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2013 Centennial

Pioneer Hall

Erling Podoll, Aberdeen, S.D.
I arrived at MSTC in July 1943, which was the beginning of a contract with the U.S. Navy for their V-12 program, a pre-midshipman school training endeavor.

My first two semesters were spent in Dakota Hall. Either the Navy or the College was not ready for us, because for more than a week we slept on bare springs with a Navy blanket for a mattress.

My third semester was in Pioneer. It had large fire escapes on the ends that made it convenient for sneaking out at night.

Telford Morgan was my roommate the entire 12 months. After V-12 we met again at Tinian island on July 26, 1945. He did not survive the sinking of the cruiser Indianapolis four days later.

Jim Rabideau, Pasco, Wash.
I just read the latest Connections and chuckled at the picture of my ancient "home" of sorts. I was assigned to the Navy V 12 Unit at MSTC, arriving February 1944, a week past my 18th birthday.

My most vivid recollection of Pioneer happened due to my lack of attention to required duty. After entering Pioneer, on the left hand side of the passageway was a bulletin board. Daily we were to read the watch bill, listing the assignments for standing duty watch for the night hours. On the Monday in question, I stopped and noted I was not assigned. However, I negligently didn't look underneath the clip board and see my name. This was a no-no.

As penance, I was assigned 5 demerits and 20 hours extra duty. Swenson, Schmidt and I missed watch muster, the mandatory gathering of those assigned the night watch. We were mustered before Chief Manuel George Sousa, lovingly called "Stuka man," due to some of his conduct, which we likened to a German dive bomber. He took us to the Galley and asked if any of us knew how to clean pheasants. He pointed out a 55-gallon barrel and told us the 70 odd birds in it needed to be cleaned for the Athletic Banquet the next night. He gave us 2 hours credit for every hour we cleaned. What a deal!

We went at it as truly inspired Navy men. We skinned and gutted the birds, cut them up as directed and finished in seven hours. The Chief inspected our efforts in the nearby refrigerator.

Bless his heart, we learned who really ran the Navy and awarded praise or punishment at the lowest level.

"Since you did such a great job, and took me off the hook (he didn't know how to clean pheasants), I'm giving you credit for the entire 20 hours," he said.

We hardly missed Taps that night.My tour in Pioneer wasn't long, but I have fond memories of the old Hall, and it was old back then.

Don Feller '61, Portland, Ore.
My memories as a freshman at Pioneer Hall in 1955-56 are very specific. I shared a third floor room with another freshman, also from an area small town. Our furniture was rather Spartan: tan steel single beds with a matching desk. I don't recall closets, but our personal wardrobes were limited anyway.

We had one hall-area phone on each floor and when wished to make a 'private dating' call, it was far from private. The bathroom facilities consisted on a large common room with multiple sinks, toilets and showers. In the fourth floor attic, we had washing machine facilities for use when students didn't get home for 'mom' to do the laundry.

The Hall had a proctor who lived on site with his family. John Strom was faculty in the music department and was responsible for keeping order. May students smoked, but alcohol was prohibited. However, when the snow melted in the spring, under certain windows empty quarts of beer were exposed.

Our greatest convenience was the tunnel that connected us to Old Main where all of our classes were. We used it in severe weather, though many of us did not wear coats as we dashed from Old Main to the wooden student union building a few hundred away.