A Place to Grab a Soda

By Mike Greife

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Life before World War II was a simpler time, with fewer students and fewer buildings. The four blocks now considered the main campus were the entire university. But students were still students. They were young people who enjoyed having a good time while they went about the serious business of getting a college degree.

A place to sit down between classes and have a soda with friends was about all that was needed in the daily routine. Underneath Hendricks Hall - UCM's largest public auditorium - was an open area that served that purpose as the university's first student recreation center.

Times changed, and so did student expectations. UCM met those expectations with the construction of the North Morrow Social Hall. After World War II, the campus population exploded with veterans obtaining their degrees on the GI Bill. Students needed space to gather in larger groups, and the newly designated teacher's college had become the permanent home to the annual gathering of Missouri Boys State.

Coatcheck $.10

information center

dining area

North Morrow was the answer. Built in 1951, it boasted a large social mall on the main level. The Christmas Dance and the Rhetor Ball found a home, and larger groups could be served at banquets planned by an ever-growing number of student organizations. Downstairs was a larger version of the snack bar. The new "student center" even had all the comforts of home, with a fireplace room for cold winter evenings.

After World War II, the university also began providing housing for many of the students. Residence halls were built, and the campus became more of a self-contained community where students lived and studied. The Student Union, built in three stages in the 1960s, offered a social center and services new to campus.

Students no longer had to leave campus for a haircut or the latest hairstyle; Ron or Lavonne took care of that. Leisure time was still a luxury, but bowling and billiards were available. Hungry? The "snack bar" had become a short order restaurant or a full line cafeteria, and the Mule Barn, located in the basement of the union, was UCM's answer to the coffee house. The bookstore provided all the necessities of everyday life.

When recreation became an industry, American society recognized the need to stay fit. When the university acquired Pertle Springs - complete with lake, park areas and eventually a golf course and swimming pool - students' lists of "things to do for fun" expanded considerably.

Students and administration joined forces in the 1970s to fund the Multipurpose Building. It's still the biggest public facility on campus or in Warrensburg, for that matter. With an indoor pool and fitness areas, it offers even more recreational opportunities. As UCM's athletic programs grew and diversified, it became clear that UCM students needed a recreation facility that would free up the Multipurpose Building for more athletic training.

Central Missouri's student unions are evolving again with construction of the Student Recreation and Wellness Center and renovation of the Morrow and Garrison buildings. The estimated $36 million project is the largest commitment to fitness, health and wellness in university history.


Comments About This Article

Growing up in Warrensburg in the late 60's and 70's (WHS, class of 80) but living in the country, I always thought of the resources of the University as a chance to escape the boredom of rural life. My fond memories of the Union, Multipurpose, working at Boys State in the cafeteria, watching basketball and volleyball games at Garrison Gym, etc. made my decision to return to CMSU for my master's an easy choice. Thanks for the memories. Greg Seiler, M.S., Athletic Business Administration, 1987

I really enjoyed this article and I particularly enjoyed the top picture showing a student having her coat checked for 10 cents. The male student in the picture was one of my Phi Sig fraternity brothers. His name was Ken Askren and we both graduated from CMSU in '71. Ken was from Liberty, MO and I was from Kansas City, MO. This story and his picture brought back many fond memories of my time at CMSU and the student union. Thank you for bringing it all back to life for me. Walter Carleton, Class of '71

Makes me want to be 18 again and enroll at UCM. Enjoyed the article and can taste the hamburgers and fries all over again!

When I started in '58, the old snack bar was THE PLACE to get lunch for those of us that lived off campus. 'Always pretty crowded at 10 a.m. and at noon. 'Great place to meet some friends for coffee, but not at all the place to study.

I remember being outraged in the late sixties when the Student Union charged $.35 for a pack of cigarettes (which we smoked in every hallway of every building). The price at the local filling station was only $.29 per pack.

Brought back memories of Saturday night dates at the Union.

My first student job on campus (Fall of '62) was managing the Pool Room on the lower level of the new Student Union - what a blast with 10 new pool tables! I worked for Helen Gilbert, the first director of this fantastic facility. Dr. Dan Cogan ('66, '67)

Always wondered about the "old" snack bar in the basement. It was operational and in full swing when I started in fall of 61.

As a student and alum of the early fifties, I yearned for more info about the Student Union facilities we thought were just great then! Of course, I realize the facilities are much, much larger and nicer now--but we sure thought we had it good then, too!

Remember to not only look at the campus in the past but drop a name or two of the great people who thrived on this environment.

Great to keep informed about what's happening on campus.. past and present.