A Magical, Exotic place — Memories of McMaster
Mac was much smaller when I started in 1947, with about 1100 students. The war had just ended, and a lot of returning veterans provider a countervailing stability to us cocky youngsters fresh out of high school. Most of the time, that is. A bunch of vets lived in Edwards Annex and they had a reputation of being the Campus Wild Ones, escaping the Officially Dry campus with sorties to Paddy Green’s pub. The Annex was one of several buildings built for the military. Now surplus, they were moved to campus to become a men’s residence; they also served as classrooms, library annex, book store and student centre (“the Rec Hut” where you could buy coffee for a quarter, even sandwiches.)
My favourite thing about McMaster is technically a series of events and memories, but they all encompass one very important aspect of McMaster culture: student life. I was involved in all kinds of things while I was at Mac — Welcome Week, Social Sciences Society, MFNSA, and in various capacities in the MSU — and all of them allowed me to meet new people, have a blast, and take a break from my studies. Those times wearing a rep suit in 30+ degree weather or being on campus for over twelve hours to make sure events ran smoothly, although stressful and often sweaty, allowed me to meet some of the best people of my life.
SOME MUSICAL MEMORIES OF MCMASTER UNIVERSITY
A Freshman at McMaster in the year 1946-1947, I was one of a group of female students who were fortunate to live in the President’s House, which, I believe, is now occupied by the Alumni Association. Four of us occupied bunk beds in what may have been the Master Suite, as we had a private bathroom and large walk-in closet.
One night in December we were all abed and dreaming our dreams when we were awakened softly by a choir of angels singing Christmas carols. The “angels” were in fact Senior students who had the privilege every year of touring the Freshmen residences at midnight singing carols. They were standing on the stairs so they could be heard throughout the house.
I don’t remember the occasion when I became one of the singers. The songs were no doubt sweeter when heard from a warm bed than when sung on a cold night.
The following year I lived in Wallingford Hall. It was probably in this year, 1947-48, that Oscar Peterson was invited to play at one of our dances, held from time to time during the year by one group or another.
Some of my fellow students and I, who were not going to the dance, got wind that Peterson was going to be “warming up” at the piano in our Common Room. We didn’t presume to go and sit beside him, but we assembled in a nearby room where one of our mates was confined to bed. From our nearly ringside seats we silently enjoyed his playing. This was early in his piano playing career but it was becoming obvious that he was on his way to fame.
I was not a knowledgeable music listener, but during those years of great jazz and pop music I soaked it all up, to be enjoyed all through my life.
As a current employee and recent grad, I’m so thankful each day, as I get to work with my two best friends–my sister and girlfriend, who I met during our time together doing our undergrad in Commerce. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for Mac. We truly have a great community here, and I’m so lucky to have met lots of great people here on campus, from my new friends, to faculty members, to students, to other staff I work with. I loved my undergrad, and I love working here! Happy Birthday Mac!