Burning Question

I’d appreciate it if you would confirm an entry in the timeline of the “Reed Almanac.” The first entry for 1969 reads, “Student Union burns to the ground. Last year of Olde Reed.”

I remember the incident. In 1968–69 I was a first-year student residing on the second floor of Doyle, with windows facing the commons area. One night (or very early morning) I was awakened by an orange glow and noise from the window. Something was burning brightly. I remember going outside to find firemen fighting a fire. I stood next to a pumper talking to the fireman in attendance. He took the time to answer my questions, and I distinctly remember being told that with higher pressure (pounds per square inch), the rate of flow (gallons per minute) decreased. I did not know Bernoulli’s principle at the time, so his statement caught me by surprise. I’m sure I doubted it until I next encountered it when teaching physics many years later.

The memory is vivid—but I’ve always thought I remembered the infirmary burning rather than the student union. Do your records definitely state it was the SU?

—Richard Daehler-Wilking ’73

Charleston, South Carolina

Editor's Note: We goofed. The building that burned on May 21, 1969, was the OLD student union, later known as the theatre. Its name and role changed in 1965, with the opening of the new commons, at which point the old commons became the new SU and the old SU became the theatre. (After the fire, a new theatre was built in the canyon.) It certainly seems possible that the glow from this conflagration could have been seen from Doyle; in any case, we find no record of a major fire in the infirmary.