The 50th Anniversary of “The Last Shot”

ISU_scoreboard

Scoreboard image captured from the film linked in this post.

January 13, 2020 marks an historic day in Titan Basketball history. Fifty years ago IWU’s annual cross-town rivalry came to an end with a last second shot by team Captain Tom Gramkow, Class of 1970. His top-of-the-key jumper was called “The last second, last shot, last game!” by the editors of the 1970 Wesleyana.

According to the January 16, 1970 coverage in The Argus, “This victory gave the Titans a final 69-42 .series lead. In coach Jim Collie’s first year at ISU and in this his last year, the Titans beat State by one point. In 1958, Collie’s first year, the score was 62-61, IWU.”

This silent film shows segments of the last half of the last game IWU played against ISU. The creator of the film is unknown but at some point a copy was made on VHS and this file contains all of the game that was donated to the archives.

This link leads to photos of the team in the locker room after the game and an additional link to the film. The film is also briefly shown during an interview Dennie Bridges and Coach Jack Horenberger recorded in 1991 about the history of IWU athletics. Other items related to athletics history are available online through the University Archives’ collections of photos and documents as well as the official IWU Athletics website.

If you have additional photos or more information about this event, please contact archives@iwu.edu or 556-1538.

 

IWU alum’s “astronaut food” discovered in time capsule

Guest post by Anthony Romanelli, Class of 2023

Illinois Wesleyan’s Founders’ Day of 1969 was a momentous occasion. Apollo astronaut Frank Borman was being hosted by the University. His entire Apollo 8 crew were presented with honorary doctorates and Borman placed a time capsule in the newest building on campus. Borman, the University, and local Bloomington-Normal businesses all contributed to an extensive list of items to place in a time capsule in the Mark Evans Observatory. Some of the notable items on the list include an audio tape recording of a Christmas message by the astronauts, an integrated circuit identical to the ones on Apollo 8 (provided by the General Electric division in Bloomington), and perhaps most noteworthy, a medallion that had joined the astronauts on the first crewed flight to reach the Moon’s orbit. [A post about the time capsule contents is available here.]

But when the capsule was opened during Homecoming of 2019, many of the perishable objects had been completely destroyed, including much of the papers. Moisture had somehow penetrated the copper box and corroded the material. Upon closer inspection, one of the culprits may have been a packet of “space food” contributed to the capsule by the local candy company Beich Industries. The food itself was gone; all that remained was a label from the company and a product description by its head researcher, one Mr. Alikonis. The man behind the space food had a story of his own, one that eventually led to his product in space.

Justin J. Alikonis was born in Johnston City in southern Illinois on December 7, 1912. When he was 18, he hitchhiked to Bloomington during the Great Depression looking for work to pay for college. He found a job at the Quality Café at 426 Main St in downtown Bloomington. There, he worked as a busboy, a waiter and a short-order cook as needed to pay his tuition. Luckily for him, IWU president Henry McPherson had instated in 1932 a “livestock for tuition” plan, where students could trade in live animals or produce from family farms as tuition payments. The controversial policy was enacted to keep young Central Illinoisans in school in the wake of the Depression, and this video shows Alikonis trading in a pig for his first semester of 1932. (While family relatives of Alikonis confirmed his appearance in the film, it is unknown why he uses the name “Isaac Rosenburg” in it.)

Justin Alikonis with lab equipment

Justin Alikonis ’35 with lab equipment

Alikonis graduated from Illinois Wesleyan in 1935 as a chemistry major, and completed graduate school at the University of Illinois. By the late 1930s, Alikonis had a lab in Bloomington and respected reputation as a preeminent chemist. Alikonis provided Bloomington with a variety of services using his homemade equipment, from manufacturing stain removers for the local laundromat to providing forensics for the McLean County Sheriff’s Department in a suspected poisoning case.

It wasn’t until World War II that Alikonis began working for the Beich Candy Company, his employer for the next 40 years. Paul F. Beich was born in Wehlen, Prussia (now part of the German town of Bernkastel-Kues), a German immigrant to New York. He moved to Bloomington to live with his aunt, and in thirty years went from not knowing a word of English to being one of the most notable businessmen in Blommington. It was Beich who convinced John Hershey to set up a factory in McLean County to be closer to the dairy supply, and Beich himself later bought the factory. Beich Co.’s then-owner, the elder Beich’s great-grandson William, employed Alikonis as a researcher and designer in his candy factory in west Bloomington (since sold to Nestle) and the young chemist began working on high-energy candy bars to feed the G.I.s in the Pacific. During the war, over 95% of sales went straight overseas to the Armed Forces. In 1951, Beich and Alikonis participated in a rations design conference hosted by the United States Army Quartermaster Corps, and Beich helped supply the candy for homesick troops.

