By Jim Carnett
(Jim was an Orange Coast College student in the early 1960s. Now in his 37th year as Director of Community Relations, he is editor of Coast-to-Coast. This is a regular column that focuses on OCC’s history and distinctive characteristics and characters.)
The banner headline across the top of the Sept. 27, 1957 issue of Orange Coast College’s student newspaper, The Barnacle, trumpeted the news.
“Orange Coast College Enters 10th Year of Community Service.”
“A big child for only 10,” gushed assistant editor, Lucie Godshaw, in her bylined article above the fold. “Orange Coast College has racked up a significant list of achievements during its first decade of service to the community.
“During the coming year in on- and off-campus activities, the administration, faculty and student body will commemorate the 10th anniversary and feature recognition of OCC’s aims and achievements.”
Activities would include a homecoming football game and dance in November, and a March meeting of the college’s Citizens’ Advisory Council. Young art professor, Robert Kreiger, who was in just his second year as a member of the faculty, designed a 10th anniversary seal that was embossed on car bumper stickers, campus letterhead and textbook covers.
Godshaw reported that OCC had been founded in 1947 upon five principle values: occupational competency for vocational fields; general education for more effective living; student guidance; lower division work for university transfer; and adult education for vocational and cultural development.
By September of 1957, a number of new “permanent” buildings had been erected on campus. They replaced original wooden Santa Ana Army Air Base barracks buildings. The new structures included a Library Building, complete with 50-foot clock tower (it ranks today as OCC’s oldest building, and is serving during the present campus construction boom as a “surge” building), a Technology Building (torn down in the late 1990s), an Art Center (torn down in 2000), a Science Building, a Student Center, a 1,200-seat auditorium, and a 7,600-seat football stadium.
The brand new $73,000 Agriculture Building opened for the first day of fall 1957 classes on Monday, Sept. 16. The 50-year-old facility remains on campus today, and, for just a couple more years, will serve as the Allied Health Building. Next on the September 1957 completion docket would be a home economics building.
Construction over the ensuing decade would ring up a price tag of $2.2 million, a substantial expenditure for the 1950s and ‘60s. Projects targeted for inclusion in the master plan, created in the fall of 1957, included a large lecture hall in the quad (Giles T. Brown Forum); an 1,800-seat outdoor theatre behind the Auditorium (never realized); a general classroom building (Social Sciences wing); enlarged parking lot areas; life science, physical science and chemistry labs; a gymnasium (Peterson Gym); a library addition; a new administration building (which wouldn’t materialize for two decades); and an enhanced Fairview Rd. entrance to the campus.
The college would someday – Lucie breathlessly predicted in her article – accommodate up to 3,500 students. Miss Godshaw also penned an opening-issue editorial that congratulated the college on its anniversary.
“Ten years of devoted service to the people of Orange County have earned Orange Coast College a distinguished reputation for its educational and cultural standards. Aims and achievements of this decade have merited our college the right to proudly identify itself as a community college.”
Lucie’s words were both remarkable and prophetic! In 1957, our institutions were universally referred to as “junior colleges.” The term “community college” would not be commonly tossed about for nearly another decade. But OCC, always at the vanguard in higher education, had already resorted to defining itself as a college of its community.
“(OCC’s) athletics, musical and dramatic activities have been community as well as school attractions,” young Lucie deduced. “Summer workshops in the latter two fields have brought professional and semi-professional talent to the school. The departments have been host to students of many schools and of all age levels. In sports, OCC teams have become state champions. Publications have won high nationwide ratings. Lecture series by OCC instructors have won them recognition comparable to university professors.
“A consistent and economical program of improvement and expansion has resulted in a beautiful campus, manned by an excellent teaching staff.”
With all due respect to Lucie, she didn’t know the half of it! From my privileged vantage point some 50 years further down the interstate, I can see that OCC has far surpassed what she envisioned while she was a student traipsing these golden acres in the fall of 1957. That’s because a host of wonderfully creative and committed individuals have been tossed – or should I say elected to enthusiastically plunge? – into Coast’s talent pool over the past five decades, bringing their unique and exquisite skills to the mix.
Lucie, by the way, went on to enjoy a long and successful career as a newspaper reporter.
Founding OCC president, Dr. Basil H. Peterson, welcomed students to campus that fall in his “From the President” column that ran in the opening issue of The Barnacle.
