All That Brass

Turns out there are many campus plaques we never knew about.


1. Mother Figure?

This memorial on the east side of the Duck Store honors the life of Victoria “Hatoon” Adkins, who said her name meant “Mother of All People.” A fixture around campus from the late 1960s until her death in 2005, Hatoon lived outside Knight Library for many years, keeping her worldly belongings in a shopping cart and exercising at the Student Rec Center, where she had a special membership pass. She later moved her sleeping quarters to a bench surrounding an oak tree near the bookstore. Although she suffered from mental illness, her optimism, caring nature, and listening skills made her a treasured friend to many.


2. Shack Rats 

The plaque that first piqued our curiosity commemorates early journalism students, who studied from 1912 to 1954 (an era they called “Shackdom”) in crowded McClure Hall. In the 1920s, a wooden structure was erected next to McClure to house student overflow and provide space for the Oregon Daily Emerald staff, who called themselves the “Shack Rats.” By the mid-1940s, McClure Hall became so run down and crowded that it was replaced with a Quonset hut, also home to the ODE and the Shack Rats. The era of Shackdom finally came to an end with the completion of Allen Hall in 1954.


3. Kincaid Field

The precursor to Hayward Field, Kincaid Field was the UO’s athletic field from about 1902 until 1922. Located on what is now the Memorial Quadrangle, it was home to many hotly contested football games and track-and-field events. The field had drainage problems, and in a classic 1916 game against Washington, a scoreless tie resulted from the ball being so slick with mud that it was impossible to hold. Oregon fumbled 11 times and Washington fumbled 12. This plaque, dedicated in 1921 to the athletes who played there, can be found on a sidewalk near the northwest corner of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.


4. Hot Dogs and Advice 

The “Hot Dog Lady” plaque, located at 13th Avenue and Kincaid Street across from the Duck Store, memorializes Judy “Cookie” Szakacs, who opened one of Eugene’s first food carts in 1981. From One Bad Dog, she sold hotdogs for about 15 years until she died of an aneurism at the age of 52. “She sold hot dogs, pop, and advice,” her husband Robert said in an Oregon Daily Emerald story. “But [the advice] was free, of course. The kids would come to her when they had problems and needed a listening ear.”


5. Where’s the Plaque?

We vote for a new plaque to commemorate Carson’s Lake, a long-gone pond in a former wetland area now occupied by McKenzie Hall. The site of many tugs of war and other water games, the pond was named somewhat derisively after Luella Clay Carson, professor of English and elocution. Carson, dean of women from 1885 to 1909, was ever vigilant about proper conduct. Over time, this site gathered unwanted drainage from neighboring areas and became a haven for mosquitoes. It was filled with dirt from excavations for Johnson Hall in 1914–15.

By Rosemary Howe Camozzi