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Notes of WSC 1940

From Our Story

By Ken Wise ‘42

Looking back to 1940 and the little cow college on the hill at Pullman, Washington, I can hardly believe the changes that have taken place in the past 65 years.

The Forestry Department of the Washington State College, as it was known then, offered a three-year course in forestry and that is why I came to Pullman to go to school.

“Where are the trees?” All I saw were wheat fields. I was disappointed. However, I stayed five years instead of three and I learned to love it.

The campus was spacious and beautiful, with lawns and few buildings. There were perhaps 4,000 to 5,000 students and the town’s populations was even less.

Would you believe there was a forestry department tree nursery where the veterinary buildings now stand or that I hunted ground squirrels on Military Hill?

Bryan Hall, ca. 1939. Photo by Ken Wise.
Few students had cars. We came by train or bus to Pullman. Students did not wear jeans to class, and women wore dresses back then. Many men wore corduroy pants if and only if they were upperclassmen.

We had no thoughts of terrorists, diversity, or protests. We had no cell phones, computers—not even T.V. My dormitory room cost 35 dollars a semester, but times were hard and many students had jobs to help meet expenses. One thing we had more of then was snow.

Alcohol was not a problem at all. There was no student union, no co-ed dorms. Girls had to be in their dorms by 9 PM and, I believe, 12 PM on weekends. I worked in the forest nursery and was paid 12 dollars for 60 hours work. I waited tables for my board. I graduated debt free. A tall water tower and tank occupied the CUB site.

Although archery is a minor sport, WSU has not had many national champs in any sport. The only other one I can think of is boxing. The PE Department probably doesn’t even know they had a national championship team in archery, although they did give us each a letterman sweater.

I do not know, but I may be the sole survivor of that team. I did not keep in touch with the other members of the team, but I know we all loved the sport. Once three of us went hunting for deer over near Wenatchee in an area set aside for archers only (Entiat Reserve). There was only one shot taken. The arrow hit the deer’s antlers and knocked the deer down, but it came to and got away.

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