Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lt. Kelso and Sadie

by Bryan Whitledge

Recently, the Clarke was contacted by a researcher asking about Lieutenant Maxwell R. Kelso. Lt. Kelso was head of Central Michigan’s V-12 U. S. Navy College Training Program installation from 1943-45. As a result of this inquiry, the staff at the Clarke unearthed some interesting information about campus life for those charged with educating young men who were training for combat in World War II.

1945 CMCE Yearbook, p. 16
Central was one of approximately 130 colleges and universities that hosted a V-12 training program between 1943 and 1946. The goal of the V-12 program was to prepare Naval Officers through an accelerated college education program. Nationally, over 100,000 cadets went through the V-12 program. At CMU, 2,632 men were educated under the command of Lt. Kelso between July 1943, when the program started, and November 1945, when it was decommissioned. Among the records on file in the Clarke is a copy of a termination report documenting the cost of everything associated with the V-12 program, including housing and mess for all of the students – for instance, in July 1945, over 21,000 meals were supplied to students and employees of the program at an average cost $1.35 per ration.

Lt. Kelso was not a typical naval lieutenant. From the July 13, 1943 Central Michigan Life (p. 1, col. 2), we learned that he had earned a Ph.D. from Harvard and, prior to his appointment at Central, he was the dean of the college at Westminster in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. We also learned that his family would be joining him during his time in Mount Pleasant, and in one of the last CM Life articles to mention the Kelso family, November 21, 1945 (p. 4, col. 5-6), we discovered that the Kelso family had welcomed a new family member into their household -- a family member that may have been the most famous attraction on campus during her time here: Sadie, the spaniel.

1944 CMCE Yearbook, p. 55
Sadie did not come to campus with the Kelso family. No one seems to know how Sadie became part of the fabric of the Central campus, but she quickly earned the affections of many, especially the men in the V-12 program. She followed the V-12 cadets around campus, participated in physical training exercises by running around the track with the cadets, and wandered into classes in Grawn Hall. ­­In a profile of Sadie in the December 15, 1943 CM Life (p. 2, col. 3-4), reporter Jack Kellogg made the astute observation that “in true college style she goes to sleep when a class begins, and when the bell rings is up and ready to leave.” Her status as the mascot of the V-12 program earned her a set of dog tags and the gift of a new dog house from the students in December 1943.

As the V-12 program came to a close it was time for the Kelso family to leave Mount Pleasant. Sadie had become Lt. Kelso’s “assistant” and he rewarded this service by purchasing her from her original owner. She then became the Kelso family dog.

The researcher who originally contacted us, and who graciously agreed that the Clarke share this story, informed us that Sadie lived with the Kelso family in Ohio through the early 1950s, when she passed on -- hopefully to another life of chasing young service men around a college campus. CMU was impacted by the V-12 program and Sadie, although only a footnote in the history of the program, was a much beloved mascot.