When they're not buried in books, playing sports, practicing music, organizing clubs, or goofing off in dorm life, college students gravitate to wherever the food is. At Fort Lewis College, dining spaces have undergone many iterations, locations, and menus over the years. From the canteen to the lunchroom, chow time to mess hall, where and how FLC students feast has shifted as attitudes toward the table evolved with America's theory of cuisine.
While the school operated in rural Hesperus, Colorado, 25 miles west of FLC's current campus in Durango, it upheld aspirations to nurture genteel students. In 1944, students gathered in the Old Fort Dining Hall. They sat at tables of no more than six students to encourage practice in conversational skills. Meals were semi-formal, except on Sundays, when locally procured roast beef was served; gentlemen were expected to wear coats and ties, while ladies donned gowns and hosiery.
During first week orientation, dorm matron Marge "Ma" Good, the Dining Hall's hostess, introduced a rigid set of rules and customs, including her plan for a years-longlesson in place settings. By the time they graduated, Fort Lewis students could identify every piece of cutlery in an eight-course meal and how each was used.
By the 1960s, formality was replaced with flexibility. Due to a quirk in the College's expansion to its present campus in Durango, FLC boasted two cafeterias for a time. The smaller of the two was located in Miller, one of the first buildings constructed on the Durango campus and home of today's Skyhawk Station. In 1966, Miller Cafeteria offered steak for $1.75, lunch for a dollar, or a full breakfast with fluffy eggs, crispy bacon, savory potatoes, orange juice, and a steaming mug of black java for $0.75.
The larger, newer cafeteria was known as the College Union Building (now the Student Union) and resided in today's Ballantine Media Center and KDUR station. Up until 1987, students who were at least 18 years old could be found quaffing pints of fizzy 3.2% beer at the CUB's pub in the evenings. It was a long way from the modern-day San Juan Dining Hall experience, but no doubt the conversations were just as sparkling, and the dreams of a future full of success just as real.