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The University of Minnesota Duluth

BRIDGE - Winter 2006, Volume 23, #1

The legacy of a "Rap Against the Frats," and "Save-Your-Mother"

(l-r) Bottom row: Greg Mahalich, Scott Johnson, Dave Williams, Carrey Bohn.
Middle: Tom MacNamara, Bill Sorteberg, John Kephart.
Back: Mike Forsyth, Bob Pratt, Rick Lewellyn, Steve Hamm

The original 1st St. Gang was a group of 18 UMD students who began as an informal sports organization in the fall of 1970. The name originated from the address of the house in which the founders lived, located directly up from the Pickwick, at 502 East 1st Street. As alumnus Bob Hofstrom '73 tells it, the Gang was started as a "rap against the frats." At that time, fraternities dominated intramural sports, and if you wanted to play intramural sports you had to join a fraternity. The 1st St. Gang was formed to challenge this situation. Over the years, the Gang grew from a group described as "enough guys to play football" to include well over 200 participants. The founding members, Tom Larson and Bob Hofstrom, graduated in the early 1970s, and the 1st St. Gang continued off and on for over 35 years. Children of some original members of the group have attended UMD and revived the Gang, although it never achieved the size and status it had when it started.

Hofstrom recalls, "It was a scary thing to head off to college. When you arrived on campus you realized that your newfound freedom and being away from the comforts of home were a little unsettling. Developing friendships became important to survival. Fraternity life was something that didn't appeal to everyone, and often fraternities came off as too exclusive and 'hokey.'...Gang members rallied to insist on involvement in intramural competition by claiming they were an organized association, and thereby invaded the exclusive playground of the frats."

Larson '74 recalls, "We became mavericks, and in an awkward way we became the 'anti-frat' movement. Maybe it was the Vietnam War and the era of protesting that made it seem the right thing to do. I can tell you, we were not liked by the formal organizations. We broke the lock on who ran campus life by starting our own group and using our own ways of operating. The Gang enlisted A.J Brostrom as our on-campus advisor, and by the end of our second year we had became the largest 'school recognized' organization on campus."

As time went on, more 1st St. members became Resident Advisors in the dorms, and during summer orientations for incoming freshmen these RAs began recruiting high school athletes who had no intention of playing their sport at a college level. With the help of these athletes, the Gang soon led the standings for intramural ice hockey, floor hockey, basketball, golf, bowling, softball and broomball. It dominated intramural sports for almost a decade, and while sports remained the focus of its membership, the group later became known for its social events as well as their "theme" parties.

Instead of a separate 1st St. girls' organization, on the model of separate fraternities and sororities, the Gang embraced women as equal partners in their organization, as participants, players, and officers. Right away (as opposed to having to go through 'pledge week') girls got to wear the jerseys and the jackets. (This was a big deal: jerseys were cool, and had the member's name across the shoulder, just like the frat gear.) The famous 1st St. Gang jacket was blue and white and was embroidered with the Gang logo on the front.

This was back in the days of separate dorms for men and women. Larson said, "It's funny to say now, but we broke the mold back then. Women friends were encouraged to join. It was a way of being different and inclusive. It was my first taste of discrimination based on gender, and when I look back at how women were held back in many endeavors such as athletics and business--it was strictly gender based. The Gang's inclusion of women changed my view of the world order forever. As organizers we simply melded genders together and became one large group."

Because the fraternities had a lock on the college party scene, the 1st St. Gang also found ways to throw the best parties. They had "open parties, no invitations needed, not based on who you knew or who you were." Gang members recall memorable theme parties: the Greaser Party ('50's style dress), the End-of-the-World Party (where, if the world were to end tomorrow, you came dressed as something or someone you always wanted to be), Snark Parties (with face painting), the infamous Orange Blitz party, the Pajama Party (pajamas only), events prior to Hockey Games (Case-a-thon), an annual Smelt Fry Bash, and the annual 1st St. Banquet at the Sweden House on Superior Street (later held at the Hotel Duluth). The Gang also developed the traditional Haka Chant on the arena ice and lived it up with hayrides at riding stables along the North Shore. Cribbage tournaments, euchre tournaments and daily rounds of 500 seemed more frequent than trips to the library or study halls. They also developed a complex board game called "Save Your Mother," played using an old Monopoly board and a distributor cap from a 1968 Mustang.

