Remember When?

’50s Alumni Share Their Memories of Campus Life

Sweetheart Circle

Many of us remember college as some of the best years of our life. Do you remember what Georgia Southern University was like when you were a student? What did you do to have a good time? Georgia Southern magazine asked Eagle alumni and former students to share their favorite memories of campus life in the 1950s. Here is what they wrote.

Dave Esmonde (’54 -’58)

Major in Math

This past spring, I was asked to attend a baseball game at Georgia Southern. My wife (the former Ruth Bennett, class of ’57) and I accepted the invitation along with several family members. The purpose was to honor and recognize the 1957 Georgia Teachers College (GTC) baseball team for being the first baseball team in school history to participate in the NCAA National Championship Tournament. We won one game and lost two. I hit a 2-run home run in our 5-3 victory over George Washington University. Returning to where it all began prompted me to reminisce about my days at GTC, now Georgia Southern University.

My memories include the overwhelming friendliness of GTC college kids, the beauty of the campus (which was then just “Sweetheart Circle”), pine trees, pecan trees, azaleas and numerous other plants that were beautifully groomed.

President Zach Henderson was our leader and he met with us every Monday morning at a required chapel service to “get our minds right.” The fall quarter was the initiation for freshmen and was called “Rat Quarter.” This was great fun. Dorm life was chaotic, and I loved it! I always said I learned more there than in class. Chow hall was fantastic for me; I learned to eat grits, greens and other Southern favorites. Campus entertainment included activities in the old gym including informal dancing one night a week and the occasional formal dance.

My most memorable moment came in December 1955 when I got up the courage to approach a girl on the steps of the Admin building to ask her for a date. It worked! Ruth Bennett and I were married in June 1957 just two weeks after her graduation and after my experience in the NCAA Tourney. Ruth and I still keep in touch with many, many close college friends.

I played baseball for four years, playing in all but one game with a career batting average of .310 and hitting third in the line-up for Coach Clements. We are pleased that several family members including our son Kyle and his wife Linda Esmonde, and our granddaughter Melanie McKnight, have attended and graduated from Georgia Southern. Our love for GS is steadfast!

Jackie Mikell Yates (’53 -’57)

Major in Health and Physical Education

M.Ed in Counseling and Guidance (’68)

I was a Statesboro girl, but the only nights I spent at home while attending Georgia Teachers College were when the dorms closed for the holidays and during summer break. Had I been a commuting student, I would have missed out on so much campus life where everything was “approved by Mose Bass” — dorm life; socializing on Sweetheart circle after chow in Anderson Hall; Friday night movies in the Ad Building; Saturday night dances in the gym; study dates in the library; nightly breaks at the Blue Tide; signing in and out for dates; hitching rides to town, and of course curfew for the girls.

Places to go on dates were rather limited – movies, the drive-in, the Grill, the Skate-R-Bowl (where you could dance, skate or bowl), basketball/baseball games or just sit on benches on Sweetheart Circle. Only a few students had cars so we did lots of things within walking distance of campus or either hitched a ride. People in town would drive around Sweetheart Circle just to give us a lift.

I was a PE Major so I spent lots of my free time keeping the scores for men’s intramural sports. During holidays and breaks, I worked for Dean Paul Carroll hand-posting grades on report cards. No computers back then.

Gabriel, the First Baptist Church bus, would circle Sweetheart Circle “blowing the horn” to pick students up for a ride to
Sunday services.

Food was great in the dining hall – town people came out to eat on Sundays after church. The fried chicken was a favorite and tea was truly Southern — extremely sweet! You knew the dining hall was about ready to close when you saw Marvin Vanover finally walk in with sleep wrinkles still on his face.

Mose Bass was a campus legend. He “approved everything” and loved “his boys” in both Sanford and Cone Halls. Waked them up in the mornings, made them study and he got them off to class. He invited lots of the guys to his home on weekends where Mrs. Bass would fry fish and cook supper for them. My brother-in-law was one of the lucky guys to get treated by the Bass family. Wonderful years and beautiful memories! Wouldn’t trade them for anything!

Jan Deal Hendrix (’56 -’58)

Major in Education

I started at Georgia Teachers College in the summer of 1956 and continued until 1958. I transferred to UGA where I graduated in 1961. I met my husband there who was in pharmacy school and I began teaching in 1959 without my degree. Teachers were really needed during those days, so it didn’t seem to matter that I had not completed my bachelor’s in education. I taught in Catoosa County for 31 years and one year in Whitfield County. During those years I added media to my certification and for the last 22 years was the media specialist at Ringgold High School.

During my time at GTC, we had a great basketball team as well as a really good baseball team, which almost all our students supported. I remember the ‘bag lunches’ on Sunday night – not great but warded off starvation. Seems as if I remember a piece of fruit and a sandwich. One thing that was a MUST was chapel every week and we sat in alphabetical order by classes. My cousin, Julian Deal, and I sat next to each other and formed a lasting relationship. I would not give up those years at GTC for anything. Such good lasting friendships.

