University Christian Union

The University Christian Union (UCU) provides Christian living to students attending the University of Washington, where students may express their beliefs, grow in relationship with each other and Jesus, and be successful students. The men's house has 26 students and the women's house has 18 students, both houses being located on the corner of 16th and 47th. The UCU Alumni Association owns and manages the houses on a high level, but student officers run the house on a day-to-day basis, a perfect setting for pranks!

This Wiki page exists to store the rich history of one of the oldest Christian living houses in the nation. Contributions from all are welcome, just create a user account and you will have unlimited ability to add and edit posts. For more information on adding content, please see the content editing help.

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The University Christian Union began as a campus group with ties to the Inter-Varsity movement. Students began living together as an independent organization in 1935 on the corner of 15th and 40th with 13 residents. Two years later, the men moved to their current location on 47th and 16th and reached the current capacity of 26 residents by 1939. The men's house was built in 1906 as a fraternity, within a decade since the University of Washington moved to its current "U-district" campus. In march 1953, the UCU Alumni Association was started and the Articles of Incorporation were drafted.

A women's organization was started in the early days, but ceased operation after a few years. It was restarted in 1963 at its current location just south of the men's house; this house was built in 1918 and owned by the Alpha Delta Phi sorority, often hosting events for the Mother's Club of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity. Both houses are wholly owned by the UCU Alumni Association; they were purchased through a fund-raising campaign in the 1960's.

The following sections detail life in the house for each decade. If you lived in the house during any of these times, please write about some of your experiences and the climate of the house. Simply create a user account and see this page for content editing help.

The Dream

The University Christian Union is the grandchild of the Inter-Varsity movement, begun by students at Cambridge University, England, in 1877. Despite the frowns of some University officials, a group of Christian students began gathering to pray, study the Bible and witness to their peers. Similar groups soon sprang up on other campuses, in time forming the British Inter-Varsity. In response to a plea for help from across the pond, Dr. Howard Guinness, representing the League of Evangelical Students, was sent in 1928 on a mission to Canada. He began slowly working his way across that broad nation, launching and assisting evangelical student groups much like Paul and Silas, who had worked their way across Asia Minor and Greece. Reaching the Pacific, Guinness turned south and passed through Seattle. By the way, he was an uncle of Os Guinness, an internationally-known author and apologist for the Christian faith, still active today1. As an amusing aside, both are descended from Arthur Guinness, founder of a brewery of world renown, now going on three centuries.

This was the backdrop for the fall of 1928 when a few University of Washington students gathered in the home of Antoinette Clark to hear Dr. Guinness speak. This stirred interest in launching a chapter of the League at the UW. Among the founding members of the new organization were Winifred Leighton, Marjorie Hillman, and Ruth Dearing2. The group was active for about a year under the aegis of the League, but quickly discovered the challenge of working with an overseas organization used to different ways. The UW group became independent and assumed its own name, University Christian Union, the very moniker that has remained to this day, 85 years later. In these early years UCU was a campus group without a home3.

The photograph shows a conference between the UCU organizations at the UW and the University of British Columbia that took place about spring 19304.


The UCU Gets An Address (by Loren Steinhauer)


The first dream of a UCU Men’s House dates to the autumn of 1933 while two young men at the UW roomed together in an apartment. The Christian atmosphere they enjoyed prompted two others to join them the following school year. From this small group of roommates hatched the idea of a UCU House. Among that foursome were Sterling Keyes, president of the UCU campus group, and John Oosterhoff5, the secretary. John began collecting a list of men who expressed interest in living together-both to save money and enjoy Christian fellowship. Among the dozen or so students in the group beside himself and Sterling were Cliff Chaffee, Roy Peterson, Stan Norwick, and Willard Miller. John also enlisted a prospective House Mother, Mrs. Norwick, Stan’s mother. During the summer of ’35, John began scouting around for a place to rent for the group, and identified a modest-size house on lower 15th Avenue NE, south of East (now N.E.) 40th Street, which had a sleeping porch in the back. Quite the organizer, he also made tentative arrangements to get the evening meal from the Hide Away Café, transported to the house in Sterling’s ’32 Ford, equipped with a rumble seat.

The owner of the house was tired of renting to individuals and liked the setup that John proposed, but still had a concern. He asked a question with a mysterious twist: “Who will be the manager of the house and in what month is his birthday?” John replied that he would and his birthday was in September. The owner then withdrew to peruse a Zodiac for a few minutes before returning with the go ahead. Thus it came about that the beginning of the UCU Mens House is inextricably connected to astrology. This is not the first time that God has exploited this arcane “science”; the Magi who were invited to visit the newborn King were students of the stars.

