Magazine Feature

Martin Birn: DU in the ’40s

I graduated with a BS in electrical engineering in the Class of 1950. The last time my wife and I were in Denver was at the graduation ceremony in 2000. There were a few of us present, not very many, however I still have the medal from DU I received at that time.

I still remember our graduation speaker, Dwight Eisenhower, at that time president of Columbia University. (It was in September, as I recall, and we G.I.s got our degrees by going to class for three years, skipping summer vacation.) I remember Lauritz Melchoir and Helen Traubel singing at Red Rocks; playing tennis with Vince Berillo (why he played with me I don’t understand to this day, since he was that much better than I); and a professor who told me what area I was from in Germany with my only speaking English to him.

I think tuition was $600 per year, with Uncle Sam spending another $600 for me to live on, which was adequate (I did have two Rocky Mountain News paper routes that augmented my income).

I also remember dating the daughter of a physics professor for a short time who taught me not to clap between the movements of a symphony. I also remember walking across the stage in “Aida” twice, carrying a spear. Once I got my first job on my return to Philadelphia (with I-T-E Circuit Breaker Co.) nobody gave a damn where I got my degree from. My wife, Elaine, and I now live at age 88 in a retirement home in downtown Seattle after 31 years at Boeing and 24 years of retirement.



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