January 30, 2014

EZRA’S ORACLE | Jan. 31, 2014

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Ezra’s Oracle welcomes inquiries from members of the Cornell community about anything and everything related to the University. We seek out answers to campus mysteries, research rumors and investigate issues of relevance to Cornellians. Questions can be submitted via email to [email protected]

I’m in a debate with my friend about the name of Libe Slope. My friend thinks it’s named after a person, but I think it’s short for “library.” Which is it?

— Struggling with Abbreviations ’15

You won this round. Libe Slope is simply short for Library Slope. The abbreviated version appears in The Sun as early as 1926 (in a joke about the need for a fence on the Slope to shield against the wind). Cornell’s first dedicated library building opened at the top of the Slope in 1891. Originally just known as the University Library, it was renovated and renamed Uris Library in 1961, to honor donors Harold Uris ’25 and his brother Percy. (Percy attended Columbia, which also has a Uris Hall.) The term “Library Slope” shows up as early as 1902, just over a decade after the library opened.

Did folk singer Pete Seeger ever perform at Cornell?

— Where Have All the Flowers Gone ’13

Seeger, who died Monday, was a frequent visitor of Ithaca. He hosted an evening of folk songs in the Willard Straight Hall Memorial Room as early as 1946 and frequently returned throughout the subsequent decades for performances at Anabel Taylor Hall, Willard Straight Hall, Bailey Hall and in the beloved American Folk Literature course (known to students as “Romp-n-Stomp”) taught by Harold Thompson, a former Cornell professor. Seeger’s many campus visits in the ’50s and ’60s likely had a significant impact on the Cornell folk community. The Cornell Folk Song Society formed in the 1950s. Peter Yarrow ’59, who served as the society’s president while a student, later formed the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary, reaching the Billboard Top 10 with Seeger’s “If I Had a Hammer.” One of Seeger’s songs, “Garbage!,” was written by local folk musician and Cornell staff member Bill Steele ’54. And Cornell’s student-run radio station, WVBR-FM, began airing Bound for Glory in 1967, which is now North America’s longest-running live folk concert broadcast. Seeger and his legacy were celebrated locally in 2009 when Ithacans gathered at Stewart Park in honor of the musician’s 90th birthday.

Is it the Dairy Bar or the Dairy Barn?

— Dairy-Deprived Senior ’14

Cornell has both a dairy bar and dairy barns, but the place where people buy ice cream is the Cornell Dairy Bar, which finally reopened this January after closing in 2010 for a major renovation to Stocking Hall and a rebuilt dairy plant. The cows themselves hang out in Cornell’s dairy barns. In fact, Cornell opened a nationally-acclaimed state-of-the-art Teaching Dairy Barn in fall 2012. The best part? The barn has back scratchers for the cows.

Curious about Cornelliana? Looking for Cornell lore behind a legend? Submit your questions to [email protected] Ezra’s Oracle appears alternate Fridays this semester.