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ISSUE 119 VOL 4 PUBLISHED 10/7/2005

Archivist’s ‘Tidbit Tour’ proves tasty

By Lauren Radomski
Variety Editor


Friday, October 7, 2005

Students and staff have the opportunity to pick up little known pieces of St. Olaf history through "Walk and Learn Tidbit Tours," a series of campus tours led by Assistant College Archivist Jeff Sauve.

Sauve led the first Tidbit Tour on Oct. 3, but will offer subsequent tours throughout the fall and possibly into the spring.

"I really enjoy just telling good stories and sharing the history of the college with others," Sauve said. "It’'s awfully hard to impress 131 years of college history in less than an hour, but hopefully we'’ll leave everybody with at least one memorable story."

The tour begins in Rolvaag Library, where objects of deep historical value surround students on a daily basis. For example, in the area just outside of the reference room stands a desk that dates back to the college'’s founding.

According to Sauve, this desk is "where St. Olaf started." In November 1874, college founders gathered around the desk to sign St. Olaf'’s articles of incorporation. Although the desk is missing its original glass, it has been restored to resemble its appearance in the late nineteenth century.

Another highlight in the library is one of the paintings in the reference room, titled "The Secret." This painting, which depicts a young woman whispering in the ear of another woman, was the first piece of artwork purchased by the college.

It once hung in the Ladies Hall, which stood near the site now occupied by Holland Hall. Thanks to a grant obtained by Assistant Professor of Art Jill Ewald, "The Secret" and other pieces of artwork were recently restored.

The Tidbit Tour also explains the origins of a few campus monuments. Along the staircase that leads down the hill to St. Olaf Avenue are sculptures featuring human torsos atop tall pillars.

The statues were designed by local artist Jeff Barber following the closing of St. Olaf'’s Paracollege, which existed from 1969 to 2000. The statues’ pillars once formed the entrance to old Ytterboe Hall, which stood near the current site of Buntrock Commons from 1900 to 1997.

Across the stairs from the statues is a hidden tribute to another Ytterboe. The death of Ytterboe the dog in 1957 elicited an overwhelming response from students and put St. Olaf in the national spotlight. Ytterboe was a stray dog who, after biting a local child, was shot by a police officer in the vicinity of the stairs.

Students were so upset that they burned an effigy of the police officer, demanded the dog’'s body and held an elaborate burial at the dog’'s place of death. Well into the 1960s, students marked the anniversary of the shooting with a re-enactment of the funeral. Major television networks and “Life” magazine were among the media that brought the story of Ytterboe and his mourners to national attention.

Other campus memorials are more somber, such as the Fugleskjel Memorial, located off of a trail that leads from Larson Hall to the water tower. Ole Fugleskjel, known to some as “the Lost Ole,” was part of St. Olaf'’s 1894 graduating class, later attending seminary and serving as a pastor in several small communities throughout the Boundary Waters area.

When Fugleskjel set out for a neighboring town one Sunday morning in 1909, he never returned home. Lost in a snowstorm, Fugleskjel was found a few days later, frozen with his arms folded across his chest as if in prayer.

A monument was later constructed to remember the faith of Fugleskjel, who represented the many early St. Olaf students who prepared for life in the ministry.

These are just a few of the stories that can be heard throughout the "Walk and Learn Tidbit Tour." According to Sauve, “being an archivist is not just keeping the college memory in a vault, but making connections and telling stories to those that might find it relevant. "The tour is an extension of what I want to do for the campus, essentially promote the heritage of the college.”"

The next Tidbit Tour will be held at noon on Oct. 17. Those interested in attending should contact Jeff Sauve at sauve@stolaf.edu.





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