Alumnus remembers 1962 political climate
By Nona Tepper
The year of 1962 marked the construction of the Berlin Wall and the haze of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Alumni took the time to reflect on that era and celebrate the 50th anniversary of their graduation from IU at “Cream and Crimson Alumni Weekend” this Saturday and Sunday.
Many remember a time of a strict women’s curfew, Acacia winning Little 500 or IU’s 11th president Herman B Wells, but all said they remember the social and political atmosphere at that time.
Bob Loss, now a resident of Sturgeon Bay, Wis., was in a fraternity at IU. In 1960, he was the youngest brother.
“We were between wars, and the campus was full of veterans,” Loss said.
He said he remembers American students as being older and coming straight from Seoul, South Korea, to study.
But mostly, Loss said, he remembers the pressure of the draft.
“When you were in college here, and you were male, you were going to the service,” Loss said. “Draft was part of our life. You just accepted it.”
Loss studied accounting at IU, and after graduation he enlisted in a reserve unit.
He realized he would be drafted and dropped out of graduate school to serve.
On Oct. 10, 1960, his reserve unit was activated. Loss walked through Chicago’s Midway Airport, a small rifle in hand, and waved goodbye to his parents.
His dad stood at the terminal with tears in his eyes.Loss said he had no idea where he would be stationed.
He ended up flying to Germany and staying for a year to defend what he calls “Western Democracy.”
Loss worked at an evacuation hospital. He swept floors and assisted patients.
Had he gone to an extreme conflict zone, Loss said he would have been three miles from the front line.
“They activated everybody because the Russians put the wall up,” he said.
A year later, Loss returned to Chicago.
He was told not to unpack his gear, gun or anything belonging to his person.
It was October 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis had begun. Tension polarized between the former Soviet Union, Cuba and the United States.
Loss described it as an era of fear.
“We thought we were going to have World War III,” Loss said. “Those were tough times in America because, in many ways, we thought we could implode as a
The conflict lasted 13 days, and Loss spent that time in the U.S.
He said he was proud to serve our country. He believes it taught him self-discipline.
This weekend reminded him of his time in the service and his time as a student.
Loss met his wife at IU.
She was two years younger than him and graduated in 1962. The couple drove from Sturgeon Bay to Bloomington to honor her graduation on June 4. The drive is more than 477 miles.
The couple arrived in a Ford Escape with a Wisconsin license plate that read, “IU 62.”
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