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Man in the Hall: Campus life, 1946-'50

By Glendora Otis Claborne
Arizona Daily Wildcat
November 6, 1998
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I will celebrate my 50th anniversary since graduation in 2000 and to tell you the truth I never thought I'd live this long.

What innocents we were in 1946 and how scared I was when Dad delivered me to Maricopa Hall and drove back to Douglas.

Not too many coeds were sent off to college in between the WW wars and most of the women went to girls' schools such as Bryn Mawr and Smith. But post World War II, when parents sent their girls off to school, they expected the Dean of Women to tame their daughters' raging hormones as well as educate them.

Men were not allowed in the dorms except in the public areas and if Dad or brother or boyfriend were helping a girl move in or out she had to yell, "Man in the hall" whenever they were going in or out.

Living in the dorm was almost like being in a convent except that we didn't wear veils.

On weeknights we could stay out until 10 p.m., Friday until 12 a.m., and Saturday night until 1 a.m. When you went out at night you signed out with where you were going and when you were going to be back and when you got back you had to sign in.

Outside the dorm, when the magic hour approached, the lights were flashed and you had five minutes to smooch with your date before you rushed to sign in.

Frequently bed checks were made to be sure you were in your bed and didn't have a friend sign you in. One of the girls I knew in my freshman year was expelled from college because she spent the night out with her boyfriend.

For every minute you were late, you were penalized and when it got to be five minutes or more you were "campused" and could not go out on Friday night. For more minutes than that, it was Friday and Saturday.

Every dorm had a "Dorm Mother," generally an older woman (sororities have these too) who were in charge of infractions. At least once a week Dorm Mom toured the dorm to see if rooms were clean and tidy. If not, the student was campused.

When I enrolled at the UA in the fall of 1946, World War II had just ended and, because of the GI Bill, the campus was flooded with veterans.

Our class was the largest in then-UA history. The veterans came, not only with the GI Bill but with the $52 a week for 20 weeks that the government gave them when they were discharged so they were dates with bucks to spend. We loved it.

For fun we did about the same things students do today but with somewhat less sex (the pill hadn't been invented yet). As far as I know, there were no drugs but plenty of booze. Booze was forbidden on campus or any housing of course.

Sabino Canyon was the favorite place for beer busts. It hadn't been closed yet and students got together, took food and a keg of beer up there and...

Working on the float for the Homecoming parade was a real biggie. The fraternities and the dorms all worked long hours on their floats for that event. These floats were paraded from campus to Congress Avenue and back again.

The only place to get a meal on campus was a cafeteria in the basement of Old Main which mainly featured hamburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches. But there were greasy spoon restaurants circling campus where a hungry student could not only get a cheap meal but get a job bussing tables.

No dorms had laundry facilities and the U -D0 Laundry had not yet been invented, so if you didn't live too far away, you put your dirty clothes in a mailing case and sent it home to Mom.

Thank goodness, my stuff could be delivered in Douglas by the next train.

There was a strict dress code on campus. You did not wear shorts unless you were on your way to or from a PE class. We never wore jeans or slacks to school and never went bare-legged.

Back then, my sorority required that we each spend time doing athletics so one of my choices was bowling. The nearest alley was Old Pueblo on North Congress and we could only get there by city bus - an hour wait on Speedway Boulevard.

Glendora Otis Claborne graduated from the UA in 1950 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. Like so many women in the '50s, she gave up her journalism career to raise a family. Her recently deceased husband, John Claborne, was a UA law school graduate and served the state of Arizona as Superior Court judge in Apache County and later as a Court of Appeals judge in Phoenix.