arena may be a thing of the past, but they live on inside McCans’ ticket box and our memories.
What was your ticket to the stars at UD Arena? Share your story below in comments.
In a small walk-in closet tucked behind office space, University Archivist Jennifer Brancato stores some of UD’s oldest — and quirkiest — treasures. Without setting foot in the space, she can tell you which shelf, cabinet or box each artifact calls home. She just wishes she could tell you what they all are.
Take, for example, a 12-by-13-by-17-inch set of wooden risers bearing 39 smiling (albeit photographed) student-athlete faces. Commemorative gift? Planning tool? Child’s toy? Like many other archive items, this one didn’t come with instructions.
“We identify what we can — old photos, concert tickets and other UD material that was either found or donated,” Brancato said. “We keep very detailed records now, but going back several decades, that practice wasn’t as common, and we don’t have any records.”
This set of bleachers included. Emblazoned with the UD seal on either side, each level holds individual wooden figurines with painted-on football uniforms (red jerseys, yellow pants and blue knee-socks) and glued-on headshots. Each player’s name was carefully printed and adhered in front of every figure. According to the Division of Athletics, the model could be an early predecessor to today’s media guide, which includes a roster, photos and brief player biographies.
While its creator is unknown, the players represented on these wooden steps aren’t, representing some of the University’s brightest sports stars: Tony Furst ’40, Larry Knorr ’40, Ralph Niehaus ’39, Jack Padley ’40. Once giants of the Flyer gridiron, all four have since been inducted into the UD Athletic Hall of Fame.
The figurines perched next to the team boasted equally giant reputations (indeed, in this model, they stand nearly three times the size of the players). One is assistant coach Joe Holsinger, and another is Louis Tschudi ’34, also a member of the UD Athletic Hall of Fame. The most recognizable face belongs to Harry Baujan, a.k.a. the “Blonde Beast,” UD football’s legendary coach and College Football Hall of Fame member.
Baujan served as head football coach from 1923 to 1946 and as director of athletics from 1947 to 1964. He is credited with growing the football program from relative obscurity to national prominence, and Baujan Field was named in his honor in 1961. Now home to the men’s and women’s soccer teams, the space hosted the Flyer football squad until the construction of Welcome Stadium in 1974.
Individual honors aside, the 1938 UD football team collectively has a special place in University sports history, as it captured the Buckeye Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship title with a 7-2 record. This would be Baujan’s second, and final, championship title as a head coach; the previous one occurred in 1933 when the Flyers captured the Ohio Athletic Conference title.
Was this model used by Coach Baujan as a more colorful, creative way to manage his team roster? Did a Flyers superfan craft it to celebrate the championship season of ’38? Maybe it was the work of a few football pranksters aiming for a laugh. While its origin may remain buried, the history of UD football — and its legends — hasn’t.
If Tyrone Power were alive today, the dark-eyed Hollywood luminary and one-time University of Dayton student would surely be dogged mercilessly by camera-toting paparazzi. After all, the dashing star not only starred in scores of hit movies but rode motorcycles, dated his co-stars and was married three times. His uncle even skimmed money from his film royalties, leaving the actor destitute and financially reliant — gasp — on his second wife, herself a film starlet.
Indeed, in a fall 1939 issue of the Exponent, UD’s student magazine, a survey of coeds listed Power as their fourth most-favorite movie actor. (He was bested by Errol Flynn, Jimmy Stewart and Gary Cooper.)
Those fans may have had the right idea. Power made dozens of films and was, during a 44-year tenure in Hollywood, called mystical, darkly handsome, a glorious matinee idol and rather tragically, “forgettable,” said Kevin Sandler, associate professor of film and
media studies at Arizona State University. “He was an enormous star that few people remember,” Sandler said.
Born in 1914 in Cincinnati, the scion of an acting dynasty that included his father, Tyrone Sr., and his comedian grandfather, Power attended for one year at St. Mary’s Institute for Boys, UD’s preparatory school.
