Memories! I have many fond memories from my five years at Drexel in the mid to late 1970s!
Back in the day, there was no commuter rail tunnel. I would take the Reading Railroad train (now SEPTA) from my Montgomery County home to Reading Terminal (now Jefferson Station). I’d depart the train and hop on the Frankford El, which took me to 30th Street. Yes, I became a seasoned commuter, like most Drexel students on campus at that time. As evidence of how much things have changed from a student life perspective, there were only five dorms on campus – Myers Hall was the “new” dorm. Imagine that!
On my walk from 30th Street, I would pass Cavanaugh’s Jailhouse. From my recollection, which might be a bit hazy, the Jailhouse was a rather bare-bones bar where Drexel students (those of age, of course) would imbibe Rolling Rock beers after class (and sometimes before). Cavanaugh’s was a rather nice, sit-down restaurant adjacent to the bar. Drexel students couldn’t afford to eat there, of course.
Heading up Market Street, past the landmark Firestone tire center, I would finally arrive at my Drexel “home.” Matheson Hall was the predecessor to Gerri C. Lebow Hall, but there is absolutely no comparison. Matheson fit right in with the orange brick motif of the rest of the campus and did not have a Starbucks. Surprisingly, the thing I remember most is Matheson’s commuter lounge. Tucked away in the basement, it was a refuge for me and my fellow commuter buddies between classes. The lounge had a number of comfortable booths, and I seem to recall some classic vending machines in the vicinity. We commuters spent many hours there, mulling over our futures as CFOs.
On Ludlow Street, behind the iconic Main Building, the first food truck in line was the milkshake guy. To this day, I believe my daily cravings for the best vanilla milkshake ever were the direct cause of my high cholesterol. And speaking of refueling after a painful economics lecture, let’s not forget the Dragon’s Den cafeteria in the Creese Student Center – home of the Dragon Burger. Maybe Shake Shack should bring back the Dragon Burger? The Creese Student Center was the hangout at the time (there weren’t many options)…I’m glad part of it still exists.
Basketball! I’ve always been a huge basketball fan. I’m fortunate to have witnessed the 76ers win their last NBA championship in 1983. Drexel’s basketball teams are always competitive, and I look forward to seeing a men’s and women’s basketball game at the DAC every season. When I first arrived at Drexel, the basketball teams played at the Armory. Yes, that’s right, the DAC was constructed during my years at Drexel. And this was long before the Rec Center. I fondly remember playing pick-up games in the DAC before my commute home. Finding the restrooms was always a challenge, as you had to take a long journey down one (or was it two?) flights of steps and risk missing half of basketball game. Go Dragons!
Social activities at Drexel were much more limited than today, as most students did not live on campus. However, fraternities and sororities were clearly a big part of campus life. On the weekends, I would religiously attend frat parties with my buddies at TEP. Two things stick in my mind about those parties – live bands and Saturday Night Live. SNL made its debut in 1975, with a cast that included John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Gilda Radnor, Dan Aykroyd and other notable comedians. SNL was so popular that at 11:30 p.m., while the frat party was in full swing, a group of partygoers would congregate around the TV to watch the show!
To say that Drexel is an entirely different place today is an understatement. But despite all the changes over the years, I still get that same warm, comfortable feeling as I walk up Market Street toward G-Hall…the former site of Matheson Hall.