Justin J. Alikonis (fourth from left) participates in a candy taste test at Georgia Agricultural Experiment Station with other representatives of the industry on behalf of the Quartermaster General of the United States Army, October 1952.*

Alikonis quickly realized how valuable his caloric little bars were, and as the Cold War dawned, Alikonis began making bars designed for long-term storage in bomb shelters. At the height of the Space Race, Beich rebranded its bars and sold them to NASA for consumption during space missions. During the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission, astronaut Wally Schirra ate Beich bars made with Alikonis’s patented formula, and on Apollo 8, Frank Borman shared them with his crewmates. The Beich bar recipe was also contained in the IWU time capsule, which reveals the new technologies Alikonis was working on. Determined to create an inexpensive, non-perishable candy, Alikonis was one of the first to use sorbitol, a natural sugar substitute, in his candies. Sorbitol, along with aspartame, is one of the most common natural flavorings used in diet soda today.

Alikonis was equally successful in the civilian market. He designed and patented, among other things, a marshmallow-making machine, the “Whizolater”, named after the Beich flagship candy bar, the Whiz. With no moving parts and operating solely on pressurized air, the Whizolater could make 1,400 gallons of marshmallow or nougat per hour. Curtiss Candy Company, the original makers of the Baby Ruth (then called the Kandy Kake), bought several Whizolaters for their Chicago-based plant. In the 1970s, “Beich’s Caramels”, which in reality were fruit-flavored taffy squares, became a hit once jokes (submitted to the company by children) were added to the wrappers. Beich’s Caramels became known as Laffy Taffy, a popular candy to this day.

Alikonis returned to IWU during Founders’ Day ‘69 to advertise his “space food” rations, and place a sample of his famous ration bar in the time capsule. While the bar may have rotted away, IWU will always have the story behind it, of the curious chemist-turned-candymaker who made history, on Earth and beyond.

Survival ration instructions found in the 1969 time capsule.

This informational leaflet concerning the Beich survival bar was found in the 2019 after the 1969 time capsule was opened, but was unfortunately moisture damage deteriorated it beyond preservation. Alikonis’s name can be seen towards the bottom of the decayed paper.

*Group photo credit: Quartermaster General of the Army. Activities Report of the Quartermaster Food and Container Institute for the Armed Forces. Vol. 4, No. 3, pg. 257. Research and Development Associates, Food and Container Institute, Inc., 1952. https://books.google.com/books?id=svDhVf4KeDAC&lpg=RA1-PA98&dq=beich rations&pg=RA2-PA163#v=onepage&q=beich rations&f=false.

Named places: Stevenson Hall

Dr. Edgar M. Stevenson

Dr. Edgar M. Stevenson

Stevenson is the home of the School of Nursing and is currently IWU’s oldest building; when it was built in 1910 it received partial funding by the Andrew Carnegie Foundation. It was originally called the Science Building and was renamed for local doctor Edgar M. Stevenson after being renovated in 1965.

 

Dr. Carolyn Jarvis

Dr. Carolyn Jarvis

The Jarvis Center for Nursing Excellence was completed, along with several other updates to the building, in 2016. It was named in honor of Professor of Nursing Carolyn Jarvis, whose lead gift provided substantial funding for these renovations.”

Research Files: IWU’s First International Students

Photo scanned from a scrapbook held in IWU archives. The person is unidentified but the book belonged to an 1895 graduate.

Photo scanned from a scrapbook held in IWU archives. The person is unidentified but the book includes named graduates from classes in the years after 1890.

In 1890, Wesleyan’s first two international students graduated from IWU’s Law School. Their names were Yeizo Osawa and Kashiyira Tanaka. They were from Tokyo, Japan, and were in residence on campus when they graduated. Stories in our student publications relate how they shared their culture with IWU’s campus, such as delivering lectures and describing some of the customs of Japan. Their presence among the graduation class of 1890 was even noted in local newspapers and in the Chicago Tribune.

Even earlier, other graduates with international addresses received degrees through our Non-residential program, meaning they did not have to attend classes on our campus. This program is described the following way in an 1895 publication:

The object of this step was to furnish lines of systematic study for those
professional men and women whose duties and environments are such
as to make a resident course of study an impossibility, and yet who
earnestly desire systematic study.

Sounds a lot like what online learning programs promise today, doesn’t it?

An early graduate of the program with an international address is Rev. John Oakly Spencer of Japan, who graduated with a Ph.B in 1888. One wonders about the possibility of Osawa and Tanaka meeting Oakly and finding out about our small school in Central Illinois!

Other Non-resident graduates living abroad in the same time period were Rev. Myron Chesterfield Wilcox of China who also graduated with a Ph.B in 1886, and William Groves of Uruguay who graduated with an M.A. in 1897. William C. Armstrong and Frederick W. A.Meyer, of Ontario, Canada and Arthur Thomas Carr of Birmingham England all received M.A. in 1896.

These men were not international students in the same way we think of today, but they demonstrate our current philosophy has long-standing roots: bring the world to Wesleyan and Wesleyan to the world!

To learn more you can visit Tate Archives and Special Collections in the Ames Library or contact us at archives@iwu.edu!

Photo project complete!