“The day (that) classes began this year, I was walking on campus and passed a group of three coeds,” he recounted. “As a matter of habit, I said, ‘hello.’ They came back with a faltering, ‘hi.’ As they passed by, I heard one remark, ‘Who is that old duffer?’
“One of the traditions at Orange Coast is to say ‘hello.’ This friendly gesture is made even though you may not have a formal introduction or know the name of the person you greet.
“In being friendly, we tend to make everyone feel at home on our campus. This in turn generates a feeling of belonging, which is accompanied by enthusiasm. One way to build real school spirit is to be friendly.
“We will pull together, work together and accomplish much when each one shoulders a part of the load. In order to work together we must become acquainted. Say ‘hello’ and promote school spirit!”
Good advice for ‘57…as well as aught-seven!
OCC opened fall 1957 classes with an enrollment of 1,400 students. Twenty were international students. Only two international students – Naderah Bahadnor from Tehran, Iran, and Eulalia Cabang of the Philippines, were females. Half of the 18 male students were from Iran. Others hailed from Japan, France, Iraq, Samoa, Canada, India and Israel.
Seventeen of 33 charter faculty members remained on the staff when fall ’57 classes rolled around. Twenty-two new faculty members joined the Coast Family for the first day of classes. That meant that an incredible 56.4 percent of fall ’57 faculty members were brand new teachers to Orange Coast College. Those new staff members were recruited from throughout the country.
A math professor/basketball coach, Alan Sawyer, who joined the staff that fall, remained with the college for 40 years. The former UCLA All-American, who played for John Wooden, retired in 1997. Counselor Mal Phillips, an 82nd Airborne Division veteran who jumped into Normandy during the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, came aboard as a new faculty member 13 years later, in ’57. He spent 36 years with the college until his retirement in 1993. Paul Cox was brought in to teach instrumental music in ’57 and ultimately became dean of the Fine Arts Division. He retired 27 years later, in 1984.
In 1957 the state legislature authorized a new state college for Orange County. It ended up being located in Fullerton, but rumors in the fall of ’57 insisted that Orange Coast College just might be transformed into that state college.
“The…proposed college could be located anywhere (in the county),” Peterson told the campus, trying to dispel the rumor. “Even if the four-year college were located right next door to OCC, there would still be a need for Coast.
“A state college is selective. Orange Coast’s program is broader and prepares young men and women for almost all walks of life.”
Rumors have persisted over the decades that OCC might (or should) someday become a four-year institution. Many Orange Coast students who’ve transferred to four-year institutions have personally told me, in retrospect, that they wished they could have remained at Coast and completed their junior and senior years.
A number of community colleges have taken the baccalaureate route: Menlo Junior College in Atherton, Calif. became Menlo College; Weber State Junior College in Ogden, Utah became Weber State University; and Dixie College in St. George, Utah became Dixie State College. It appears that OCC’s founder, Basil H. Peterson, never intentioned for Coast to enter the four-year arena. He saw Pirateville as playing an essential role in its community as a junior/community college.
OCC’s football team, the defending Eastern Conference champions, and ranked ninth in the nation in the 1957 preseason National Junior College Rankings, opened the season on Saturday evening, Sept. 28, with an exciting 13-12 victory over East Contra Costa Junior College in Pirate (now LeBard) Stadium. The game featured the debut of new OCC head football coach, Steve Musseau.
The game also marked the unveiling of the college’s new school colors: scarlet, black and white. The old colors, for the first 10 years of the college, had been maroon and gray. School colors would change again 40 years later – in honor of the 50th anniversary – to orange, navy blue and white. Your humble correspondent would play a role in selling that new branding distinction to the campus community.
A dance was held in the Student Center following the ’57 football season opener.
Head Coach Steve Musseau (center)
OCC’s Pirates had gone 7-1-2 in 1956 under coach Al Irwin, and lost to Stockton College, 20-12, in the Potato Bowl. In 1957, Musseau’s Bucs, who were picked to finish third in the Eastern Conference race, captured the conference title for the second year in a row and went 8-1. OCC came within a whisker of being issued an invitation to the Junior Rose Bowl Game, but more about that later.