The fall of 1935 marked the beginning of the men’s house with the same name “University Christian Union,” as the campus group already in existence. Thirteen fellows composed that first set of residents. Mrs. Norwick became the house mother but, oddly, the first manager ended up being Roy Peterson rather than John Oosterhoff. One wonders what was his birthday month, and what the stars might have said about that!

John Oosterhoff recalled that the Hide Away café charged UCU 50 cents per meal per person. While this seems ridiculously low, in 1935 the world was mired in the Great Depression. Room and board at UCU for a three-month quarter was $75. In those days, a milk shake at Grahams on the Ave cost 10 cents. The UW enrollment was 10,000 and tuition was $30 a quarter6. Depression was hardly the only thing going on that year. The UW boasted a championship rowing team that went to the Berlin Olympics the following summer, sprinting out of nowhere to take gold. The story of the team is celebrated in the recent book The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown. The 1936 Olympics was Hitler’s grand opportunity to showcase his emerging regime. At the same time he was also busy building up weaponry and testing it in the crucible of the Spanish Civil War, all in preparation for history’s most massive war, which would begin three years later.

Enter An Amazing Couple (by Loren Steinhauer)

In the summer of 1936 the men of UCU looked around for a larger house and found one at (roughly) 5015 16th Avenue NE [5]. This larger structure could accommodate the eighteen men who would live there come fall quarter. Yet there was a problem which set the guys to praying: Mrs. Norwick would not be returning as House Mother.

At about the same time, a middle-aged couple from Olympia moved to Seattle; Charles Peterson was taking a new job with the federal government [5],[7]. Having already raised three sons, he and his wife took an apartment in the city. As providence would have it, they stumbled into two UCUers one evening; the Christian words for it are “answered prayer.” The encounter took place at a service where Jack Mitchell, a professor from Multnomah School of the Bible, was teaching and promoting his school. After introductions, one of the UCUers, Grant Whipple, eyeing Mrs. Peterson, mentioned offhand that the UCU house needed a house mother. With her own children grown up, the idea of house-mothering appealed to Mrs. Peterson and she kiddingly replied, “I’m looking for a job!” The other UCUer, Clifford Chaffee, president of the campus group for the forthcoming school year, invited the Petersons to the house to show them around. When they arrived it was deep into the evening; the fellows were rousted from sleep and introduced to the Petersons.

Things moved ahead at lightning speed; before the next nightfall the Petersons had moved in with the men of UCU. From the beginning they became “Mom” and “Chief.” As the House Mother, Mom was in charge of the kitchen and ordering of food; as Advisor, Chief led the weekly Bible studies and general management of the House. Thus began the long service of Mom and Chief Peterson, who continued as House Mother and Advisor of UCU for many years. They helped maintain a Christian home atmosphere while teaching a Christian life style by example and counseling to their young men. They also encouraged and helped establish a system of student government in the House that would serve it well after their retirement. Today, a photo remembering this noble couple hangs above the fireplace in the Mens House.

Mom and Chief lived as House Parents at UCU for 16 years before moving out after the spring of 1952, but kept active in an advisory role through 1956, for a total of 20 years. Asked many years later why they finally left, Mom chuckled, “We just plain got tired of it.”

Today’s Location (by Loren Steinhauer)

In June, 1937 the men were again on the lookout for a new location and had their eyes on the classic English-Tudor style house on the southeast corner of 47th and 16th7. The landlady was wary of renting to a houseful of potentially vandalous college men, which suggests that university men ‘t changed much! Fortunately, Chief Peterson won her over, offering to personally cover any damages. She agreed and he signed the lease. Thus UCU landed finally at its present location, 1605 NE 47th Street. Mom and Chief occupied the “apartment” on the east end of the second deck composed of three rooms and a bathroom. The door from the second-deck foyer into this “apartment” still remains.

That fall, the number of residents at UCU mushroomed to 26, crammed into the space presently occupied by 20 residents since the Peterson’s “apartment” presently houses six. Imagine how many men had to crowd into the single bathroom on the third deck! Over the next two years, the membership leveled off at a lower but still stuffed level of 24.

The War (by Loren Steinhauer)

World War II impacted the University of Washington greatly as men were called to serve in the war. House membership dwindled, and the house only barely survived by the grace of God and the persistence of "Chief" and "Mom" Peterson. One gold star appeared on the house service flag in honor of Clif Benson, who died while flying over Europe.


*Please add content if you lived at UCU during the 1940's*


After nearly twenty years of service, Mom and Chief retired from the house. The UCU Alumni Association was created and Miss Lelia Goodhue moved in as the new house mother for the next 7 years.


