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Five-Oh
Five-Oh
Published by Swampy Meadows
08-25-2018
Five-Oh

WEST BLOOMFIELD (MI) -- It was fifty years ago this month that my brother dropped me off at the former VA tuberculosis hospital turned dormitory on the west side of Dayton that my life as a Dayton Flyer began. University Hall or UH as it was known to all entailed a 20-minute bus ride from main campus, across the Stewart Street Bridge onto Nicholas Road (what is now Edwin Moses Blvd.); hang a right on Gettysburg Avenue; a quick left onto Germantown Pike and you arrived at what is now, fittingly, the Dayton Correctional Institute.

UH was, for rather obvious reasons, an all guys dorm, although to be honest the concept of co-ed living quarters wouldn’t be introduced at UD for several decades. I have often wondered if one of the prerequisites for being assigned to UH was that you had to have attended an all-boys high school because a lot of the guys did so. Female visitors were few and far between, the exception being an open house “cook-out” held during Freshman Orientation. Busloads of our distaff classmates were somehow coerced to come out to “West Campus” to see how the other side lived. Why they did so I have no idea. Musta been the free food.

A friend and I actually missed the last “Blue Goose” to UH one night and ended up walking the five miles back to our beds. For some reason no one wanted to pick up two white guys hitchhiking at 1:00 am on the west side of Dayton.

UH was where I was to be graced with the nickname of “Swampy” Meadows. I was a member of the undefeated 3rd floor north touch football team. Everybody on the squad had to have a nickname and they all did except for me, until my teammates visited the infamous Bookstore bar across the railroad tracks from main campus on Trinity Avenue. The bouncer was a dude named Gary and he looked just like me. The guys knew that my brother also attended Dayton so they asked Gary if he was related to Jim Meadows. Gary had been sampling a bit too much of the Bookstore’s finest swill and blurted out “Meadows…what the f*ck is his name? Swampy Meadows?”

I wasn’t with them, so the guys rushed back to UH and woke me up to tell me that they had finally found a fitting moniker for me: Swampy Meadows. I hated it. However, by the time I met my now wife during sophomore year I was introducing myself as Swampy and all of her family and my friends from UD still call me that. Thanks guys!

One of the banes of the existence of any resident at UH was ROTC drill. It was held at 8:00 am sharp in the former airplane hangar turned basketball courts adjacent to the dorm and consisted of learning the basics of marching as a unit in full uniform. ROTC was a requirement for two years at that time (fortunately it was reduced to one year after we were freshman). During Christmas break my dad the surgeon removed a pilonidal cyst from the base of my spine. He also wrote a note asking my CO to please excuse me from ROTC drill – for the entirety of second semester! I was still required to show up at 8:00 am (and did so in my pajamas), but after the CO took roll call I was excused. Fortunately, none of the ROTC officers ever saw the supposedly incapacitated me playing hoops every night on the very same floor.

Looking back at my four years at UD I am struck by what a low budget operation UD really was at that time. Our freshman class was the largest up to that point, some 2,000 strong and the U was totally unprepared for all of us. Not only did they fill UH to capacity, but many frosh were placed into off-campus housing, like my HS buddy Mark Hurley who ended up in a dump on Jasper Street not far from the Fairgrounds. Ground was broken for the UD Arena which was basically built underground and at a ridiculously low cost. Perhaps the ugliest building of all time, the Roesch Library sprang up on campus. Fortunately, it has been re-skinned in an all-brick exterior to match the rest of main campus. If you wanted to play some pick-up hoops on main campus, good luck, as the Fieldhouse was constantly in use. You could resort to the rickety Women’s Gym, but then you might have to share the floor with the Flyerettes like I did one time. No PAC…no Rec Plex…no nothing. Ancient buildings like St. Joe’s were cold, creaky and literally falling apart. Nothing like the stunningly beautiful campus that it is today.

It has also been five decades since I graduated from Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Massachusetts and we will be holding our 50th reunion over the Labor Day weekend in North Conway, New Hampshire. There were 69 guys in my graduating class and amazingly five of them – myself, Bill Francavilla, Mark Hurley, Paul Bennett and Jim Waite – attended Dayton for undergrad or grad school.

What a long, strange trip it has been.

That’s it “From the Swamp.”
You can email me at: swampy@udpride.com
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  #1  
By Flyer 86 on 08-25-2018, 11:14 AM
great post ... Jim. Thanks
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  #2  
By jack72 on 08-26-2018, 10:38 AM
Thanks. Great post and great memories, although I was lucky enough to be in Stuart Hall, which still looks pretty much the same from the outside.

My freshman year I worked part-time in the old library, so I could fully appreciate the beauty and comfort of the new library when it opened.
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  #3  
By UACFlyer on 08-27-2018, 09:18 PM
Low budget operation....

The sentence describing our U as a "low budget operation" really struck me. It was indeed...at a level that more recent grads could not imagine. When I was a student at UD the parking lots were not paved...that is not with asphalt. They used a process known as a "penetration" job. Hot tar was sprayed on the surface followed by a layer of crushed stone that "penetrated" the tar. It was cheap!

And campus maintenance was practically nonexistent....little if any attention was paid to lawns, bushes, landscaping in general.

Today's UD? The last time I visited campus was 2010...and I have never seen a campus maintained as beautifully. It was like a park or garden. Gorgeous!

The transformation was gradual occurring over decades...but really took off when Dan Curran arrived. When he first arrived tennis courts occupied the space where the beautiful central mall now exists.

Curran's era was truly transformative. Spina has a very tough act to follow.
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  #4  
By Chris R on 08-27-2018, 11:13 PM
The place was a dump in the mid 90s when I was in school too. I hate to say it, but it was true. Sherman and Wholleben weren't even air conditioned. I had a frosh English class at 9am in Sherman. No A/C. The classrooms looked like they were from some 1950s Andy Griffith episode with cracked green linoleum checkerboard tile and cinder block walls. I had just graduated from Centerville where the entire school was A/C'd and carpeted. I thought "my God what have I done." About the only thing missing were nuclear fallout signs. The buildings had that musky dusty smell you cant really describe but know it when you sniff it.

When Humanities was built my soph(?) year, I thought it was the Taj Mahal. Now its just another building. Im not sure I saw a potted plant my entire 5.5 years on the hilltop. The morning stench of KU grease fires billowing out of the stacks about made me gag. Smelled worse than the Cargill plant.

Today's students have no idea how good they have it. UD didnt just catch up to normal standards, they have taken it to a new level of chic.
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  #5  
By FlyingArrow on 08-30-2018, 11:48 PM
I arrived in the mid-90s from Dayton Public Schools. Campus seemed fine to me.
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