In the 1950s Patty Ernst and Marian Baldy Kenedy would pass time between classes at the TUB. The former women’s gymnasium, built in 1901, became the Temporary Union Building while a new student union was being built. A structure of many uses, it had also served as an ROTC armory, a bookstore, a bowling alley, and temporary housing for a surplus of students just after World War II.
Playing on the bath-like name, the building even had “The Drain,” a basement café and hangout filled with booths and a jukebox. Friday and Saturday night dances there were very popular, with more than half the student body attending.
The TUB scene “was very convivial,” says Kenedy. “It was an easy way to meet the other kids on campus.”
Returning to Pullman for their sixtieth reunion last fall, Ernst and Kenedy and their classmates reminisced about simpler times, when they had a brand new library to explore, the mascot was a live cougar, and students hanging out at the TUB self-served their coffee from metal urns and played cards for entertainment. The classmates caught up at a luncheon in the Compton Union Building (which opened in 1952). Instead of kibitzing over cups of joe, undergraduates at the union today text each other while they cue up for barista-brewed lattes and frappes. Then they wander out to the entertainment lounge to be diverted by banks of high definition TVs and video games.
The first student experiences, in the 1890s, included traversing mud paths and boardwalks between a handful of buildings that held classes and laboratories. Many of the students lived in boarding houses. For entertainment, they would have dances or stroll by Silver Lake, a natural spring-fed pond on the site that is now Mooberry Track.
Back in the 1930s WSC constructed a ski jump right on campus. It was set up next to the stadium fence. A student journalist for The Daily Evergreen from November 4, 1938, claimed, “The ski jump is believed to be the only one in the nation that is on a college athletic field.”
For those who wished to be part of a group, the students established sports teams, clubs, and sororities and fraternities. By the 1920s and ’30s, Pullman had a lively, busy campus and a fast-growing Greek system. These things set the scene for a long history of student engagement.