Although he eventually graduated from Purcell High School in Cincinnati in 1931, his days in Dayton weren’t forgotten. When the Flyer football team traveled to California in November 1939 to face the St. Mary’s Gaels, Power hosted the contingent. Wrote longtime Dayton Daily News sports editor Si Burick, “… that was a great party that Alumnus Tyrone Power gave the boys on the Twentieth Century lot in movieland.” (Read more about the trip on UDQuickly.)
Power’s father helped him land a small role in The Merchant of Venice in 1931, but it wasn’t until 1936, when Power appeared onscreen in the movie Girls’ Dormitory, that his wild good looks snared the attention of a legion of swooning fans.
20th Century Fox saw the writing on the wall and signed Power to a multiyear contract.
He began landing roles in swashbuckling films like Jesse James and The Black Swan. But Power languished still. In a review of his performance in 1940’s The Mark of Zorro, writer Bosley Crowther said, “Mr. Power rather overdoes his swishing, and his swash is more beautiful than bold.”
“He didn’t transcend the limitations of his movies like other good-looking actors from that era,” Sandler noted.
Power joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942 and served for several years as a pilot flying cargo in for troops fighting in the Battle of Iwo Jima. “He was, however, impressive in that right,” Sandler said.
After his stint in the military, Power returned to Hollywood and married his second wife, Linda Christian. They had two children, Romina and Taryn. In 1958, Power suffered a massive heart attack while filming a sword-fighting scene for Solomon and Sheba. He died en route to the hospital.
“Ironically, he earned his best reviews for Witness for the Prosecution,” Sandler said. “It was the last movie he completed before he died.”
Tyrone Power would have turned 100 years old this year.
In 1875, there were 3,112 patents granted by the British Intellectual Property Office. In 2014, one of them — Patent No. 2168 — can be found in the University of Dayton archives.
Brought to Albert Emanuel Library by the late Brother James Loughran, S.M., in March 1949, the patent has, since then, remained ensconced in its original protective case — a heavy, round clay box that reminds you more of a tortilla warmer than a legal document safe.
“From the possessions of Mrs. Connolly of Washington, D.C.,” wrote Loughran on the note attached to his delivery. At the time, Loughran was on the maintenance staff of Dayton’s Chaminade High School; he relocated soon after to California, where he spent nearly 30 years on staff at Marianist high schools there. He died in 1977.
“I believe it’s what is called a letters patent,” said Jennifer Brancato, University archivist. “The patent itself — which opens to nearly 30 inches wide by 20 inches tall — appears to be made of parchment, which needs the same conditions as paper, so it can last an extremely long time with the proper temperature, humidity and storage.”
While we don’t know why Loughran brought a 75-year-old patent to UD, nor how it came to be in his possession, we do know something about its technology. Filed by James Samuel Brooks of Pittsburgh, the application was for “an invention of an improved method of and apparatus for backing electro-type shells.”
First invented in 1838, electrotyping is a chemical method for forming metal pieces that produce an exact facsimile of an object with an irregular surface, such as a coin or sculpture. By the late 1800s, electrotyping had also become the standard method for producing plates for letterpress printing, a practice that was widespread into the 1970s.
The method Brooks invented made the process more efficient. Machinists would pour metal around forms that often shifted or floated, then spend hours trimming excess from the edges and smoothing uneven areas. Brooks’ invention kept the form still, resulting in smooth surfaces that were the exact thickness desired, saving time and labor.
“Generally, an American inventor would seek a patent in another country to protect the invention in that country,” notes Michael Jacobs, a registered patent attorney and Distinguished Practitioner in Residence in the UD School of Law’s program in law and technology. “The patent may have some historical significance, but it is hard to tell. I wasn’t able to find much information, nor trace it back to a corresponding U.S. patent. It remains a mystery.”
While Brooks’ method was handy, it wasn’t especially fruitful, and the patent expired in 1895. Several similar patents were filed in the U.S. in the 1930s.