Biology professor, Dr. Lloyd Mason Smith, a talented amateur photographer, shot OCC’s game films that season. For the first time ever, OCC’s football films were produced in CinemaScope. A special lens, manufactured by Clausonthue Audio Visual, was attached to OCC’s Bell and Howell movie camera.
Also during the ’57 season, OCC and Long Beach City College became the first institutions in the land to chart football plays on an IBM mainframe computer. Each play was marked on a computer punch card.
Parking was a problem on campus in the fall of 1957: not enough spaces…too many cars. Sound familiar? OCC didn’t have a Campus Safety Office at the time. Three student officers – Pete Bagley, Bob Carrol and Bob Ettinger – were deputized by the Costa Mesa Police Department, and put on the college payroll, to cite traffic and parking violators.
OCC’s Traffic Court – run by the Associated Students – assessed a $1 fine for parking violations; a $2 fine for speeding; and a $3 fine for reckless driving. All cars had to be registered with the college, and students and staff members were given citations throughout the semester. Upon receipt of a citation, a student or staffer had three weeks to appear before the Traffic Court.
“The faculty has set a fine example for the student body by appearing promptly for citations received,” said student body vice president, Phil Grignon, rather diplomatically. Midway through the semester five students had failed to show up for their “court dates,” and faced expulsion. It sounds a bit draconian, what?
The first “Playnight” of the fall semester was held on the evening of Oct. 4 in the OCC gym – a converted U.S. Army service club. Sponsored by the Student Christian Association, Playnight was designed to foster a spirit of unity and friendship among students. Activities included volleyball, table tennis, swimming, cards and dancing.
Pundits over the decades have argued the merits of the claim – made by innumerable persons of the masculine persuasion – that OCC is home to the prettiest female students in the nation. A Barnacle “Roving Reporter” asked students in the fall of 1957 to comment on OCC’s “female crop.”
The "Pirate Girls"
A student calling himself Homer Remoh, and claiming to be a transfer from West Lemon County Junior College, waxed philosophical. “Their smiles are like the very burst of dawn upon a darkened world,” he mused. “Their frowns totter mountains…and their parents are loaded.”
OCC granted approval to the Orange County Air Pollution District to set up a smog monitoring station on campus. Electronic recording devices, valued at $30,000, were installed in the college’s Agriculture Department.
Sixty of OCC’s 1,400 students during the fall of ’57 worked in paid, part-time jobs on campus. The majority carried out clerical tasks, but others worked as lab assistants, custodians, bus drivers, lifeguards, football-game ticket-takers, ushers, parking lot attendants, and farm laborers.
OCC’s footballers traveled to Arizona in early October to meet the Phoenix College Bears. The Bucs trounced the Bears, 19-0, but the victory was an ugly, tainted affair. OCC was whistled for 195 yards in penalties for the night, and had two touchdowns called back by officials.
To be blunt, coach Musseau was hacked off! After the game he vowed that his team would never play in Phoenix again. He had nothing but disdain for Phoenix officials.
“Four other members of our conference (Eastern Conference) have said that they will never play another game in Phoenix because of poor officials,” wrote Barnacle sportswriter, Bob Yraceburn.
The Pirates have never returned to Phoenix and, only once since – in 1966 – did they travel to Arizona (Yuma) to play a game with an Arizona school.
At the All-School Picnic in October, Basil Peterson asked a student from the city of Orange why she had elected to attend Orange Coast College when there were other colleges closer to her home.
“Because Orange Coast has real school spirit,” she told the OCC president.
In his Oct. 25 “From the President” column, Peterson enumerated six factors that he felt contributed to OCC’s positive school spirit. The factors included the following: “1) Students and faculty are friendly and helpful; 2) Students and faculty work hard in the classroom; 3) OCC is blessed with outstanding instructors and students; 4) Students and faculty enthusiastically participate in out-of-class activity programs including dances, clubs, athletic contests and social events; 5) OCC supports its athletic teams; and 6) Student government is not just a gesture but a real experience in self-government.”
Terry Reich & Queen's Court
Eighteen OCC coeds ran for 1957 Homecoming Queen. Terry Reich of Newport Beach was crowned queen at halftime of the big game. Thirty-seven years later, as a noted motivational speaker, author, former Mrs. California, and televangelist – and known to fans as Terry Cole-Whittaker – Reich was inducted into OCC’s Alumni Hall of Fame.
