March 20, 2018, Vol. 24, No. 14

Stories of Summer Terms and Quarter Breaks

I spent almost every summer (B term) in Houghton while I attended Michigan Tech. Those were the best summers of my life! I remember having class Monday through Thursday, with Friday being our day off. Fridays I would sleep in, have a late breakfast, and by noon, I was on the beach. Usually, you could find me at Hancock beach, lying on a beach towel with some snacks and a textbook. Fridays were the day that a lot of Tech students hit the beach. I remember one Friday, I was at Hancock beach when the Portage lift bridge got stuck. No one could leave the peninsula, so I just stayed at the beach! There were days when I would be there until the sun started to go down. Sometimes, we would venture to other beaches, like Agate or Bete Grise. Bete Grise had to be my favorite beach, though we were almost stranded there with a dead car battery and no cell phone service. Honestly, nothing beats the adventures I had exploring beaches in the summers while living in Houghton.

Kelsey P. Waugh ‘12


My most memorable quarter break was between winter and spring quarters in 1974. A group of mining and metallurgy students (about twenty of us) went on a bus tour of some mines in Illinois and Missouri. This happened to coincide with the gas shortages of the era and a blizzard in the Milwaukee to Chicago area. Professor Atwood, a metallurgy professor, was the driver. The bus was a Tech owned school bus.

Everything went fine until Milwaukee. We stayed at the Y downtown overnight and awoke to a full blizzard. We set out for Illinois only to find that all of the local gas stations were closed because of a power outage. The bus ran out of gas on an exit ramp on the south side of Milwaukee, plugging up the only open ramp on the freeway. We were pushed to the top of the ramp and out of the way by a snowplow, bending a little sheet metal above the rear bumper. One of us hitched a ride on a passing snowmobile to a local gas station, only to find that they couldn’t pump gas because the power was out.

After getting back to the bus, a Wisconsin highway patrol pulled up, worried that we were broken down. When he found out our only problem was that we were out of gas, he let us siphon a couple gallons of gas out of his tank to get going. We poured some gas from a pop can into the carburetor throat so the engine would start and the fuel pump could pump gas all the way from the tank at the back of the bus. By then the storm was letting up and we found a working gas station on the freeway south of Milwaukee. We were going southbound. The northbound lane of I-94 was backed up for about twenty miles because a truck was jackknifed on a bridge.

It was the end of February and that was the last gas station we saw open until about thirty miles south of Chicago. All the others on the freeway had used up their monthly allocation and were out of gas. This place, the guy was friendly and they had never heard of a gas shortage.

The trip through southern Illinois and Missouri went well and we were on our way back near Janesville, Wisconsin. There was a new 55 MPH speed limit nationwide to save gasoline. A Wisconsin Highway Patrol stopped the bus for doing 56 going down a hill and wrote the professor a ticket. The rest of the trip was uneventful.

As a sidebar, about this time nearly every light switch at Tech included a blue sticker on the wall saying “Turn me off” to save energy.  Are any of those still around forty years later?

Bruce Kettunen ‘76