In 2011 the archives acquired a group of photographic material from the Office of Communications. Since then a succession* of diligent archives student assistants have worked steadily to place the contact sheets and negatives together in high quality sleeves, transfer information from the old filing sleeves, and then to store them in hanging file drawers for ease of access. Actually, many people** at IWU deserve the thanks of all future IWU photo seekers.

Below are a few then-and-now pictures to give a sense of this effort. The years spanned in these image files are 1966-2002, though the bulk of the negatives are from 1970s-1990s. A rough estimate of the total comes to about 40,000 images. Some information is searchable in a database (available in the archives) created by a couple of generations of photographers, but most images are at least in chronological order and correspond with activities that occur regularly each academic year. This order itself, even without complete descriptions, is significant for the work of the archives in satisfying the many research inquiries we receive each year.

* Students (now alumni!) assisting in this project were Kaylee, Kenny, Kirsten, Melissa, Rachel, Shirley, and Tia.

**Special thanks to the photographers who took the images and saved their log books, Physical Plant for moving everything so carefully, and University Librarian Karen Schmidt for making it possible to purchase the supplies that will help keep our history safe and in order for future use! Karen also alerted me to the policies of State Farm that allow non-profits to acquire used furniture from their surplus warehouse. We wouldn’t have all the vertical file cabinets without them!

 

 

Advice from the past

Recent readings in old  IWU student publications are yielding time-tested advice. It is difficult when you’re caught up in the hurried days of deadlines and commitments to think of the broader implications of college on an educated person’s development. Take a look at some of these ideas and see if there’s an intersection with your 21st century life.

An October 1888 editorial offers this series of thoughts: “In study, college students slight nothing more than they do themselves….The student who has done nothing but study has little notion of what he is capable of doing. His school work so absorbs his attention that he fails to study himself….To accomplish the most possible, one must have a practical and general knowledge of things. A broad foundation is essential….Finally, and briefly, don’t hurry through school. It is better to be an educated graduate at tweny-five, than an inexperienced one at twenty. Young people at twenty are apt to make unfortunate ventures….”

Here is another excerpt from some advice given by another Editorial Board in 1890: “The aim of all college students should be to gain knowledge…We are here as a body of students to cultivate our minds, so that we may be able to cope with the outside world….”

1890-02-25_Athenian_right_col

 

 

Cover page of this Athenian issue.

Cover page of this Athenian issue.

 

What does the archives keep?

Someone recently asked me to create a source that would make it easy for people to know what the archives considers…well…archival! The image linked below leads to a slide show designed to help clarify how YOU can help me save your history for future generations.

Slide2

This slide lists some of our major collecting points, but if you have questions feel free to ask!

Let me know if you have questions about anything in this overview!

October is Archives Awareness Month

You can become aware of what’s in your University’s Archives at the IWU Mini Museum Tent on the Quad during Homecoming! Stop by Saturday the 6th from 8-11:30 AM for a condensed view of IWU’s 162 year history. We’ll have artifacts, photos, Wesleyana yearbooks, event programs, Argus issues and more.

The tent is also hosting the contents of the time capsule that will be placed in the new classroom building at 10AM in a ceremony organized by Associate Dean of Students for Campus Life & Director of Residential Life Matthew Damschroder. See it before it’s sealed and then let your descendents know so they can keep an eye out for it!

Visit Tate Archives & Special Collections on The Ames Library’s 4th floor or click on the leaf to visit us online!

Tree Map is posted!

One of our talented archives student assistants spent a few days uploading files donated by retired IWU Groundsman Art Killian. These jpegs and pdfs were used in creating the dynamic version of the IWU Tree Map and are now permanently part of our static digital photo collection. The photos and information derived from the main site will remain available in this larger historical IWU website as a record of the look and layout of campus grounds in the 2010s.

Why was this static capture necessary?

The Illinois Wesleyan University Tree Map project was created in Photoshop and edited with Dreamweaver. The current CAD (Computer-Aided Design) map, which the Tree Map was derived from, is on file at Illinois Wesleyan University’s Physical Plant. When the landscape changes on campus, Physical Plant uses the CAD version to maintain records of their work on the campus grounds. As working records, the campus maps are updated frequently.

The Tree Map website was completed by Art Killian with assistance from Curtis Kelch and the landscaping and grounds crew. This dynamic website is hosted on the campus server and contains photos by Diane Trevor, Ken Detloff, Marc Featherly (circa 2006), and Art Killian (circa 2010).

 

More historical photos

If it’s been awhile since you looked through the online photo collection, check it out. One of our outstanding archives student assistants worked away at our backlog of photos that have been digitized for one reason or another in the past few years and there are over 1,100 uploaded now.

There are quite a few that we know little or nothing about. Click on the “Help ID Photos!” tab at the top of this page to search solely for those images. If you have information to share, let me know!

We recently acquired the IWU Tree Map files for the current and previous interactive websites created by Art Killian. We can’t make the map interactive in our photo collection, but I know we can at least save the map pages for each tree and include an image of each tree so that changes to our arboretum can be noted well into the future. Stay tuned!