In November of 1957 OCC’s Agriculture Department team finished first in the Bank of America Agriculture Field Day competition held in Lancaster. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo placed second, and Mt. San Antonio College was third. Judging was conducted in the categories of beef, hogs, sheep and alfalfa hay.
Two OCC sophomores – Alan Rypinski and Robin Williams – played fraternity brothers in a Nov. 6 episode of the ABC hit show, “Ozzie and Harriet.” Both students were starring in OCC’s production of “Peer Gynt” that same week in the Auditorium. It was opening night of the production when the “Ozzie and Harriet” episode aired. Alan and Robin had to watch the show backstage on a portable television set. No such thing as TiVo existed in those days!
OCC’s football team hosted Santa Ana College in the regular-season football finale on Friday evening, Nov. 22. OCC took a 7-1-0 season record into the contest and the Dons were 7-0-1. The winner would be crowned Eastern Conference champion and most likely would be accorded a Junior Rose Bowl invitation. Enthusiasm for the contest was at a fever pitch.
The OCC-SAC rivalry had been fierce for a decade, and pranks were the order of the day for every renewal of the series. But things got slightly out of hand in ‘57.
A hundred Santa Ana College students stormed OCC’s campus the week of the game. They set off fire alarms, and went joy riding in a campus vehicle. The Costa Mesa Police Dept. was called, and every officer on duty that night responded. Three OCC cows were stolen.
The Sunday prior to the game, four Santa Ana students burned the initials “SAC” into the Pirate Stadium turf. OCC student body president, Don Brown, reported Monday morning that two of the SAC culprits had been apprehended and were suspended from school. On Monday evening of Big Game Week, OCC students raised a “Beat Santa Ana” banner on the flagpole on the Don campus. They greased the pole on their way down, making it more than a little difficult to remove.
Later in the week, two brave OCC students “appropriated” – in mid-day – the Don Victory Flag from the Santa Ana Student Center. On Wednesday evening, a hundred Santa Ana College students gathered on Balboa Island to publicly express their contempt for OCC. The surly crowd was dispersed by the Newport Beach Police Department.
But actually, things began to simmer weeks before the game, according to a Barnacle editorial that ran during Big Game Week.
“Several weeks ago, students from Santa Ana College came onto our campus in broad daylight, walked up to the mast in front of the Student Center and, surrounded by scores of Pirates, calmly lowered our victory flag and made their escape, flag and all,” the editorial stated in its detailed description.
The later Pirate raid on the SAC Student Center appeared to be nothing less than a tactical rejoinder.
“This was clever, it took nerve and it created school spirit,” the editorial continued, referring to the bold Pirate raid. “One had only to walk into the Student Center to feel it. Getting back the flag was the main topic of discussion everywhere. When more Santa Ana students invaded the campus a few days later they were caught and held for ransom. ‘We want the flag back or you lose your hair,’ they were told. The flag was returned and they were released, complete with hair. This is school spirit and it’s great. Nobody was hurt.”
The week of the game, many men on OCC’s campus expressed their Pirate solidarity and pride by submitting to a shearing dispensed by students armed with scissors and clippers. Crew cuts suddenly became THE fashion statement of the day.
But, what about the game? The Pirates nipped the Dons, 13-7, before 9,000 raucous fans at Pirate Stadium. OCC was up 13-0 in the third quarter, and Santa Ana didn’t mount a scoring drive until the final few minutes of the contest. The Dons scored with less than a minute to play.
Just how sweet was the victory?
“Winning the Santa Ana game and coming across Diamond Head (during a sailing trip) have been the biggest thrills of my life,” said 19-year-old OCC student, Dave Grant. Dave Grant? That name’s been heard a few times in these parts! Yes, it was the very same Dave who, 32 years later, would become the college’s sixth president. But more about that in a moment.
Finishing 8-1-0, the Pirate footballers sat back and waited for their invitation to the 11th annual Junior Rose Bowl, to be played on Saturday, Dec. 14. It was never issued to Coast that year, however. The invitation went instead to 8-1-0 first-year school, Cerritos College, which didn’t even yet have a campus. And, Cerritos hadn’t won the Northern Conference championship outright that year…finishing, instead, in a tie with Compton for the title. Adding insult to injury, five of the Falcons’ starters – including fullback Ray Adermann and quarterback Chuck Yehna – had played at Coast the previous season.
