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Walter H. Roeder
University Library

(Originally published in The Cal Poly Scholar, vol. 4, fall 1991)


  Poly Vue   The Rose Parade Float
  Movie Stars and Movies   Student Statistics
  Gabrielino Indian Metates    

Poly Vue

The first annual Poly Vue was held April 29-30, 1939 at the Voorhis Unit in San Dimas which was then the southern branch of the California State Polytechnic School at San Luis Obispo. Poly Vue was patterned after Poly Royal which started in 1933 at the SLO campus.

Organizing the first Poly Vue was a major event for the Voorhis Unit which opened in September 1938 with 80 students and 5 faculty. The all male college offered majors in agricultural inspection, citriculture, deciduous fruits, and landscape gardening. The 1939 program outlined some of the reasons for Poly Vue - it will be an annual occasion for alumni to return to visit with their former classmates; for parents it will be a day to be shown the work being done by their sons and to become personally acquainted with instructors and for everyone to see the exhibits, displays, demonstrations and contests (water polo, volleyball, baseball and also the women's plant identification contest). The crowning of Miss Poly Vue and the coronation ball closed out the program. Miss Poly Vue and her court came from local colleges until 1961 when women were admitted to Cal Poly.

Poly Vue has been held annually except for 1943-1945 when World War II forced the closure of the Voorhis campus and 1970 when because of anti-Vietnam War demonstrations Governor Ronald Reagan closed all California state colleges and universities for a four day period

Today Poly Vue is a combination open house and a spring celebration. In 1990 a record 175 exhibits were presented to thousands of visitors to the campus. Festivities included a pancake breakfast, a Grand Prix soap-box derby, 36 food concessions, tram tours of the campus, and an Arabian Horse Show, with a carnival and dance as the closing events.

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Movie Stars and Movies

W.K. Kellogg's Arabian Horse Ranch, which eventually became the California State Polytechnic College, Kellogg-Voorhis campus and then Cal Poly University, was visited by many Hollywood stars who came to the ranch to be photographed with horses in the 1920s and 1930s. Mr. Kellogg was a marketing genius who spent money on advertising in newspapers and magazines to promote cereal sales. A mix of movie stars and horses was a natural tie-in for the Kellogg Company.

Earl H. ("Spider" or "Spide") Rathbun, who had a background in advertising and theatrical work, consulted with Mr. Kellogg and then came to California to start the campaign. Clara Bow, the "it" girl, was the first Hollywood personality to visit the ranch. She was followed by such stars as: Mary Pickford, Gary Cooper, Tom Mix, Will Rogers, Loretta Young, and Olivia de Havilland. One of the movie stars went on to become governor of California and president of the United States. Mary Jane Parkinson, in her book The Kellogg Arabian Ranch, quotes the following statement from Ronald Reagan:

I once had a couple of publicity pictures taken of the late Marie Wilson and myself at the ranch with some of the beautiful horses. I have searched through everything and can no longer find those photos. I knew of the ranch, of course as did everyone in Southern California in those days. My only experience there was this session of publicity pictures, seeing the horses and all. My great regret was, being an old ex-cavalryman, that I was never permitted to get on one.

Parts of three films were shot on two of the Cal Poly campuses. The original Arabian Horses Stable, which is now Union Plaza, was used for "The Rains of Ranchipur," a 1955 movie starring Lana Turner and Richard Burton and "Tip on a Dead Jockey," a 1957 film with Robert Taylor and Dorothy Malone. The chapel on the Voorhis campus was used for "The Sandpiper," which featured Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

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Gabrielino Indian Metates

A metate is a shallow grinding bowl in which nuts and seeds were ground by milling with a small stone held in the hand and moved in a rhythmic motion. The meal produced by the grinding was an important staple in the Indian diet.

In May 1974 two metates were discovered when construction workers were digging the foundation for the College of Science building. Anthropologists estimate that the metates could be anywhere from 200 to 7,000 years old. The bowls were unearthed along an alluvial plane indicating that they could have been washed down from the area now occupied by the Mount San Antonio Junior College where the existence of an established Indian encampment has been verified. It is believed that the Gabrielino Indians visited the area which is now the Cal Poly campus in search of acorns.

The two metates are stored in the University Archives. The measurements and weights of the metates are:

length 23" width 13" depth 4" and weight 55 pounds
length 24" width 15" depth 5" and weight 65 pounds

They will be placed on display when the University Library completes construction of the Arabian Horse/Archives/Special Collection Room sometime in the future.

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The Rose Parade Float

The Cal Poly float entered in the annual Pasadena tournament of Roses Parade is seen by a world wide television audience of over 350 million people and also by thousands of spectators who line the parade route. A Cal Poly Voorhis Unit student, Don Miller, is credited with being the impetus for an entry in the parade. In 1948, Miller, with the assistance of a relative who had a connection with the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association was able to get an invitation to participate in the 1949 parade. Miller accepted the invitation and got approval from Julian McPhee, President of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Harold Wilson, Dean of the Voorhis Unit.

Don Miller organized a group of students and faculty who grew flowers and built the first float. The cost of the float was about $250. Some of the money was raised by selling twenty Rose Bowl tickets at $5.50 each to the students who did the most work on the float. The theme of the parade was Childhood Memories and Cal Poly's entry was a rocking horse which did not rock. Three children rode on the float. Chip Batcheller, son of Oliver "Jolly" Batcheller, Professor, Ornamental Horticulture, rode in the horse's saddle. His sister, Beth was seated on the base of the float with Donna Weeks. This float won an Award of Merit and started an amazing collection of 38 awards for Cal Poly including more animation awards than any other participant in parade history. In only four years (1984, 1985, 1987, and 1990) has Cal Poly failed to win an award.

The creation of the rose float is a joint effort by the students from Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. It is the only float in the parade which is entirely designed, constructed , decorated and financed by student volunteers. The annual process of float building begins in February when a float design contest is held. The committees from the two campuses select the winning design then each campus constructs half of the float. In December SLO sends their half to Pomona where they are joined together and decorating begins. Most of the flowers (60-70%) are grown on the two campuses; others are bought or bartered for. Volunteers work an estimated 2,500 hours on the float. In 1990 the Pomona ASI (Associated Students Incorporated) allocated $14,000 for the float with the rest the funds coming from local business donations. It has been estimated that it would cost $100,000 to 250,000 to build a float from scratch to-day.

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Student Statistics

The Cal Poly Pomona student population has increased dramatically from an enrollment of 80 students in 1938 to 19,472 in the fall of 1990. Women were first admitted to Cal Poly in 1961 when 322 coeds joined a student body of 2,436 men. In 1990 men still outnumbered women 58% to 42%.

Data prepared by the University Office of Analytical Studies shows the diversity of ethnic groups on campus: Asian 25.4%; Chicano 13.5% and Filipino 4.9%. The percentages of Caucasian students (46.5%) and Black students (3.7%) have shown decreases in recent years.

In 1990 Cal Poly had 620 foreign students who came from 69 countries. This was an 8.0% increase from 1989. Men comprised 62% of the foreign student population, 38% were women.

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