Reminiscing...

warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /home/mit8kuo9/public_html/baker/index.php:1) in /home/mit8kuo9/public_html/baker/includes/common.inc on line 153.

 This thread is for memories and reminiscing from Baker alumni of all years...

Dave Lee writes....

The first two years of [the 1970s] were tumultuous across America.  In the year before I got there, there was a somewhat violent riot in Cambridge that spilled onto the campus (if memory still serves.)  The draft was still on, Watergate hearings were occurring, etc, etc. 
 
When I entered the housing lottery during R/O week 1972, I felt I had lost by being put into Baker, and I was not alone in that.  2 years later we become "co-ed" and were over-subscribed as a choice of dormitory.  I think the encounter with the holy mystery of the unknown, ie women, is responsible for much of that turn-around.  The depth of this mystery can be sensed by reading the ExecCom minutes of Todd Moser from 1973.  (I see you already have a beautiful copy of (at least some of) these documents, so I will return mine to the basement. )
 
However, I was having an excellent time in Baker House before the women arrived.  I recall feeling very lucky to linger after dinner at one of the big round tables in the dining room and hear about interesting UROP projects and cool technologic hackery that guys were working on.  When Bruno dropped the piano, one of the cool things was that some guy was going to film it with a "high-speed" film camera.  Another guy called himself Captain Video and walked around with a large video camera which was unknown to the consumer society of that time.
 
The greatest effect on me was to enter into and function as an individual, separate from my family, within a relatively large living group full of intelligent and interesting people who did not see themselves as part of an elite (the way I felt was the case at fraternities.)  We also felt the power of being allowed the chance and responsibility of changing the group to co-ed.
 
Dave Lee

Dean Baker's meeting with all the residents in 1949-50

 You might wish to add to the timeline the meeting Dean Baker had in 1949-50 (spring, I think) to which all residents were invited (and many attended) in response to complaints from the (then) Catholic hospital just to the east of Baker House about residents accompanied by women leaving by the front entrance in the early hours of the morning.  Baker's advice, as I recall:  Use the back door.
 
Tony Ralston 

Baker House memories

I have many Baker House memories, some of which I can share, and some I can't...  I arrived is Sept, 1974, cautioned by my older brother to not join a fraternity, because all his fraternity dues ended up being spent on beer for the social chairman's friends,  I filled out my lottery card to live in Baker House, where you will later learn I ended up being one of the social chairman's friends.   I don't remember why I put Baker house down first, It was partly because it was going to be coed, with freshman women moving in for the first time that fall, and partly because it was close to campus,and the boat house, and partly because the people their were so naturally friendly.  My first room assignment was 101, with Jerrome Turner and Randy Cook, neither of whom lasted past the first semester of thier sophmore year.  Ron and Jane Prinn were next door in the Senior Tutor's suite, Ron was working very hard on Atmospheric modeling I think, something about freon....
 
Fall is a hard time for a freshman at MIT.  The days quickly grow shorter and colder, while the study load becomes more isolating and the lectures more incomprehensible.  In room 101, the days grow dark quickly, since the Shadow of TDC next door block out all light after 2 PM.   We also got to talk to everyone coming and going to TDC, between our windows and the Baker Dumpsters.  I think I went home, to Wallingford, Connecticut,  7 or 8 times that fall, missing both family and the solid friendships I had in high school. 
 
More to follow......
Paul Malchodi

Some Baker memories from Henry Sharp '50...

Here's a couple items I'll bet you didn't know about Baker. That first year, 1949-'50, at least 90% of the occupants were from our class; we had first choice. I think it was called the Senior Dorm. It became Baker after Dean Baker died in a plane crash in the summer of 1950. That first year the staff entered our rooms every day to sweep the floor, empty the waste basket AND make the bed!! Have fun at the 59th Reunion :) If you have the real 60th next year, I'll definitely be there....smiling!
 

