People and Places of Dickinson College

South College Snack Bar 1959
Photograph courtesy of the Dickinson College Archives

This photograph shows students and staff in the year old South College snack bar, the now little know forerunner of the College's main snack bar in the Holland Union Building.

South College has been a part of Dickinson history for more than 150 years and has been a place of diverse activity for the students of the college. South College I was purchased by the former General Reformed Church on January 7th, 1835 for $2,050 dollars.1 During this time it was used as the Old College Grammar School until it unexpectedly burnt down on December 23rd, 1836.  South College II was quickly built after the fire and completed on January 1st, 1838 for the cost of 5,825 dollars. Throughout this period it was used for dormitory accommodations, classrooms and lecture rooms. South College II over the course of the history of Dickinson College was used at times for the college library, science department and college museum before it was knocked down in 1927 to make way for the new Alumni Gymnasium.
South College III, the building which held the snack bar in the subject photograph was a frame government surplus building constructed after World War II, just south of the Alumni Gymnasium and the site of the previous South College structures.

South College III
The building officially opened in June, 1948, after architect John K. Bixler finished for an estimated cost of 46,931 dollars.2  The building provided a needed common room for the students and faculty with additional classroom and offices as well.  In 1955, a squash court was added and later, in 1958, a fully equipped snack bar was built into South College.  With the completion of the Holland Union Building (HUB), other uses besides classrooms and faculty offices were transferred there, including the snack bar.  The HUB is now home of the Union Station, the College's second snack-bar location.  An interesting fact to note about South College is that in 1967 an IBM 1130 computer was installed,3 the College's first computer. Today, in 1998, South College serves as the home of the Dickinson College Mathematics and Computer Science Department, though, with the completion of the newly started Science Building in 1999, South will again be looking for new occupants.
The South College Snack Bar was opened on January 8th, 1958, for the entire student body.On this day, floral arrangements were contributed by local venders and put on the counter in celebration of the grand opening.  The snack bar, also known as the "South Lounge" offered the customary food that most snack bars offer. When dining in the South Lounge a student could enjoy the famous "goon burger," char broiled franks, hamburgers, steaks, ice cream and other beverages. Cigarettes also could be obtained. A special commodity of the snack bar, first introduced during the grand opening, was the "Mermaid's Delight," sponge cake with ice cream, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and a cherry. It was estimated that six hundred of these delicious desserts were sold on grand opening day, January 17, 1958. Later, the snack bar was renovated and paintings and murals were added to the walls, modernized light fixtures were added and additional card-tables also made there way into the area.  Decks of cards were available to be checked out during the day.
The South Lounge was operated by the Slater System who were also in charge of running all of the Dickinson College dining services of this time. The Slater System established that the snack bar would be open Monday to Saturday from 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM and on Sundays from 4:00 PM to 10:30 PM.6 The Slater System hired students to work in the dining halls of Metzger Hall, Morgan Hall and Drayer Hall, as well as the South Lounge. In 1962, a student received twenty-one meals per week in exchange for 17.5 hours of work per week. If a student performed special services they were paid extra by the Slater system, directly.  Students were expected to be dressed in a clean white T-shirt, dark washable trousers and dark work shoes during their hours of employment.

Mark Fifer

1) Sellers, Charles Coleman.  Dickinson College: A History.  Wesleyan Univ. Press, Middletown: 1973. p.581
2) Dickinson College Archives, May Morris Room. Drop file Alumni Gymnasium.
3) Sellers, Charles Coleman.  Dickinson College: A History. p.589
4) The Dickinsonian. January 15th, 1958.
5) Dickinson College Archives, May Morris Room.  Treasurers Report 1951-1964.
6) Dickinson College Archives, May Morris Room.  Treasurers Report 1951-1964.
7) Dickinson College Archives, May Morris Room.  Treasurers Report 1951-1964.
**All Photographs Courtesy of Dickinson College Archives