Remembering Grover Cleveland – 1

I stayed at the Grover Cleveland residence for men for two consecutive years so the following posts will be a conflation of those two years.  The first year for me was as a sophomore and I covered that last post. The second year my friend Roy had decided to come back to Syracuse go into the Liberal Arts college as well.  He was good at languages and linguistics and this made sense as a route to take for him.

I had not decided on a major so decided to take both an introductory course in Economics as well as one in Psychology.  I also took ROTC, more out of coercion than want, as at time, Syracuse required 4 terms of PHYS ED (gym) or ROTC.  I said before that I was lightly built, not scrawny, but I was not at all built for contact sports.  Also, I did not like participating in team events. I prefer being judged on my own merits, not that of a group or “team.” Exercise and improving against personal targets I do believe in, and still track myself in this regard.    I might have done Ok in something like track, but who knows.  So ROTC was by default.  Also, the Korean Conflict was just over and it might flare up again.  So, maybe go in as a 2nd Lt. than as a grunt when my deferment ran out or was taken away.

ROTC was offered for both Army and Air Force.  I chose Army for no known reason that I can think of,  Air Force might have been better.  Oh well.  Both services held their classes in Machinery Hall.  Guess what we all called it…….Machine Gun Hall.  Seemed more fitting.  I enclose a photo  from


The text describing it below is from the same URL.

Machinery Hall

Ground Broken: September 26, 1904
Dedicated: 1904; rededicated: 1984
Building Occupied: February 1907
Cost: $400,000
Cost of 1970 renovation: $1.25 million
Funding: Donation from Lyman C. Smith. After his death in 1910, his widow and son donated a well-equipped hydraulic laboratory in his memory.
Architects: Edwin H. Gaggin of Gaggin and Gaggin, Syracuse
Materials: Reinforced concrete, steel, rocky stone facing and tile roofing
Contractors: James Murtagh
Location: East of Hinds Hall, Southeast of L.C. Smith Hall, on Main Campus

“The second engineering building in the College of Applied Science to be gifted to the University by L.C. Smith, the building originally housed metal and woodworking equipment, blacksmithing forges and anvils, a cement mill, mining machinery and other laboratory appliances. The hydraulic laboratory, designed by Professor Paul Nugent, cement-testing machinery, forges, and a foundry occupied the first floor. The next floor was occupied by metal machinery and the upper floor was devoted to woodworking machinery. In 1948, the College of Applied Science moved to the Thompson Road campus and the building served as classrooms. In 1950, the second floor was used for SU Drama and the Boar’s Head Theatre. The following year it was used as the University ROTC headquarters where it remained until 1963. The rear portion of the building was razed in 1953 to make room for the construction of Link Hall. In 1964, the Computing Center made Machinery Hall the center of operations. On December 7, 1984, the building was rededicated as the home of the Office of Academic Computing Services.”

So, the old building is still in use.  If you look to your right you can see the ivy on the Hall. Ah the ivy covered halls of the old alma mater.

Other courses were Physics, and Calculus.  Many of the Liberal Arts courses were held in the Hall of Languages, shortened to HL.  From the same source as above, some information on HL.

HL - Hall Of Languages Exterior Summer

HL – Hall Of Languages Exterior Summer

Location Decided: September 13, 1870
Building Plans Approved: May 17, 1871
Cornerstone Laid by Bishop Peck: August 31, 1871
Dedication: May 8, 1873
Dedication Speaker: Rev. Edmund S. James, Bishop of the New York Conference
Architect: Horatio Nelson White
Contractors: Randall and Nesdal, stone masons who had a stone yard on S. Salina Street, Syracuse
Cost: $136,000
Style: Second Empire
Materials: Onondaga Limestone, primarily wood framing with some interior cast-iron columns
Renovation: 1979
Cost of Renovation: $4 million
Architects for Renovation: Sargent-Webster-Crenshaw & Folley, Syracuse, in association with Architectural Resources Cambridge, Inc., Cambridge, MA
Contractors for Renovation: J.D. Taylor Construction Corporation, Syracuse

“This was the first building built on campus. Prior to its construction classes were held in the Myers Block on E. Genesee and Montgomery Streets in downtown Syracuse. The building was primarily an H-shape with recesses in the front and rear walls on either side of the central section. The rear recesses were partially occupied by coal houses. The east and west towers were part of the original construction; the central tower was not added until 1886. The east and west towers held large water tanks capable, it was believed, of flooding the entire structure in the event of fire. The west tower also held a 600 pound bell. The building originally rose 3½ stories in the central section and 2½ stories in the wings and was topped by a slate-covered mansard roof. Molded metal cornices sported stone brackets and the exterior walls had a “pecked” finish. The building was the home of the College of Liberal Arts from its beginning, although other schools and departments have also occupied the edifice, including the Registrar and the Chancellor. A section of the eastern wing is said to have been used as a natural science museum.