Gang members recall their memorable three-day parties over long, holiday weekends. Members would travel to the end of the Gunflint Trail, loaded with tents, canoes, backpacks, fishing gear, and portable 8-tracks for a three or four-day outing in the wilderness. As one member tells it, "It was almost like Woodstock--smaller, more secluded, but one hell of a lot of fun. Over the years, many of us became known on a first name basis to the DNR Rangers." Another annual event was the opening of fishing season. First Streeters gathered at Lake Kabetogama near the Arrowhead Lodge and set up in Camp Wooden Frog. For several years an old red school bus, (driven to Daytona Beach one year for Spring Break) which reportedly slept a "good dozen," became the means for transporting the group to the north woods. While most of the fishing was done from shore, sometimes enough money was pooled to rent several boats and motors.

What happened to the bell-bottomed pants, long hair and fearless behavior? What became of the endeavor to make your own fun, the tournaments, the parties and events? Larson suggests "All of us were products of the late 60s and early 70s, and our carefree lifestyles and anti-establishment attitudes gave us the freedom to be ourselves." After leaving UMD, jumping into careers, marriages, and beginning families, Gang members knew how to find fun without a lot of amenities, working hard to stay connected to each other through events.

Today, many children, several deaths, and several divorces later, the gatherings of the Gang are still special. Each year, 20 to 30 Gang members, mostly located in or near the Twin Cities, gather for events including: The Alumni Golf Tournament; the South Dakota Pheasant Hunt; the Wednesday Night Outing (a 35-year, before Thanksgiving, tradition); the Annual Christmas Luncheon; the January snowmobile trip; the Wild Game Dinner; a four-day weekend in the Brainerd Lakes area for golfing and guided fishing; many summer Wednesday evenings for golf; an August outdoor barbeque; and the Labor Day golf event at Giants' Ridge in Biwabik. In addition there are regularly scheduled poker nights, or quickly called evenings for beverages and conversation.

(Left) Awards Banquet 1971 (l-r) Tom Larson, Kristi Oren, Kris Thorberg
(Right) (front to back) Tom Moynihan, Tom Larson, Dave Settergren, Bob Hofstrom, and (net) Bob Nelson

For as much fun as they had while attending UMD, the Gang had a reputation for being good students as well. After graduation, many went on to establish businesses and all have become successful in their chosen careers.

The Scholarship
The 1st St. Gang alumni have grown tighter as friends over the years. When Gang member Geoff Spencer was killed in an automobile accident in the fall of 2001, many members were devastated. Spencer was an exceptional golfer and had led the 1st St. golf team to several intramural championships. After Spencer's death, Hofstrom contacted UMD and began to initiate the paperwork necessary to develop a memorial scholarship in the Labovitz School of Business and Economics. As Larson puts it, "We had, years before, talked about developing a 1st St. Gang scholarship, but Bob was the one who did all the leg work. The death of one of our own put urgency into following up that dream. Many of us contributed hundreds of dollars to get it up and running. Now we promote it among ourselves, and when we contribute each year to the school, we designate the Geoff Spencer Scholarship." Today, the scholarship exists as an endowed fund. In addition, Tom takes on the coordination and planning of the annual 1st St. golf tournament as a fundraiser for the scholarship.

Giving and Goals
What motivates this kind of giving? Members remember that " ...Our UMD years were, by far, some of the best years of our lives. Those friendships have grown and solidified over 35 years." One member volunteered, "I know for a fact that if I was in trouble in any way, shape or form, I could call anyone of the core group and they would be there in a heartbeat." Ex-President Tom Larson recalls gratefully "UMD gave me a look at life... it also prepared me for a career in education and later educational administration. Professor Jackson Huntley was a personal inspiration to me and a terrific guide. He came to know the Gang as students and friends. We are still in contact today. I love UMD and the Duluth area and still consider it 'home' because this is where I really grew up."

The 1st St. Gang Geoff Spencer Memorial Scholarship began in the fall of 2001. Since its inception, it has awarded three $1,000 scholarships to deserving UMD students majoring in business and/or economics. Hofstrom states "our goal is to grow this endowment fund to the $100,000 level. If we can achieve this, it is our intent to increase the annual payout so that 1st St. will become the largest paid scholarship within the Labovitz School of Business and Economics." In closing, both Larson and Hofstrom plead - "In memory of Geoff, and of so many good years past, help us to help future students achieve their goals."

-- Jean Jacobson

Thanks to Tom Larson and Bob Hofstrom for generously sharing their memories and commitment. For more information on the Labovitz School's Goeff Spencer 1st St. Gang Memorial Scholarship, contact UMD Labovitz School Development Office at 218-726-6696.

