Archive for Wednesday, May 6, 1998

TOUR GIVES OPPORTUNITY TO PAUSE

May 6, 1998

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A Kansas University professor took students and area residents on a daylong tour Tuesday across the historic Lawrence campus.

At Kansas University, the day between the last class and the first final is known as ``Stop Day.''

Ted Johnson takes the day several stops further.

Amid the May blooms and spring sunshine Tuesday, Johnson, a KU professor of French and Italian, showed several people the highlights of the KU campus as he conducted a Stop Day tour.

``The concept here is to have a time at KU to stop, look and listen, and to think about (the university) in an abstract way,'' said Johnson, who has been giving year-end campus tours since 1993.

Johnson led between 10 and 15 students, teachers and others through architectural highlights and landmarks of the campus.

``I've been waiting to go on this tour for years,'' said a Topeka teacher, who took the day off work and refused to give her name for fear of being nailed for playing hooky.

Johnson's knowledge of campus provided an array of tidbits.

Among the snippets: oread means ``mountain nymph,'' many of KU's buildings are inspired by medieval and classical temples, the Natural History Museum was built from original Mount Oread limestone, and a 14th Street manhole illustrates the phases of the moon.

``This is my second time I've been on this tour, and he's still saying things I haven't heard,'' said KU junior Elizabeth Hanson.

``He takes everything you say and opens another page or door,'' KU junior Lafe Woodward said. ``You can't get that out of a book.''

The faces and forms -- images no doubt unseen by many passersby -- rose slowly from the facades. Surrounding the history museum's entrance, for example, are owls, eagles, swans, lions, foxes, a pyramid, the star of David and a carving of a seemingly prehistoric Jayhawk.

``This is a university, and we've got to explore all sides of the question,'' Johnson said, urging participants to peek behind the museum's columns. ``We can't simply download it, fax it and have the answer.''

Jack Vercoglio and Caroline Sanders, both retired residents of Kansas City, Mo., were the first to arrive in the morning for the tour.

``It's always been a pretty campus, even way back when,'' said Vercoglio, who attended KU in the 1950s.

Johnson said the tour never goes the same way twice.

``We can leave and add things depending on what people say,'' Johnson said. ``Hopefully later in the day people will talk more and I'll talk less. Nobody can talk for nine hours.''

-- Matt Gowen's phone message number is 832-7222. His e-mail address is mgowen@ljworld.com.

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