Angelyn Sims Price (’50 -’53)

Major in Home Economics

Upon arrival on campus in September 1950, the first order of business was meeting my housemother and assigned roommate. My roommate, Shirley Smith, was to remain a lifelong friend. Very early we learned of the rules and regulations that would control our conduct for the freshmen year. Study time from 7-10 during weekday evenings and lights out at 11 p.m. Freshmen girls had to sign out when leaving campus and were allowed only one night a week away from campus. Each floor of the dorms had monitors who reported to the housemother if any rules were broken. After six call-downs you were sent to the dean and you could be expelled for multiple infractions.

There were many opportunities for participation in your special interest group. We had a philharmonic choir and three different bands. The Masquers was a drama club and every chosen major had a club. There were four Christian organizations. Our social life was limited to the Little Store on campus. If you wanted to attend the movie theater downtown you could walk or thumb a ride.

Our men’s basketball team and cheerleaders were very popular and did much to boost campus morale. During the spring, we had a baseball team. Members of those two teams were members of the T Club. And that was one organization that continued to have annual reunions for the remainder of their lives. Many lasting friendships were forged with athletes from the later years. I met my husband of 52 years, Charles Sims, at Georgia Teachers College and I have many happy memories of courting at Sweetheart Circle. We all cherish the memories, and it has been great to reminisce about those good years. Some of the best years of our lives!

John (Johnny) Mallard (’49 -’53)

Major in Physical Education

The year was 1949 and the little boy from the small town of Sardis, Georgia, embarked on a big adventure. He was going to The Big City of Statesboro to attend Georgia Teachers College. We were greeted by Aunt Sophie and Mose Bass. Sanford Hall was going to be my home for four years. Aunt Sophie was like our mother and Mose Bass our dad. You’d better shape up for them.

My freshman year was filled with a lot of harassment. We had to wear beanie caps and dress (costume) as the upperclassmen demanded on certain days. Videos from that era would have been terrific if technology had been around. Next year, we would be sophomores and then we could be the “Demanders of Dress.”

All of us had to adapt to the older guys as they were veterans from World War II and had come back to get degrees. Sanford Hall was the men’s dorm but the girls’ three dorms seem to have been where most of the hanging out took place. There were only six or seven cars on campus, so much of the getting around was walking or thumbing rides. Some of us had to work for extra spending money and for school, so I worked wherever I could. The college paid 50 cents an hour and we were proud to get it. I worked in the dining hall, the baseball field and picked up laundry for local cleaners.

In my first year playing baseball, we played at the City Field behind the old state patrol station on 301 North. My sophomore year, we started working on a new ball diamond (now Clements Field) and I ended up getting work building it and played in the first game on the new field. Since I went to summer school each summer, I played only three years for Coach Clements. We all were worried about the pending draft into the military so we were trying to finish as fast as we could. Since I would not be in school that spring to play in my final year, Coach Clements talked to a minor league coach in Florida needing players, and I went to play ball with the Florida State League.

The many friends I made during these years are still some of the best people you can meet. We have been blessed on lots of occasions to get together through the years with them and our families. My family and I have settled back to Statesboro for the past 20 years and enjoy what Georgia Teachers College has now become — Georgia Southern University. We enjoy all the sports at the college since my life has always been around sports. But we also enjoy all the other great things that Georgia Southern and the surrounding area offer to us.

Larry Hyde (’55 -’58)

Major in Physical Education

I had just finished four years in the U.S. Navy, and with the GI Bill, I could afford to go to college. Sam Powell, a childhood friend, and I chose to attend Georgia Teachers College (GTC) primarily because his brother taught English and was director of public relations at the college. I sort of had playing basketball in the back of my mind, but when I was introduced to Coach J.B. Scearce, he informed me that I was too short. That began what was to be an unusual relationship and friendship between the two of us.

To really describe my experience at GTC is beyond me. The people I met were so different from the sailors I had been with for four years. But like the military veterans, they were seeking education and hoping to make the world a better place to live. There were around 1,000 students at the time. I have always said they formed the foundation on which Georgia Southern University stands today.

How many of you remember Mose Bass? He was the janitor of Cone Hall while I was at GTC. A finer person could not be found on campus. I never heard a derogatory comment about him made by anyone while I was there. Very few people know the 1955 Reflector was “approved by Mose Base.” He was a great person.

Who can ever forget those wonderful meals in the dining hall? You never had to wonder what we were having because the food was always the same. I learned to hate fried chicken when I was taking a course in anatomy. We had labs on Tuesday and Wednesday and guess what we had for supper? Fried chicken! But the food was good, and the staff did a good job.

According to The Southern Century Mose Bass was more than a custodian to Georgia Southern students. The friend and counselor to many retired in 1967 after 38-years of service on the Statesboro Campus.
Dean of Men Sophie Johnson was often referred to as“Aunt Sophie,” who through the years gave “Her Boys” invaluable advice.

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