"I Remember When..."

Memories and reminiscing from Baker alumni of all years…

When the class of '52 started out at Tech, in '48, Baker House was under construction. It had been only 3 yrs since WWII ended. They put us up in what was then called Bldg 22, a military barracks building originally built for war research, I think. There were 8 to my room at the time. It was more like being in the army. Bldg. 22 has long since ceased to exist. It was located behind another student dormitory called, at the time, Eastgate, now, I believe, the Munroe Haydn Wood Bldg.

In the spring of '49 the Administration accepted applications for the then completed Baker House and they assigned me to Room 140, which I fell in love with and where I stayed through graduation.

We formed solid friendships in those days, but, unfortunately, I have lost track of most of those guys, very particularly because I live in Brazil now. But over the years, I've been stateside numerous times, as an employee of the Gulf Oil Corporation, now a Chevron retiree. For a couple of years, in fact, I lived in Pittsburgh, PA, working at Gulf's head office. During my days of professional life, Gulf assigned me to various countries, mostly in South America. Although a Course II graduate, I became more of an attorney and accountant, although I started out in lube oil sector, where they needed a Mechanical Engineer.

With only two of my close friends of those days, I am still in regular contact: Marc Aelion, X, '51, whom I consider to be my “brother”, now living in the vicinity of Sao Paulo, Brazil, but born in Egypt. I talked him into coming to Brazil after he got his post-graduate Chem Engrg. degree and he tells me has never been sorry for coming to this country. The other one is Luis A. Capandeguy, II, '52, my Uruguayan “brother”, who returned to his native Montevideo, Uruguay, after graduation, where he still lives. He comes to visit me just about every year here in Rio, spending about two weeks in my apartment. I love those visits.

All of us, of course, are getting pretty old by now. Marc, Luis, and I were at the campus in '02, alumni day, for our 50th anniversary of graduation. For Marc, of course, it was his 51st, but he had been there the previous year as well and talked the two of us into it.

Many of the guys on the list of student representatives in the period '49/'52 are well known to me, of course, and a number of them were good friends in those days. Those include Seymour Weintraub and Manolo Lieberman. I believe Marc is still in touch with Seymour, now living in the New York area. Manolo Lieberman, whom we used to call the “mad Cuban” (he used to say “comes the Rrrrrevolution” and that was before Fidel). When the “revolution” came under Fidel, he did not return to Cuba and settled down in Barranquilla, Colombia, where he became a wealthy businessman. Unfortunately, he passed away a couple of years of so ago.

Marc is on the list as Dorm Committee Representative in the '50/'51 period. I am sending him and Luis a copy of this message.

Well known to me also were Don Schlatter and Gerry Burns of the New Dormitory Committee in its first year, Ed Facey, Sandy Kaplan (last I know also in the New York area), and Gus Rath. Unfortunately, I am not in touch with any one of them. And then there were two to whom I will be eternally grateful because of the support they gave me in one of my most difficult periods of my life at Tech, after the death of my father: Robert S. (Bob) Gooch and Freddie Lehman. The last I know of Bob is that he was living in Texas (Amarillo, I believe), but I much regret having lost track entirely of Fred. Fred married one of the very few coeds at MIT in those days. I may be far away, but I have not forgotten!! And Eli Dabora, from Iraq, who became a professor at one of the better colleges on the East Coast, a very close friend then. My sincere apologies to many of those good friends of Baker House of the early fifties whose names I might not have mentioned.

Of course there was no co-ed living in the dorms back then and, indeed, as I said, there were only a couple or so on the campus. We had dorm parties each Saturday evening to which we could bring our dates, but they all had to be out of the building by 10PM. At one time I was yanked before the Dorm Committee because I was “caught” perhaps around 10:30PM, with my date still there, but leaving. Good times. The class was already a mixed community, from a nationality point of view. Not that different from what it is now, except practically no Chinese or citizens from India.

Things have changed so much in these almost sixty years. I am an Educational Counselor here in Rio and I do get the complete literature about Tech every year which I can use when interviewing the candidates. The catalogue of courses now being offered contains 95% of courses that did not even exist then (the number may be an exaggeration; my guess). Unfortunately, I have neither photos nor historical records in my files, but Marc may have some. I have been campaigning for years now to throw out files and photos. It is a tough job.

Well, there you have a short story of one of the guys of those days yonder.

My very special “abrazo” (Latin American style) to all of those that I mentioned here as well to those not mentioned, whose health and life, I do hope, our Good Lord has preserved for all these years.


Werner Kahn
IIB, '52.

