The accompanying poem, "Those Fantastic Forties" calls to mind many memories.
I will share a few of them, some of them difficult to believe, but I vow that they are true.
My days at Fort Hays State began in the fall of 1939 as a freshman when we were a college of 1,008 students. Times were of a Depression with little, if any, money for anyone. I lived my freshman and sophomore years in Lewis Field where there were approximately 300 of us, all men.
There was only one car in this entire group, a man who had been in the Navy for several years being the owner. We of Lewis Field took our meals at Cody Commons, the building which has been revamped and added to, now known as the Memorial Union. We were provided 20 meals per week, Sunday evenings being the missing one. Rent at Lewis Field was $5 per month and the meals $12 per month, making our total cost for board and room $17 per month,
Tuition was much less than it is today. My first semester's total tuition for 15 credit hours was $28. I worked 48 hours per month in Hugh Burnett's office as a typist and runner of a mimeograph machine at 25 cents per hour for a total of $12 per month, which left $5 per month to dig up for my room and board. How did we travel to get home? We hitch-hiked. And how did we got our laundry done? We sent it home to let our mothers do it. We each had a small suitcase-type package that was mail-durable.
What did we do for enjoyment? We had no money, so we made our fun. We played touch football, baseball, softball, horseshoes, etc. Occasionally, we went to a movie at 20 cents a shot. And we had no way to escort the girls but to walk.
Lewis Field consisted of the present-day stadium where the main portion of the men stayed, and the rest of us were housed in what were originally horse barns and sold to Fort Hays State from the Golden Belt Fair Association.
You might say we "roughed it" in these wooden buildings. There were three rooms in each of them, the middle one being the only room with heat and was where we could study. The two end rooms were the bedrooms where there were four double-decker cots for eight men to sleep, Yes, it did get cold. More than once we saw snow on the floor when the windows, which were hinged on the side, would swing open.
These Lewis Field men have continued to be a close-knit group and have made important names for themselves. Most of them served in the armed forces during World War II, and a number of them gave their all. There are only a few of us left today, and we try to get as many as possible of them back for homecoming.
I hope you will enjoy this poem, "Those Fantastic Forties."
Baby Snooks, Big Little Books
Amy Gangbusters, who caught the crooks
Fireside chats and Easter hats
Those crazy dancers called "hip cats"
Major Bowes gang, a Kate Smith song
Dorothy Lamour and her sarong
"Hick" Haymes and Harry James
And "Leo the Lip" at Dodgers games
A war bond rally and Rudy Vallee
And Mrs. Nussbaum of "Allen's Alley"
Amos 'n' Andy, Mahatma Ghandi
Little Orphan Annie and her dog "Sandy"
Errol Flynn and Gunga Din
Evelyn and her "Magic Violin"
Rosemary Clooney and Mickey Rooney
Louis Pasteur was really Paul Muni
Count Basie, Goerge Burns and Gracie
That wonderful team of Hepburn and Tracy
Joel McCrea and Turham Bay
Jack Benny and his Maxwell and Dennis Day
Gable was king, Benny Goodman was swing
The Andrews Sisters could really sing
The Burma Hump, the One O'clock Jump
and that chinless wonder, Andy Gump
Priscilla Lane and "Mule Train"
And those westerns starring Big John Wayne
Milton Berle and Minnie Pearl
And Betty Grable, the "Pin-Up Girl"
The London Blitz and Messerschmitts
The Katzenjammer Kids were Hans and Fritz
Vic Damone's "To Each His Own"
and Garbo "Vanted to be alone"
Louis Prima and Hiroshima
And raising the flag on Iwo Jima
Frankenstein, the Maginot Line
The "Breakfast Club" each morning at nine
Vaughn Monroe and "Vinegar Joe"
Lifebuoy really stopped B.O.
Blind dates and Ford V-8's
And there were only 48 states
A rumble seat and Cream of Wheat
"Bull" Halsey commanded the Seventh Fleet
A Pepsodent smile was right in style
Like "Your Hit Parade's" it's "So Long for a While.
by Marion Bibbons, from Reminisce magazine, Jan./Feb. 1994.
Arris Johnson, Hays, is a member of the Generations Advisory Group.