Ancient Technologies (by Loren Steinhauer)

Wander around UCU today and you’ll find technology throbbing, flickering, and chirping everywhere. Laptops recline on every desk, tickled by ten fingers dancing a jig over them. Hand-held mobiles operated by dexterous thumbs hang like leeches on every hand. A demigod called the internet hovers invisibly in the background, prayed to by wire and sometimes by wireless. A vast buzz of radio waves fills the ether with a zillion messages flying to and fro, a good share of them streaming in and out of UCU. A resident at a Monday Bible study, his Android tastefully set on buzz, feels a sensation against his leg, furtively pulls the device out and quickly texts a short message to his girlfriend using an arcane language composed mainly of three-letter words of uncertain meaning. Electronic messages arrive from the prof and paperless assignments are submitted online. BTW (oops, sorry) everyone has a coded identity, a pseudonym (or two or three) that always contains the odd character “@” and ends with “” or “” or some such. Every electronic slave (slavedriver?) demands a password; “open sesame” won’t do. It has to be a string of odd symbols that spells nothing but mystically stands for you. Personal identity has taken on new and mysterious forms!

Registering for classes today is via the internet. It was not always so. I lived through the dark ages (aka the 60’s) and, in fact, was there when we invented the wheel. Classroom assignments were done on engineering paper (pale green, 8-1/2 by 11, gridded on the back for hand-drawn graphs), or typed on mechanical typewriters−impact printing devices powered by more dancing fingers. UCU even had rules about when not to use these noisy contraptions so as not to disturb sleep−which in those days was usually done at night. Several lively typewriters rat-a-tatting away on the dining room tables could beat quite a tattoo into the Krypt below. Telecommunications had actually come into common use. You could reach a UCUer by calling LA 5-8333 or another number that rang in the third deck telephone cabinet−which is still there but no longer boasts a phone. Two dozen or so guys; two phones.

Personal computers were also in use, at least on lower campus: they were about a foot long and had a slippery stick in the middle that slid back and forth like a trombone. Nerdy engineers carried them in cases slung from the waste like swords, ready at the drop of a gauntlet to be unsheathed and swung into action. The University actually boasted an electronic computer, a “mainframe” IBM 709 in the basement of the ME building. To use it you had to seat yourself at one of the massive desk-size card-punch machines in a room somewhere, and begin to punch your program code onto a series of computer cards. Then you wrapped your card deck in a submission form secured by a rubber band, dropped it into the “in” hopper, and then scurried home to sleep on it. Returning a day later, a worried look on your face, you picked up the output, printed on large fan-fold computer paper, also wrapped around the card deck. Only then did you discover that your program had bombed because of a typing error on one of the punch cards!

Early-day computing power was primitive. Today’s garden-variety laptop exceeds the power of the super computers that appeared in the early 80’s, and I’m talking about fifteen years earlier. Yet to dawn was the era of hand calculators, HP-35s and TI’s, which came several years later at $300 a crack. The only computing devices in ordinary offices were Marchant and IBM adding machines, incredibly noisy with output hammering like a machine gun burst onto a paper tape.

Registering for classes was archaic as well. For those of us in engineering, the ritual was performed in a special room in Guggenheim, “manned” during a brief period late the previous quarter by a platoon of ladies who looked to be octogenarians. The whole thing was done on paper with pencils and erasers, assisted by 3x5 card files. Somehow it worked and we graduated.

Let no one speak fondly of the good old days; I for one am not going back.

Dinner (by Loren Steinhauer)

Having spent my freshman year in the dorms I was used to dinner served during a 90 minute open period, picked up in a cafeteria line, and eaten in a cavernous dining room. Dinner at UCU in the ‘60’s was both more intimate and formal. We collected and took our seats promptly in answer to the same eardrum-bashing dinner bell. (Never having gone to a rock concert, I have wondered why my hearing is going to pot; now I have a theory.) Nowadays the guys−and girls−gradually saunter to their respective tables so that only a 50% quorum may be on hand for the prayer. Then as now we had the same crowded three-table arrangement with open seating; the one exception−the House President always sat at the head of the middle table. Then as now we ate family style from serving bowls. Ordinary sliced bread was always available and butter appeared in a cube on a butter dish rather than as wrapped patties in a bowl. Most of us survived this less-than-sanitary feeding arrangement and managed to leave UCU alive, well, and on foot.

When I entered UCU, my best friend instructed me on the proper etiquette for passing a serving bowl. If the bowl comes from the right, reach across your body with the left hand to receive it; transfer it to your right hand and then, reaching across your body the other way, deliver it to the well-mannered gentleman on the left. A sensible practice indeed with crowded seating because it keeps your elbows in instead of invading your neighbor’s space. This is not to say that our manners were exemplary across the board. I recall instances when “pass the butter, please” led to the dish being tipped at the last moment, impaling the receiver’s fingertips in the soft yellow cube.

Mondays and Wednesdays were even more formal with obligatory sports coat and tie. During my tenure at the House we voted out “Wednesday dress-up,” but Monday dress-up continued for many years. After all, Monday dinner was the lead-in to worship and Bible study, and all good Christians should dress properly and respectfully for these observances. Returning to UCU in the 1980’s, I noticed that the dress code had degraded to dress-shirt and tie; by the 90’s even that was gone. Nowadays dress-up on Mondays is a quaint practice that only occurs occasionally for reasons mysterious to me.

