Acknowledging that the transition from soldier to student was difficult and complex, UW’s campus humor magazine, The Wisconsin Octopus, devoted its March 1946 issue to returning veterans.
This issued presented a variety of humorous and satirical articles, cartoons and other tributes to Badgers who served and supported military activities during WWII.
Literary contributions touched on all aspects of the campus re-entry process including registration, classroom protocol, dating “tips” for returning soldiers and the following humorous suggestion to UW administrators for dealing with housing scarcity on campus:
“…the plan involves construction of approximately 100 houseboats to be anchored off the campus shoreline on Lake Mendota…The houseboat system has many advantages…quiet and seclusion when you want to study. Of course, you have to accustom yourself to the roll of the heavy waves on the “high seas.” But what a thrill to ride into your eight o’clock class in a P.T. boat!”
In true Octopus form, the following quip reminded students that their military “training” would continue to serve them at UW:
“Another time, when he was late for his English class on the third floor of Bascom, Harry scaled the outside wall and entered the classroom through a window. “Reminds me of the cliffs on Saipan,” he is reported to have nonchalantly said to the startled instructor, as he took his seat.”
Letters to the “No Sense of Humor Dept.” and other sections used subtle humor and satire to address more serious issues including veterans’ financial problems, military stereotypes and what we know today as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.
A less-humorous but important introduction to Lt. Col. Leo B. Levenick, director of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs in 1946, provided key information about support services for veterans and their dependents in Madison.
“The perpetual problems of rehabilitation which are placed on the Colonel’s desk would have discouraged a lesser man than this gray-haired retired army officer…Matters which come up for consideration include anything from bail for a jailed vet to requests for loans from fellows in school who have not yet received their subsistence checks.”
The issue also included a plethora of accolades and good wishes from well-known cartoonists, publishers, writers and even a shout out from Hollywood actor and USO performer, Bob Hope, welcoming home Badger veterans.
For more information about The Wisconsin Octopus or UW-Madison campus history, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://archives.library.wisc.edu.
(Images and quotes are from The Wisconsin Octopus, March 1946.)