Porters in Baker House

[ by Frank A. Tapparo ]
I believe those of us who resided in Baker beginning in the fall of 1956 were the last to have the experience of hall porters, who made our beds, emptied the waste baskets, and cleaned our rooms. I do not recall if this service stopped at the end of the first term or at the end of our freshman year. Nevertheless, it was a real luxury while it lasted. Two of the most memorable porters, as they worked on the 2nd floor (I was in a triple, 206, with Hank Piehler and Winston "Jiggs" Little), were Richie and Al. Richie, in particular, was a very friendly guy who made elaborately lettered name tags for our doors. I lived in 335 for my sophomore, junior, and senior years but had to make my own bed!

porters in Baker House

During the period 1961-65, some porters in Baker House would make beds and clean rooms. These were generally tipped twice a year the paltry sum of about $5.00. One in particular that comes to mind was the wonderful gentleman, Al "Truck" Beckett. "Truck" was his nickname from football. Al interacted with the Bakerites in a totally pleasant manner with tips on where to fish, commentary on local events, etc. He had a heart of gold.

Joel Shwimer writes...

I remember that in 1963-64 we had a hall porter. He knew enough to look at the aquarium in my across-the-hall neighbor's room to see if his snake was in the aquarium. If it was, he would enter the room; otherwise he stayed out!

[ Frank A. Tapparo ] Joel is

[ Frank A. Tapparo ]
Joel is right and I was not clear in my comment. After the bed-making and waste backet emptying stopped, there were still hall porters who took care of the bathrooms and other common areas. They may have even come into the rooms to do a quick mopping of the floors and clean the room sinks, although I do not recall all they did. In my junior and senior years, along with Abe Feinberg, I worked in the linen room where those who bought linen service could get two clean sheets and a pillow case every week in exchange for their dirty ones.

Erich Woisetschlaeger writes...

[ Erich Woisetschlaeger was a tutor from 1973 to 1975 ]

I'm afraid my contribution to your festivities will be disappointing--I've been trying to appeal to my memory to release some stuff from when I lived in Baker House, but have not had any great success.

The one question I can confidently answer is what years I was in Baker House: it was the academic years 1973/74 and 1974/75. I'm less confident about what floor I was on, but think it was the second. And I'm sure that I didn't function as a tutor, if by tutor we mean someone who helps out with academic matters. I was a graduate student in Linguistics, and what I knew was of little use, perhaps also of little interest, to the students on my floor. This somewhat anomalous situation arose because Baker House, when I was invited to be a graduate resident there, had just been through a traumatic year: two students from Baker House had committed suicide. And I think that there was a sense that the graduate residents might be best used if they focused on trying to contribute to a positive social atmosphere. I realize that this sounds quite vague. And the kinds of things I did were really quite modest, like having an "official" floor-wide "study break" on Sunday evenings, which everyone on the floor was gently persuaded to attend. So, at the very least, from quite early on in the academic year, everyone on the floor knew everyone else.

My recall of who the other tutors may have been is also truly pitiful: all I've come up with is that one of the other tutors was a guy by the name of Howard (I draw a complete blank on the last name), that he was a graduate student in the Artificial Intelligence Lab, and that he was working on a model of what goes into successful juggling.

I wouldn't blame you if you thought now, "And they let a dunce like this into Baker House?" My feeble defense is that this all happened some 35 years ago, and that I have dumped into a mental "Non-Recycle Bin" tons of things that are of far more recent vintage.

Still, without having been able to make a useful contribution, I wish you lots of luck with turning "60 years of Baker House" into a memorable occasion.

Erich

 

Anita Peil writes...

 

[ Anita Peil was a tutor in 1978-79 ]

Wow. I recognized several people who
had been on my floor, but I was in 1978/1979, not 79/80. I remember
Larry, Physics, everyone looked for him before exams. Are Helena and Nafi
Toksoz still among us? They would be quite elderly now if they are.

I think about Helena often. She made me Turkish coffee and read the grounds
afterward. She laughed and asked if I liked to travel. I said I never
travelled. She laughed again and told me that I would. I have now lived in
Switzerland, Germany, Spain, and worked for Swiss, Japanese, Spanish, and
French companies, all in global positions. For many years I thought should
grow wings and sprout wheels.

The only rather recent photo I have is from a few years ago.

Much fun to all!
Anita

 

 

 

Tom Stohlman writes...

[ Tom Stohlman was 4th(?) floor tutor 1977-78 ]

I was at Baker House for the 77-78 School year and it was one of the best years I had at MIT.

Baker House was the biggest Fraternity on campus. And I mean that in the best sense. I spent my undergraduate years at Kappa Sigma (also great years), so I should know. I felt I was part of one big (mostly happy) family.

I was an Architecture major, so I knew about the significance of the design, but living there convinced me that it was (and is) the finest example of modern architecture in the Boston area. Alvar Aalto was a genius.

