Archive for Saturday, August 17, 1991


August 17, 1991


Clark Bricker, also known as ``The Great Bricko,'' will always treasure the four teaching awards that Kansas University seniors gave him.

Retired Lawrence dentist Paul Getto remembers the financial struggle of many KU students to work during the Depression years to pay for their educations.

Ben and Toddy Barteldes of Lawrence also recall the hardships of going to school in the '30s. But even if money was tight, they said, students found ways to have fun.

For former students, faculty and administrators, KU is a place of memories memories of a smaller school and a simpler lifestyle for some, memories of friendships and good times, memories of lessons learned inside and outside the classroom.

Here are a few recollections of good times spent on Mount Oread.


Emeritus professor of chemistry Clark Bricker carries fond memories of his KU students. The feeling, obviously, was mutual.

While a professor of chemistry from 1963 to 1983, Bricker received the Honor to Outstanding Progressive Educator (HOPE) award four times, including his last year at KU. The award is voted on by members of KU's senior class.

"Any award that I received from students was, in my opinion, the highest recognition you can get," Bricker said.

Bricker was famed for his use humor as a catalyst for learning.

"I tried very hard in my lectures to try to get the students to laugh at least once or twice," he said. "I was very concerned about the material I was presenting. But you have to mix it up you can't just go in and present just fact, fact, fact and never show any humor or any relation to everyday life."

Bricker used about 100 feet of microphone cord while lecturing so he could walk to the back of Hoch Auditorium to question students, a tactic that elicited "some very interesting reactions," he said with a laugh.

He also made a name for himself as the "The Great Bricko,'' performing his once-a-semester magic act as a tool for teaching chemistry.

Even a troubled time at KU provided Bricker with a memorable moment. Near the end of the tumultuous 1969-70 school year, the administration presented students subject to approval of individual faculty members a choice of taking the grade they had in a class or taking final exams. The move was intended to cut short the semester during a spring of protests.

Bricker and a colleague stood firm in not giving letter grades without the final. Bricker told students he would give a "P" as a pass grade instead, but cautioned students that graduate and medical schools would view the grade as a "C." He said his decision caused about 40 students to walk out of class in protest, but 39 of them returned and took the final. The other dissenter took the test that fall.


History came calling on many occasions to the home of Don and Betty Alderson.

Don Alderson served KU in several roles, including dean of student services, from 1948 until his death in 1981. Mrs. Alderson recalled that her husband's job presented many opportunities for them to experience a bit of history from the social overlap of the community, KU and the world.

"In the early years, when black people couldn't go into any establishment in town as they can today, if Don met black foreign students who were coming in when the union was closed, often he had to take them out to eat, so he would bring them home," she said.

Another time, in the mid-1950s, the Aldersons served dinner to a Hungarian freedom fighter.

The protest era of the 1960s, she said, presented difficulties but also was "a great time for learning. I think we all learned a great deal about the individual needs of people."

Today, an auditorium at the Kansas Union bears the name of her late husband.

"Don's concern was for each individual student . . . for them to grow and develop to the maximum that they could," she said.


For students who attended KU during the 1930s, the financial difficulties of the times left a sense of value and achievement that has lasted a lifetime.

Retired Lawrence dentist Paul Getto, who attended KU from 1935 to 1939, said most students had part-time jobs to help pay for their education.

"The period I was here . . . everybody was scrounging around to get through school," he said.

Getto worked three years as a bellhop at the Eldridge Hotel, and he met his wife there. She was a cashier in the coffee shop. He lived off-campus in a private home for $8 a month.

Getto remembers wearing a beanie as a freshman, digging dandelions with most of the student body in the spring ("It was more a social event") and taking an "informal" physical education class from Dr. James Naismith.

Getto, whose brother, Mike, was an assistant football coach at KU for many years, said he benefited from the lessons in life he learned at KU.

"I think it makes you appreciate the value in education, and without it you don't go near as far," he said.


It's not surprising that Bob Harrison, class of '39 and president of the Lawrence real estate firm, the Gill Agency, remembers what things cost while at KU. After all, he had to leave school one semester to work in western Kansas to pay for his education.

Movie matinees were 25 cents, he said. A meal downtown would run from 25 cents to 35 cents. Hamburgers and a big stein of root beer cost 5 cents each. Odd jobs around Memorial Stadium paid 35 cents an hour.

Despite the hardships, Harrison remembers an open atmosphere of friendliness at KU.

"We all had a good time, despite the fact that none of us had much money to spend," he said.

Harrison enjoyed the free, sorority-sponsored dances at the union that were open to all students.

"It was an opportunity to meet a lot of people," he said.

And the small class sizes, with about 30 students, also appealed to Harrison, even if it could put you on the spot.

"You had to be well-prepared because inevitably you were going to be called upon," he said.


The Barteldes, who met on a blind date while students at KU, agreed that the 1930s were indeed a simpler time.

"We had to make our own fun most of the time," said Toddy Barteldes.

Ben Barteldes, who went on to be a successful Lawrence businessman and mayor, said Lawrence's population was about 15,000 at the time.

"We had three motion picture houses," he said. "They were just building Lone Star Lake in '36, so the only lake we would have to go to was in Tonganoxie."

But having fun was never a problem, they said. Toddy Barteldes said they knew just about everybody in school, either from classes or the mid-week dance.

"You weren't good friends with everyone, but you were on speaking terms with almost everyone, because your elbows would just `rub' some place," she said.

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