Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Alumni enjoy 50-year reunion

June 11, 2001
Graduates of the MSU class of 1951 swing dance to “Pete” Vander Walls Sound of Swing band Friday afternoon at the Kellogg Center. The dance was part of a 50-year reunion weekend, called the Patriarch Reunion, on campus. —

When Edward Koryzno graduated from Michigan State College, campus barely extended south of the Red Cedar River.

There were no McDonald’s restaurants. Disneyland was being built. Microsoft mogul Bill Gates wasn’t even a twinkle in his mother’s eye.

But when Koryzno returned to campus for his 50-year reunion during the weekend, he said it has the same feel.

“It’s changed a little bit, but the air is still there,” he said. “It’s aged gracefully. It’s good to be back.”

The annual Patriarch Reunion - a reunion of MSU graduates of 50 years or more - included a tour of campus, an ice cream date with Sparty and a swing dance.

In 1951, balls, dances and parties were held almost every weekend at the Union.

Nancy McDavid said the Union was the great social hub of the campus.

When she was a student, more than 5,000 cigarettes were sold every day at the students’ gathering place.

“That’s where I learned how to drink coffee,” she said, sipping the drink during a reunion breakfast. “That’s where we spent all our time together.”

Graduate Ralph Smith said he is impressed by the diversity he saw during his tour of campus.

“It looks to me like a lot of the old things haven’t changed, but the student population is more heterogeneous now,” he said.

A panel of five current students proved 50 years has produced some differences in students during a question-and-answer session.

In 1951, women couldn’t wear pants - which cost $6 - to classes during the week.

Even though Alcoholics Anonymous was introduced in 1951, no alcohol was allowed in East Lansing city limits.

A language code prevented students from using less-than-prim words.

“I know we’re not supposed to mention the word ‘riot’ a lot, but that’s it,” said communication junior Rebecca Francoeur, addressing the former students.

And though students’ athletic excitement hasn’t changed, the way students pay for it has.

The student panel estimated a cost of $400 for tickets to major sporting events for the year.

Graduates of 1951 could attend any athletic events for free with their activity cards, which resembled today’s student ID.

Reunion-goers said MSU’s entry into the Big Ten in 1948 is one of their greatest memories of their college years.

“I remember when MSU beat Notre Dame 37-3,” said Smith, who returned to campus for football games for years after he graduated. “We all went down to South Bend to watch it. They were bad over there, swearing and giving us ‘the finger’ - and that was just the nuns.”

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