Page 11 - issue_4

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the Hoot
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Dr. Woods’ financial support sparked a period of joy among the students,
faculty and staff. The girls would often cheer at the train station when Dr.
Woods and his wife visited the school, and their pride to be William Woods
College girls was obvious. They wrote poems, started a yearbook, and made up
numerous cheers, such as:
“Rackety! Rackety
Diamonds and pearls;
Hip! Hurrah!
For William Woods girls.”
The 1920s brought many changes to the institution: the acquisition of new
buildings and facilities, affiliation with several academic societies, and a
strengthening of the institution’s academic standards. By 1929, the full cost of
a term had risen to $650. Still, the college was on its way toward
quality education.
In 1936, Helen Stephens, then a student at William Woods College, won two
gold medals at the Olympics in Berlin, Germany. The Fulton native went on to
become the first female owner/manager of a female semiprofessional
basketball team.
During that time, the bridge over the railroad at the edge of campus became
known as the Bridge of Sighs, named after the famous bridge in Venice, Italy.
The girls called it that because it was the first to welcome the students in
September, and the last to bid them good-bye in May.
In the early 1940s, there were numerous attempts to establish a wooden
bridge across the lake. In a period of five years, however, the bridge was
burned down by Westminster men seven times. Finally, the college’s
president declared that it would not be rebuilt until it could be constructed of
permanent material.
Tovey Sessions Talley recalled one such event in The Woods magazine: “They
marched across the railroad bridge to the campus bearing lighted torches and,
as Peggy and I watched in horror, they set Senior Bridge on fire.”
Claudine Barrett Cox O’Connor, an alumna and benefactor who first came
to Woods in 1941, shared some of the institution’s rules in an edition of The
Woods magazine. “We all knew that you did not set one foot off this campus
day or evening without heels, hose, hat, bag and gloves.”
“Dressing for dinner was a requirement,” Talley remembers. “School dresses
must be changed for suits or dresses with hose and heels each evening. On
Thursday evening we wore formals or dinner gowns for candlelight dinners.
Those were special occasions. We were able to sit with our own friends,
signing up in table groups the day before.”
On Nov. 12, 1956, a fire destroyed South Jones Hall, the original structure
built in 1890, which housed dorm rooms, kitchen, dining room, and laundry
facilities. The result was the construction of Tucker Hall and the Smith Allen
Swearingen Complex, which was then referred to as North, Center and South
dormitories.
Janie Meyer and Venita Archer Lake, both class of ’61, shared some of their
memories while on campus last year to celebrate their 50th anniversary of
graduation from the two-year school.
“There were no men allowed on campus until after lunch,” Meyer said, “so
there was a big change in how we looked in the morning and how we looked
after lunch. We wore skirts all the time, except in the mornings we wore
pajamas and trench coats to class.”
Lake added, “You had to sign out which church you were going to on Sundays,
and I’m pretty sure they checked to make sure you really went.”
In 1962, anticipating dramatic changes in the role of American women in the
labor force, William Woods became accredited as a four-year college offering
A.B. and B.S. degrees.
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