UD faculty are no strangers to the patent office. See Page 6 of the Autumn 2014 issue for the latest invention from a biology professor.
What major, which house, when to (finally) do the laundry: a college student’s life is full of decisions. For nearly 20 years, one familiar voice helped UD students make one of their most important choices: where to eat.
Do you take the easy route and stop by Kennedy Union after class, or do you — knowing that it’s breadstick day — hike up the hill to Marycrest? Thanks to a telephone message programmed by Telecom (now, UDit) and recorded by dining services, Flyers in the 1990s and 2000s could make an educated choice.
Willie Hickey ’88, the longtime voice of 229-FOOD, says the now-defunct menu hotline originated after the
department’s secretary found herself inundated with calls inquiring about that day’s options.
“What the soup of the day was, what was for lunch, if we were making their favorite sandwich: people wanted to know,” he says. “So, we started it out of necessity, but it grew, taking on a life of its own and gaining a following.”
While the hotline met the immediate need of chicken-noodle-or-vegetable-beef, it also offered a daily helping of warmth and humor. Hickey began adding jokes — usually bad ones, he admits — to the end of each recording, and coined his now-famous sendoff, “Remember today to eat well and do good work.”
“We all loved Willie,” says Paula Smith, executive director of dining services. “His phrases are still quoted often in our department.”
Hickey spent nearly 20 years in dining services, starting in 1987 as a kitchen production supervisor while still a UD student and working his way up to general manager of Kennedy Union dining. With a few exceptions, Hickey recorded the menu every day for nearly 20 years until he left UD in late 2008. After his departure, dining services retired the phone line and placed menus online. Today, he is a special education teacher at Dayton’s Meadowdale PreK-8 School.
Many students didn’t know who the voice on the other end belonged to — but calling in each day was about more than food.
“It was less about hearing what was actually on the menu and more about getting a kick out of how enthusiastically the voice on the other end read the day’s selections,” recalls Courtney Wendeln Deutsch ’98. “It was like a dramatic reading of main dishes and side items. No one could make a chicken cutlet sound more delicious. And those terrible jokes at the end of each recording were worth waiting for. Kudos to him for taking a mundane job duty and turning it into something fun for students to enjoy and remember.”
As manager of the University’s most popular dining option, in person Hickey found himself with another moniker. “I was also known as ‘the guy in the tie,’ since I was on the floor a lot,” he says. “It was my favorite part of the job. I got to meet and help a real cross-section of campus, from the president to first-year students and everyone in between. Everyone eats.”
The question isn’t, “Do you still have your fuzzy button?” It’s, “Where is your fuzzy button?”
They live in drawers, nestled next to multicolored paper clips and rolls of Scotch tape; on walls, tacked beneath calendars and dog-eared photos; and in basement trunks, buried with a couple of yearbooks and four years’ worth of ticket stubs. Even out of sight, the fuzzy button — a trademark of the late Father Matthew Kohmescher, S.M. ’42 — still carries an impression.
A philosophy graduate, Kohmescher — who died from cancer in 2007 — served as chair of the religious studies department for 20 years, leading the program during the transformative Vatican II years and the hiring of the University’s first Protestant and lay theology faculty in the 1960s.
He was known by several monikers, from the “grandfather of Founders Hall” to “Father Beanie,” thanks to a distinctive red and blue skull cap. As the unofficial UD greeter welcoming future Flyers to campus, he was simply “Father Fuzzy.”
“A ‘fuzzy,’ according to Father Matt, is a way to make the world a better place through a smile, a gesture or a helpful act,” said Brandon Artis ’09, who worked alongside Kohmescher for two years as a student tour guide. “Every student who came into contact with him learned about the fuzzy pledge. I still have my button; it sits on a bookcase, next to a picture I took of him. The pledge was simple in application but its implications were potentially monumental.”