Note -- UMD needs help identifying some of these individuals. Group Hockey Photo, Left: Front: Bob Hofstrom, Tim Moynihan, Tom Larson, Bill Behrenbrinker, and ? Back: Dick Wallace, Jim Sevescal, Dan Magnuson, ?, Bob Nelson, John Korsman, Dave Settergren, Tom Murray.
Group photo, Right, Front: Jan Bear. Row 1: Trish ?, Mary Peters, Karen Fritas, Tom Larson, Mary Sexton.
Row 2: Janey Amundson, Joan Majocik, Peggy Larsen, Steve Moers, Dave Rust, Scott Mauer, Bill Behrenbrinker, Ken Clemmens. Row 3: Dave Mattison, Becky Howard, Tom Rice.

Known 1st St. Members

We know there are more. Help us complete the list below and identifiy the rest of the people in the photos! Contact Lawrence Johnson, UMD Labovitz School Development Office at 218-726-6696, 866-311-1157, or email

Joanne Anderson, Rick Ahmann, Deb Backstrom, Jan Bear, Jim Beattie, Barry Becklin, Bob Becklin, Bill Behrinbrinker, Dave Bergstahler, Cary Bohn, Gary Bolenbaugh, John Bonk, Vern Booth, Nancy Brown, Terry Burkhart, Jim Bye, Tom Capolla, Nancy Chase, Reggie Chu, Dague Clark, Brad Clemen, Ken Clemens, Jim Couling, Heidi Davidson, Janie Demarais, Tom Demarais, Kay Dugall, Paul Dunbar, Terry Eggerdahl, Jane Elder, Liz Elder, Emmitt the Dog, Mike Forsyth, Wendy Forsyth, Jill Foster, Karen Frietas, Liz Gillen, Kevin Griffin, Barb Grossmann, Nancy Grossmann, Kathy Grumstrup, Lyman Haakstad, Steve Hamm, Eric Hanson, Doug Hartzler, John Haskell, Jeff Heidebrink, Mark Hennessey, Mary Hennessey, Bob Hofstrom, Sally Hokhanen, Bucky Howard, Carol Howard, Paul Howard, Tom Isaacson, Kelly Jackson, Kathy Jensen, Mark Johnson, Nancy Johnson, Scott Johnson, Neal Johnston, Sandy Johnston, Keith Jones, Guy Kadapodis, Karen Kahouteck, Jennie Keelor, Kathy Kennedy, John Kephart, Mervin Kiryluik, Jim Koester, John Korsman, Mike Koschak, Nancy Lake, Peggy Larson, Steve Larson, Susie Larson, Tom Larson, Mike Leuer, Bob Levy, Larry Lewellyn, Rick Lewellyn, Gregg Libbey, Mark Libbey, Nancy Libbey, Herb Lindberg, Joanie Lucker, Mary Lucker, Paula Lucker, Tom MacNamara, Dan Magnuson, Greg Mahalich, Steph Makowcskie, Greg Malone, Joanie Maschosiak, Nancy Mason, Dave Mattison, Scott Maurer, Sue McQueen, Howard Merriam, Jay Michaels, Steve Mooers, Vicki Mund, Tommy Murray, Tom Naughtin, Bob Nelson, Chris Nordmark, Chris Olson, Kathy Olson, Bobbi Otto, Kirk Otto, Jack Parker, Mary Peters, Bobby Peterson, Barb Phloog, Pattie Piper, Bill Potter, Bob Pratt, George Regis, John Renschler, Tom Rice, Chris Riegaard, Marty Rogers, Phil Rolle, Tom Rose, Dave Rust, Tim Rygg, Lenny Saari, Nancy Schellenberger, Tim Schmoin, Sue Schoening, Dan Schogren, Sandy Seashore, Christy Selvig, Jim Senescall, Dave Settergren, Dave Sexton, Mary Sexton, Billy Shea, Jackie Shefkte, Sue Siedell, Eddie Simonette, Mary Simonette, Rudy Sonstegard, Bill Sorteberg, Jeff Sowden, Scott Spahn, Geoff Spencer, Greg Spencer, Lynn Stalley, Randy Stinson, Elaine Strauss, Kent Sword, Mike Tagney, Kris Thorberg, Rochelle Tingy, Randy Travalia, Kevin Turnquist, Nancy Upgren, Greg Vitas, Dick Wallace, Chip Walters, Chuck Whalen, Dave Williams, Paul Winters, Kim Woofter, Terry Woog, Gail Wynia, Dan Zutz.





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