The fact that my three children survived childhood is one of my proudest accomplishments. Having most if not all of my freshpeople survive their first year is right up there. I called them Loobies.

I think I was the 4th floor tutor, MIT gave me a really big double all to myself. No river views, but right in the middle of everything. They also gave me some money to buy food for the residents. We had random pizza parties, but I mostly baked cookies and brownies in a very large toaster oven.

There was one computer on the whole floor and it was a big one, taking up most of a single.

I suffer from a 30 year fog and can barely remember the names of my children, but...
fellow tutor Ed Griffor, Nafi and Helena Toksoz (Headmasters), and around a zillion first names...Susan, the other Ed, Marlene, Larry, Bill, etc etc.

 

Abbie Griffin writes...

[ Abbie Griffin and Bill Dupont were the Assistant Housemasters (aka Senior Tutors) the Freshman year of the Class of '81 ]

I am indeed the Abbie Griffin for whom you are looking. I was a Baker House tutor from 1975-1977, living on the 3rd floor, and Assistant Housemaster from 1977-1978.

I would LOVE to come for the festivities, but am not available over July 4 weekend - we are with family celebrating my father's 80th birthday in western Maryland.

My husband at the time was William A. Dupont. Last I heard he was a Chemist with Wyeth. He finished a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1979.

Thoughts on being a Tutor:
One of the most interesting experiences of my life. And just fun. You had to be prepared for anything at any point in time. Highlights:
- Organizing which seniors would take care of the drunk freshmen after the first physics test and make sure they didn't throw up all over the building (they put them in chairs in the showers for the night)
-Learning to answer the phone in the middle of the night with a calm voice and instantly wide awake on the first ring, because you never knew what you'd find at the other end of the line.
- Cutting hair for 2 sodas - have a captive audience to keep you in line with the gossip and troubles around the house
- Coaching the A League Football defensive line (husband Bill played safety)
- Creating the MIT women's water polo team, which started as a D league intramural team with a male goalie, but then Wellesley found out about it and challenged us to a game. With a male goalie. Then went Club Team with an all-woman team the next year.
- The blizzard of '78. We started the week with 7 cases of Russian flu. Tuesday night someone phoned in a bomb scare and they evacuated us to McCormick in the middle of the night for hours. Wednesday night borrowed a car, got clearance from the cops, and drove a student home to NYC to attend his father's funeral the next morning. By Friday, 95% of the dorm had the flu.
- Nafi Toksoz, housemaster, coming down with typhoid on a research trip and not making it back to the house for months during 1978 or 9.
- Making Thanksgiving dinners for 50: 4 turkeys, 15 pies, 10 veggies
- Making Christmas decorations and decorating the Christmas tree on the floor every year
- The Six Dicks - and remember their Christmas tree, decorated with condoms?
- Teaching Jim ??? (blind double major who went on to be a lawyer) how to cross-country ski, sail,,, etc.
- Ski trips!!
- Making Sunday dinner for 6 students at a time using only a hot plate and one of the first available microwave ovens, and teaching manners
- Bringing in the midwife every fall for the birth control/pregnancy and disease prevention talks
- Having to move to the hated MacGregor House for the summer they re-roofed Baker House. Getting our revenge on them with a brilliant hack that they couldn't figure out!! Remember the garbage disposal lids floating in the moat that refused to work? No permanent damage, they just weren't smart enough to figure it out. They weren't.
- Piano tosses off the roof

I used to tell people that my "job" was to keep students from becoming pregnant or dependent on drugs, and out of the mental hospital. Judcomm was there to keep the rules, and I loved the split of duties. What impressed me most about my students is that even the most nerdly of them all did something in addition to just studying. Lots of sports, both intramural and NCAA/Club. Photography, yearbook, chess club, bridge club, the outing club, music, you name it. Everyone had some outside interest. I still see some of the "kids" - it looks like Al Presser and family will be coming to visit us in Utah this summer.

Truly wish I could be there to help celebrate!! Is there a Baker House group on Facebook? Should be. Let me know.

Abbie Griffin
Royal L. Garff Presidential Chair in Marketing
David Eccles School of Business
University of Utah
801 585-1772

 

Jong-on Hahm writes...

[ Jong-On Hahm & Norman Wereley were Senior Tutors for 1990-91, I think... ]

Hello Bakerites!

It's so great to see so many familiar names in the distribution list!

