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Flashback

Who?s hanging at the Goal Post?

Knox Goal PostBetween e-mails, phone calls, letters, and bundles of photos, we received one of the best responses to our Flashback photo yet! Thanks to everyone who sent us memories and clues about this legendary campus gathering spot -- Jay Burgess '51, Merle Glick '46, Harry Neumiller '51, Paul Pickrel '38, Jack Sterne '56, Jim Turner '49, and Dorothy Thomas Wharton '55. A few alumni recognized people in the photo, but the memories the photos inspired were more important than the exact individuals featured in the shot. Here's what folks had to say:

"[The Goal Post] is not a legend, it is fact. The building was in the same block as the FIGI house on the end of the block nearest the BETA house," replied Jack Sterne '56.

"Just to let you know, my brother, Ralph '50, and I owned, operated, and lived in the back room of the Goal Post. We bought it in fall 1947 and had it for about three years, until we had trouble, sold it, and went back to schoolwork. I don't know if there was a story behind the photo or if it was just a regular afternoon. It was a great place," remembered Jay Burgess '51.

"Indeed the ‘small gathering spot' -- A.K.A. a smelly falling down shack, from 1951-55 anyway -- was between the Phi Gam house and the Alumni Office (AO). The AO was an old house used for offices, and the filing cabinets were in the dining room. I worked in the AO after classes, and [the Goal Post] was a favorite -- or maybe just convenient -- for those of us who spent time in the AO. I remember the pin ball machine getting a workout from Chuck Weatherby, who was my boss. What would his title have been? Alumni director? Dr. Philip Haring, never seen without a cigarette, was a regular, too. It was an alternative to the Gizmo and had a lingering odor of stale doughnuts and day old coffee. The picture in the magazine must have been taken in the 1940s -- there's no one there that either Bud '55 or I recognize from our four years on campus. By the time we frequented it, the coffee certainly wasn't served in cups with saucers as in the photo, and no self respecting male, except professors, would wear a tie to class or to hang at the Goal Post. Thanks for the memory," wrote Dorothy Thomas Wharton '55.

"That's the Goal Post all right. It stood on the same block as the Phi Gam house and was separated from it by a big turreted Victorian boarding house. On the outside of it, facing the Beta house, across the street, was an old residence called (I think) the Wenzelman house. These buildings made up the block facing the western end of Standish Park.

In the center of the room pictured, seated in a booth about half-way back, is a student named Chuck Gamble. He is wearing a white shirt with a dark tie and drinking (probably) a coke through a straw. I think he was a freshman when I was a senior, which would make him Class of 1941. His two older brothers, Bob and Bill, were members of earlier classes. I knew them both. They came from Peoria but as I recall Chuck stayed in Galesburg after graduation and ran a music store.

The girls look exactly like I remember them from that time -- the clothes, the ubiquitous cigarettes. More of the boys are wearing neckties than I would have expected, and at least two are wearing suspenders, and that I don't remember at all.

It is a pleasure to see faces from my own era in Knox Magazine. The breed has almost vanished," wrote Paul Pickrel '38.

"First, let's learn its real name. It was the ‘Siwash Goal Post," identified by a large sign that hung between the uprights of the goal post, which was in the front of the place and just about everyone called it the ‘Geep," from ‘GP' or Goal Post.

The Geep was started in 1938, by three Knox men, Ed Waldmire '39, Steve Carpenter '40, and Bill Bowling '42. It occupied a small rented structure at 256 Cedar Street. When I was last at Knox in 2005, it had become a parking lot. Between the Geep and the Phi Gam house there was an old home, which later became a women's dorm, now gone. Originally, there was a back room bedroom and a half bath, where a working student could live. (We showered at the Phi Gam house.) I'm not sure when Ed and Steve left the Geep, but Bill Bowling continued to operate it until 1947-48, when he sold it to Ralph Burgess '50. I am from a Turner family of brothers, Ace (Bill), Bob (Deuce), and Jim (Joker never fit me), who helped staff the Geep from 1939 until when I left Knox in 1949. Another known name (besides Turner, of course!) of one who worked at the Geep was Bob (Shad) Northshield '44, who went on to become a major TV mogul. For sure, Bill Bowling helped make it possible for a lot of us to attend Knox.

My own time with the Geep began in 1940, when Bill Bowling asked Ace to run the Geep that summer. As a sophomore in high school, I was cheap labor, and Ace asked me to help, and the two of us had a very successful summer. Plus, I met a whole bunch of wonderful students, some of whom returned after WWII, and neighbors who looked for us to make dainty little sandwiches for their parties.

Until the spring of '46, there was no other place near campus to get a Coke, a sandwich, a malt, or one of the best grilled maple sweet rolls that ever came down the pike. The proverbial everyone loved 'em. And the pinball machine near the front door was popular, too. Bridge games went constantly, and a few professors brought their small classes to meet at the Geep. Indeed, it was a campus hangout. (In 1946, the College opened a place in the basement of Alumni Hall and had a contest to name it. ‘The Hearth' was selected, but from the beginning it was called the Gizmo. It, too, is now gone, although another Gizmo has replaced it.)

The Geep provided an ideal place to meet many other students, and, besides the bridge games, there was dancing, partying, and lots of other fun. Bicycle rentals and archery practice were available. It was a busy place. All this, and a freshly drawn 10 cent Coca Cola was the strongest drink available.
I will conclude with a retyped but unchanged letter I received from Bill Bowling, in January 1994, who, after leaving Galesburg, joined the Coca Cola company in a position on the West Coast:

‘Dear Jim,

I want to share these pictures that bring back fond memories of College friends and the good times we had at Knox. I'm sure you have happy memories of the Siwash Goal Post and the good old days we shared 50 years ago:

  • The jukebox playing Top Ten on the Lucky Strike Hit Parade
  • Bridge games and bicycles
  • Sitting on empty Coke barrels around the front porch in fall and spring
  • Grilled maple sweet rolls from Strand's bakery
  • Food and friendship on a Midwest snowy night
  • Doc Elder's ten o'clock class with six students in the corner booth with coffee

Remember?

It was a time of proper language, courtesy, and respect towards others, pleasant relationships, and developing friendships. This is just a glance back at ‘Those were the Days' at Dear Old Siwash.

Hope you enjoy a bit of memorabilia of the good times at the Geep and for a time of life shared at Old Siwash.'"--Jim Turner '49