Concordia's roots are deeply intertwined with a respect and love for Norwegian heritage. The location, religion, and faculty of Concordia in its early years all contributed to the growth of its strong Norwegian pride. This ethnic consciousness peaked in the years preceding World War I. Most students spoke in Norse and alternate chapel services were conducted in Norwegian. Association minutes were written almost entirely in Norwegian; some pastors demanded church colleges to teach Norwegian culture to cure the troublesome "Yankee Fever;" the centennial celebration of Norwegian independence happened in 1914; and President Aasgaard supported the addition of Norwegian library books. This attachment to Norwegian culture made a public appearance in 1912 when the Hans Nielsen Hauge monument was unveiled. Hauge was a Norwegian preacher who radically changed the Church of Norway and stirred a religious awakening.
The memorial was dedicated in June 1912 and attracted a crowd of roughly 15,000. President Aasgaard benefited from "the best advertising Concordia has ever received" because at the time, 15,000 people was "the largest crowd ever gathered in Moorhead." A year later, a monument was built to honor Norwegian linguist, Ivar Aasen. Concordia's strong ties with Norwegian heritage, although not as conspicuous as a century ago, are still recognizable today.
There is something reverent and gratifying about looking though old yearbooks. Since Concordia no longer officially prints these books full of memories, it is enjoyable to flip through pages of past Cobbers' lives and remembrances. I am particularly attached to the first few Concordia yearbooks because the upperclassmen included quotes about themselves alongside their photo. Here are a few that I found especially profound or funny taken from the 1923 publication:
"Chase me girls, I'm full of fun."
"Luck is a good word, but pluck means more."
"We laugh with him; we laugh at him; he keeps us laughing all the time."
"The world knows only two, that is Edison and I."
"Gone daft about a woman, and he an eddicated man."
"Contented, laughing, cheerful, her smile will never fade."
"A preacher's son ain't always good-look at me."
"Books are my chief enjoyment."
"I'm sporty, but nobody knows it."
"No matter what the subject may be, you can trust me to disagree."
"When play and duty clash let duty go to smash."
"I'm so busy studying I have no time for classes."
"It is better to be alone than to be in bad company."
"I found C.C. to be the best place after all."
Before his involvement with Concordia, Alfred Hvidsten was a farmer from Stephen, Minnesota. In the 1940s, he was a member of Concordia's board of directors and held tight to the dream of a new music hall on campus. In December 1946, Hvidsten donated $60,000 to the project in an attempt to get the ball rolling. However, Hvidsten would have to wait 16 years before he saw his aspirations come to fruition. In 1962, ground was finally broken by Alfred Hvidsten and construction began. The cost of the Hvidsten Hall of Music totaled $700,000 and was dedicated at the homecoming celebration in 1963. The building was fully furnished with new pianos, rehearsal quarters, practice rooms, teaching studios, and a recital hall. A unique feature at the time was the central court where open-air recitals could be played. The single-story brick and glass-panel building received rave reviews from faculty. Music professors Stahl, Christiansen, and Childs said: "Almost like a palace!" "There isn't a college of our size with anything like it!" "We have absolutely the tops in facilities!" Even today, 52 years later, the Hvidsten Hall of Music is still dearly beloved by many.
In the early 1950s, Cobbers were feeling restless. In the wake of World War II, they yearned for good times and a location to socialize with one another. When the field house opened, Cobbers pounced on the opportunity to use the basement room as a student lounge. The board of directors approved it in October 1952. Furthermore, the gymnasium was opened for for roller skating, which was a popular activity at the time. Students were still left unsatisfied as they pushed for a lunch counter to be opened. The board approved, but stipulated that it had to be located in Brown Hall. Costs were reduced by enthusiastic volunteers who painted and installed carpet for the new lunch counter which opened in April 1953. The following year, the senate purchased a television for the lunch room and a record player for the lounge. Furthermore, sororities, fraternities, and homecoming could always provide entertainment and stimulation for Cobbers. However, students were still left hungry for more. On Firm Foundation Grounded reports that "only when an adequate union was built, many maintained, would their meager social life improve." Concordia today technically does not have a student union, however the social and extracurricular student life is thriving; it is just not constricted to one building.
The year 1897 heralded some fresh changes to Concordia's campus. In January, electric light wires were strung up in Concordia's buildings and approximately 70 lights were installed in hallways, offices, and classrooms. However, students continued to use their own kerosene lamps in their private dwellings. It was also announced that two bathrooms with "modern conveniences" were available to students for 25 cents per term. 1897 also saw an upsurge of bicycle usage. Police officers were given bicycles to pursue lawbreakers at a higher speed and three bicycling clubs developed at Concordia--one for males, one for females, and one co-ed group. The male group named themselves the "Sycamore Cycle Club." They even had matching plaid suit uniforms complete with knee breeches and hats. The ladies' club did not have a title or matching uniforms, but their donning of bloomers caused quite a stir in the area. The co-ed group was led by faculty members and they regularly took an hour ride in the morning before breakfast. One J. E. Johnson purchased a tandem bicycle for $125 and the Moorhead Daily News reported "our young men never like to go out without their best girl, and as the tandem will be much cheaper than a buggy it is expected that this new mode of conveyance will be in great demand." Cobbers today still enjoy a good bike ride and can check out a COBBike through the library!
Last week I featured an excerpt from the 1920 Concordia yearbook, "The Scout," on our Facebook page. It was from the Miscellaneous section and something I found especially humorous was the "Things that Never Happen" list. Here it is:
"Prexy advocates the Movies. Silence in the freshmen row.
