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Our Stories


Dear Seniors ’67,
I never told you how much I love you…how you have stayed in my heart all these years.
I loved every minute of experiencing the “scary joy” of learning to love Gulf Park
traditions and history… through your teachings. The tenderness with which you adored
Friendship Oak was instilled in me as I watched you handle the leaves with such reverence.
You shared stories of Seniors past….funny ones, scary ones, sentimental ones. I saw the love you had for
our school shine in your eyes. I heard you sing the songs of your heart….on the beach, around
Senior fountain, in the dining hall, at Huck, for serenades.
In the beginning, I was scared. Yes. But as I began to understand the whys of the
“visits” in the smoker, in our rooms, in the hall…. I began to appreciate! Little by little,
you planted that seed….continued to water it until I had a LOVE in full-bloom for our
Gulf Park…by-the-Sea….just like you did.
That last trip to ship sealed forever my love and respect for you. I watched….along with all the spirits of
Seniors past….as you did what had to be done no matter how HARD that was for you. You said goodbye
to all the treasures you had been passed from those wise and wonderful Seniors in your line. You
cried. I cried. The spirit of the Seniors Past cried. It was the end of all we held sacred, beautiful,
honorable. YET, what could never be “thrown” at Ship nor destroyed by the ravages of
time…..were the friendships forever. We are ALL bound by a SISTERHOOD like no other. There is no way
to explain it to others. Have you ever tried? I know. Nevermind. It is a sweet memory we carry in our
hearts until we are all back together around that Friendship Oak in the sky. I’ll bring the songbooks.

Jake jr67forever


From Cinda Sr.'66

RE: Some GPC Stories

Date: 7/8/12

I’d 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 interim president.



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 the floor).


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 comply.

(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.[4]

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.

[edit]Cultural impact


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!".[8]


  1. 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!


  1. 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 born.