Another ritual came at the end of dinner: “verses.” This practice was stimulated by the influence of certain campus Christian ministries which placed a premium on scripture memory−in those days always in the King James version. This also called for a certain etiquette: state the reference both “fore and aft.” Though scripture memory is an ancient and valued spiritual discipline, it takes time and mental effort and not all of us were up to the task. Being a moderately good boy, I put a moderate effort into it and, having memorized a lot of verses as a kid in Sunday school, had a decent backlog to work from. Only occasionally did I memorize a new verse before returning to the old catalog. Others were even less diligent. A classmate named Ken always quoted the same verse: “Psalm 121:1, I will lift up my eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help, Psalm 121:1.” (This was an unfortunate choice because the “hills” were the high places where terrible pagan worship practices took place; one really needs to tack on the next verse to discover where help really comes from−but then, no one mentioned it at the time.) Another classmate named Bob was good at memorizing and liked to reel off a lengthy passage, usually with great deliberation as he struggled to remember the next phrase. Well then, Scripture memory is good, but obligatory “verses at dinner” has thankfully passed out of use.

Kitchen and Cook (by Loren Steinhauer)

The UCU as a men’s living organization began in the fall of 1935. The first “House Mother” was a Mrs. Norwick (or Norwalk; accounts vary). The nature of her responsibilities are unclear since the only common meal, evening dinner, was catered in from a local café. The following year “Mom” and “Chief” Peterson began their long association with UCU as House Mother and Advisor. When the Men’s House moved to its present location in 1937, Mom and Chief moved into the “apartment” on the east end of the second deck. At that time Mom assumed the full duties as House Mother, including kitchen management, purchase and preparation of meals. Mom and Chief’s tenure lasted until their retirement in 1952, to be followed by a succession of House Mothers. Difficulties with this “institution” began to mount in the late ‘50s through the mid ‘60’s. At one point, catering of the food was considered but dismissed as too expensive. By the fall of 1963, when I arrived at UCU, there were two houses, Men’s and Women’s, each having its own cook. By then the term “House Mother” had gone out of use.

Imagine what it was like to cook for two dozen or so guys entirely within the confines of the tiny Men’s-House kitchen. In a way it was even smaller then because a large cabinet filled the north wall: dishes behind doors above; drawers and cupboards below for silverware and utensils. Moreover a huge black cook stove of ancient vintage dominated the west wall. If that were not enough, our cook was a large woman, leaving limited space for anyone else to get around or pass through.

Mrs. Welch must have been in her 50’s or 60’s. A widow, she once shared with me the story of the day her husband called after work to let her know he was on his way home. He never arrived, dying in a car accident along the way. She could be grumpy at times−little wonder given the limited space, or the restrictive food budget, or the young men who didn’t always follow kitchen procedures. Nevertheless, she had a listening and sympathetic ear for us in our own struggles. Her cooking was “old school” and got mixed reviews. Collegians are notoriously good at the parlor sport of complaining about food. (I recall griping about “dorm food” during my freshman year at the dorms.) Our diet at UCU was heavy on carbs and grease, and some of us put on a bit of weight.

Dinner “save” could be unattractive. I remember gravy or stew left over in a bowl which had set up like concrete so that one could invert the bowl without anything falling out. As a matter of fact, preparing quality “institutional” food is next to impossible; it can hardly compete with home cooking. My personal speculation was that the Alums were a bit chintzy with the food budget! Maybe so: R&B at UCU was only $190 per quarter when I moved in. On the other hand, charity is a Christian virtue, and we weren’t always charitable about perceived imperfections with the cooking. My best friend once offered a joke at our cook’s expense. Question: “What would you rather eat, Mrs. W’s cooking or compost?” Answer: “Compost, because you can eat that.”

Another aspect of the Men’s House kitchen in those days sounds rather primitive. Dishes, silverware, pots and pans were all hand-washed (no sanitizers), usually in a hurry and with doubtful care. I shared the “dinner wash” chore a few times and recall that our main goal was to get it over as fast as possible. How did we stay healthy? Don’t know. We probably just developed huge populations of antibodies.

Things have definitely got better. We are blessed with a crackerjack cook in Allison Young, who has served us now for well over three decades.