Grotto ???

John Greene asks:

“One thing I am curious about in Baker traditions is the Grotto - remember 'beware the ides of January'? At the last reunion, I looked and the key ceremonial site in the west end stairway had been cleaned up during the renovations. I wonder if this is another lost tradition…”

Submitted by hiroki on Sat, 08/29/2009 - 22:56.

Read about the grotto, the oracle and the diogenesian search for a virgin but was gone by 84 I think

Submitted by rosato on Fri, 10/09/2009 - 15:26.

As I recall, the grotto was the night watchman key station in the west stairwell of Baker House, I think on or just below the 3rd floor. I lived on 3rd West my freshman and sophomore years (1969 - 1971) and remember some sort of faux mystical ceremony, with chalk drawings or symbols displayed on the bricks. I think the tradition may have started then, but it is possible it had been started before. At any rate, Tom Pinkowski and Peter Buchanan stand out in my memory as being involved the most. – Ken Rosato

Submitted by jack_martin on Thu, 10/22/2009 - 17:29.

Bummer! Another grand tradition cast to the side of the road. I remember being part of the ceremony in January 1980. We had a hastily sketched-out script, some cheap sound effects, and used the house sound equipment to allow GOD to communicate with the high-priest and assembled crowd in the Grotto. There was some pre-ceremonial lubrication as I recall as well. May still have some incriminating photos of some involved characters as well. Memory is hazy but do know end result of ceremony was a good showering for the local grease candidates. “Ah, my children…very good….”.
-Jack Martin

I lived in Baker from 62-65.

My first room was 204.5. Where is this you say? Well in the early 1960's MIT ran out of housing space. Rush Week was day 1. Those who did not win the dorm room lottery or succeed in getting adopted by a frat were put in places that encouraged migration.

The original 4 occupants of what was intended to be a local lounge included:

Ned Notzen Steve Teicher Klaus Pichler Linwood Robinson

Klaus was from Venezuela. His desk was sticky with elixir mixers. Klaus eventually went away.

He was replaced by Stu Spitzer who is from Revere.

204.5 was unique among rooms in Baker in that it had more occupants than any other room and no sink.

We lived in a nice area of Baker. One of the fellows across the hall had very powerful amps and big speakers. One day I was in the bathroom and as best I could tell from the noise a 707 flew down the hall and out a window.

One of the features of Baker was that the floors were water tight, so the night before the first freshman quiz the upper class people flooded the place. Another nice thing about Baker is that it had the long straight staircase up the side. Until someone told the crew about underarm spray the staircase smelled like an armpit from the crew running up and down the stairs.

The 60's were the days of separation of the sexes. One of the biggest jobs of Judcom was to penalize the students who had female visitors for more than the allotted time.

Baker House left me with fine memories.

Submitted by Linwood Robinson on Thu, 08/27/2009 - 22:32.

Some good times on 2nd floor

I was one who lived freshman year '62-63 in the 204.5 quad with Steve, Ned, and Klaus.

I recall Klaus' name to be Claus Emmer-Szerbesko. (Claus Dietrich Michael Emmer-Szerbesko, actually) who is now listed in the alumni books as Claus Emmer '67.

204.5 was a bit drafty as I recall, with winter breezes sneaking through the windows. It was intended to be a lounge area, so was not as 'built-in' as other rooms. But the good side was that due to the wide spot in the hall in front of 204.5, it was in the thick of the 2nd floor parties. I bartended a few including a pajama party. And maybe a separate Polynesian party, although that may have just been the drinks I mixed for the pajama party - I'm a little hazy on the details, since I spent hours before the party trying out all the concoctions before serving them. There are a few notable details I do remember, but I'd best to keep them to myself. What happens on 2nd floor stays on 2nd floor, and all that.

And yes, Al the porter cleaned the rooms and made the beds daily for all of us on the 2nd floor in the years I was in Baker. Quite spoiled us, but we adapted. Don't forget the sandwich guy who rolled a cart through the halls in the evening (once a week I think), dishing out my favorite meatball sandwich. And the pizza truck that parked outside with pizza coming out of the ovens while we waited on those cold winter nights.

Although the piano drop happened after we graduated, we did have the infamous plastic cleaning bag drop. You know, the bags the dry cleaner puts over the clothes when you pick them up. Filled with water, tied off, and dropped from the top floor, they make a spectacular blast when they hit the street behind Baker. Or in the infamous event, specatular when one hits and destroys the windhield of a passing car (owned by a 2nd floor Bakerite,as it turns out)

Many fond memories of those years, with many of us 2nd floor survivors keeping in touch ever since.

