These reminiscences of Academy Square shared by alumni create a composite picture of a place and time gone by. And though that picture recalls Academy Square in an era of decline, it also tells of the enduring veneration for lower campus held by those who walked its halls.
The Academy Square Training Center
By Michael J. Colledge, ’78
My favorite memory of Academy Square came from my stay at the Language Training Mission during the summer of 1973. Because of a sudden influx of missionaries that summer, there wasn’t room enough in the existing facilities to house everyone. That year the Knight Mangum Hall, the Amanda Knight Hall, various “houses” (such as the Iona House), and numerous motels were used to house the missionaries. During my last two weeks prior to leaving for Italy, my district, along with about 200 other elders, was moved to the Academy Square gym, where bunk beds were set up. At that time there was no hot water, and there were only four sinks available. It was fun each morning to see 200 people wake up at the same time and try to shave with cold water. Eventually, we got permission to come to class unshaven. We had to walk over to the Richards Building to shower and shave. Academy Square turned out to be the toughest place I lived in during my mission!
By Dean W. Fotheringham, ’59
The experiences I had at the old lower campus played a major role in shaping my life. Thinking about the old lower campus facilities brought back a flood of personal memories. From 1956 to 1959 I attended art classes in these old buildings. I remember the high ceilings and spacious rooms where drawing and painting classes were held. Oddly enough, I remember the squeaky wood floors in the extra-wide halls and the smell of oil paint and litho ink. Also, when I think of this old building, I recall the great teachers who patiently tutored me in the arts: Roman R. Andrus, ’58, Franz M. Johansen, ’55, and Warren B. Wilson, ’58, to name a few.
I have fond memories of watching the NIT-champion basketball team practice in the lower campus building located on the northeast corner of the block. I seem to recall that they played their games in that tiny gym located on the top floor until the games were moved to the Springville gymnasium. As a lad I became friends with some of the players: Melvin R. Hutchins, ’51, Roland T. Minson, ’52, and others. In fact, they would include me in some of their outdoor pick-up games. What a thrill for a young boy in junior high school.
Ode to College Hall
Richard W. Thomas, ’73
College Hall was distinctive as a branch meetinghouse. At one time, in fun and undoubtedly when I should have been studying, I wrote the following:
Ode to College Hall
College Hall, O College Hall,
To thee we pledge respect.
Where else can people go to church
Where everything is wrecked?
Where else can one find curtains
That were hung by Brigham Young,
And walls held up by faith alone
That shake when hymns are sung?
Where else can one find floors that squeak
Whether one walks slow or fast?
And how does whoever bangs on the heater
Know when the sacrament’s being passed?
Where else does the branch president’s office
Have a pretty sign on the door?
And knowing you’ve been condemned for years
Only makes us love you more.
So College Hall, O College Hall,
For thee our hearts are yearning.
For it’s apparent that from dust thou art,
And unto dust thou art returning.
I was told that, shortly after I left BYU in 1974, our stake president, Jae R. Ballif, ’53, read those verses in a stake leadership meeting, commenting that he read it with mixed emotions. As I pull it out after all these years and reflect on my memories of College Hall, I also read it with mixed emotions.
A Place to Play
By Richard R. Boyle, ’52
My memories of Academy Square cover a lifetime and are linked to some of the most enjoyable periods of my life. I grew up living across the street from the square on First East. To us it was always the lower campus, and we played on the lawns on the south and west and among the buildings. An abiding memory from those days is the sound of music that poured from the practice rooms in the basement of College Hall on the east half of the block. We played our games to the accompaniment of endless scales and practice compositions.
Attending B.Y. High School in the building on the northwest portion of the block included classes held in the other buildings and plays and weekly assemblies held in College Hall. The men’s gym on the top floor of the Training School Building on the northeast part of the block had a great pole to slide from the dressing rooms to the gym floor, exercise ladders, and a Ping-Pong table in a caged area above the gym.
The “Rowdies” of B.Y. High
By Marilynn M. Ricks, ’71
I was one of those fortunate students who attended B.Y. High. I began my education there in the fourth grade. I felt so proud to attend the Brigham Young University Elementary Laboratory Training School. We got a kick out of using that elongated title. I think my class had a reputation for being “rowdies.” The guys had fun sneaking out of windows during class, and the girls weren’t afraid to go down the outside fire escape during gym class on the third floor of the lab building.
I remember the student teachers. While I was in the fifth grade, as a joke on us, one of the sixth grade boys dressed up as a girl and sat with a real student teacher at the side of the class. We couldn’t keep our eyes off him. “She” was weird, but we’d had weird ones before. When he finally revealed himself, we were angry for being deceived.
But the all-time best student teacher story was from chorus class. When a particularly gullible young man was asked to direct the class, we claimed we couldn’t see, so we asked him to stand on a chair. “Mr. Webb always stands on a chair when we can’t see him.” (Mr. Webb wasn’t very tall.) We eventually got him up on the grand piano, and he was leading us from that perch when Mr. Webb entered the room. The student teacher was embarrassed, Mr. Webb was aghast, and yet we all had a good laugh, especially because the student teacher was quite tall in the first place.
When we graduated to the seventh grade we got to walk the halls with the tall and handsome basketball players. Basketball was big at B.Y. High. Even though our enrollment was small, we played as well at the bigger schools in the region. I remember when the Wildcats won the state tournament. My family drove us to Salt Lake City for the championship game. I remember the smell of the sawdust on the inside track of the fieldhouse on the U of U campus. I don’t remember whom we played, but I do remember the final score, 58–51. Almost everyone from Provo stopped and had ice cream at Snelgrove’s afterward to celebrate. Football home games were great, too. Not every high school team got to play in the new Cougar Stadium!
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