From Cinda Sr.'66
RE: Some GPC Stories
Rather Fight than Switch!”
The life in the mid-1960s saw many degrees of cultural and political
change in the United States. An unpopular war divided generations, women
began an organized movement to seek equal rights in the workplace and
career choice, many even burned their bras, civil disobedience and
student activist began to ask, “why?” is there inequity.
Life at Gulf Park College was also changing. The results and
recommendations of the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges
Evaluation Visitation Team precipitated the new president, H.
Preston James, to seek The Board of Trustees approval for professional
development for staff and faculty to meet the minimum academic
requirements and improve course offerings for accreditation, and to
broaden the student privileges and regulations. The decline in the high
school program’s enrollment and the loss of the program’s accreditation
caused the Board of Trustees to discontinue offering the last two years
of a high school program and granting a high school degree. Beginning
with the 1963-1964 school year, the Board of Trustees acted to approve
Gulf Park offered only the first two years of college level courses. *The
last graduates of the high school program were the spring of 1965.
President James faced strong opposition and reluctant acceptance from
the Board of Trustees for seeking to modify the Dating Procedures
which were embroiled in red-tape, age requirement, and two letters of
reference from a pastor or religious leader all tracked by the Dean of
Students. Consumption of alcoholic beverages was also a controversial
issue that the Trustees would not take action to modify. The Trustees
vision to keep Gulf Park College a Southern Finishing School was not
aligned to President James vision or to the SASC
recommendations. President James contract was bought out by the Trustees
in August 1965. President Emeritus and Trustee, Richard Cox returned as
The Torch Bearer Tradition started by Mamma Cox in 1921 to
replicate the Greek Vestal Virgin Ceremony, was put to “Rest” in the
early as enrollment increased and not all juniors were selected as Torch
Bearers. Part of the graduation ceremony, as the Senior’s name was
called she would present a junior worthy of carrying on the torch a
small torch pin to remember her by. The “Robe” and Torch continued to be
passed to the underclass students during the Class Day Ceremony through
the late 60s.
The Senior Sailor Hat Tradition began in 1944, an outgrowth of
Torchbearers. A class skit competition was one of the activities during
graduation week. Many girls in the Class of 1944 had been given sailor
hats from the cadets at the Merchant Marine Academy in Pass Christian,
MS. The Seniors created a nautical theme for their skit. They wrote
SENIORS on the hat’s brim. The 1944 Senior Class won the competition.
Many of the graduates gave their hats to their Torchbearers—the
tradition was born.
The Senior Hats were the topic at a special Board of
Trustees meeting held in January 1965. The Trustees reviewed a report
from Focus Group Meetings conducted in the fall by Dean of Students Ms.
Lonthe Campbell. The decision was made to discontinue the Senior Hats in
the fall of 1965.
Lives rolled along…Hats were passed in the spring of 1965. Many
Seniors “got” the word about hats going away from several sources,
(Director of Student Activities and teachers). After conferring (via
letter and phone call) with their Seniors (‘65), the word got out and
the majority of the Srs ‘66 made duplicate Hats or passed the Hats they
had received. Many of the original Hats still exist.
I’d Rather Fight than Switch Fall 1965
The I’d Rather Switch Than Fight (Tareyton cigarettes) was a
popular cigarette commercial. The College administration was constantly
trying to get information from the Seniors ’66 (class officers, sorority
presidents, club presidents, etc.). Determined not to lose the Hat
tradition, the class decided to show solidarity. Dressed in their Senior
Whites wearing signs with the modified the cigarette slogan and
blackened eyes, the Seniors staged a protest during the study break at
the Y-Hut. (I cannot remember what the prompt was to have juniors lie on
Very few Seniors ’66 threw their hats in the Fall of ’65. The
compromise was Hats could kept and worn, but not pulled down over the
eyes. Hats had to be worn on the back of the head. (this was done for
pictures only). The Srs ’66 passed their Hats, to Srs 67, who I am told
were told rid themselves of the tradition for good. Again, some did not
(See the article below for a side story). One of the GPC girls’
father ran the PR campaign for Barry Goldwater and recruited us as
Goldwater Girls. We had cases of the soda “Goldwater for conservative
tastes!” I had an empty can holding pencils for years.
To wrap this tale up, I’d Rather Fight Than Switch
Each commercial would begin in a predictable manner; the protagonist
would do something that would be considered defiant (in one commercial,
an old woman rocked sternly in her chair on her porch, while the rest of
her development was being razed to make room for a condominium). In each
commercial, the protagonist would say "Us Tareyton smokers would rather
fight than switch!” usually only showing their side profile to the
camera. After uttering the slogan, viewers would see the smoker's face,
which had a noticeable "black eye" (in reality makeup), proving their
willingness to fight for what they believed in, whether it be their
tough decision of the day, or their choice to smoke Tareyton
cigarettes. In the aforementioned example, the old woman's fighting
spirit won out, and her house remained where it was, although the
condominium was built alarmingly close to her property. Her son came to
visit her, and it was revealed that he was a Tareyton smoker as well —
he also had a black eye.
This slogan was notable in that it was the final slogan used for the
Tareyton brand. Declining sales led to an end of advertising the brand.
The then-fresh slogan was adopted by
supporters of Barry Goldwater during the 1964 campaign for the
presidency. Goldwater appeared to have the nomination in hand as the
primary season closed, but supporters of the moderate Republican William
Scranton tried to mount a "Draft Scranton" reply. "Goldwater Girls"
(mostly adult women) were seen at Scranton events wearing bandages and
sporting signs saying "We'd rather fight than switch!".
The Goat (Faye
Dunn and Jerre Clark ’44)
The Goat, was a one-inch stuffed free form object made from green felt
stitched in gold metallic thread. The Goat was awarded to the winner of
Class Athletic competitions (Softball, basketball, hockey, team sports).
The Goat was presented to the winning class at an assembly or at lunch.
The winners had 20 minutes to hide it from the other classes. Most of
the time, The Goat lived on Senior Hall (Hardy Second Floor East Wing)
off limits to juniors.
The juniors gave the Seniors ‘43 much frustration as Faye Dunn was quite
the athlete and the juniors had the Goat most of the time. One time
however, a group of juniors found the Goat hidden in a Senior’s room,
upon hearing Seniors approach, Faye, who had snuck down Senior Hall,
threw the Goat out the Senior Smoker Window to a Merchant Marine Cadet,
who was chased across campus by screaming Senior students!
The Senior Hats
1944 (Doris Culp Stanley, Faye Dunn, Marybea Newton Prescott, Pidge
Jasper, and Jerre Clark Steenhof)
Many Class competitions were held during the week proceeding graduation.
One was a class skit competition. In the spring of 1944 many Seniors had
been given sailor hat by cadets they dated from the Merchant Marine
Academy. The Class decided to write SENIOR of the brim of the hats and
wear them in the skit. They Won! The girls “passed them onto their
Torchbearers along with the Torchbearer pin at the Ceremony
on class day. A torch was passed to the present of the junior class
along with the Robe.
The Class of 47 used the same theme for their skit…and a tradition was