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More Bancroft Hall Memories

I first attended Bancroft in 1931 when my mother was returning to the University of Nebraska to restore her teaching certificate to active status. I was in sixth grade at Bancroft Grade School and we lived in an apartment that was part of a girls’ boarding house just off the intersection of 14th and R streets—right in the middle of where the student union building was later built and across the street from fraternity row. I came home to lunch each day, passing the grocery store owned by Frank and Bobby Rubino’s folks.

My next and last intimate contact with Bancroft Hall was in my senior year at the university in 1942, when I was enrolled in EM 4, an engineering mechanics course, with professors Marmo and Aacus. This was a sophomore course I had postponed because of a heavy academic load. The final part of the course involved measuring individual parts of a drill press and sketching them freehand, so I could complete the engineering set of drawings (and my course work so I could graduate in February 1943)—all this without the normal drafting equipment.

I enjoy keeping up with the university engineering activities, and hope you will continue the fine work in Engineering @ Nebraska.
—Bruce H. Stafford, EE, ’43

The Summer 2003 Contacts article on Bancroft Hall and the letters in the Fall 2003 Engineering @ Nebraska have triggered my own memories of the several roles played by the Hall.

I first entered Bancroft Hall in 1938 because my parents had enrolled me in a special elementary school summer session sponsored by the Teachers College. Excellent teachers were selected from throughout the state and summer students of Teachers College observed their techniques. It was a great experience for the grade school kids as there were no exams. We had daily “sings” in the corridor as all classes came out of their rooms for the fun. Each year (in my case, kindergarten through sixth grade) we had a special topic of learning, such as China (we were shown how to write a few Chinese characters) and typing (across the street at Andrews Hall). I remember hearing about the D-Day invasion of Normandy as we drove to school on June 6, 1944.

My next visit to Bancroft was for engineering mechanics classes in 1950-54. Students from that time well remember engineering drawing classes taught by Prof. T.T. Aacus (called T Square, of course). I struggled through mechanics of materials with Prof. Don Pierce and the other mechanics classes electrical engineering students were required to take.

Bancroft had many faces we will not soon forget.
—Bill Doole, BSEE, ‘54

I found it most interesting to read the letters about Bancroft Hall from the engineering “youngsters.” I was fortunate to work for the great Dr. Debaufre in Bancroft Hall in the early ’40s, shortly after NU acquired it from the Lincoln School District. Dr. Debaufre, in addition to teaching (superbly) engineering mechanics, was doing a great deal of research on various gases. Howard Fonda and I did much of the graphical work for the Doc. It was our job to plot reams of data on huge graph sheets, accurately dividing millimeters into five parts and drawing a nice, continuous line through the series of dots.

Shortly after acquiring the property, NU started an expansion on the north side of the building. Dr. DeBaufre used it as a teaching tool, explaining where and why a joint should be made on a poured concrete beam.

He also designed a gas plant for a company in Pittsburg, Penn., to separate oxygen and nitrogen from air. The drawings for the plant were made by our fellow engineering students under Doc’s direction. After I had spent years in industry, many of them supervising engineers, I marveled at the fact a company had the faith to put metal and mortar into a series of student drawings. Shortly after the plant opened, Doc was called to Pittsburg to address some instability in the plant. After he returned, he informed us it was an operator problem. They had not given the plant an opportunity to settle down. Doc observed: “An engineer should be inherently lazy and stop trying to rush things.”

It was in ’42 or ’43 the State Highway Department asked if Doc would assist them in interviewing engineering applicants for high-level jobs in the department and hoped he’d be reasonable with his fees. Doc said he’d be glad to be of service and that there would be no fee.

I graduated in ’43 with a BSEE. Working in the Department of Engineering Mechanics was just recreation for us between serious study under professors Oskar Edison and Ferris Norris in Electrical Engineering.
—Fred L. Martinson, BSEE, ’43

The letters from Temple W. Newman and Dennis Dickerson released a flood of memories about my own experiences in Bancroft Hall. Like Mr. Newman, I enrolled in engineering at NU in fall 1945, spent a lot of time in Bancroft, and received my BS in ME in January 1950. I must say, Mr. Dickerson was lucky he only had to ink borders and title block. I remember our requirement included a complete working drawing in ink on vellum. If you made a mistake, you erased with a razor blade and redid the line. If you made too many mistakes in the same place, you had to start over from scratch. Does any one remember the frustration of matching a straight line with a curved segment? I did complete the exercise and even used the drawing to demonstrate the “fine art of blueprinting” during an Engineering Week demonstration in 1946 or 1947. One of the first things to learn when using a bow pen and India ink is to keep the pen away from the drawing unless you are actually in the process of drawing a line. With the advent of computer-assisted drafting, this is all academic.

I retired after more than 38 years at Honeywell, Inc., the last 25 as an explosives handling and testing expert. During that time, I was instrumental in preparing Honeywell’s “Explosive Safety Manual” and was a consultant in these areas to various Army ammunition plants. Since neither NU nor any other school of higher learning offered a course of study in this area, my knowledge was pretty much acquired on the job. I am happy to state that every course I took at NU contributed to my success, even English literature, which I hated for a semester. I must have done something right; I still have all my fingers and other extremities.
—Jean Edward Funk, BSME, ’50

Restoring the Past

I retired in 1991 after nearly 43 years with the Boeing Company, going from engineering design assistant to field service engineer to contractor support manager.

The wife and I have traveled extensively in Europe, mostly Italy, our favorite, with Venice, the super place. We took the “kids” with us on their 50th birthdays.

Volunteer work takes up a lot of my time now. After helping restore a B-17F to flyable condition for the Museum of Flight (in Seattle), I moved over to the B-307 restoration, an airplane belonging to the Smithsonian Museum. It was the first airliner to be pressurized, first wide body, and the first four-engined aircraft to fly scheduled domestic service. Only 10 were built between 1937 and 1940 because of WWII. This is the sole remaining one, initially delivered to Pan American World Airways in 1940. In 1972, the Smithsonian acquired the airplane and stored it in Arizona. In the early 1990s, The Boeing Company offered to restore the Clipper Flying Cloud to its original and flightworthy condition.

The restoration took place in the same bay in the factory in which it was originally built. More than 80 volunteers completed the job in 2001, some five years after starting. The completed airplane was flown back to Oshkosh, Wis., for the airshow premiere, in 2001. As the craft was being readied in Seattle to be delivered to the Smithsonian Museum in 2002, the unanticipated happened. On a flight check, the airplane ran out of fuel and had to be ditched in Puget Sound. (The crew of four never even got their shoes wet.) It was retrieved, restored a second time (in only 15 months this time) and delivered to the new Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air & Space Museum at Dulles International Airport, outside Washington, D.C., on Aug. 6, 2003. The museum is now open (free admission) and the sights inside are breath-taking.

I was one of 13 selected to fly as a crew member on the delivery to Washington. What a great experience that was for a long time aircraft enthusiastic (spent three years in WWII in that business, ending up as crew chief on a P-38.)

I am in between restoration jobs right now, doing volunteer work at the USO at SeaTac Airport, helping the military personnel however possible. And there is a B-29 from the Museum of Flight in the hangar now being restored.
—Dean L. Quigley, EE, ’49