Ytterboe Hall Boarding Club
LIFE IN Ytterboe Hall was, for its residents, typical of that of any men's dormitory at the time. In earlier years there were the usual regulations governing group living, basically concerned with thoughtfulness and consideration for the rights of others as well as for one's own best development. So there were room inspections, study hours in the afternoon till five o'clock to be resumed again at seven. You knew when it was five o'clock by the music that emanated from Ytterboe. All the boys who were in the band began practicing on their instruments and continued until supper. Bedtime was at 10:00 p.m. But Ytterboe Hall served as much more than a residence for men. Since there was no music hall, the piano and voice studios were for many years located on first floor. The living room was the social center of the college, where teas and receptions were held.
All-college social gatherings were held in the gymnasium (now the drama studio) and the refreshments were served in the dining room. Many a famous and exciting basketball game was played in that gymnasium with the spectators seated on the bleachers at both ends of the room.
After the Chapel fire in 1923, this old gym (which had been replaced in 1920 by the present Women's Gymnasium) replaced the physics laboratory, housed in the basement of the Chapel, until Holland Hall was built.
The theory of music classes which had met in the Chapel music room were conducted in Ytterboe Hall lounge. During the Student Army Training Corps period of the First World War, this gymnasium served as a Lutheran Soldiers Service Center with Dean H. M. Thompson in charge. With the large number of veterans and other men enrolled following the Second World War, this room housed forty men, barracks style. Eventually the old gym was renovated and became our present Drama Studio.
The dining room in Ytterboe Hall was for many years a real institution. To begin with it provided dining facilities for the entire student body. The students were seated by classes, seniors at the south end, freshman at the north with the other classes between. Board was simple; desserts were few. To satisfy one's craving for sweets, most of the students topped off their noon meal with syrup or brown sugar on bread. The syrup jug was always available. But on Sundays when Eivind Storholt was chef, there was superb chocolate pie. Pancakes for breakfast were a treat and were served to a few tables at a time until all had had their turn. Coffee for dinner, the noon meal, was a senior privilege.
After awhile the long tables for sixteen people were shortened to tables for eight. When Miss Carrie Eide and later Mrs. Julia Tronbol became managers of the dining room, the Sunday dinners became famous for their delicious pork chops and gravy and especially for the fruit salad. Many a mother on visiting the campus asked for the recipe for the St. Olaf fruit salad about which her son or daughter had raved!
As the student body grew, additional dining facilities were needed and Mohn Hall cafeteria was opened to provide for the three upper classes. Ytterboe Hall which continued to serve family-style table-board became the freshman dining room. This proved to be one of the finest social agencies for the freshmen. Here they were brought together daily in the normal process of breaking bread together. They were assigned to specific tables by the head waiter, when possible four boys and four girls; but if this did not work out exactly, no more than five of one sex. After three weeks the students were reassigned for another three-week period. This procedure was followed throughout the year so that by spring every one had sat at a table with every other member of the class for at least three weeks. In that time he had made at least a passing acquaintance with the other members of his class. The three-week assignments were made for Monday through Friday. On Saturdays and Sundays the students were free to sit with whomever and wherever they pleased.
It was customary for the students to take turns sitting at the head and the foot of the table and for the one at the head to serve the meat, potatoes and gravy, while the one at the foot served the vegetable and beverages, coffee or milk. While not all the students appreciated this arrangement, on the whole those who look back upon their days in the freshman dining room regard their experiences there as among the most valued of their extra-curricular program. There were of course always those that wanted to transfer to the Mohn Hall cafeteria because the Ytterboe menu was so "starchy." At the cafeteria they could choose! Many a girl did put on poundage after she got into the regularity of the routine of college life. But interestingly enough it was a common observation that many of those who complained of starchy menus were the ones who indulged liberally between meals and in the evenings on snacks of cakes and cookies from home, ice cream, and other calorie-filled foods!
During World War II Ytterboe Hall dining room served as the Navy mess hall. Following the war the Annex was added which doubled the dining area. However, the greatly increased student body necessitated that the family style of meals of Boarding Club days be supplanted by the cafeteria service instituted with the Navy. It still was possible, however, to use the facilities for class banquets and other similar festive occasions.
Off from the main dining area of the Annex was a smaller room seating up to fifty people, known as the Nordic Room. This room was especially attractive because of its wall decorations, appropriate Norwegian sayings done in "rose-maling," the work of three of the faculty wives, Mrs. Martin Hegland, Mrs. Carl Swanson and Mrs., O. E. Shefveland. Many a luncheon and dinner was served in this room.
Ytterboe dining room was closed when the long-anticipated facilities of the St. Olaf Center became available.