Spring Banquet (by Loren Steinhauer)

Nowadays UCU has a “Spring Banquet” or “Parents Banquet,” or “Parents Buffet,” or … hmmm; the label does tend to morph quite a bit. The first known occurrence of this event is recorded in a document, Life in UCU, 1948-48 followed by the hopeful appendage, Vol . 1. It reported an increase in House activities, “including what will be an annual week of initiation of the new members, unofficially known as ‘Joy Week’, followed by a House banquet and installation of the new members.” One could let the imagination run on what went on during the week euphemistically labeled “joy.” In any case it launched the tradition of a Spring Banquet that continues in various shapes to this day. In my era (1963-67) it was a real sit-down dinner, fully catered in a hotel banquet room. A dress-up occasion, the men wore suit and tie and their dates decked themselves in Sunday best or better. Classy gentlemen also presented their ladies with a corsage from a local florist. Pretty fancy! It had become a kind of “Christianized prom,” replacing dancing and popular music by a solo or instrumental along Christian lines.

My first Parents Banquet was held in a large dining room of the former Edmund Meany Hotel, now the Deca, occupying the northwest corner of 45th my own meal being covered by the House “social dues.” If memory serves my date would have classed me as a gentleman. After salad, main course, and then dessert (with coffee or tea flowing as needed) the banquet moved on to its formal purpose, inducting new members into the House (applause), introducing the old officers (some applause) as well as the new (fatigued applause). The new members had been “resident applicants” (RA’s for short) for two quarters before being voted into full membership.

After these ceremonies came the “RA skit,” intended to give any parents in attendance a candid picture of life at the House. Supposedly. In actuality it was a golden opportunity for RAs to roast the members. My little piece was to lampoon my best friend, Don, one noted for strong opinions on nearly everything, about which he was ever eager to pontificate. Fortunately this personal quirk was tempered by a good sense of humor and a (surprisingly) balanced perspective on most things. Of course my roast made no mention of such “virtues,” playing instead on his more dubious attributes. In my laudatory oration, I introduced him as “Doctor of Engineering, Chemistry, Architecture,…” and so on with a litany of disciplines and expertises. It was great fun! My own come-uppance would follow a year later. An RA named Chuck roasted me. Prior to that I had no idea how unattractive was my way of shoving my glasses back up on my nose, and an assortment other unconscious and equally unappealing mannerisms. Sheeesh!

After the skit came the speaker, a former Shakespearean actor who had become a pastor in a rural community nearby. I don’t remember a thing he said except the dramatic tone of some famous quips from the great Bard’s plays. Let it be said that a good time was had by all.

In those days the Womens House had a separate formal banquet in much the same style though with a slight feminine touch. As a matter of fact, I even attended one, invited by the WH President to be her date. Well and good, though she also invited me to be the master of ceremonies−with mixed results, but that’s another story. I had a very close call, as you will see, but luckily got away with it. Besides inserting appropriate levity to the festive occasion, the MC’s duty is to introduce the speaker, who happened to be the pastor of a large church on the east side. When the time came, I stood up, looked at him seated at my left, and couldn’t pull up his name. I only remembered that it began with “Ant”. Well, in a moment of genius, I introduced him as “the Reverend Anti…. (letting my voice tail off at this strategic point).” He seemed not to notice, and launched into his speech.

UCU Microbrewing Company (by Loren Steinhauer)

My grandpa, a teetotalling Baptist, brewed home-made root beer. It was a treat that my cousins and I eagerly anticipated when we visited. Two things made imbibing Grandpa’s home brew particularly interesting. First−he collected bottles found along roadside, cleaned them up, poured in the root beer mix and capped them off with his own capper. Most of these were short beer bottles that everyone called “stubbies.” We liked to tilt our heads back and drink straight from the bottle, then hoist the stubby unsteadily as if slightly drunk, slurring out appreciative remarks like cowboys at a bar in a TV western. This unseemly behavior quite scandalized our straitlaced Grandma! The second keen attribute of home brew was that, after about a month of yeast-and-sugar chemistry, it got quite stout. Grandma warned us−“Better not drink too much or you’ll blow up.” Or at least rip forth with a massive belch. Once when one of my cousins was “boozing around” with a bottle of home brew in a stubby, Grandma looked outside and spotted the pastor coming for a visit. She ordered my cousin to get out of there, immediately!

Years later at UCU, these pleasant memories came to mind and I decided to recreate them in my own way. Root beer is pretty easy to make: all one needs is a large cauldron (available in the kitchen), water, sugar requisitioned from the UCU stock, root beer extract, and yeast. And bottles−but fortunately I discovered that empty half-gallon bottles with screw-on caps could be had from a local grocery store for nothing; I didn’t know what they had been used for, but the price was right. I added a little entrepreneurial spirit as well: in addition to drinking the product myself, I decided to sell bottles at 50 cents a crack to my UCU brothers. They would buy them up usually as soon as the bottles were filled and capped, but would have to wait a couple weeks for the brewing chemistry to work and make it just right. Well the longer it “works” the stouter it gets, and UCUers were much like I was as a kid; there is a good bit of macho in drinking something pretty strong.

