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SU alumni and college during the '50s and '60s: Homecoming week

You don't need a DeLorean revisit the past. Salisbury University alumni from the 1950s-1960s all have stories to tell — many of which have stuck with them throughout the years. Whether memories relate to academics, social life or even history, SU alumni have carried their memories with them.


Wayne Smith at Maryland State Teacher's College.

Dr. Wayne Smith, 84, graduated from Maryland State Teachers College, now SU, in 1958. After graduating, Smith taught eighth grade and later became a professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He is now retired.

Many of Smith’s memories relate to the societal views and history of the 1950s.

Many students on campus during the 1950s were first generation college students, according to Smith.

“This [opportunity to attend college] was really a step up in terms of education for us [first generation college students in 1950s] and is also a step up in terms of our social fame,” said Smith. “I came from what you would ... call a blue-collar working family. My dad was a mechanic, so to get a college education was [a] real — socially speaking — step up from where I had grown up.”

Additionally, many societal rules from the fifties were also present in many of Smith’s memories, especially the differences between how men and women were treated.

A noticeable rule set in place was the curfew for female students — not for male students, according to Smith. Freshmen males were an exception to this rule who had a curfew of 11 p.m., according to several 1950s editions of student handbooks.

“Another feature of life, particularly for women, and my wife June remembers this vividly: there was a 10:10 curfew for women,” Smith said. “They had to be in the dormitory at 10:10 every night, except, I think, Friday and Saturday night…”

Obviously, much at SU has changed.

Smith, who was involved with student government, Student Teachers Association, philosophy club and was student president for Future Student Teachers of America his senior year of college, also remembers the long-term impacts of his time at college.

“Salisbury, the whole experience, was the best time of my life before I retired,” Smith said. “And you know, a lot of that — and this happens to a lot of college students … in those four years, you gain some identity, self-identity, you gain some self-confidence, you began to do things you hadn’t done in high school, I started dating [and} I met my wife…”


Wayne Towers.

Wayne Towers, graduate of 1963, and Donna Towers, graduate of 1965, were education majors who attended Salisbury State College in the sixties. Both attended Cambridge High school prior to attending SSC, where they were married in 1963.

As an underclassmen, Wayne Towers attended State Teachers College in 1960 until the university later changed it's name to Salisbury State College.

Very few students owned or had access to cars and, as such, many remained occupied around campus for most of the semester, according to Wayne Towers.

STC soccer team (Wayne Towers).

Wayne participated in the Student Government Association, soccer, basketball and intermural sports. He also attended school events, such as dances, and even played the occasional prank.

“I mean what was there to do? Steal a pumpkin or two.”

“Well, one Halloween we got in the car. I did with a couple guys, and we went around, we filled the car up with pumpkins. Then we lined them up across Holloway Hall, on the steps there… which we got caught.”

Wayne Towers also remembers the layout of the university being quite different from what it is today.

“We had dances in the snack bar which was the basement of Holloway Hall which was also the snack bar and the college bookstore.”

Small houses on main campus were used for music and language classes, according to Wayne Towers.

"My senior year we moved into Maggs Gymnasium which isn’t the Maggs Gymnasium now. I think it’s been torn down, and had the elementary school. The campus school was there at that time which I think is also gone... [the one] in front of Blackwell library."

Class sizes and tuition also differed greatly in comparison to now.

According to Wayne Towers, class sizes consisted of about 25-30 students and tuition, including books, cost about $550.

“It was pretty much like going to a high school class at that time,” Wayne Towers said.

Donna Towers.

Donna Towers, graduate of 1965, was an elementary education major.

Donna Towers remembers her time at SSC as a positive experience as well.

“I remember this being a very loving, caring warm place to be. I was always very happy to be there.”

While at school, Donna Towers also participated in field hockey intermural sports.

“What happened was we became very very close to our classmates, we studied together, we played together, and since not many of had cars, very few of us had cars, we spent a lot of time on campus.”

However, Donna Towers also recalled the sixties societal standards and the impact it had on her education.

Job options and opportunities for women were one of the societal standards Donna Towers was impacted by.

“For me it [my job options] was either a nurse, a teacher or a secretary.”

Additionally, Donna Towers felt her college classes were even smaller than her high school classes and watched college class sizes diminish with each coming year.

At the time, this was normal.

“My freshman year, we had a teacher who just flat out told us, the first day of class, that half of us wouldn’t be there at the end of the semester. ‘So just look around because half of you won’t be here, you will flunk out, and that’s the way it is’ and half did.”

Student life for Donna Towers also looks very different from what we see today.

As an underclassmen, Donna Towers lived on the third floor of Holloway Hall.

Donna Towers remembered there being very little trouble in the dorms, except for the occasional panty raid.

“The guys had panty raids. They would storm the women’s dorm and ask for a pair of panties and get through the women’s dorm before the house mother was able to … she was able to shame everybody into leaving.”

According to Donna Towers, even clothing and curfews for women were enforced at the time.

“We had a curfew. We had to be in the dorm by like ten o’ clock at night. And, we weren’t allowed to wear slacks or pants, only skirts,” said Donna Towers.

Despite these societal standards, Donna Towers remembered her time at university in a positive light.

“It was a simple life,” said Donna Towers.

“Probably the coolest thing … was the fact that we loved our high school friends and our high school classes, and we just moved to Salisbury and we had a similar situation, but we all got to live together…”




Photos courtesy of The Evergreen.

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