Monday, January 17, 2011

Theatre On Oakland U. Horizon

D. B "Woody" Varner
OU's First Chancellor
November 1966
  It was three years ago next February that the Detroit press corps was summoned to the hallowed halls of the Detroit Athletic Club where plans were unveiled for a new project known as the Meadow Brook Festival. We were admittedly a bit dubious when Oakland University’s Chancellor D. B. “Woody” Varner predicted that the project would eventually attain nationwide recognition. At that moment, there wasn’t even a building and no money to build one.
  But by that summer, several hundred thousands of dollars miraculously poured in and the pavilion was ready for the Detroit Symphony. Last week Director Jim Hicks said that this past season’s average attendance was 5,800.
  Then, the call went out again last week for another DAC pow-wow. Held on Wednesday noon, the subject this time was the Meadow Brook Theatre. Announcement of this new project had been made last summer, but last week’s affair was a reception for the press to meet the resident professional company.
  While WJR’s J. P. McCarthy interviewed his way through his noon-hour show in an adjoining room, the pre-luncheon hour was a good chance to meet the troupe and also greet a few acquaintances in the newspaper business and its allied industries— radio and TV. At my table was Edward A. Guest II, who quit Jam Handy Advertising Agency to become director of public relations for the Meadow Brook Theatre. Ed’s enthusiasm is enough to convince me that the Theatre will attain success on the same level as the Festival.
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  IT’S HARD TO EXPLAIN, but I get a little shaky when guys like Carl W. Ripley come into the office and ask for me. Carl walked in Monday morning and I was summoned to the front desk for a chat. I suppose the reason he unnerves me is the Marine Corps dress uniform he wears, not to mention the fact that he is recruiting sergeant for this area.
  I well recall serving a couple of years back in some other war and now hold a draft card that lists me as 7-X (or is that my hat size?) These Army, Marine and Navy recruiters who pay calls on us newspaper folks every few months, are all working to fill monthly quotas and I don’t like the way they study me up and down.
  It was reassuring to hear from Sgt. Ripley, however, that he doesn’t need any men right now. He’s got enough to fill his quota through February. What he needs, he says, are women. Now, this doesn’t sound like anything new for a serviceman. But Sgt. Ripley needs women to serve in the Women Marines as secretaries, air control tower operators, IBM machine operator and radio operators— to mention a few.
  Applicants must be 18 to 29 years of age, unmarried and have a high school education. All of you interested young ladies can find Master Sgt. Ripley at the Federal Building in Pontiac. He’s looking for you— not me.