But there was a flaw. While the half-gallon bottles looked pretty robust, after about a month accidents began to happen. One night I was at my desk on the third deck when the guy we called “Hotsled” came running down the hall, his eyes as big as dollars: his bottle had just blown up. Not exactly exploded, just lost structural integrity, sort of like new wine in old wineskins to use a Biblical metaphor. Things came to a head one Monday night during Bible study. The first sound we heard was like a window breaking, nothing unusual on the edge of Greek row. Soon after came a different sound, dripping; more like a small waterfall. Something was dripping down the molding at the far end of the dining room. One of the guys spoke up and said, “Stein, you’d better take care of your root beer.” I left the Bible study and went up to my room, what is today called “the Hub,” and witnessed a brown river snaking its way across the carpet, and the sad remains of a half-gallon bottle, its cap still on.

After moving out of the House I heard that a rule was made forbidding the brewing of homemade root beer.

Low-Brow Art (by Loren Steinhauer)

I’ve always had an artistic bent, beginning with crayons and pastels back in elementary school before moving on to other media. Always a sideline though, like in church on Sunday mornings, sketching assorted cartoons and doodles on the back of attendance cards instead of listening to the sermon. This “talent” once took a destructive turn: during boring lectures in a history class I entertained myself by erasing the heads off people in textbook pictures and then shading them in with a soft pencil so they appeared as headless characters. Actually, not my textbook - it was school property, so technically I was engaged in vandalism.

The creative juices quieted down in Engineering school at UW (what does this say about … never mind) until the summer of my junior year. I had a great summer job at Boeing in the Stability and Control group of the Aerodynamics staff. Sounds cool, but it was actually kind of boring. Not like bored while sitting in a pew during a long sermon. More like bored while sitting at a desk, plotting graphs. Endless lift-vs-drag curves, lift-vs-angle of attack, lift-vs-pitching moment, constructed on vellum using a drafting pen charged with India ink and a set of French curves - the stuff one now finds in antique stores. Hmm, “pen and ink”: these too can serve as media for creative expression! - all the excuse I needed. Soon I was sketching whimsical caricatures of engineers in the group on pale green engineering paper. One entitled “Earthquake George,” celebrated a colleague who liked to sit down in his chair with a bang, causing a palpable vibration in the floor of our metal building. Another entitled “Smut the Thunderbird,” reminded one of another colleague’s racy humor. Regrettably, these bits of “low art” weren't the sort of thing one could carry to the building’s copy center, hand to the girl behind the counter and wait for her to make a copy of something hardly work related. That was 1965 when photocopy machines were few, in their infancy, and very large.

This budding talent easily transferred its sphere of activity to UCU. I made an 8½ x 11 poster to mount on my room door entitled “Keg and Stein,” playing off my nickname for my roommate-to-be and my own familiar monicker around the House. It featured a Keg with a smiling face, and a Stein - also with smiling face, and head of brew frothing over the top. This creative burst continued into the school year, turning toward caricatures of my UCU brothers. Almost everyone has a quirk that a cartoonist can work off and exaggerate enormously. One brother had sharp facial features and a ruddy complexion; he became “Big Chief Mags,” seated, wearing a feathered headband, and beating on an Indian drum. Our good-natured Resident Counselor was of less than medium height and a little pudgy. He became an urn with a happy face on it: the caption read “Urny.” A freshman in engineering worried a lot about upcoming tests, which he called “crucial bears”, as in “a bear of a test,” using period lingo. He became a cute little bear, seated, a large textbook cradled in his lap, a slide rule in one hand, and a studious look on his face: the caption read “Crucial Bear.” My most edgy pen-and-ink caricature was also the simplest. It featured a series of concentric circles with yet another smiling face superimposed; and little pieces of straw blended in here and there. Now what might one find on the ground, out in a pasture, concentric in structure, with little pieces of straw blended in? The last six letters of the one-word caption was his surname (which bore a fleeting resemblance to a four letter obscenity): the caption read “Bulls…”. I wonder if Bob and Joel, Ernie, Bob and Ron still have the original drawings.

Intramural Exploits (by Loren Steinhauer)

1966 UW intramural softball champions. Front row L to R: Loren Steinhauer, Bob Lee, Jim Fowler, Paul Elliot, Wyman Henkel, Dennis Painter. Back row: Bill Reitkerk, Bob Burmark, John Worrell, Jim Pearson, Scott Fast (coach), John Mooney, and John Wornell.
UCU participates in intramural sports from time to time. I was hardly athletic and had never gone out for a team in my life, unless you count Chess Club in high school. However, during my first quarter at UCU, the House put together a flag football team and I was encouraged to participate. One of my friends said I walked (or “ran”) like Nat Whitmeyer, a Husky running back - it had something to do with my being pigeon-toed. So much for impressions! I ended up playing as a lineman (scrawny me!) which pretty much meant using my modest inertia to slow down pass rushers. About all I remember is how muddy and cold it was, and how hard it was to grasp a ball carrier’s “flag.”

