The Daily Illini

Dads through the decades

By Bridget Hynes

Imagine a time when yearly college tuition was in the hundreds, every dorm room had a landline phone and a Friday night beer at the bar cost ten cents. These alumni dads and uncles reminisce about their college years during the 50s, 70s and 80s:

1. “Dates were going to a movie, dinner or going to a bar. “Rocky” and the first “Star Wars” movies came out during my college years.” Charles Schimpf, Class of 1988

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2. “I would say maybe one in five kids had a car when I was in college. My roommates and I used to go on “Quad drives” where we drove my roommate’s car on the Quad at night. It only happened about once a year when we were feeling really stupid and brave. We once got the car on top of the Underground Library. That was back when there were really wide wheel chair ramps.” John Kelley, Class of 1980

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3. “First, you must know that the legal drinking age for beer and wine in the 70s was 18. Every Wednesday night was “Beer Night” at a bar called “Chances R.” Two dollars and you drank beer all night. The best part was they always had a really good band. Cheap Trick played there all the time.” Jon Hooper, Class of 1978

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4. “I called my parents every Sunday night (from the landline). I gave them a ‘one ringer’ whenever I got back to school after traveling home for the weekend so they would not get billed for long distance. You had to make plans in advance and stick with them. You could not change things on the go.” Tom Kelley, Class of 1985

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5. “You sat down with a legal pad and a dictionary and a thesaurus. If you were good with a typewriter, you typed it, but if you weren’t, you got someone to do it for you. It was a good way to meet girls.” John Kelley, Class of 1980

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6. “We listened to Bruce Springsteen and The Rolling Stones.” Tom Kelley, Class of 1985

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“Some of the best college parties I went to were probably the sorority dances, especially the Alpha Chi Omega winter formal. Social life was casual. There were fraternity and sorority exchanges, where we often sat on the floor and played bridge. Pledge dances were fun. The second date I had with Edie (my wife) was at the Alpha Chi Omega pledge dance, “Double Trouble.” We went as a pair of skunks.” Tom Johnston, Class of 1958

“Walking through the path to Hopkins Hall past Scott, Forbes and Weston Halls meant listening to Led Zeppelin’s new song “Stairway to Heaven,” or “Lucky Man” by Emerson Lake and Palmer. Students used to put their speakers against open dorm windows to blast these songs, among others. In order to get the news of the day or to find a ride back home for the weekend, we took a trip down that path.” Charles Schimpf, Class of 1988

“Sports were everything in the 80s. My junior year in football we beat every Big Ten opponent. That hasn’t been done before or since that time. We also won all of our home games in football, all of the games were sold out. Tickets were hard to get. The 1984 Rose Bowl was the trip of a lifetime. In basketball, we won the Big Ten; again all of the tickets were sold out.” –Tom Kelley, Class of 1985

“Going into my freshman year at the University, then-governor Jim Thompson’s campus re-election campaign sprung for the first 35 kegs of a 50 keg party at the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity house. You wouldn’t see that happen now.” –Jeff Johnston, Class of 1986

Interviews were conducted via email and edited for clarity and length.

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