An unforgettable meal | The University of Chicago Magazine


Sculptor Lorado Taft hosts a dinner at Midway Studios in 1907. (UChicago Photographic Archive, apf1-08072, University of Chicago Library)

Alumni share stories about President Hutchins, Milton Friedman, “Elvis,” and more.

Ina new Q&A section in the college examthe Heart, we asked alumni to tell us about memorable meals from their college days. Here are some of the stories we received.


Serve lunch to the President [Robert Maynard] cackling [1929–51]. Hutchins probably said something witty, of course, but not to his waiter.—Stephen Plank, PhD’48


For two years I lived in Burton-Judson and worked as a “server” in the dining room. The parameters were formal; men had to wear a coat and tie for dinner. It was also the time of legendary adventures on the Severn Darden campus [EX’50, comedian and founding member of Second City]. The requirement for a jacket and tie at dinner was irresistible. One evening the dining hall was full and a student arrived wearing only a coat and tie. Subsequently, the dress code was changed.—Herb Caplan, AB’53, JD’57


I was there at night in the Burton-Judson dining room when we put our plot into action to get rid of the ‘coat and tie at dinner’ rule. Several of us, however, wore bathing suits. I never saw anyone show up naked for dinner, but for coat and tie, which was the actual plan. I was sixteen, or barely seventeen, and although there were no women in the dormitories, there were sometimes female kitchen staff, and the wives and daughters of the householders were often present. I was afraid to take the risk. Fortunately, our virtual nudity was sufficient and the rule was repealed.—Denis Franklin, AB’54


Those of us who lived at Woodward Court were privileged to eat with our beloved resident masters, Izaak [PhD’55] and Pera Wirszup, and notable scholars monthly for Woodward Court lectures. In the Wirszups’ apartment, sharing wine and cheese with a gang of students, Milton Friedman [AM’33] turned out to be a very warm and friendly man.—Jeff Rasley, 1975


In the early 90s, the Pierce Dining Room held a 50s themed event for the evening meal, featuring an Elvis impersonator. After I finished eating, I stood at 55th and Ellis to catch the bus to Broadview Hall. A Honda Civic stopped. Elvis was driving. “Hey man, can you tell me how to get to Lake Shore Drive?” I pointed east and gave him directions. “Thanks, man,” he said, and left.—Kenneth Burns, AB’93, AM’03

Next question: Did you have a rat, lizard, tarantula, or other unusual pet while you were in college? Did you keep a secret pet in your dorm? Have you befriended a wild creature? Send your animal stories to [email protected]


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