Very unfortunately, Norman (Wereley) and I will not be able to make it, as our family (we have two daughters) will be in Korea at that time.

I can't believe so much time has passed, and that we have a daughter about to graduate from high school, nearly the same age as some of you were when we met you. I hope you and your families, friends, loved ones are all doing well.

Best,

Jong-on Hahm 

Caleb King writes...

[ Caleb King was the 4th Floor tutor around 1990 ]

Thanks for writing, Tim. My wife and children and I are currently serving in Rwanda at a rural hospital in the northwest part of the country, not far from the mountain gorillas. We come to the U.S.about every other year, and we were just home this past November/December, so, unfortunately I'll be unable to come this summer. I can tell you, though, that our housemasters, during my tenure were Will and Myra Watson. They followed Harald and Irene Reiche. I really enjoyed my time as a tutor, and remember spending lots of time baking brownies, cookies, etc. for weekend snacks. Perhaps the most memorable event was trying to respond to the administration regarding one of our students who was caught stealing money from the ATM in the infinite corridor--he said it was a prank... Hope that helps. Caleb King

Dave Anick writes...

[ Dave Anick was the 2nd floor tutor from 1978-1980 ]

My sophomore yr, 1974 - 75, was the first year that Baker was co-ed. At first, only two floors were co-ed (and I wasn't on either of them). Also there was no carpeting when I arrived in 1973, only linoleum on all the floors, but by the end of my time there two of the floors had received carpeting, including (unless memory fails) 2nd floor.

Do you already have people writing about the great pranks of those days: "freshman shower night", flipping pianos off the roof, "three-man lift", filling a room w toilet paper, annual talent show. They had a powerful effect on house spirit.

Norm Holland writes...

[ Professor Norm Holland and his wife Jane were Faculty Residents at Baker House in the late 1950s ]

Dear Tim,

In answer to your query about other Faculty Residents, the only one I know of is the one who succeeded us. And I only know of him by hearsay, for the administration never notified us about the end of our tenure. An architect appeared one day to inform us that he had come to work out modifications for the new Faculty Resident, Alar Toomre.

All best wishes for your reunion. I doubt very much if I or Jane will be able to attend. We limit our travel these days to grandchildren.

Yours, Norm Holland

Something you can share in your memory book--

I had a grand time as did wife, Jane, in our four years as the first Faculty Residents at Baker House (1957-61). Lots of memories. For example, our daughter Katie was born while we were living in Baker, and we had the grand pleasure of being driven to the hospital with an siren-blowing escort from the MIT Police. Katie became, I believe, the only unmarried woman living in Baker House at the time, but that is perhaps an illusion.

Although I had graduated from MIT, I had also been gentrified at the red brick institution up the river. Jane and I set out to do the same for the students in Baker House. My wife and I would offer sherry (alcohol laws be damned) to twenty or so students every Sunday afternoon. Coats and ties were required, and that created consternation, as did our cat, Herman, who would cut his teeth on Baker House ankles. But perhaps it was a good experience for what our students would find in the big, wide world beyond Baker.

Living at Baker was a wonderful experience for us--I hope it was for the hundreds of students we met at the time.

With our good wishes for your project,

Norm (and Jane) Holland

Frank A. Tapparo writes...

Norm and Jane (and Katie) could not have been better Faculty Residents. To this day it amazes me what they had to put up with during those years. Periodically during my year as house president, I would get a call from Norm requesting that perhaps I could do something about some incident, maybe Bob Pease scaling the outside walls of Baker.

Marc Weiss writes...

Well, to add to Frank's memories one of mine is from a visit with the Hollands where Norm suggested that our having late night women visitors didn't bother him but the sound of there high heels coming down the stairs above their apartment did. He suggested we ask our late leaving guests to remove their shoes!

John Kessinger writes...

I arrived in 1966 and was assigned to room 204.5, which didn't show on any of the floor plans at the signup tables in the Armory, which caused a little anxiety. (That was also the night I discovered that the highest SAT score in the history of my high school was way down on the left hand tail of the distribution for the entering class -- a different story). Apparently the lounge area between 204 and 205 had been closed in over the summer to help deal with a larger than expected acceptance rate for the Class of 1970. Room 204.5 was a triple. My two roomates didn't return for the second semester, so I moved into 204. I think 204.5 was converted back to a lounge the second semester of 1966-1967, but the walls remained as I recall.

