In the darkroom of Jerry Hahn ’61, a classic Illinois Wesleyan era comes alive.
An intoxicating blend of cool and innocence has made the late 1950s an irresistible subject for books and movies, long after the young people who helped define the era have moved into the “gracefully aging” demographic.
Alumni who attended Illinois Wesleyan during that time likely remember Jerry Hahn. He was the guy with the camera who seemed to be everywhere, taking pictures for The Argus, the Wesleyana, IWU’s Publicity Office — and, as it turns out, for posterity. Hahn, who graduated in 1961, recently contacted IWU Magazine to reveal the fact that he had kept negatives of “candid photos” that provide a more fun and intimate glimpse of campus life. He provided several fresh prints of those images, along with caption information that he admits is based on the hazy memories of a half century past. (We invite alumni to send fuller descriptions of the photos).
After graduation and service as an Army photographer, Hahn got temporary work taking shots of a Mississippi flood for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That led to a permanent job helping head up the Corps’ Rock Island district office. Now retired, Hahn continues to take photos. Give him a chance and he will be happy to tell you what he thinks of the digital camera “revolution.” He wonders if today’s digital files will be recognized, accessible, or even available 50 years from now and declares, “I have not folded up my silver-based film tent in favor of digital equipment. I have none at present!” The following images were all made in that tent, with careful application of chemicals and a bit of old-fashioned magic.
Above, a musical production (possibly The Boy Friend) featured a number by Jim Panaowski ’61 and Sara Clark ’63, who were obviously playing for laughs.
Hahn writes that the above photo was likely taken at an International Club meeting.
A campus high point in 1959 was a concert by jazz giant “Dizzy” Gillespie (above) who performed as the main event of that spring’s Greek Week celebration.
A classic Hahn photo perfectly captures a moment in time. The picture appears in the 1961 Wesleyana with a caption explaining that it was taken during Spring Festival, when college-bound high school seniors were invited to spend a weekend on the Illinois Wesleyan campus.
Try to explain this to your grandkids. As part of spring Greek activities, someone decided it was a good idea to see how many coeds could fit into two regulation telephone booths. The answer appears to be six!
When the Titans played crosstown rival Illinois State at home in 1958, an infamous fight broke out that Hahn photographed from the sidelines. For reasons unknown to Hahn, The Argus chose not to print photos of the melee, but the Bloomington Pantagraph happily ran them at the top of its sports page and handed Hahn his first-ever freelance payment.
Above, a tricycle race during the annual Sigma Chi Derby Days captures the giddy joy of doing something completely pointless, as does the photo below, about which Hahn writes, "Further caption not needed!"