In spring 1966 UCU fielded an intramural softball team. I knew quite a bit about sports and statistics and how to score a game, so I became our scorekeeper. We (or they) were pretty good. Jim Pearson, our pitcher, was a fireballer; his pitches made quite a loud smack in catcher Scott Fast’s glove. John Wornell had the highest batting average for a while, flirting with 400. He took a lot of ribbing since many of his hits were “Texas Leaguers,” wimpy fly balls just clearing the infield but falling in front of an onrushing outfielder. In the end, our batting champion was Paul (“Rocks”) Elliot; he got a hot bat and finished at 437.

I added my own dimension to the competition. Unsatisfied with simple batting averages, I created a merit index to measure offensive output which accounted for runs, hits, RBIs, getting on base, extra base hits, and so on. I called it the Stein Modulus. Returning to UCU after every game, I’d disappear into my room to compute the results. The players would gather around my door, waiting to hear their updated stats, especially how their Stein Modulus ranked against their teammates.

UCU won every game in league play and we went into the play-offs, reaching the championship against - guess who - the Betas. They had a couple of varsity basketball players on their team and a pretty hot pitcher as well. Early on they scored off Jim and led 1-0. The lead held until about the sixth inning when Jim Fowler, I believe, got to third base. Our batter hit a shallow outfield fly. Jim tagged up and raced for home after the catch. The outfielder’s throw arrived at home at the same time as the runner, but Jim barreled right into the catcher and the ball dribbled out of his glove: “SAFE!” That tied the score at 1-1 where it remained through the end of the regulation seven, pushing us into extra innings. In the eighth or ninth Dennis Painter got to third base. In softball, a runner can’t lead off, but as soon as the pitcher released each pitch Dennis shot down the line, ready for whatever might happen. Here came the pitch; the ball bounced out of the catcher’s glove and rolled behind him a few feet. He spun to recover it and rushed back, ball-in-glove, to make the tag. The flying runner hit the ground, executed a brilliant hook-slide, eluding the catcher’s tag. SAFE! Dennis had basically stolen home and we were the Intramural Champions! The photo shows the championship team with the big trophy pasted on in front.

Cars@UCU (by Loren Steinhauer)

UCU has a small parking lot and some of us had cars. How can a modern collegian afford one? Maybe one’s parents have an extra. Maybe it’s needed for transport to a job to pay for college. Putting things in perspective, when I got my first car in my fourth year at the House, the annual insurance premium (liability only) cost about 75% of one year’s resident tuition at UW. Figure that one out in current dollars!

Several UCU vehicles hang in memory. The most quaint belonged to Spence Anderson, a vintage 1920’s Model A. My best friend Don Gerards had a ’53 Plymouth; Vern Delgatty had a red-and-white ‘57 Chevy, a make and year that was quite a coveted item (and maybe still is); John Mooney’s was a ’59 Ford; Ted Sjoding’s was a Volvo (Swedish car for a Swedish name); and Scott Fast’s was an MG Midget with an engine the size of a vacuum cleaner. All were rather aging sets of wheels until Wyman Henckel showed up with a two-year-old ’63 Chevy. The newest of all came a year later, belonging to Bill Reitkerk and John Wornell. In their last quarter before graduation, having already lined up jobs, they used their new-found borrowing power to buy muscle cars: an Olds 442 and a Pontiac GTO. Impressive was the word for these shiny new behemoths, parked side-by-side in the House lot. One of the UCU vehicles was the focus of the first prank I participated in. Two of my buddies, Crain and Nunnallee roped me into a life of crime with the suggestion, “Let’s take the wheels off Spence’s Model A and leave it on blocks,” which we did.

The first powered vehicle I owned had only two wheels. Having landed a summer job at Boeing-Renton I needed transportation. An opportunity presented itself and I bought a cute little Suzuki motorbike from the brother of a fellow UCUer. Lamentably, it was a 50-cc gutless wonder that could barely make it up some of the hills on my way to work. I soured on it pretty quick - in fact the first day on the job. In a steady rain I arrived at work, soaked to the knees. Bad idea.