As Kohmescher explained in a 1998 interview, “The older I get, the more compassionate and understanding I become. I’ve learned that you can’t change the world by [complaining] about it. Even if you pull all the weeds, if you don’t plant flowers, you still end up with just mud.”
Wrote Jackie Sudore-Flood ’95: “I loved Father Matt. He was my angel during my four years at UD, and I learned so much from him. One nugget that has always stayed with me: You don’t have to always like the things you do, but you must always love yourself. I still have my fuzzy pin from 1991.”
During his last year volunteering with the office of admission, Kohmescher greeted more than 4,000 visiting families, estimates Carin Andrews ’08, former campus visit coordinator. The fuzzy pledge was also a reminder to live responsibly and make wise choices, she said.
“Tough subjects we have difficulty tackling with our own children — alcohol, drugs, sex — Father Matt would discuss with warmth, understanding and compassion, knowing that these were concerns many parents have when sending their children off on their own. There won’t be another like him,” Andrews said.
She catches a glimpse of her fuzzy button, pinned next to her door, as she leaves her house each morning.
It sounds like a never-published Nancy Drew book: The mystery of the hidden hatchet.
Sent to University Archives 40 years ago by then-president Father Raymond Roesch, S.M. ’36, this handheld tool — a mere 12-by-6 inches but weighing in at 2 pounds — was unearthed during the last significant overhaul of Immaculate Conception Chapel.
“This hatchet was found in the base of the main altar in the chapel when it was removed during the renovation in 1971,” Roesch wrote. “Thus, it was probably used in the construction of the chapel in 1869.”
The chapel is UD’s third-oldest building (behind Zehler and Liberty halls), celebrating its 145th anniversary next year. Steam heat arrived in 1898, followed by electric lights a year later.
A major renovation also occurred in 1949.
While the tool’s origin is uncertain, Doug Gaier ’86, president of the Ohio Tool Collectors Association, agrees that it looks like a shingling hatchet, a common construction tool in the 19th century. A smaller sibling of an ax, it was used to shape shingles and nail them in place, with a notch on one end for pulling nails.
University Archivist Jennifer Brancato has one theory.
“According to Eric Sloane’s book, A Museum of Early American Tools, these hatchets had a hole in the handle so the worker could hang it from his wrist. Ours doesn’t have a hole, so maybe it was dropped and never picked up,” she said.
Or, its placement could have been intentional. Placing relics beneath altars was a frequent liturgical practice, said Crystal Sullivan, director of campus ministry. In Catholic theology, an ax or hatchet can be an emblem of St. Joseph, indicating his work as a carpenter.
Covered in decades of dirt and rust, a maker’s mark on one side of the blade is illegible, save for a clear “No. 2” etched at the top and the words “cast steel,” indicating its blade material. The handle is carved wood, worn smooth with age.
A good mystery isn’t complete without a twist, though. Viggo Rambusch, whose New York City-based architectural design company completed the chapel renovations in 1971, remembers it a bit differently.
“I have fond memories of Father Roesch and the remodeling of the chapel for post-Vatican II,” he said, “but for some vague reason, I think the hatchet was found in the pulpit.”
If there are any secrets left to uncover in UD’s chapel, they might be found next year: renovations to update the space are planned for 2014.
Construction worker Mark Wallen once spotted a 1960s RC Cola can sitting on an I-beam in the ceiling of Good Samaritan Hospital during a renovation project.
But when he stumbled upon a yellowed, brittle envelope covered with sawdust during the renovation of Founders Hall, he immediately knew he had discovered something far more intriguing.
“I took my pocket knife and carefully opened the envelope. I thought it was cool because it was like finding a little time capsule,” said the plumber with Wat-Kem Mechanical.
The letter, scribbled in cursive, was dated Feb. 23, 1956: “I, John Beckman, have secretly slipped this note into the inner wall of this partition when it was being constructed,” wrote the first-year student from Ottawa, Ohio, who was studying pre-optometry. “Let this note be kept for ages in the silent walls of this chapel.”