During the 1979 renovation very few alterations were made to the exterior. Glass-enclosed vestibules were added to the rear of the building and the lowering of the first floor to grade for the addition of an elevator revealed the building’s stone foundation. A new central stairway housed in a five-story atrium. Five concrete floors were inserted where there had been four of wood. The old floors were removed and the original timber columns replaced with steel. Wood timbers, however, were retained in the mansard roof.”

S.U. just wouldn’t look the same without the HL, that’s for sure. In going through these archives, It pleases me that so many of the  buildings,old even in my time as a student, have undergone extensive interior renovations while preserving the exterior. Not like Las Vegas.  We would blow them up adding fireworks as well. I am almost certain the cost exceeded the alternative of destruction and rebuilding with contemporary architecture.

Back to residence life.  One of the other guys in our unit was a stock guy with a mustache called “Dom”  I think it was short for Dominick and he certainly looked of Italian heritage.  We got to know each other, would chat a bit going up or down, to class, etc.  Nice guy.  One day he asked me, “Bob, why don’t we go down to Andre’s Tic-Toc club and catch the act.  I know the girl there now and know we will enjoy the show.”

Today, Las Vegas is replete with “Gentlemen’s Clubs” but back in ’55 the Tic-Toc was a strip joint, plain and simple on South Salina Street. It was no “dive.”   It was not too large, maybe 15 tables and a bar with an area for the entertainer.  The weather was decent, so this must have been in early fall.  We took a bus down, sat at a table with a good view and ordered drinks.  Dom’s friend come in soon, does her act, leaving nothing to the imagination, and Dom and I have a pleasant time.  I wish I could remember her name, but I don’t.  After her show was over she looked at us in the audience and said something like ” I want to say a special Hello to my friend Dom, and his buddy Bob. They have come down from the hill to watch my act, hope you enjoyed it guys.”  We replied something positive in kind, and she asked the bartender to freshen our drinks, on the house.

So, even if by association,  knew a stripper.  This was not Apple Knocker-Ville in upstaid NY.  And not the last time I visited the Tic-Toc, though not a habitue.  I must have told Marge about this, perhaps as a hint, I don’t know.  What I do know is that if she phoned me and I didn’t answer, next time I heard from her was something like ” Down to the Tic Toc again huh???” Sometimes it was true, but honestly, often something mundane like going out for a pack of cigarettes, or a quart of milk.

One last paragraph and that’s it for now.  I suppose you have a smart phone, probably a tablet or two as well.  Imagine if you don’t have a smart phone, just a land line. Technically challenged.  Moving on down the line what if you don’t have a personal phone at all, the only communication device is a coin operated phone, and only one to a floor.  How primitive, but that’s the way we did it.  If somebody on the floor was called, hopefully, someone else would answer it and pound on your door.  That’s the way it worked in that time long ago.

Another gimmick about the phone.  I think that one of the Electrical Engineers found a way to cut a certain wire inside, and give it a slight twist to re-attach it.  The reason for this, if you knew about it, was that after making a call, and could reach around to where the wire was, you could quickly undo and re-attach the wire. There were no tones then, just clicky relays.  Like one of the old slot machines, not only the dime you dropped for the call, but a fist full of change would come out the bottom.  Manna not from Heaven, but from Ma Bell.  They didn’t like it.

Of course, you couldn’t keep this a secret for long.  Ma Bell notified the University that if this continued, they would remove the phone.  So, this was relayed to the Resident adviser, who called a residence meeting and read the riot act to us. Sic transit gloria  the good times were over.

Enough words for now. More later.



About R. F.

I am a retired Professional Engineer who spent my working life in the electric utility industry. I am now a volunteer instructor at the University Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).
This entry was posted in Syracuse, Syracuse University and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Remembering Grover Cleveland – 1

  1. ingridmg2014 says:

    Ha ha–“upstaid New York”–very clever, Dad!

    • R.J.F. says:

      A little joke between Roy and I comparing our rural upbringings with a much larger world. Not right or wrong either way, just different.

  2. Allan T. says:

    Wow, very neat, all I can say is again, I wished I had not been dumb and let my parents push me in the right direction.

    • R.J.F. says:

      Well, all in all, I did learn some things not in class sessions. And after the first year, which tested my self- confidence in a much different setting of life, I did enjoy the college experience. Amazing, as we get older how much more we appreciate what our parents wanted for us, for you, as well as for me. Never to old though Allan, best wishes to Janice.

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