Published: Feb. 1, 2020

Life Back When…

It was the fall of 1969 when I moved into Sewall Hall for my freshman year. I lived in a corner room on the fourth floor (a long walk up!). It was an unforgettable year (the first Earth Day, the student strike and the breakup of the Beatles), and I met some great women there with whom I remained close throughout my four years at CU Boulder. We had such a good time together that we were devastated when they turned it into a freshman-only coed dorm the following school year.

Markie Greer Sparks (Math’73)
Magnolia, Kentucky

vintage wedding photo

Mary Lou and David Rife 

I met my now husband of 58 years in the fall of 1959. He was one of the leading rushers on the CU Buffaloes football team [Dave Rife (PE’62)]. We were married in September 1961, but had not yet graduated. Each of us had another semester to finish our degrees. In order to survive, Dave got a job as a married counselor in a freshman men’s dorm, Willard Hall, for free room and board. We lived and ate in the dorm with several hundred freshman men our first year of marriage. We had a bedroom, bathroom and small sitting room on the second floor. I was the only female allowed past the first floor. Since we were only four years older than the freshmen, we did many activities with the students, like hickey bobbing behind cars on snowy roads! I guess CU dorm living was a good start for our marriage because we are still happily married!

Mary Lou Rife (PE’62)
Blairsden Graeagle, California

As a CU grad and a 25-plus-year CU Housing & Dining Services employee, I was glad to see the pictures and article about the recently opened Williams Village East residence hall in the Fall 2019 Coloradan. It would have been more appropriate, though, if the headline of the article was 21st-Century Residence Hall rather than 21st-Century Dorm. Residence Hall is a more fitting term than the mid-20th-century word “dorm.” A dorm is a building where students sleep. A residence hall is a place where students live, learn, interact with faculty, staff and other students and build community — in addition to sleep.

Elise Graninger (Edu, PolSci’81, MEdu’84)
Louisville, Colorado

CU Boulder roof tileThank you for the delightful article about the gorgeous clay roof tiles capping the buildings on the CU Boulder campus. The first time I saw them, visiting the campus with my father, John Nelson (ElEngr’31) at age 16, I found them irresistible and enrolled two years later.

Martha Nelson Harmann (A&S’61)

During the winter of my freshman year, 1970-71, Boulder encountered a week of constant high winds, ranging up to 70 mph. I found a full red roof tile on the sidewalk near Willard Hall that had been blown loose by the ceaseless gales. I was grateful that this three-pound flying projectile didn’t harm anyone. I kept it for years as a souvenir of the beautiful and unique architecture of CU Boulder.

Doug Henninger (Mktg’74)

More on Ralph Carr

Ver Smith’s letter [Feedback, Fall 2019] lauds Colorado Gov. Ralph Carr for refusing to put Japanese Americans in internment camps, and inviting them to come to Colorado to avoid internment elsewhere. Carr’s courageous, principled stand is to be commended. But... Carr’s defiance didn’t succeed long. In February 1942, little more than two months after Pearl Harbor, the federal government authorized internment camps. It purchased land near Granada in the southeast corner of Colorado for one of them; and on Aug. 27, 1942, in the year before Carr left office, a Japanese internment camp, Camp Amache, opened there.

How forces overrode Carr’s opposition is a story worth the telling. Camp Amache had a peak population of 7,318 (mostly U.S. citizens) before closing Oct. 15, 1945. The site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006. Under the direction of John Hopper of Granada High School, students are involved in researching and preserving the site.

Franklin Bell (Jour’70)
Bluemont, Virginia

theater pipe organ

The Theatre Pipe Organ

Regarding “The Sound of the Silent Film” in the last issue, how can this article not mention the theatre pipe organ which was specifically developed to accompany silent films?

Piano and orchestra accompaniment was described, but the theatre organ was in reality a unit orchestra that provided all the music and special effects required to provide perfect accompaniment for all action and moods. Both of the Grauman Theatres mentioned in the article were equipped with impressive theatre pipe organs. There were many builders, but Wurlitzer was the best known.

With the advent of the “talking pictures” these amazing instruments were mostly retired and many destroyed. However, there are still many in playing condition maintained by loving owners, most of whom are members of the American Theatre Organ Society, an organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of these instruments. Fine theatre pipe organs still impress audiences today in the Denver Paramount and Colorado Springs City Auditorium.

The theatre pipe organ was the real “Sound of the Silent Film” and a truly amazing sound it was!

David Weesner (Arch’72)
Colorado Springs

sports illustratedVictory over Penn State

I am a 1973 CU grad, and was so happy to see that you chose the Sept. 26, 1970, victory over Penn State as one of our biggest wins!

I was at that thrilling game, and I will never forget watching an interview with Joe Paterno prior to the matchup. Paterno stated that CU was lucky to even be playing a team of Penn State’s caliber!

Words cannot fully express how exciting it was to be in the stands that day to witness such a sweet victory.

Nancy (Schweda) Nicholson, PhD (A&S’73)
Durham, North Carolina


I was sent reeling back in time when you published the 1970 Sports Illustrated cover of the Buffs’ huge win over Penn State in your last issue. There’s a story in that photo.

I was 12 and, growing up in Boulder, naturally, snuck into the game.

It set up as one of the most cataclysmic games in Buff history — Bad Dude Stearns, Cullen Bryant and the heart-stopping Cliff Branch vs. the No. 4 Nittany Lions. I was loitering around by the field, looking for an old chinstrap or towel to add to my CU wall collection, when a cool-looking young guy with a beard and New York sunglasses yelled up, “Hey kid.”

It would turn out to be Walter Iooss, who would become arguably the greatest SI shooter of them all. “You wanna carry my cameras today?” he asked. “I’ll pay you.”

I spent that unforgettable day carrying lenses that were almost as tall as me and watching my glorious heroes stomp the Nittany out of the Lions, 41 to a paltry 13.

True to his word, Mr. Iooss gave me $12, cash.

That Thursday, I sat on the lawn waiting for the mailman to deliver the SI to see if one of “our” pictures made it. When he handed it to me, my 12-year-old heart stopped. We got the cover. Even better, it featured no less than a Boulder hero, LB Phil Irwin.

Later, when I became a writer at SI, I met Walter Iooss at a restaurant and told his whole table the story.

“Yeah?” said one of his photog buddies. “How much did he pay you?”

“Twelve dollars,” I said.

They all broke up laughing and hooting.

Walter and I became great friends, and I never once accused him of shorting me. He’d given me a gift — a day that I can still see right now, in Technicolor.

Rick Reilly (Jour’81)
Hermosa Beach, California


Photos courtesy Mary Lou Rife; Glenn Asakawa; CU Athletics; David Weesner