Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1950

It’s 1950 at Stephens and Dr. W.W. Charters is retiring.

He left an amazing legacy, having shaped the experiential learning that was and still is a hallmark of the curriculum. And his reputation is national—the Stephensophia yearbook tells us a two-day conference is held on campus in his honor with dignitaries from across the country in attendance.

Charters addresses the students in the yearbook by writing:

“For 38 years, I have actively participated in the evolution of Stephens College—for longer than any other living man. Particularly have I been interested in the flowing stream of young women—at the close of their protective period and on the threshold of independence—young, eager for new experiences, with an enormous potential of energy to lavish upon their accepted objectives. I have watched them grow with spectacular speed in the control of their common enterprises on the campus. I have been glad to participate in their growth by stressing the importance of efficiency in group enterprises and by helping them to evaluate their projects. We hope they have learned the techniques of improving social living by the efficient operation of group operation. The girls of Stephens do a wonderful job of governing a substantial community as they use the principles of democracy and the vision of their leaders. They are fulfilling the promise of youth.”

Plans are underway for the new chapel which will become Firestone Baars. Eero Saarinen, who designed the St. Louis Arch, of course, has already laid out the plans, although this drawing looks little like the building we see on Journey Plaza. We’re told “the utter simplicity of the building will stress the beauty of line, color, texture and light. The chapel will serve as a place of worship for all religious faiths.”

The Stephensophia tells us that Club ’50 has opened on the lower level of Senior Hall. It’s a lounge that features a juke box, snack bar and small dance floor.

The Stephens yearbooks are getting thicker as enrollment swells. The books are full of student photos and photos from a plethora of clubs on campus representing fashion, theatre, business, journalism, aviation and foreign languages.

A few great images from the yearbook:

While we can’t research everyone, we have discovered a few notable Stephens women from the 1950 yearbook.

Mary “Mel” Stribling is Civic Association president overseeing the student body. She would go on to be Mary Bouldin and went to the University of North Carolina before studying medicine at the University of Tennessee Medical School. She practiced gynecology and obstetrics in Memphis before becoming a clinician for a county health department. She received the Alumnae Achievement Award from Stephens in 1968. In 2005, a scholarship fund was set up in her honor (information from a 2005 Stephens Alumnae Newsletter prepared by Joy Katzen-Guthrie ’80).

Peggy Lee Nicholson is president of Burrall Cabinet, which continues to thrive with Vespers, services, a concert series and other events. Nicholson would go on to be Peggy Sadtler and head public relations at several Baltimore arts, medical and cultural organizations. She was active on the Stephens alumnae board.

And Caroline Dowell, this year’s Four-Fold Girl in our Stephensophia, made headlines a few years ago when she took ownership of Uno, a beagle and one of the most popular Westminster Kennel Club Best in Show winners.

In her address to the senior class, senior president Zoe Windham writes that “Stephens is not only a source for ‘fond memories’ in the future, it is an important basis for our living material. Whether or now we realize it, many of our experiences here, their outcomes and their teachings, have merged into us and shall permanently remain a vital influence on our everyday existence.”

The yearbook closes with a recap of the school year, including sketches, a feature that was popular in the earlier Stephens yearbooks. We thought it might spark some memories, so we’re reprinting it here:

In Retrospect It's May 30, 1950.

Another senior class at Stephens have just received their diplomas and are ready to strike out in the “wide, wide world.
But wait, they are almost ready, but not quite - now is the time to take a few quick, brief glimpses of the past year.

September 11 was the day that it rained Susies into Columbia and Stephens college. They poured in from all points of the compass looking forward to a big year, but with spirits (and persons) already dampened by the inclement Missouri weather. 
“Doesn't it ever shine in old Misery?”

“Hi, Joanie, have a nice summer? Swell to see you back. Come over to see me soon.”
For the seniors the first week was one of renewing old acquaintances and making new ones.

“All right, girls, hup, two, three, four-first to breakfast, then to see advisers and take tests, tests and more tests.”
 Remember, juniors-not even enough time to catch your breath.

“But, Roomo, I reckon you-all know that the lil' ole South won the Civil War.:”

“Oh, yeah, sez who?”