Girls' Basketball team. Pie on Mondays.
Dances in the 'Gym.' Freshmen wearing green caps.
Tomorrow we will have a holiday. A short history lesson.
Agnar without a girl. Juniors pleasing everybody.
Olsen 'stepping out.' The rising bell forgetting to ring.
Everybody getting up for Sunday breakfast. Observing 'study hours.'
Unstad wearing an American collar. Alice forgetting to attend choir.
Dinner served at 12:35. Miss Hagen advocating open doors.
Full attendance at Chapel. Skipping biology Lab.
Smoking allowed on the Campus. Nobody getting 'winded' in
Seniors relishing a good joke. Homer Class."
Some of the listings sound silly since they're common now, but some of them still never happen today! And then there are some inside jokes where I guess you just had to be there.
What advice would you give to yourself as a brand new student archivist?
If I could go back in time and give myself advice, I would ask how to relabel boxes once more time before messing up ten of them!
Do you remember the happiest you've ever been in the archives?
Whenever I can help someone get the information they need and they leave happy, that makes me happy! It sounds cliche, but it's very true.
What has been your biggest accomplishment in the archives?
Continuing to learn all the programs and standard routines of running the archives.
What's your favorite part about working in the archives?
Probably seeing projects get finished. Also getting to help people with requests.
What's your favorite thing in the archives?
I really like the chest with the rosemaling! It was a gift during one of the Concordia Choir's tours of Norway.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I would like to work in a museum or a historical society.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
It's a tie between three: to never have to sleep again, but always feel good; the power of resurgence; and the ability to not run into my desk every time I wheel my chair across the office!
What's your favorite part about working in the Archives?
Finding pictures for the Facebook/Twitter posts every day. It's fun digging through the Archives' photos and thinking of a pertinent caption. Also the fact that I get to work with two of my favorite things: Concordia and history!
What's your favorite thing in the Archives?
Ralph Hoppe's whale collection! They're so cute!
What do you want to be when you grow up?
A happy mother, wife, and cat owner most certainly. In terms of a career, I'm studying Heritage & Museum Studies, Communication, and History; so hopefully a job that blends all of those together. I'm thinking anything from a Public Relations Manager at a history museum to having my own show on the History Channel! :)
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
The power to instill world peace!
There is a unique tie between Concordia College and the tragic assassination of President Kennedy. Clint Hill, Concordia College alumnus, served as a Secret Service agent for Jackie Kennedy throughout President John F. Kennedy's term. Hill is the man who famously launched himself upon the presidential vehicle to shield the Kennedys from more gunshots. Mrs. Kennedy had crawled her way out of the backseat and Hill forced her back in the car. Many credit him for saving Mrs. Kennedy's life. Hill was honored by Treasury Secretary, Douglas Dillon, for "exceptional bravery" and "his extraordinary courage and heroic effort in the face of maximum danger." Hill, however, did not feel like a hero. He was burdened with guilt and felt that if only he had responded faster, he could have sacrificed his life for the president. These heavy feelings of remorse and responsibility propelled Hill into a period of depression and alcoholism. He did not outwardly speak or interview about the details of the assassination for decades. Hill protected Mrs. Kennedy for one more year and was a part of the Secret Service for Presidents Johnson, Nixon, and Ford. He retired in 1975 after 17 years of service. In 1990, Hill went back to the scene of the assassination and went up to the Book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald had been. Hill found some peace and concluded that he had done all that he could have done. Hill healed more after sharing his story with Lisa McCubbin, who co-authored "The Kennedy Detail" in 2010 and collaborated with Hill on the book "Mrs. Kennedy and Me" in 2012.
Before the Kennedy assassination, Clint Hill attended Concordia College. He lettered in football and baseball, and even sang in a quartet. He majored in history and physical education. When Hill graduated in 1954, he planned on becoming a teacher and a coach. However, he had one more hurdle to jump -- his draft deferment. He headed to basic training for the Army and after a series of fortunate events, was selected to protect President Eisenhower in 1959. Hill said "I was elated. But at the same time, I was scared to death because I didn't know if I would measure up, and this was an awesome responsibility." After President Kennedy took office, Hill was assigned to protect Jackie Kennedy. He said "she only called me Mr. Hill, and I only called her Mrs. Kennedy, but I knew a lot of her secrets, and she knew a lot of mine." Hill returned to Concordia's campus during the 2011 Homecoming season and was honored with an Alumni Achievement Award.
A most well deserved title.
Have you ever wondered why Concordia College's mascot is a corncob? The origin actually has roots in some antagonistic name-calling! Hope Academy, also located in Moorhead, provided early competition for Concordia financially and academically. The glaring difference between the two institutes is that Hope Academy was a Swedish Lutheran school and Concordia is a Norwegian Lutheran school. This ethnic dissimilarity proved to be a point of tension and derision between the two establishments. One day in 1893, Concordia students were enjoying some "literary entertainments" (most likely a lecture or a debate) when some Swedish Hope Academy students interrupted with this chant:
Hva'ska' De ha?
Lutefisk and Lefse -
Yah! Yah! Yah!"
However, the Cobbers did not let the Hope Academy students triumph -- the Norwegians charged the Swedes and left them knee-deep in the muddy ravine near present-day Prexy's Pond. When pondering why Hope students chose corncobs, Bogstad rationalized that it could have come from the paralleling of C.C. (Concordia College - CornCob) or perhaps from the cornfield located behind the boys' dormitory. Either way, Concordia students liked the way it sounded and kept it as a brand of their own.