Fond memories of growing up in the Union

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Story by Ellen Becker, Managing Editor
In honor of the Elliott Union’s 50th anniversary, I thought I’d take some time to reflect on my personal experiences with it.
I’ve lived in Warrensburg my whole life, and my parents live near campus.
When I was about four years old, my dad took me up to the campus with my little tricycle and taught me how to ride.
The first time I rode without training wheels was around the flagpole in the quad.
I remember riding through the fountain outside of the Union on hot summer days, screaming in delight as the cold water splashed on my face.
My brother and I had numerous birthday parties at the Union’s bowling alley.
My parents would always set up a table with Sesame Street décor and we’d eat cake and ice cream before clumsily throwing our 6-pound bowling balls granny-style down the lanes and watching them bounce against the inflatable bumpers.
Every time my grandparents came for a visit, my family ate lunch at the buffet downstairs in the Union after church on Sundays.
As the adults engaged in after-lunch conversations, my cousins and I would beg our parents for pennies to throw in the downstairs fountain.
We’d then run upstairs and challenge each other to a rousing game of billiards followed by a game of air hockey in the arcade.
When I got older, my friends and I would go glow-bowling on Saturday nights, and treat ourselves to a fruit smoothie at the Freshens snack counter.
I went on one of my first dates in the Union.
From then on, my boyfriend and I would stop by the arcade every weekend to improve our skills on the Dance Dance Revolution video game.
Earlier this year, he and I took a stroll outside the Union for old-time’s sake, and he proposed to me at the flagpole in the quad where I had learned to ride my bike all those years ago.
My first job was even in the Union.
The summer after I graduated high school, I got a job as a data entry assistant in the Smiser Alumni Center.
I worked there for three years before coming to The Muleskinner.
I remember long days of sitting in my cubicle and how nice it was to go downstairs on my lunch break.
During my freshman year, I’d sit on the couches in the Union atrium on my breaks between classes.
I liked relaxing and listening to people play the piano while I studied for tests and checked my email.
I remember my parents telling me how they went to the Union when they first started dating back in the 70s.
They both lived on campus and would stroll over to the Union’s main floor snack bar.
My dad would buy two large cokes, which cost 21 cents, and sit with my mom at a table and talk.
When they’d go bowling, it only cost one dollar for three games, and shoe rental was 35 cents. Playing pool cost $1.50 per hour.
Then they’d go outside and watch the color-changing lights in the fountain.
My dad also remembers going to concerts in the Mule Barn, a coffee house on the lowest level where the University Store is now.
Thinking  back on all of these memories makes me realize how the Union has been in so many parts of my life, even before I was a student.
I think it’s so neat that college life in the Union is something that my parents and I share, only 30 years apart.
As the Union’s 50th anniversary arrives, I just want to say ‘thank you’ to the many people who have kept it up and running throughout the years.
It really is the “living room” of the campus, and I’m thankful for the experiences and memories it has given me.