I was Social Chairman senior year (1966-7) and have recollections of some of the parties that I can probably write up if you do not have that data. Jeff Wiesen, I believe, was the Baker House president that last year, Joel Shwimer was the treasurer

Here are some things you should have in your records – each a story in itself:

  • Around 1965 Andy Egendorf '67 bought a pinball machine (eventually I think there were two or three). He made a deal with the house committee where he split the profits with the house. A lot of money. He can also tell you about his visit from the Boston Mob and the discussions regarding stolen revenues. Also the pin-ball convention.
  • Frank Sheehan '68 bought a hot plate. Probably a bunch of them. Out of one of the low numbered quads (2nd floor?) he made food all weekends. He would pick up LOTS of very fatty hamburger at maybe 40 cents/pound and sell a lot. I don't remember what he did with the fat
  • In 1965, I believe, we had a Jungle Party (that was before my tenure). We brought in trees, sand etc and turned the diningroom into a jungle. At the end of the party we had to get rid of the sand. As I recall Jeff Wiesen and Dave Lapin, and maybe others, brought it to dump in the Charles where they were picked up by the cops and accused of “polluting the Charles”. You had to live in Cambridge then to appreciate how filthy the Charles was before the reclamation project in, I think, the '90s.
  • I ran a Tom Jones party. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057590/ This was about three years after the movie, taken from the classic Fielding book, came out. There was a great scene in the movie where Albert Finney and Susannah York had a feast, maybe in bed, with no cutlery and ended up very sticky. Anyway, I bought 200 small chickens, 2 barrels of apples, couple of cases of red grapes with seeds, and other stuff. Got the dining service to cook the chickens. Had no cutlery. The problem was what to do with the bones after the party. We put them into the furnace and shut it down, sending smoke all over the place. We also build a huge four-poster bed and took pictures
  • Wishing Well: We were not allowed to sell drinks at the party. I think the drinking age back then was 21. So we had a Wishing Well. You made a wish (it was either 25 or 35 cents (I believe the latter) and asked for the drink you wanted. Mixed drinks or beer. Beer might have been a different price.
  • Dating Service: Remember this was well before there were computerized dating services. As Social Chairman I had contacts with the various social chairmen at Emerson, BU, BC etc. I don't think this was my idea; I believe it had been going on for a few years. Anyway, we'd get a list of the folks who wanted a date. (age, height, religion, dating experience) and would work the phones. We had as many as 100 fix-ups at one of the parties
  • Blackout http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northeast_Blackout_of_1965 The blackout was November 9th and initially no one knew what was going on. I was on house committee and remember being posted at the front door to ensure that unwelcome guests did not come in.
  • Baker House, back then, was all men. And we had parietal hours. Someone can help me with the times, but girls were allowed (more or less)
    • M-Th 4-10
    • Fri 4-12
    • Sat 12-12
    • Sun 12-10

This was monitored by the Judicial Committee which, at least the year I remember, was run by an ex green beret (or something like that) who came to MIT after some Vietnam service.

  • Of course there were no cell phones. We had a phone booth in the center of each floor (maybe there were two) and we shared them. So a group of us signed up for service and put a phone on a 100' cord to service the 4th floor (and maybe one other) centered in 446. There was also someone in the dorm who figured out the tones to make free calls. I think that for a while Harry Otoguro called Hawaii every day
  • Our resident genius was Craig Fields. He and I, as Freshmen, had 442 and 443, the only freshmen with singles. Craig later on ran DARPA. There are lots of Craig stories
  • It is interesting that there are a large group of friends who met their future spouses while in Baker house, got married between 1967 and 1969, and who now are still married to the same person after 40 or more years. From my circle of friends this included
    • Joel Shwimer (met Elaine at a mixer on my birthday)
    • Jeff Wiesen
    • Stan Rose
    • Ed Geltman
    • Harvey Newman (I fixed him up)

The wishing well
Submitted by Don Mattes on Mon, 08/31/2009 - 21:23.

John Rudy's comment about the wishing well (I remember the drinks costing 50 cents) reminds me of a related story. Selling booze at parties was always a problem because the dorm did not, of course, have a liquor license. Drinking age then was 21 but somehow nobody seemed concerned that most of the people attending our parties were minors. The concern was always selling.

Dean Wadleigh got involved in this matter before the wishing well. He didn't like us selling drinks but he also recognized that there would be less drunkenness if we sold drinks as opposed to having an open bar. He asked the Baker House Social Committee to propose a solution.

