“There were really two types of students: We were 25 or 26 years old, and the other students were just 17 or 18.”
When Fred Hadley (BS engineering '52) was a senior, he walked around the University of Denver campus with his 16mm camera shooting nearly 38 minutes of black and white footage. About 10 months ago, a friend helped him convert it from film to digital, and they put it on the Internet.
Bob Dylan has sung of the times and how they're a changin', but to really see how times have changed — especially at DU — you only need to view Hadley's piece of history. Hadley narrates the video, which shows University Hall, the Mary Reed Building and the Quonset huts that housed veterans in those post-World War II days, as well as fellow students and various members of the engineering faculty.
"I didn't really have any specific reason to put it on the Internet; I just wanted to put it out there for anyone who wanted to see it," says Hadley, who'll turn 90 in August and who drives a shiny, red 2008 Mustang around his hometown of Wichita, Kan.
Turns out Hadley was quite the shutterbug back then. He had enough fun with that first video that he decided to upload a couple more — footage of Founders Day 1951 and an early version of Animal House. When the Kappa Sigma fraternity celebrated May Days in 1950 in front of its house across the street from DU, Hadley was there, camera in tow.
He filmed about five minutes of members performing various musical and comedy acts dressed in women's undergarments and mop-like wigs.
Hadley says he hasn't gotten any feedback on either video: "I thought some of those frat guys would get back at me, but I haven't heard from any of them."
At the time, such shenanigans seemed particularly juvenile to Hadley because he'd already spent six years in the U.S. Navy by the time he arrived at DU.
"There were a lot of veterans attending DU then. There were really two types of students: We were 25 or 26 years old, and the other students were just 17 or 18," he says.
Still, Hadley says he enjoyed his time at DU. "I liked being there a lot, but I didn't like trudging through the snow storm on March 17, 1952." (According to weather records, Denver got hit with 16 inches and wind gusts of 35 mph.) "We used to go to dances at the student union building. I remember that Vaughn Monroe [a big-band singer at the time] came to sing; that was a good time."
And Hadley says he missed DU when he left to start a 30-year career as an electrical engineer at Boeing. "I missed the camaraderie of my fellow students," he says. "We lived in the dorms that faced the west and I missed looking out the window seeing the snow-covered mountains."
Hadley retired from Boeing in 1984 and landed a job as a bingo inspector for the state of Kansas. "I'd go to bingo games to make sure they were following the rules. Kansas was very strict on gambling."
Bingo has played a long and large role in Hadley's life. For the last 50 years, he has run bingo games on Thursday nights at his local country club in Wichita.
He's also traveled to 15 countries via Friendship Force International, a nonprofit that promotes cultural understanding through homestays around the globe.
"That's probably the most fun thing I've done since retiring," he says. "I've been to China, Russia, Brazil, Australia — a lot of countries. Once we hosted a husband and wife from Japan, and I knew he liked whiskey so I made sure he got some. Then after we had gone to bed we heard a big crash: He was trying to find the bathroom and broke some furniture. After that my wife didn't want to host any more families."