John Kessinger, Class of 1970, VI and XV
jkessinger@cfl.rr.com

R Philip Dowds writes...

[ R Philip Dowds wrote a 1970 term paper for 11.34, titled "Relationships between Physical and Social Structure in Baker House". His further thoughts on the architecture of Baker House follow... ]
 

In an era when most dormitories consisted chiefly of a single “perfected” or “optimized” room plan repeated hundreds of times, Aalto intentionally provided a great range of room layouts, including a mix of singles, doubles and triples. This mostly worked out, because as you progressed up the Baker House seniority pecking order, you gained enhanced priority for the “best” rooms. In general, however, most residents thought the worst single was better than best triple.

Even more interesting was his effort to create social areas in the widened corridors, complete with public lounge furniture. However, after a few years all the lounge furniture was confiscated for the private rooms, and the corridor lounges were largely abandoned. I’m not sure, but I think eventually MIT found a way to fill in and privatize the wide corridor areas; most of them may no longer be evident. But I think the central social areas near the entry remain quite popular; at least that’s how it is for the retirement housing I design (where corridor lounges never have a soul sitting in them).

Interesting to note, however, the current model for dorm design is that of a “suite”, where four or six students live in what amounts to a small apartment. The lesson is that maybe sharing works for students, but it works better for small groups than for big ones.

R Philip Dowds AIA
Principal • Cell Phone: 617.460.4549

L E V I + W O N G
D E S I G N A S S O C I A T E S I N C

45 Walden Street, Concord, MA 01742
t 978 371-1945 x45 f 978 371-0069
 
 

Ed Talley writes...

From: Edward Talley <etalley@optonline.net>
Date: Sun, 03 May 2009 14:21:15 -0400
 
Hi All,
 
I don't know if I'll join you for Baker House at 60 reunion; I'll be there a month earlier for Class of '59, of which I am a member, 50th reunion.
 
I do want to tell you of memories during my stay at Baker from Sept.1955 to June 1959.
 
I began life at Baker in Room 311, which was a triple with a single bed and one bunk bed. I have some pictures, which I will send separately in case your ISP resists large folders.
 
Baker provided limited linen service. Once a week a member of the dormitory staff (not a student) changed the bed linens. This service ended in either February or June 1956. I was told that in previous years linen service was more often, and soap was provided. This quasi-hotel service was provided so students would not be detracted from studying.
 
There was no security at the time. One could leave Baker at night from the side door,  walk to Burton and re-enter without a key. There were no campus police.
 
No women were housed at Baker. In fact the number of women in the class of 1959 was about 9 out of 930 or so students. Women could visit every day but had to leave the dorms by 10PM on weekdays and 1AM on Fridays and Saturdays. The chime system would sound a sequence of seven chimes twice, at the appropriate time as a reminder. The only exceptions were: Women were allowed until 3AM the night of the spring military dance, and 4AM on the night of the Walker Assembly, a white tie affair.
 
In the spring of 1957 there was a student 'riot' in which some participants set up a burning barricade across Memorial Drive in front of Baker House to protest a hike in tuition and plans to expand graduate education at the expense of undergraduate education. This event contributed to the start of a campus police department in the fall of 1957 or 1958.
 
Hot plates were banned as Baker was not sufficiently wired. But most everybody had a refrigerator ca 1940's that had no freezer. These were rented out for $5 a month.
Many students had radios and simple high-fidelity systems. I can recall only one had a TV set. The campus radio station, Technology Broadcasting System, WMIT was connected to Radio Radcliffe. Studios were in East Campus. This was before Ted Turner bought the rights to WTBS from MIT. Every room in Baker house was equipped with a TBS audio jack. There was a pay phone booth on each floor and three in the lobby.
 
I was a member of the Baker House Committee for one year. Members were elected and served as student representatives. One spring there was a Jungle Dance, As a door prise, the dance committee gave away a monkey which it bought from a Baker resident. The winner did not want the monkey, so the committee bought the monkey from the winner paying for it a second time.
 
The basement of Baker had a billiard  table and two washing machines and two dryers.  There was one lounge with a TV set. Bridge and Hearts were played.
 
We were all budding scientists that worked and studied alone. Fraternities did collect  previous exams and coached their members, We were GDI. There were no floor tutors.
 
Regards,
 
Ed Talley

Random Pictures

Pg032009-07-04 20-20-47Pg013 east