The Free Press, Mankato, MN

June 30, 2013

Memories: Carp, cream puffs and ‘Mr. Cool’

Decades of memories

By Brian Ojanpa
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — MANKATO — Put out a call to the 50,000 students who lived in Gage dorms during the facility’s near half-century of existence and you’re bound to get a host of responses.

In the weeks prior to Saturday’s razing of the defunct twin towers residence halls, the Minnesota State University Alumni Office asked alums to share their favorite memories of living there. Here are some of their responses:

“One of my first jobs after high school (in 1964) was painting much of the interior of Gage buildings. My job was transporting paint, 5-gallon buckets, by hand up to all the floors since the elevators were not yet working. They were the tallest buildings in Mankato and expected to last forever, I supposed then. Recently I returned to Mankato to live out my life and I was sad to learn that Gage was to be destroyed.”

— former student Adrian Oliver

“During the Minnesota Vikings training camp in the early 1970s the players occupied the lower floors of Gage and were supplied with Land O Nod mattresses. As a Gage resident, it was imperative to arrive on campus early to raid the (departed) Vikings players’ rooms and swap your thin, school-issued mattress for the more luxurious Land O Nod mattresses.”

— Mary Quinn Kraemer, ’72 and ’81 and Gary L. Kraemer, ’74 and ’81

“I was in Gage from ’73 to ’77. In ’73 we staged a mass-streak down the mall in the winter and got caught by Campus Security and the Mankato PD. We all ended up back in our rooms with only a slap on the wrist. We looked pretty awkward with everyone else’s pants on, all lined up somewhere down from what used to be a country road south of the stadium. And it was cold. We were also known for taking a day’s catch of carp and bringing them back to swim another day in the girls shower and bathtub a floor below.”

— Gary M. Lesley, ’77

“I only worked one Vikings summer camp. Each year, (Vikings player) Jim Marshall would push a cream puff into a food service worker’s face. He would come up the the worker and say it smelled funny and wanted the worker to smell it to confirm it. The year I worked the training camp food service I was the cream puff victim. I was stunned, and Mr. Marshall and everyone else was laughing.”

—Brenda Bly, Gage dorm food service manager 1976-78

“One night in 1970, as I looked out the window toward the girls’ wing, I noted a type of Morse code coming from a particular room. I started to see a sequence that repeated (lights on and off). I counted the repeating flashing lights and realized that the code was the telephone number of the girls in that room. Once we had decoded the flashing lights and the starting sequence we had their number and were able to call and meet up with them.”

—Gerald W. Poppe, ’75

“We had a kid who lived in Gage during the 1981-82 school year who had a classic Mustang with mag wheels. I don’t remember his name; we just called him “Cool” because he thought he was. Our floor had the big open community shower rooms and I had headed down to take a shower one afternoon. When I walked into the shower room there was Cool, with the tires off his Mustang, scrubbing them. I just showered and left. Did I mention that he thought he was cool?”

—Mark Gibson, ’83