Uh, huh, there were periods of adjustments between roommates, weren't there? . . . four weeks later. Arrival .. ..
Green Ribbon week, White Sunday, the barbecue, the field men's stunt, our Mrs. Rainey singing for us -it was all so long ago. The first convocation, announcement of the Junior Steering committee, teas and coffees, concerts and lectures-they came and went in a rapid-fire succession.
Then there were coke dates of all descriptions, Pan-Hel rush and Advising Day. “Hey, anybody see Jackie Smith? She has red hair and is wearing a purple ribbon in her hair?”
“Quick, did we make the same sorority?”

“IPR's-gosh, what a way to ruin a gal's life!”

Mention Tiger Night, football games at MU, beautiful October days, parties at Pop Collins', SAB-WCO carnival and memories immediately re- turn.

“Waltz me around again, honey. This is wonderful.”

And it was, too-the first formal dance, the Autumn Ball.

“My goodness, here it is November and almost time for Thanksgiving. Let's go to Junior Feature Night and hear the class primary candidates. Wonder if we will ever have a Stop Day?”

By the way, we did have that longed-for Stop Day the eleventh of November!
That was also the date of the WCO auction that started the Student Chest Drive rolling. Breakfast in bed, a trip to St. Louis, lunch served by Dr. Prunty and many other things could be purchased for a nominal fee. It was fun for us and would benefit someone needy, in turn.

Later on in November came the installation of the junior officers. They're on their own now! Thanksgiving morning arrived with the junior-senior hockey game. It was a fight to the finish. The day was topped with a turkey dinner and all the trimmings by candlelight.

“Dear Mom, it will only be three weeks and I will be home for Christmas vacation. We're sure going to be busy these remaining days. There's the Frozen Fantasy (Independent Christmas formal), Pan-Hel formal, Can Sunday, Christmas dinner followed by the traditional concert chorus holiday program and a special Vespers service. And, of course, there are always a few books to crack.”

“Gee, it was good to be home. So many things to talk about.” There were, too-new diamonds and pins given by favorite boy friends.
“Oh, no, it can't be the end of the first semester. Why, I have 72 hours of outside reading to get in, three 5000-word themes to write, ten book reports to get in by Saturday and six semester exams to top it all off!”

Familiar words, weren't they?

That closet sure got stuffy about 3 in the morning. Lights beamed their lonely way across a tired campus every night for a week.

“This new semester will be different. We will work now and play later.”

Wonder if we stuck to that resolution?

February was a short, but full month. Spring elections bring to mind a vision of girls in jeans, faces smeared with paint, running here and there. For a few days the campus was well-decorated with signs and posters. Every blue room echoed with campaign songs and ditties. The carnival spirit of the Mardi Gras pervaded the campus when Tau Sigma Tau sponsored the annual dance. Pan-Hel Day and the Junior-Senior banquet were also on the February agenda as well as the Independent Valentine dance.
Plays at the Playhouse are but still another memory. “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “All My Sons” and “Ascent of F-6” were only a few presented this year.

March brought both the flu bug to Columbia and the announcement of the 1950-51 campus officers. Seniors stepped aside to train their successors for their jobs. The Independent spring formal was left behind and March blew right into Spring Rest before you could say, “Stephens college, Columbia, Missouri!”
“Two months left in this school year. Where have the others gone? So little time left and so much to do.”

April came in with its lovely, lulling weather- snow. Easter, leadership convos, Junior Prom, Senior Independent dinner dance, more recitals and concerts, style show, Play Day, PWC horse show, Pan-Hel formal-all these events and more contributed to the hustle-bustle of the school daze.

“May is here. The weather is wonderful. Why study? Let's sunbathe instead!”

Run to picnics, rush to dinners, hurry to the last cultural events, loaf in the dorms, drag to Commencement and Baccalaureate practice, bone for semester exams, relax and listen to the last Vespers, swing around the dance floor at the Commencement Ball, jog out to the Horse Show and, at last, march up the aisle to receive an award or a diploma.

“Good-bye, Mary. So long, Janie. Be sure to write. Have fun this summer and next year. It's been swell. Thanks for everything, roomo, and 'bye for now.”

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