What do former Jayhawks miss most about Kansas University? Fall leaves, sledding and doughnuts from Joe's Bakery.
Those were the most common responses in an informal online poll conducted by the Journal-World and the Kansas University Alumni Association. The Alumni Association asked former KU students to e-mail what they missed most about KU and Lawrence.
The beauty of KU's campus was mentioned by about a fourth of the 154 responses to the survey. More than a dozen former KU students specifically mentioned the fall leaves as the thing they miss most about Lawrence.
"Seeing the leaves changing on the trees and walking to Memorial Stadium through Jayhawk Boulevard and sown by the Campanile, with the bells chiming, is an imagine I will never forget," wrote Kate Unger, a 2001 graduate who lives in Phoenix. "Now living in the desert, I truly miss the fall in Lawrence."
Another, Kathy (Newlin) Pyke, a 1972 graduate who lives in Hays, preferred the spring.
"I think spring on the campus, the sounds of birds chirping and the glorious odor from the beautiful flowers and trees is breathtaking," she said. "Watching the surroundings come alive after a long, cold winter is spectacular."
The Lawrence hills also led alumni to pine for KU's beauty.
"I miss the view from Mount Oread looking in all directions around Lawrence," said Chris Ann Lessly, a 1987 and 1996 graduate who lives in Marion, Ind. "The non-Kansans that I work and socialize with now don't believe that Kansas could possibly have a 'mount' or even a hill. Little do they know."
Those hills also led alumni to long for something else -- sledding on campus, which was mentioned by about 20 respondents. Most referred to it as "traying," after the tradition of smuggling cafeteria trays out of dining halls for use as sleds.
Patty Grimm, who attended KU from 1997 to 2001 and now lives in Lee's Summit, Mo., kept a souvenir from her days of playing in the snow.
"I remember my first year at KU as a resident of McCollum Hall," she said. "When snow was predicted, we had a sudden urge to eat our meals in our rooms, not from any nesting need but in order to have that orange cafeteria tray to sled down Daisy Hill.
"You had to be quick, though -- those trays were replaced with disposable ones when the first snowflakes fell. Don't tell the food service staff, but I still have my tray. Maybe I will send it along to KU with my son when he is old enough."
Dan Patz, a 1963 graduate who lives in Fort Worth, Texas, had a less pleasant memory of winter in Lawrence.
"Potter Lake had pretty well frozen over, and I decided to go ice skating," he said. "When I got there after dinner in the fraternity house, there was only one other person there, a pretty girl enjoying being on the ice. We skated together for awhile, and then she told me she had to leave.
"It was only as she was getting into her car and leaving that I realized I had forgotten to get her phone number. And worse yet, the car had a sign on it: 'Miss Kansas.' Sigh."
Hot doughnuts from Joe's Bakery also were a favorite memory for more than a dozen alumni. Mary (Jasnoski) Gregerson, a 1983 KU graduate from Alexandria, Va., said she and her roommates chose the location of their house based on how close it was to Joe's.
"Although I miss Joe's hot doughnuts at lunchtime and breakfast, I miss them most at 4 a.m. Krispy Kreme just does not compare -- never did and never will," she said. "There was something about having a hot doughnut in the middle of the night, when you're cramming for a test and need a 20-minute break -- just seeing a whole line of people and shooting the breeze with them."
Some alumni shared quirky memories of KU. One remembered sitting by Potter Lake, listening to a man practice bagpipes. Another missed the creaky floor of old Fraser Hall. A third missed the way pedestrians always have the right of way on Jayhawk Boulevard.
Other memories that got several mentions from alumni included The Wheel, the campanile, Yello Sub, Free State Brewery, the friendly people in Lawrence and -- of course -- KU basketball and football.
One KU grad -- Girish Ballolla from India -- said his first impression of KU in 1992 was his most lasting memory.
"I was 18 with $150 on me and had just made the 8,000-mile journey from India -- almost halfway around the world -- to pursue my dreams of becoming a pharmacist," he said. "There was something about that ride from the airport to campus, through Jayhawk Boulevard on a moonlit night, as we made our way down to Naismith Hall.
"I felt I could accomplish whatever I put my mind to, that I could dream as high as I wanted to and somehow KU was going to help me make my dreams come true."
-- Staff writer Terry Rombeck can be reached