“Why?” was the question bandied about repeatedly on OCC’s campus over the next several weeks.
“Why was Cerritos selected when it doesn’t even have a campus and its students attend classes at night at two high schools?” asked Barnacle editor, Jerry Sellers. “The Falcon eleven (is) headquartered in an old grey barn!”
“Noise played an important part in Cerritos’ selection,” opined Los Angeles Examiner sportswriter, Ralph Alexander. “Civic leaders of Norwalk, Artesia, Hawaiian Gardens and other communities in the district bombarded the JRB board with telephone calls backing coach Earl Klapstein’s ‘cinderella-like’ Falcons.”
So, where were all the civic leaders of Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach when the Pirates really needed them? Missing in action, I’m afraid.
Following the emotional win over Santa Ana, the disappointed Bucs packed their equipment and held a rather bittersweet awards banquet in the Student Center.
“The taste is still pretty bitter and many people are still gagging on the pill,” wrote Barnacle editor Sellers two weeks after the Pirates’ season ended.
But, six years later – in 1963 – the Pirates would be given another shot at the Junior Rose Bowl and this time they’d leave no room for doubt…or civic-leader-lobbying fiascos. The Pirates, under Dick Tucker, went 10-0-0 and spanked Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in the 1963 bowl game, 21-0.
And what happened to the ‘57 Cerritos Falcons in the Junior Rose Bowl? They were beaten by Arlington State Junior College of Texas, 21-12. Arlington was awarded the national title. No one can blame the Pirates for rejoicing just a bit at that outcome. The Bucs had a right to feel that they would have made a better West Coast representative.
OCC hosted its annual All-School Talent Show on Wednesday, Dec. 4, in the Auditorium, and nearly 50 student-performers took part. Theme for the show was “A Salute to Music,” and acts included vocal soloists, duos, piano soloists, dancers, novelty acts, and a bongo-drumming extravaganza.
The Dec. 6 issue of The Barnacle ran a page-three feature story on OCC sophomore, and pep commissioner, Dave Grant. After graduating from UCLA and Long Beach State, Dave would return to OCC’s campus in 1962. He’d spend a total of 33 years as a Coast history professor, dean, crew coach and president. His presidency ran 1989-95.
“To most of us on campus, Grant appears to be in perpetual motion, for the slight (5’ 6”, 133-pound) student is a blur of physical and mental motion,” the feature story read. “This ‘blur’ is one of the prime reasons for the exceptional spirit that has been exhibited by Pirate rooters this year. Grant stands behind this when he says, ‘I think we have the best spirit in our conference.’
“Exuberance for school spirit this year can be laid to Grant’s directive efforts, but he realizes that it’s not possible without the ‘tremendous cooperation’ he has had from cheerleaders, the rally committee and the student body in general, which he feels ‘is the greatest.’
“Such able aptitude should aid Dave when he goes into law practice as an attorney.”
Law practice? Thank goodness Dave ended up switching his academic major from law to history, though he most certainly would have made a splendid barrister! During his 33-year Coast career – and in the decade-plus following his retirement – the “perpetual motion-machine” has been OCC’s Number One cheerleader, president and…”pep commissioner!”
When all was said and done, Orange Coast College was represented after all at the 1957 Junior Rose Bowl Game on Dec. 14. OCC’s marching band, led by first-year music instructor Paul Cox, marched Saturday morning in the Junior Rose Bowl Parade down Pasadena’s Colorado Blvd. The band performed in the famous arroyo saucer that afternoon.
“Alpine Holiday” was the theme of the Christmas formal, held in the Student Center on Thursday, Dec. 19. Dress was semiformal: sports coats, slacks and ties for men; short formals for women.
Following “Dead Week,” fall semester final exams were administered Tuesday through Friday, Jan. 21-24.
Like all Coast semesters, the fall of ‘57 was filled with unique and exciting events and activities that helped to shape this college into the distinctive institution it has become.
Happy 10th anniversary, OH CEE CEE!
WE GET LETTERS….
Thank you for that excellent survey of how the campus of Orange Coast College was not built in a day (“OCC’s Facilities: From Wooden Barracks to Brick, Then Shimmering Aluminum and Glass,” Orange Slices, Oct. 4).
But Rome was not either.
Dr. Giles T. Brown
OCC Social Sciences Dean and
History Professor (1948-60)