North Park Romeos: Fact or Fiction? The next time you have a meeting with your writing advisor, or are studying for finals, check out the images displayed on the second and third floors of Brandel Library. Author, John E. Peterson, selected these images and many more to be published in the highly anticipated picture history book, North Park University. The images come from the Covenant Archives and Historical Library collection. This book gave the archives staff an opportunity to look through the uncataloged material and publish many images that people have never seen, giving a fresh look to North Park’s history.
Looking through unidentified images becomes more like a treasure hunt, searching for something special and new by different clues a photograph may give. A researcher with knowledge of the context in which the photograph was taken may recognize places, buildings, or people. For those of us who may not be North Park historians, however, notes jotted on the back of the photo are incredibly helpful as we try to understand what we see.
The image of Ohlson House exhibited on the second floor of the library shows a night scene of the Spaulding side of the building where a group of men are gathered at the door and the women are leaning out the window looking at them. On the back of this photograph someone wrote, “North Park Romeo’s 1961-1962” and “SERENADE AT GIRLS’ DORM.” With this information we can create a photo story and transform a picture of a building into a dynamic moment. On the windows are paper cutouts of hearts and Cupids leading us to believe that this event happened on Valentine’s Day, 1962. We can closely examine the windows and see how the girls are grouped, the glasses and dressing robes they are wearing and project different personalities on the girls. Farthest to the left on the second floor, a girl stands alone in a dark window - we endearingly nickname her “lonely girl.” The large scale printed photo on display is full of interesting details like these.
We had the opportunity to talk to someone who was there among the group of gentlemen and learned that they were members of the North Park Choir who spontaneously decided to go to Ohlson, then Lundholm, because a few of them had girlfriends who lived in the dorm. “North Park Romeo’s” was something someone had written on the back after seeing the women looking out the windows and the men calling to them from the ground. They may not have been the give-me-love-or-give-me-death type of Romeo, but this is still a very sweet moment in North Park’s past.
Below is the table of contents page from the 1962 Cupola showing this image along with a home-grown mini-ballad sung by North Parkers along with a story of Romeos and Juliets.
Read more about the forthcoming publication of North Park University by John E. Peterson.
-Joanna Wilkinson (Archival Assistant)