It’s 1959 in our Look Back series, and it’s the beginning of another era for the College.
It’s Seymour Smith’s first year as president. He comes to the College from Yale, where he taught after studying divinity. Spoiler: He will go on to serve nearly 20 years, will transform Stephens into a four-year college and will later write “The Education of Fifty Thousand Women: A Reflection of Stephens College, 1958-1974.”
And even though he’s new this year, he already has a following. The Stephensophia yearbook staff writes:
We're with Smith The biggest smile in Missouri ... the man who is impressed by and works for change ... the down-to-earth president who is never too busy to help his Susies further their personal education ... the Eloise man ... the leader who is cheerful, witty, full of modern ideas ... the prexy who dreams of a school whose purpose is not to teach, but to learn . . . the chief who studies his school . .. a man who goes for the unusual, yet holds to the basic traditions ... the man who, with emphatic hand motions, affirms his belief that Stephen's education should be dedicated to the growth of a woman... WE'RE WITH SMITH
The yearbook this year is all about change. It’s full of photos with little text, and what copy there is is dedicated to reflection and memories (rather than information about programs and people). There are quotes such as “Times change and we change with them” throughout the book, almost as if this last class of the 1950s knew the 60s were going to change everything.
In fact, we’re told the “Greatest Tradition of Stephens is Change.” The staff writes:
There is only one girl on campus and her name is Susie. She had many good times and you were with her. You shared her laughter and her tears. You went everywhere with her. She worked and played and dreamed with you. You crammed for mid-terms and finals with her. She double-dated with you in the Grill. You tiptoed down the aisle with her at Vespers. You studied in the library with her. You whispered confidences to her late at night. You got her mail for her and she got yours for you. She praised your achievements and sympathized with your failures. She sang, "Way Down in Missouri" with you. She got cookies from home and you ate half. She went on a diet and you counted calories too. Together you went to the plays, the operas and the lectures. She watched the regulations change and you did too. Together you pictured the Stephens of 1999 as the new dorms arose. She sobbed at the last convo and you promised never to forget. She listened for the Bell and you listened too. Together you walked past the chapel on your way to graduation. You study this, your picture book of Stephens and remember all the traditions of which you were a part. While recalling all the changes that took place. You concentrate and reminisce, for You are Susie.
And this is a great description of life on campus (with apparently a lot of gawking Tigers):
SCENES AT THE TRAINS . . . President and Mrs. Smith surveying the arrivals . . . landing of the new recruits ... Seniors hunting Juniors . . . mass invasion of exhausted, wrinkled Susies-to-be . . . mad shuffle of luggage . .. beanies . . . stuffed animals . . riot of color ... air electric with tension ... SOUNDS AT THE TRAIN... "Look at all the silly hats!" .. . "Where's Stephens?" ... "I wanna go home!" . . . "Gads, how many juniors are there?" . .. "I thought you dressed like a lady here." . . . "Hey, that's just three of my suitcases, where's the other four?" ... SCENES ON THE CAMPUS ... Senior Pals waiting, shifting feet . . . M.U. men looking, looking, looking . . . empty rooms and over- flowing trunks ... everyone standing patiently, patiently ... SOUNDS ON THE CAMPUS . . . "Where are the darn buses?". "Hold it men, here they come ... mmmm-m-m-m" . . . "You mean you all came in one taxi?"... "And this is your home away from home." . . . "Meet your senior sister." . . . "What did you say your name was?" ...
And, finally, this gives us a glimpse into the world circa 1959:
Changing Scenes. WORLD: The Berlin Crisis and the controversial American occupation make Willy Brandt, Berlin's young mayor, an international figurehead . . . Castro and Batista arouse political emotions of the young and the old ... The restless force of negro nationalism sweeps through Africa and breaks out in riots, reprisals, and bloodshed in Nayasaland. U.S.A.: Senatorial Committees investigate crimes - reveal coast-to-coast syndicates, implicate McCullen . . .Cancer, the dreaded enemy, temporarily halts the career of distinguished John Foster Dulles . . . Ike signs a senate bill and adds two stars, Alaska and Hawaii, to the flag... The Little Rock integration squabble calls out the National Guard and brings criticism to Governor Fabus. SCIENCE: The world watches the international race for supremacy in the commercial jet airline transportation . . . Excelerated missle [sic] program-Thor, Vanguard, and Regulus zoom through outer space . . . The nuclear submarine, Nautilus, makes headlines as it skims the ocean floor beneath the North Pole . .. The latest American satellite relays vital statistics from its orbit around the sun to the earth. SPORTS: World Pole Vault record crumbles as Don Bragg uses his powerful arms to lift himself over a 15 feet 9 1/2 inch bar ... Silver Spoon wins Santa Anita Derby and is favored for the Kentucky classic . . . John Thomas, Boston University freshman, shatters high jump record, new mark, 7 feet 11/4 inches ... Roy Campanello, famed Dodger catcher, injured in an automobile accident, struggles to regain the use of his paralyzed arms.
ENTERTAINMENT: Susies rave about Jack Parr's subtle sense of humor... the first lady of the jazz world, the fabulous Ella Fitzgerald . .. Pat Boone, the boy you wish lived next door . . . sexy sensation, Paul Newman .. .the favorite collegiate crooners, Kingston Trio.... fascinating Auntie Mame and her "top drawer girl." FASHION: High fashion reflection of the twenties, the chemise boufante, empire, skirts and matching hairdos . . .hound's tooth checks and ever popular shirtwaists . . . shocking floral prints and pointed-toe T-straps with pencil thin heels . . short, short skirts... raccoon coats ... versatile Mu Mu. INFLUENCES: Sounds of North Beach and Frisco . . .poetry and jazz infect the nation . . . Bruebeck falls from King to lowly noble . . . Picasso's abstract murals and Joan Miro's new titles cause a revolution in the art world ... Dylan Thomas's influence spreads... Carl Sandburg creates a new Chicago. STEPHENS: Later hours on weekends, but no late dates . . .The greatest addition in two centuries, President Smith . . .Re- form movement brings relaxed jurisdiction . . . The self study emphasizes Stephen's improvement . . .Siesta three day a week . . . Dreams of the future begin with the 40 year plan.
The “King and I” production, hosted by Burrall Symphony Orchestra, was a big deal on campus this year. It starred Annamary Dickey, the theatre star who played in the original Broadway production.
The Aviation Club reached a milestone this year, becoming a chapter of the national honorary aviation fraternity, Alpha Eta Rho.
Among the notable ’59 seniors is Constance Mertz, who this year is the Ideal of Self Discipline. She would go on to be Constance Freeman and raised and showed quarter horses.
“Claude” Sutherland, president of the Civic Association, is Claudette Sutherland, who went on to Yale and enjoyed a theatrical and television career. She now teaches creative writing.
Some more photos from this very photo-heavy issue of the Stephensophia: