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UC Davis Magazine

Volume 31 · Number 1· Fall 2013

Aggies Remember

You’re in the literary drill team now

Students marched to a new tune after moving into converted military barracks.

Young female students dressed in clothing of different eras

Ash Hall residents march as the Art, Garden and Literary Society drill team in the 1964 Picnic Day parade.

(courtesy photo)

In the spring of our sophomore year, Student Housing announced that one of the ABC buildings — short for the converted World War II Army barracks named Ash, Birch and Cedar Halls — would open to female undergraduates the next year.

We had lived since we were freshmen in Malcolm Hall, which had opened in 1960, just a year before we first arrived on campus. We had made many good friends at Malcolm, but after two years there, we were ready for a new experience.

A real plus for us was that Ash Hall would have no house mother! Only an older student would be in charge. Many of us from Malcolm applied to live there, and when we returned to Davis in fall 1963, we checked into Ash Hall.

Ash Hall was anything but posh. The rooms and hallways were battleship gray and had been repainted so many times that all the corners were slightly rounded. However, the spartan circumstances didn’t dampen our spirits.

The rooms were small, with miniscule closets — if they had closets at all. The lack of closet space didn’t really bother us, since by then we were mainly wearing cutoffs. Besides, many of us were given a second smaller room directly across the hall where we could store clothes or even, as one of us did, turn it into an art studio.

Here’s how the 1964 yearbook described student life in the former Ash Hall:

Yearbook excerpt showing converted barracks and caption that reads: For Ash Hall the year started out with much effort to make the old place into a home. Every girl pitched in doing her part to make Ash something of her own. The girls succeeded; by the end of the first semester the old dorm was beautiful. Ash was not alone in its creative activites nor in its social activies. Along with Birch and Cedar, the girls participated in many events including a hay ride and barn dance for a closed party. All the girls agree that Ash Hall has had a very successful year full of fun and meaning.

In our downstairs entry “living room,” we proudly displayed a picture of our purported founder, Thaddeus Ash, framed in an old toilet seat.

We painted the small tin trash cans spread throughout the building with red and white lettering that read, “ASH HALL.”

For one campus event, we ran Salvador Dali for Co-ed King, and he did not come in last!

Then came Picnic Day in spring 1964. Many of us remember vividly our decision to join the parade. Part of the excitement of participating in the parade was working hard on your entry. Our first two years at UC Davis, we had worked on floats for Malcolm Hall. Even though we no longer were in a large dorm, we still wanted to participate. So we came up with what we thought was a perfect idea: an Ash Hall drill team.

Every night after dinner, we met in a field behind Ash Hall to practice. With Molly Hanna, our drill team leader, keeping time with a teacher’s whistle, we practiced figure eights and choreographed routines. We had fun, but were very serious about our marching practice. Many of our parents were coming to Picnic Day and we wanted to impress them.

We dubbed our team the Art, Garden and Literary Society. Wanting to portray older, educated women, we got in touch with some of our mothers and shopped at used clothing stores in Old Sacramento for clothing representing eras from the 1890s to the 1940s. We worked hard on our outfits.

Reunino group holding a sign for 50th annivesary of the drill team

Art, Garden and Literary Society drill team alumni and their significant others gather at a recent reunion in Redding: from left, Ramon Urbano ’66, Karen (Palermo) Urbano ’65, Charlie Ludeman ’65, Judy (Moshofsky) Ludeman ’65, Sue (Menke) Jobe ’66, Carole Koblik ’65, Paul Caffo ’63, Nancy (Sturges) Caffo ’65, Brad Louie, Julie (Logan) Richmond ’65, Molly (Hanna) Cole ’65, George Cole ’65, Mary Lou (Claassen) Cope ’65, and Butch Cope ’64.

Two male student friends offered to carry our banner in the parade, and we purchased appropriate outfits for them too — complete with hats and canes.

Many of our parents came to Picnic Day and cheered for our drill team. We may not have won any trophies for marching in the parade, but our “prizes” are ones we’ll treasure forever: wonderful memories and enduring friendships.

In May, we held our 50th reunion of Ash Hall and our Art, Garden and Literary Society. Eight women from those days and their significant others were able to attend the Redding gathering. When our children were young, we used to get together at least every few years. Now that many of us are retired we have reunions once or twice a year.

The authors describe themselves:

Molly (Hanna) Cole — our resilient leader, wife, grandmother and water colorist who has long been active in League of Women Voters and Women’s Refuge.

Julie (Logan) Richmond — cat lover, bicyclist, retired from California state public service and hoping that PERS outlasts her!

Anne (Hermann) Lamborn (not pictured) — artist (weaver/fabric/painter) extraordinaire, world traveler, sister and mom.

Carole Koblik — custom jewelry designer and owner of a gallery in Sacramento ( and, finally, a grandmother!