Our first solution was that we would sell drink tickets outside the party. You bought the tickets outside the party and exchanged them for drinks. When this solution was proposed to Wadleigh he commented, “That sounds like a chitty system.” I think the wishing well evolved from the chits proposal.

  • We began the Baker House Snack Bar, generally known for massive scoops of ice cream and immense milk shakes (although don't ever call them milkshakes in Mass). :-) Paul Malchodi could fairly reliably be found behind the counter.
  • Some creative person [Wayne Seltzer] came up with an electronic box that interfaced the laundry room to the phone system, so that people would not have to travel many floors just to discover that all the washers or dryers were taken. A phone extension was added for the laundry room such that when called, you would hear up to 4 high beeps and up to 4 low beeps, each beep indicating a washer (high) or dryer (low) was available.
  • Steve [Leighton], one of the Resident Assistants (can't remember what we called them - the resident grad-students), began a campaign to find free or inexpensive pianos offered in the newspaper, then rent a trailer, and go pick them up and fix them, with the goal of having a (working) piano on every floor. He was mostly successful, and the leftovers fueled the piano drops nicely.
  • Miller beer started a contest which motivated us to use Miller at all house functions. I don't think we ever won any prizes but we consumed a LOT of Miller beer.
  • Circa 1977, Rich Perlstein of Baker House, who was a bass in the Logarhythms at the time (I was a tenor), left the Logs to start a new male-female group called the Chorallaries. At the time, MIT was roughly 6:1 male:female, so it was a rather bold step. I doubt that they lasted. :-) [The Chorallaries are still going strong…] I stayed with the Logs and didn't have time for both, but I remember loving their concerts. The first year, the Chorallaries borrowed a few songs from the old Logarhythms repertoire, which created opportunities for the two groups to occasionally sing a tune together. I also remember one weekend evening at Baker, after chatting with Karen Altman & Sue Hansen (charter Chorallary members), I took the middle shower of the coed bathroom, and Sue and Karen took the other two showers, and the three of us sang a cappella harmony while we showered. We set a new quality-standard for “singing in the shower”.
  • Phone pinning - If you called someone's phone and they picked it up, that phone would remain “busy” forever, until BOTH ends of that connection were hung up. “Pinning” someone's phone meant going to an obscure phone somewhere (eg, the cafeteria) and calling a person's phone and then leaving the calling phone off the hook, so the callee would have to hunt all over the dorm to find the calling phone before they could use their phone again (until then your phone was “pinned”).
  • Door knobs - The metal shaft that went between the inside and outside door knobs on a dorm room door, almost always stayed attached to the outside knob. This meant that if you used a crow-bar to forcibly pry off the outside door-knob, the shaft would come with it and the now-useless inside door knob would fall off into the room, making it impossible for the person inside to get out. For this reason it became advisable to keep a flat-head screw driver in every room, which could be inserted for the missing shaft, and open the door.
  • DOPEC - In 1973, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries or “OPEC” was a household word, because they had essentially held the entire world hostage by controlling world oil exports. In 1974 or 5, a group of Baker guys in co-located rooms declared themselves “DOPEC”. I remember some of the members included Leor Zolman (aka, Brain Damage) who went on to create one of the smallest (and therefore fastest) commercial C-compilers, under the name BDS-C, where BDS stood for Brain Damage Software, a reference to his Baker House name. Another DOPEC member I remember was Larry DeMar, who while still in school designed some of the more famous early video games, eventually including the wildly popular (in its day) “Robotron”, where you had to save the “Last family on earth” from invaders.

  • In case you didn't know, yes, Baker had some “quints,” i.e. rooms with 5 people in them.
  • Some other “titles” that may be fun to track down: Sex God and Sex Goddess, Most Obnoxious Freshmen, Father Time & Baby New Year (part of the New Year's Eve party).
  • I'm pretty sure MBPP (Massive Band Party Plus) started spring '85. Would be interested to know when it stopped.
  • Tank (class vs class speed drinking). When did it start and stop? I think we did that at the Octoberfest party.
  • New Year's Eve Party (held in February) - my guess is that stopped in '87 when we were dry and didn't pick back up. When did it start?
  • Reg Day Parties
  • When did the Pub start and end?
  • Who created the Baker logo and when?
  • Apple picking started fall '85.
  • Students rebuilt roof deck summer '86.
  • When did faculty-invited cocktail parties start and stop?
  • Are lofts no longer allowed? If so, when did that happen? I assume with the latest renovations.
  • How about beer fridges? When did they disappear? Or the alcohol closet?
  • Do we still do Blue Hills as part of R/O? When did that start and stop?

