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Room 27

By Lisa Ann Jackson and Erick Carlson

Room 27

The efforts of student employees often go unnoticed in the grand scheme of making BYU tick. For instance, early in the century Room 27 of the old high school building kept students busy for nine hours a day, but few knew how much those dedicated students contributed. The 1913 Banyan describes the quiet endeavors of those who worked in the typing room: “It was the evening of the Aggie game. Dusk was already embarrassing the incandescents in ’27’ that were bravely endeavoring to prolong the day. The ‘Y’ band was eclipsing Sousa in the Gym above, and Logan had already begun to warm up. Twenty-three minutes more and the game was on. Then came an order for FIVE HUNDRED ‘legal’ copies of the College cheers to be used at the game. A dash and a shift and the tired type were cutting wax as never before; five minutes later, perfect copies were leaving the duplicating cylinder, and in six minutes more the waiting bleachers were satisfied. Not one of the cheering squad, as they crumpled those sheets, and followed the lines, knew of the effort in Room 27” (p. 96).

Dairy King and Queen

Sure it’s true that some student jobs provide important pre-professional experience. But most simply satisfy the more immediate need for cash.

Such was the case for Janet J. Rex and her late husband, N. Dale Rex. Janet and Dale (both ’63) met at BYU in the early 1960s. During their courtship Dale served ice cream at the CougarEat in the basement of the old Joseph Smith Building. It was at the CougarEat one night after hours that he proved his undying devotion to his then fiancée. As he often did, he rigged the jukebox to play her a song, but this time his supervisor saw him. Dale was fired on the spot. “He loved telling people that his fiancée got him fired,” remembers Janet, smiling that her beau took the girl over the job in a pinch.

After their wedding the couple found more lucrative positions at BYU’s dairy, earning $1.25 an hour rather than the typical 75 or 80 cents paid for other campus jobs. They worked the 2:30 a.m. shift with Dale milking cows and Janet keeping books. Despite the hours, they were pleased to have the extra time together. And Janet, a self-confessed city girl from Southern California, appreciated the education the cattle provided for her, particularly when she and many members of the herd found themselves expecting.

“It was really exciting when I finally saw a cow showing some of the birthing signs Dale had told me about,” Janet recalls. “He always had fun telling the story about me running to get him, looking every bit as big as the cow I was talking so excitedly about.”

With a little pre-training from her bovine friend, Janet delivered her own baby the day after finals that fall semester in 1962. The Rexes graduated the following spring and moved on to other careers. But they never forgot their days scooping ice cream and milking cows to earn their way through school.