And it was for more than half a century — until Danis Construction embarked on a $10 million renovation of the 400-bed residence hall in May.
The surprising find didn’t surprise John Beckman’s family. “He was an ornery guy. He sometimes did the unthinkable,” said Midge Lause, 74, of her older brother who was known for his dry sense of humor.
Beckman, of Toledo, died of Parkinson’s disease on Sept. 13, 2010, at the age of 74. He only attended the University of Dayton for a year before briefly entering the seminary.
He was not destined to be either an optometrist, like his grandfather, or a priest. He managed Doebel Flower and Greenhouses for 15 years before opening his own flower shop, Parc Fleurs, in Toledo. He and his partner, Erwin Heer, also owned and operated three Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries stores.
None of that popped up in the University’s records. Relatives, friends — and even strangers — filled in the blanks when the University posted a photo of the note on its Facebook page and asked for help locating John Beckman. Nearly 400 people shared the request; dozens more wrote in.
2009 grad Louis Guzzo’s aunt tracked Beckman down through genealogy software. Eileen Richmond, of Belmont, Mass., went a step further and reached out to nephew Stan Beckman, who operates the 126-year-old family-owned Beckman Jewelers in Ottawa, and Beckman’s sister, Midge. Richmond even posted a link to Beckman’s obit on UD’s Facebook page.
What would Beckman think of the discovery of his secret letter?
Niece Rebecca Krouse posted on Facebook, “I know he is smiling in heaven knowing this was found.”
His brother Pete thinks differently: “He’d laugh and say, ‘I never thought they’d find that.’”
Her first thought, she admits, was not entirely positive.
“A few years ago, I got a call from facilities asking if my department would be interested in an unused set of campus dishes. My mental image was of a bunch of old, mismatched things — a yellow cup, a blue plate; stuff nobody wanted,” said Pat Dolan ’91, retired dietetics program director.
Skeptical, but still curious, Dolan headed downhill from her Frericks Center office to the Alumni House on L Street. Tiptoeing across drop cloths and maneuvering around stepladders, she made her way through the soon-to-be new office space to a dusty cabinet, ready to be repurposed once it was free of 200 pieces of dinnerware. The construction crew saw surplus; Dolan saw possibilities.
“The first words out of my mouth were, ‘These are too good for us,’” Dolan said of the extensive matching china set, which includes 85 cups and saucers and 32 dinner plates, among other items. “Then I clamped my hand over my mouth and said, ‘You didn’t hear me say that. How soon do you need them moved?’”
Born in New Castle, Pa., at Shenango China Co. in the first half of 1964, the set was originally purchased for use in the president’s dining room in Kennedy Union. Used at various functions for more than two decades (and bearing markers of its birth year, like a complementary set of ashtrays), the set was moved to the Alumni House in 1990.
Heavy and white, with a raised laurel rim surrounded by a thin silver band, the dishes are a custom version of the company’s popular Carlton Shape pattern. Shenango China, which produced china for American Airlines, the U.S. Army and five U.S. presidents, closed in 1991. Today, the average starting price for a Shenango piece is $15.
Dolan envisioned adding the dishes to a new campus food education lab, then in the planning stage; however, the space-hogging dishes needed a new home immediately. Discouraged, Dolan was ready to let the idea go — until a colleague found space in an overlooked closet.
Armed with brown boxes and stacks of newspaper on the first day of class, Dolan greeted students in her health and sport-science course with a hands-on assignment. The group packed up every teacup, bread plate and fruit bowl, loaded them on carts and wheeled the set back up the hill to Dolan’s office. In February, those same first-year students — now seniors — helped move the dishes into the newly opened ProduceOne Food and Nutrition Laboratory in College Park Center.
A definite improvement over the disposable plates students used previously, Dolan said the dishes come with one complaint from students: “Now, they have to wash dishes again.”
For more on the food lab, see “Home cooking.”