Then and now: Baker Hall West
It’s been 49 years since Pamela Sue Stile Wilson, Class of 1970, has seen a move-in day at Baker Hall West. She shares her experiences as a student then and as a volunteer now.
Then: September 1966
Such excitement! It was early on my first day on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University, moving into West Baker with one very good friend from home and an unknown roommate. Room 1113.
Ohio State was in a major residence hall crunch. Lincoln and Morrill towers had not yet opened, and it was mandatory for freshmen to live on campus. So, we were three in a room built for two.
Two built-in dressers to be shared by three. Two built-in closets to be shared by three. An upper and lower bunk bed plus a single bed. Three desks in a cluster. We had to go out into the hall to turn around!
We brought radios, drying racks, shower buckets, full-length mirrors, clothing and under-the-bed sweater chests. One of my friends from home who had already been on campus for a week helped us drag all of our belongings to our room. It took dozens of trips up the stairs to accomplish our move-in.
Attending class meant adhering to the dress code. Yes, we had a dress code. We also had a dress code for dinner in the dining hall which was attached to West Baker, East Baker, Stradley and Park halls. Regardless of where you were on campus at mealtime, you had to return to your dorm to eat. Not very conducive to class schedules and balanced nutrition.
The dining hall was huge and had a second floor where Woody Hayes and The Team ate dinner. That was my introduction to The Team and their special privileges. The dining hall was always buzzing with team gossip and echoed cheers on Fridays before game day. We had a curfew of 11 p.m. on weeknights and 12 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Now: August 2015
Such excitement! I accepted an email invitation from Ohio State to volunteer on “move-in” day. When I found out that I could request a specific residence hall, I didn’t hesitate. I hadn’t been back in West Baker (now Baker Hall West) since June 1968 and was eager to explore.
I arrived early for our 8:30 a.m. call and scooted inside to discover just how much had changed. The lobby furnishings still included the grand piano, but little else was familiar. Table tennis and billiards have taken the place of the couches and chairs that once occupied the space. The switchboard – which was used for landline phones – was gone. The small vestibule that housed two pay phones was still there but converted into another use – the phones long gone. The same wall of brass-plated mailboxes that collected my mail still stood proudly next to the front desk though.
Marble columns don’t change much in 49 years, but carpeting and painted walls have “jazzed up” the premises. Thousands of footfalls have left their impression on the stairs.
Walking up to Room 1113 felt dramatic. I opened the door to the uninhabited room to find that all of the built-ins had been removed, replaced by two loft beds with desks below, two standing wardrobe closets, a fridge and a microwave. I was flooded with warm nostalgia of having lived in that space so many decades ago. If these walls could talk…
Greeting the arriving families was such fun! Some were tired from their long ride; others were energetic locals from Arlington and Westerville. Some parents were nervous about dropping off their students, and some students were nervous about being seen with their parents. They came with clothing, full-length mirrors, drying racks, carpets, cell phones, flat-screen TVs, computers, laptops and bicycles. It was obvious that there is no dress code on campus.
It was a perfect weather day for move-in. The parents and students were happy to have volunteers and resident advisors pushing wheeled carts and emptying every vehicle that arrived. Those carts transported all of the belongings of each student directly to his or her room, where the volunteers unloaded them and returned to the curb for the next new arrival.
I had fun talking with the parents. Having dropped off our five children at various colleges over the years, I fully understand the overpowering emotions that are part of the journey.
A productive, happy, memorable and nostalgic day. A terrific way to begin the semester!