During four years at UCU I had occasional use of cars belonging to others. Don once loaned me his car for a date - with unfortunate consequences. Forgetting to release the hand brake, I set it on fire, fortunately only some extraneous grease underneath causing little damage - only a malfunctioning hand brake. My girlfriend loaned me her parents’ extra car with another unfortunate outcome. Driving near Seattle Center with Paul Wesseler in the passenger seat, I made an ill-advised left turn right into the path of an oncoming car I hadn't seen. You can imagine what Paul thought, seeing that vehicle barreling toward his side of the car. (Curiously, within a couple months I broke up with that girlfriend: any connection?) The third car was Bart Walker’s Morris Minor, loaned to me while he was gone for the summer of ’65. It was basically a black tin can with a nonfunctioning starter motor. Fortunately the tin can was very easy to push. I always parked in the UCU lot pointed out. Give it a push into the alley, the slight drop onto 47th gave it enough momentum to roll onto the down slope toward 15th; then pop the clutch. Worked every time. That tin can gave me a lot of fun that summerwith no accidents, although a cop pulled me over once, but that’s another story. The first four-wheeler I actually bought was a hand-me-down from my parents, a ’59 Chevy for $350. The ugliest car ever made, it looked like a non-flight-worthy seagull in a failed attempt to take off. Ah well, it got me to another summer job at Boeing without getting my pants wet.


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Many traditions exist in a house as old as the University Christian Union. Traditions may quickly come and go in a University setting, with high resident turnover rates. However, this decade saw the rise of an annual event that is treasured by all who partake. In the winter of 2000, the first Week of Man competition was held. While the specifics have morphed with time, the basic idea is that an entire week is devoted to testing the manliness of competitors through a rigid point-based system for the honor of getting your name engraved on a 5-foot broadsword displayed proudly on the second floor. In circa 2003, the women created a counterpart Week of Woman, where a rigorous point-based competition would determine the most womanly resident for the honor of getting your name engraved on a plaque sporting a brilliant tiara. Other annual social events included: Men's Social, Women's Social, Pixie Week, the Halloween Dance, Java Night, Beach Bash, and the Parent's Banquet.

An oddly disproportionate amount of residents during this time were engineers. Several students practiced their major in their spare time to varying degrees of success, engineering several lofted beds, stadium seating in the men's TV room, and desks lofted over the beds in another room. A common practice was to "third deck" broken or unwanted items after work day, which involved throwing the item off of the men's third floor fire escape to explode/implode/shatter/collapse on the parking lot below. Items were typically thrown downwards for better velocity and windows occasionally were dismantled or pulleys rigged to get the items on the fire escape in the first place. While the men's house was busy building contraptions, the women's house consistently had a better average GPA.

Pranks were an important part of this time, where students displayed genius ingenuity with preemptive strikes and counter attacks. While pranks were occasionally played on roommates or floors of the same house, the majority of pranks were targeted from men to women or vice versa. House relationships sometimes suffered from these daring feats, but residents generally considered the benefits to outweigh the risks, allocating social dues to support active pranking.


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The men's house address is: 1605 NE 47th St. Seattle, WA 98105
The women's house address is: 4554 16th Ave NE Seattle, WA 98105

The houses are located a block from the North end of the University of Washington campus, a 10-15 minute walk from most classes. Greek row is a mere half block away, allowing students to experience the hype of the bustling community. Two blocks in the opposite direction and students will find themselves on the "Ave" (aka University Way), where there are countless stores and restaurants to explore while becoming familiar with Seattle's famed array of interesting personalities. Also on The Ave are numerous bus routes that can connect you to just about any part of the city. University Presbyterian Church, home of "The Inn", is directly across 16th Ave from the houses. Ravenna Park and Green Lake are good running destinations to the north of the house, providing scenic getaways and trails in the midst of the city.


When you live at UCU, all of your food expenses are covered in your room and board costs. This means that you are provided two cooked meals a day: lunch and dinner. There is always food around for when you're hungry in the middle of the night, or in the afternoon when you get back from class. Our wonderful cook, Alli, has been treating UCU residents to her fine cuisine for decades, so dinner is always a real treat. She usually posts a meal plan in the kitchen, so you are able to keep an eye out for upcoming favorites.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. At UCU, you have several options for breakfast, but all of them are prepared by you. Whether it's cereal, eggs and toast, Alli's homemade granola, or just a cup of orange juice, the world is your oyster.
SERVED: Anytime

Lunch is prepared Monday through Friday by our cook (or you can opt out and make a sack lunch for yourself using the lunch supplies provided). Meals can consist of soup, burritos, sandwiches, salads, pizza, and much more. There is always plenty to go around, and you have two time choices available.
SERVED: 11:30 AM & 12:30 PM

Dinners are prepared Monday through Friday. Alli has a wide range of meals, sides, and desserts. Some favorites include: lasagna, teriyaki, baked chicken, steak, hamburgers, grilled vegetables, cherry goo, turtle bars, chop salad, and Chinese chicken salad. Dinner is served once a day. If you cannot make dinner, you can sign up to have someone save you a loaded plate.
SERVED: 5:30 pm

Sunday lunch is provided! Alli plans the menu and leaves supplies and instructions for a resident to prepare the food (usually signed up for in advance). For the rest of the weekend there is additional food provided for your consumption and culinary experimentation.


If you are interested in living at the house or want to learn more, please visit

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