ST. CLOUD -- St. Cloud State University is celebrating its sesquicentennial this year. Once a month Archivist Tom Steman is on the News @ Noon Show to highlight some of the events from the university's past. Tuesday we talked about life on campus during the 1950s.

Freshman "Beanies" were first worn in 1937. Art Grachek arrived on campus in 1958 and fondly remembers wearing the beanie.

The beanie had to be two fingers from above the nose if it was incorrectly put on the upperclassmen could make you kneel in front of them.  It wasn't any serious hazing during that time, but a few years later it became more of a problem.

The beanie tradition ended by 1962.

Freshman Beanie, photo courtesy of SCSU archives
Freshman Beanie, photo courtesy of SCSU archives

One annual tradition was the swim across the Mississippi River every spring. It lasted from 1952 until 1977. Grachek never participated in the swim, but he remembers it well.

There was a whole ceremony of greasing up the individuals so they wouldn't freeze in the river.  They would start on the east side of the river and swim over to the west side and people would cheer them on.  I think there was a lot of greasing up on the inside as well.  It was sort of a spring ritual.

Other highlights from the 1950s, Republican Presidential candidate Dwight Eisenhower crowned the homecoming queen in 1952, the name of the school changed from St. Cloud State Teachers College to St. Cloud State College in 1957, and Mitchell Hall opened in 1958.

More highlights from campus in the 1950s, The Whitney House opened as a women's dorm in 1956, and a new library opened in 1952.

Student enrollment in 1950 was just over 3,100 and by 1960 it had grown to nearly 3,900.

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