My Calvin Hall Story.

Sandy & I moved our family from Evanston, IL back home to Iowa City in January 1987. The sales job that had brought us back to Iowa disintegrated within a few months, leaving us without provision. It was a difficult time to say the least.

Eventually, after much prayer, I found a temporary job with the University of Iowa Hawk Shop, doing work I truly enjoyed; filling and shipping out all kinds of orders for Hawkeye merchandise. But sadly, that job was a minimum wage gig and a temporary one at that, so when it came to an end after Christmas 1988, my references fortunately got me in the door of a “real” University job, working as a full-time mail clerk for the Admissions Office, located in Calvin Hall.

Calvin Hall: The history. Science Hall, known later as the Geology Building or Calvin Hall, is a three-story brick building, 114 by 74 feet, and was built in 1884 for the purpose of housing the sciences. The original cost of the structure was around $50,000. To make room for the new Hall of Natural Science (Macbride Hall), Science Hall was moved during the summer of 1905, inch by inch over a distance of 150 feet to its present location on the corner of Capital and Jefferson Streets. Click here to read more.

To give you a feel for my job at Calvin Hall, I worked with incoming and outgoing mail. People from all over the world would write to our University of Iowa Admissions Office, wanting to find out about our fine school, inquiring about the possibility of becoming a student in Iowa City. Keep in mind that no one had a computer in these days, so writing a letter was the only way for any of us to communicate about all these matters. So, on a daily basis, I’d estimate we’d handle about 4,000 pieces of mail each day. And as you can imagine, that much mail produced a lot of paper – which explains the June 15, 1990 Daily Iowan article (above) concerning the University’s plan to start recycling all that paper.

Now, as you might guess, it didn’t take too much brain power on my end to open mail, file the paperwork with the admissions staff, and ship out all the appropriate admissions material. So, whenever I had a little break in the action, I decided to have a bit of fun with some of the “goofy” mail we received from literally around the world (see pic below).

Some of the incoming mail we received at the Admissions Office would have very “creative” addressing, particularly those that had been sent by ones who were just a wee bit “geographically-challenged.” Example: University of Ohio, Office of Admissions, Calvin Hall, Ohio City, Ohio 52240.

Each time I doodled on a postal cover, adding my little touch of humor to it, I’d post it on a bulletin board for others to enjoy. Over time, I gathered a pretty good set of Admissions Office “funnies.”

Well, as they say in show business, one thing led to another, and soon Ann Scholl Boyer, a staff writer with the Cedar Rapids Gazette, came in and interviewed me about all my creative artwork that was displayed in the mail room. That fun interview with Ms. Boyer eventually led to this Gazette story…

So, there you have it. In 1990-1991, my doodles hit the big time. By 1992, I’d moved on, taking a new pastoral job in Cedar Rapids, but I’ll never forget my time doodling in the mail room of the Emissions Office in Ohio City, Ohio with Dr. Calvin Hall!

Click here to read more about Calvin Hall on the SUI Red Brick Campus.

UI to begin recycling plan this fall, Jenny Hanna, The Daily Iowan, June 15, 1990, p 1

Mailroom humor brightens winners and bloopers board, Ann Scholl Boyer, Cedar Rapids Gazette, October 31, 1990, p 84, p 58, p 90

County Lines, Ann Scholl Boyer, Cedar Rapids Gazette, November 7, 1990, p 58

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