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

Back in My Room…

Credit to Ryan Fenton-Garcia for the photo, who won the Winter Carnival photo contest in 2012.
Credit to Ryan Fenton-Garcia for the photo, who won the Winter Carnival photo contest in 2012.

Hi Kevin,

I was a freshman living in East Wadsworth Hall in 1970. During the year, at least one guy on fourth floor, where I lived, got a waterbed for his room. It was a very early model. Essentially a big, thick plastic bag; no baffles, no frame and no heater. I seem to remember one of the dorm directors coming up and expressing some concern about the weight of the thing, but the guy wasn’t told he had to get rid of it (I remember him using a hose to siphon the water out of it during finals week as he was preparing to move out). I wasn’t going to be living back in the dorms the following year, but it seems to me I heard that there was a new rule for fall ’71 forbidding waterbeds.

The one other thing that some people seem to find surprising today is that the dorm had a gun room where students could store firearms for hunting, target shooting etc. I know there’s still storage through the public safety department, but people still seemed to think it odd that being able to store your guns in your dorm was odd — even after I explained that there was a registration, check-in and check-out policy. A friend of mine still laughs about the fact that he openly carried his cased rifle and shotgun into the dorm to check them into the gun room, but waited until dark to smuggle a case of beer up to his room.

Pat Tearney

Thanks, Pat. I can’t say it ever occurred to me to think of something like a waterbed when I was in school. That would be comfy. –Kevin

Dear Kevin,

When I attended Tech, the most power-hungry devices I remember were radios and popcorn poppers (the coeds probably had hair dryers too, but I don’t know). The only TV in Wadsworth Hall was one maintained by the school on the lower floor–and its best signal came from Thunder Bay, Ontario. It was a very tech-deprived (no pun intended) time, before microwaves, PC’s, etc.; and the university had the only computers.

Neil Foreman
Geology ’67

Thanks, Neil. That sounds a lot like the beginning of my undergraduate years in the mid-90s: we didn’t have the web yet, just access to some by using a terminal into a SunSite. And now I want popcorn!  –Kevin


It was stereo speakers I remember in the 80’s.  There was one kid who had a stereo and he went out and bought speakers that were so large they had to be carried in individually by two-wheeled hand trucks.

He had them cranked up so loud one afternoon, the RA cut the power to the room because he was tired of banging on the door to turn the volume down.  Ah, ‘technology’.  That’s why we’re called Michigan TECHNOLOGICAL University, I would hazard a guess.

Emil J Lesner, ‘88

Thanks, Emil. Never anger an EE with your stereo. They know how to do things. Though I expect impressive—and improvised—displays of technology here. It’s part of what makes the residence halls so much fun. –Kevin