OT - UM Fact/Fiction Lore

Submitted by doughboy on January 29th, 2010 at 12:05 PM

Since we seemed to have had a good time with MGO Name (thanks, GoBlueScott) I thought I'd take a crack at a possible topic of interest and help fill the void until Signing Day.

What are some interesting traditions/stories/lore that you've come across that relate to the University of Michigan and are they fact or fiction? This could be from a student, resident, fan, athlete perspective. But I'm curious, "what's out there"?

For instance, when I was going through Freshman orientation (back in the 80's) our guide told us a lot of interesting tidbits. But the three that always have stayed with me are:

1. During lunch, if you know the song that the Bell Tower is playing and are the first to run to the top of the Tower and tell the carillon(sp?) player, you will receive a FREE Quarter Pounder from McDonald's. This, I learned was, unfortunately, FICTION.

2. When Horace Rackham donated the funds for the Rackham Library, he had a stipulation that he be able to stand on the stairs in front of his library and see the steps of the Graduate Library directly to the South. This meant that the donated marble water fountain in front of the League had to be lowered ten-ish feet - which it was. FACT (I believe).

3. If you step on the Block M in front of the Graduate Library, you will fail your next test. To this day, I have still never stepped on it - so I don't know if it's FACT or FICTION.

My apologizes upfront, if this isn't of interest. It's been something that I've wondered about and didn't want to read a book on. Besides, I always find the most entertaining and valuable part of MGOBLOG being the first-hand accounts from the users.



January 29th, 2010 at 12:31 PM ^

The story of the grad library I heard had to do with Rackham's wife working at the other library and he wanted to be able to come out and wave to her at lunch every day. Don't know if that's true or not, just the version I heard.

Tshimanga Cowabunga

January 29th, 2010 at 12:36 PM ^

in front of the Natural History Museum across from CC Little supposedly roar every time a virgin graduates from the University. Oddly, no one has ever heard this so it must be FICTION.

Also, the there is a way to reverse the curse of stepping on the "M". Supposedly you have to run naked across the diag from the grad to the bell tower when the bells ring at midnight. Unfortunately the bells don't ring at midnight so we may never know.

One tradition that my friends and I followed was on orientation we walked in the fountain outside the league from rackham toward the grad and after we graduated we walked through the opposite way.


January 29th, 2010 at 12:56 PM ^

I was just about to post this because this is also one of my favorites. The reason why that this "myth" came about is because back in the day when the male and female population was separated on central campus and the hill area there was a curfew. Young lovers would meet up after curfew and meet at the West Engineering arch to prove their love to each other and kiss underneath the arch (also since it just so happened to be equi-distant).


January 29th, 2010 at 12:54 PM ^

I remember the story that UM always accepted everyone who decided to go to MSU, but they all decided to attend State because it was "totally" the same quality of school, but had much hotter girls and better parties.



January 29th, 2010 at 12:59 PM ^

The panthers on either side of the entry to the natural science museum on North U (pilgrim trail back to the Hill dorms, near CCRB) are reputed to roar when a senior virgin walks past. Not verified, so I can't tell if it's fact or fiction.


January 29th, 2010 at 1:04 PM ^

that every Michigan fan and/or resident of the state of Michigan was "at the Colorado game" in 1993, was "totally right in that endzone about ten rows up" and "it was crazy, man, you could have heard a pin drop."

Every single one.


January 29th, 2010 at 2:35 PM ^

I was at like the 40 or 50 press box side...my view almost completely mirrored the camera angle...so EVERY FUCKING TIME they replay it...it's like reliving it. Because THAT'S what I saw.

And it was just after everyone was getting giddy that we were finally getting out of September without a loss...

And I don't know that it was that quite...I can remember the traveling Colorado fans (not a small amount since it was the first time they came here in that series of 3) being pretty loud after that.


January 29th, 2010 at 8:03 PM ^

was the game I will never forget. #1 Miami scored 17 points in the final 5 minutes to beat us 31 to 30. Student section was chanting like we had the game in the bag..... I thought I was going to blow chunks after the game it made me so sick to my stomach....lol..


January 29th, 2010 at 1:09 PM ^

The old explanation for why, no matter what the stated capacity of the stadium, there is always a "1" tacked on to the end. At various times, legend has had it that this was a seat for Yost, or for Crisler. I believe this was debunked by Crisler himself in that old Sports Illustrated issue, but still kind of a nice little bit of stadium lore.


January 29th, 2010 at 1:52 PM ^

When I was a student (92-97), there was a rumor that then supermodel Niki Taylor was attending the U. I was a sophomore at the time and there was indeed a Nicole Taylor enrolled as a freshmen according to the paper directory. I was skeptical but that didn't stop a buddy of mine and me to head to her listed dorm room in WQ one evening to try to verify. Yeah, a little creepy, but come on.........

Knocked on the door and her roommate answered. She wasn't there so that was the end of it. As it turns out, it was FICTION.


January 29th, 2010 at 2:38 PM ^

Around that time, after I graduated, there was a student who was a waitress and bartender at Touchdown's (back when they had a ridiculously hot staff...), and the girls were playing the "who do we look like" game, and it was pretty unanimous that this girl was a pretty reasonable facsimile for Nikki Taylor. Could at least look like one of her sisters. So, if she was seen, and tied into something else...I can see how the rumor could get fed.

Feat of Clay

January 29th, 2010 at 5:46 PM ^

I was going to post that one! LOL. I used to be tortured by that story, maybe I was a little too emotionally connected to Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel. Occasionally when we're driving by the Big House, my spouse will speak to me in this this eerie, distant, pleading voice that is supposed to evoke a crane screaming for help from beneath the turf.

I was told several times that the Dental School building looked like a tooth from above, and that this was like an architectural easter egg. It doesn't, and it's a lame legend, but I heard it more than once.

This one's true: When William Clements gave his extraordinary collection of American History papers to the U, he didn't want any U-M students to ever touch it. Any of it. And he very well might have thought most U-M faculty should stay out, too.


January 29th, 2010 at 3:37 PM ^

I stepped on the M on the Diag in defiance right before my first blue book. I failed my first blue book. I was taking the class pass/fail so I didnt really care.


January 29th, 2010 at 5:59 PM ^

I thought I once heard a story about back in the day at football games we use to use actual live Wolverines as mascots (perhaps Buff and Biff?)...Until one day the cage fell over as it was entering the field and one of the Wolverines had to be shot under the stands after biting spectators.


January 29th, 2010 at 9:06 PM ^

the windows don't open entirely due to a regent jumping out the top of it a while ago

True, as far as I can tell. The windows do not open entirely (which sucks if you have a class up there on a hot day)


January 29th, 2010 at 10:11 PM ^

but the regent you mentioned is Sarah Goddard Power. She was Phil Power's wife. (Phil Power is a former regent/newspaper publisher/founder and President of The Center for Michigan.)


January 29th, 2010 at 11:02 PM ^

I was in Grad School when this happened. A very unfortunate thing that I believe the University did an excellent job of handling. I literally passed by the Bell Tower four minutes after it happened and you would not know anything out of the ordinary had occurred other than the ambulance at the back of Hill Auditorium. Very sad, but excellent response!