John attended the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, graduating with a degree in Secondary Education and Industrial Arts in 1958. While in Platteville, he met a local girl named Ruth. They married and went on to have seven children. Three of those children returned to UW-Platteville for their own higher educations. Two of those children met and married fellow students while in school. And today the third generation is currently carrying the torch as a proud UW-P student, having just started her first semester on campus.
John etched his name and home address into the suitcase, just below the handle. Oh, how I eagerly anticipated the college pennants bursting out as I opened the lid. But alas, the case was empty.
I used dish soap to wipe the case down and then applied a thick layer of shoe polish. A good hand buffing with the horsehair brush brought out a bit of shine. I used alcohol to scrub off the white corner trim and delicately cleaned the decals. Finally, I rubbed the whole thing down with a good soaking of leather oil to replenish the previous 55 years of use.
Still scuffed and worn on the corners, the suitcase is officially back in service.
The vintage decals on either side are priceless. The University of Wisconsin-Platteville has roots that go back almost 150 years. One half of the University was known as the Platteville Normal School. It was founded in 1866 as the first college in the state to offer a teaching certification program. A large bell on campus would not only waken the students each morning but also signal the end of the day. The other half of the University was developed in 1907 as the Wisconsin Mining School. It was the first in the state to train miners and offer an engineering degree. The Normal School and the Mining School merged in 1959 after experiencing rapid increase in enrollments and officially became a state university in 1966. Although the University began as two separate schools, it still continues its strong identity as both a teaching and engineering college.
And I am proud to say that I am also a UW-Platteville alum. One day during freshman year while I was scoping out the library, I met Hank struggling with his calculus homework. And the rest is history. My father-in-law's suitcase will be cherished and perhaps passed on to our children. Go Pioneers!