Back several years ago, you office sent out a request for information about the Baker House Student Council. It fell through the cracks an I cam upon it sometime last year. Here is a response that still might be useful:

  1. I was an original resident of Baker House
  2. I served on the Council during my junior and senior years ('51 & '52)
  3. Ed Facey was president of the Council in '52

I believe Joe Gaven, Taj Hanna and Murry Silverman (Sp?) were also members of the Council in '52.

Bill Wollenberg
Class '52

Submitted by David Slesinger on Tue, 08/25/2009 - 00:57.

The most remarkable event during my years at Baker was undoubtedly the trial of Tim Backstrom '71, who is still my dear friend. Tim had broken down the house office door because he had been promised access and he needed to use the mimeograph (ditto?) machine. It was very well attended. Steve Hellinger '71, who once shot flaming arrows into the Charles River and rode a motorcycle down a hall WHILE he served as judiciary chairman, presided. Michael Fiertag '72, who I once bit on the arm (not hard) helped. Ed Markowitz '70 had rigged up a phone in a briefcase that would ring, no mean feat in 1970. Ed, who owned a jag as an undergrad and went on to set records on wall street, wore a suit. The phone rang. Ed answered,“ It's the governor. He's pardoned.”

Jack Katz '71, who became a doctor, asked Backstrom at the end of the trial the famous opening line from Zap Comix (S Clay Wilson.) “How old are you mate?”

Backstrom “Old enough to dring cup after cup on this here grog.”

Katz “I'm just trying to strike up some gentle conversation.. Can I fondle your tool?” (these guys aren't gay. They're just showing how good their memories were.)

Backstrom “It's ungodly big wanna see?” (doesn't show it)

Can't remember the whole comix.

Baker Start-up Entrepreurship!

An underclassman (Andy Egendorf ‘67) and I started the first pinball arcade in the depths of the Baker House basement, 25 cents a turn. We converted an unused storeroom and opened it for business at night. As I recall after a couple of semesters, it was shut-down by the pinball police (JudComm I think) because we did not have a gaming license (seriously!). I’m not sure what happened to the machines, but we were sent to the Dean Fassett’s office and chastised for contributing to vice.

I entered Baker House as a Freshman in 1955, and stayed four years.

The first year our sheets were changed (clean sheets provided) once a week. I had heard that soap was provided in previous years as well as daily making of beds. After my first year we of course made are own beds.

Women visitors were permitted until 10 PM weekdays and 1 AM on weekends. Later for special events. A chime system with chimes on each floor would announce house meetings and the close of women’s hours; seven chimes sent three times with a couple of seconds in-between.

Submitted on Thu, 10/15/2009 - 08:37.

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
Submitted by tonyr300 on Tue, 08/25/2009 - 09:25.

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
Submitted by paulmalchodi on Tue, 08/18/2009 - 08:31.

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.

Paul Malchodi

Some Baker memories from Henry Sharp '50…
Submitted on Fri, 08/07/2009 - 00:30.

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
Submitted on Fri, 08/07/2009 - 00:22.

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
Submitted by Pete Sexton on Tue, 08/25/2009 - 09:36.

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.

Submitted on Fri, 08/07/2009 - 00:26.

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!

Submitted on Fri, 08/07/2009 - 00:29.

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.

Submitted on Fri, 08/07/2009 - 00:19.
[ 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.


Submitted on Fri, 08/07/2009 - 00:15.

[ 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!

Submitted on Fri, 08/07/2009 - 00:14.
[ 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.

Submitted on Fri, 08/07/2009 - 00:14.
[ 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

Submitted on Fri, 08/07/2009 - 00:13.
[ 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.

Jong-on Hahm

Submitted on Fri, 08/07/2009 - 00:12.
[ Caleb King was the 4th Floor tutor around 1990 ]

Thanks for writing. 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

Submitted on Fri, 08/07/2009 - 00:03.
[ 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.

Submitted on Thu, 08/06/2009 - 23:55.
[ Professor Norm Holland and his wife Jane were Faculty Residents at Baker House in the late 1950s ]

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

Submitted on Thu, 08/06/2009 - 23:59.

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.

Submitted on Fri, 08/07/2009 - 00:02.

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!

Submitted on Thu, 08/06/2009 - 23:50.

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

Submitted on Thu, 08/06/2009 - 23:46.
[ 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

Submitted on Thu, 08/06/2009 - 23:25.

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.


Ed Talley

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