Opinions & Editorials

My, How Times Have Changed

The San Francisco Junior College Handbook from the Fall Semester of 1947.
The San Francisco Junior College Handbook from the Fall Semester of 1947.

By Andy Bays

  There’s a really awesome college in San Francisco called San Francisco Junior College. It’s cheaper than City College, has a ton of activities, lots of school spirit and a great location on Ocean Avenue.

The only catch is, it hasn’t existed in nearly a lifetime.

San Francisco Junior College was the name of City College from its inception in 1934 until the name was changed in 1948. But, the name wasn’t the only thing that changed.

Perusing the San Francisco History Center one afternoon, I came across a gem titled “SF Junior College Handbook,” (Fall, 1947).

This indispensable guidebook for students illuminates a time when life on Ocean Campus was almost perplexingly unified. For example, this passage expounds the glory that is the pole in the middle of the science building:

“The silver pole in the main lobby is the campus counterpart of the grandfather clock at the St. Francis Hotel. That is, if a student waits near the pole long enough, he will meet all his friends there… At the base of the pole in the main lobby the lifelong friendships formed parallel the distant view obtained from the observatory tower.”

Is this the same pole I barely notice, and have never observed people congregating near? Apparently, yes.

There used to be an Associated Men Students club, whose “chief tradition… is the semi-annual boxing carnival in the men’s gymnasium. All bouts are three rounds and effort is made to have every weight classification from flyweight to heavyweight contenders represented in the tournament.”

I would like to see the boxing carnival reinstated, but I’m not sure what the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) would say. Perhaps ACCJC President Barbara Beno would like to go a couple rounds with City College’s Chancellor Susan Lamb.

Not to be outdone, the Associated Women Students would hold two tea-parties per year: “one is in honor of senior girls enrolled in San Francisco high schools, the other is for freshman women in their first semester of college, which serves to acquaint the newcomers with the regulars.”

These two clubs would “jointly sponsor each semester a huge barn dance complete with appropriate decorations. Students dress according to the occasion with ‘levis’ and plaid shirts for the men, and cotton dresses or pinafores for the women.”

Does anything sound more awkward than a campus barn dance?

Even the most spirited, loyal Rams enrolled today probably don’t know the words to any of the two college hymns, the college cheer song, the two college fight songs or the college “High Stepping” song.  

I’ll leave you with this, eternal friends around the silver pole of the main lobby, to sing to your heart’s delight.

“On a hill in San Francisco stands our dear J.C.

Cherished, loved by all comprising her large family,

San Francisco Junior College, Thee we’ll never fail,

San Francisco Alma Mater, Hail, Hail, Hail!”

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