Interview with Violet Rians and Lloyd Solomon



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Oral history interview with Illinois State Normal University alums Violet Rians and Lloyd Solomon, Class of 1947. The interview was conducted in October 1982 by Lynn Stankiewicz of the Student Alumni Council.

Rians reflects on the scarcity of male students at ISNU during the 1940s due to many young men being in military service, as well as the conversion of the women’s dormitory to Navy V-12 housing. She recalls a generally friendly atmosphere among students and faculty. Solomon describes the challenges of finding housing for himself and his wife and the relief of being able to utilize the GI Bill for tuition.

They discuss notable professors such as Mrs. Pricer, Mrs. Henderson, and Miss Flagg, highlighting their impactful teaching styles. Rians mentions various university figures like Dean Keaton, Dr. Carrington, and Dr. Regina Connell, emphasizing their roles in student support and activities.

Memories of extracurricular activities like club events, dances, and assembly programs are shared. Popular campus entertainment included movies, dances, and club activities. Services available to students included health exams, placement assistance, and limited counseling. The interviewees reminisce about prices of goods and services, campus boundaries, and typical modes of dress in 1947. Significant national events during their time included World War II and the death of President Roosevelt. Tobacco and alcohol use were restricted on campus, with strict consequences for violations.

The interviewees fondly remember the camaraderie among students and faculty, the beauty of Milner Library, and the removal of Old Main's dome. Humorous anecdotes include a snowy walk home from a dance and the endeavor to gather newspapers for a bonfire after a football game against Illinois Wesleyan University.

Interview Date


Biographical Statement

Violet Margaret Rosenthal (1925-2014) was born to Otto and Philomena (Drda) Rosenthal in Mt. Olive, Illinois. At Illinois State Normal University she majored in elementary education, graduating in 1947. While a student, she served as president of Newman Club and filled a number of positions on Student Council, including seats on the Advisory Board, House Presidents’ Board, War Service Board, War Funds Board, and Student Service Board. Violet was also member of the Women’s League.

After graduation, she worked as a reference librarian at Bradley University in Peoria during the summer while teaching elementary school during the school year. She married Gerald Rians in 1957; they would go on to have three daughters together. Violet taught 5th and 6th grade at Garfield Grade School in District 150 (Peoria, Illinois) for the majority of her career.

Lloyd Dale Solomon (1917-1999) was born to Everet and Elsie (Redfern) Solomon in rural Macoupin County, Illinois. He earned a 2-year teaching diploma from Illinois State Normal University in 1940, then taught for a short time at Holben Rural School in Taylorville, Illinois before enlisting in the army in June 1941. He spent eight months as an air force cadet training at Hamilton Army Airfield in California and Fort Francis E. Warren in Wyoming before deploying to Australia in March 1942. In all, he served 35 months in the Pacific theater of World War II before receiving his discharge at the rank of sergeant in October 1945. Three months earlier, in July of that year, he had married Erma Gill; they would later go on to have three daughters together.

Solomon reentered ISNU in 1946 on the GI Bill, finally graduating with his bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1947. He later went on to receive a master’s degree from the University of Illinois, having also done graduate work at the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado, Boulder. After teaching a year in the Maroa School District in 1946, Solomon returned to the Taylorville area and took a job at Hewitt School. In 1957, he became principal of that school, a position he retained for twelve years. At the time of his retirement in 1981 the school had recently been renamed South Elementary School.

Interview with Violet Rians and Lloyd Solomon