LC in History: Boredom Begets Miracles

Dr. Clifton W. Potter Jr., LC History Professor~

Last week I had to work in the office after supper on a Friday evening. The semester was young, summer was still in the air, and the streets around campus were full of students laughing, wandering from one place to another and having a great time. This pattern of behavior has become part of life at Lynchburg College. What was it like on our campus 60 years ago?

LC and its student body were much smaller then, and the houses which surrounded our campus were in private hands. Weekends were quiet affairs; in fact LC was described as “a suitcase college.” When Friday afternoon classes were done, many students headed out of town by any means possible. Favorite destinations included any college or university which had fraternities, sororities and plenty of parties.

Alcohol in any form was forbidden on our campus—in fact, at one time, students were forbidden to consume it within 50 miles of Lynchburg. When veterans swelled our student body after World War II, the rules were briefly relaxed, but in 1957, parties were still sober events—no pun intended.

What did we do in our spare time? The Student Lounge was located in one of the Quonset huts, and it was busy from seven in the morning when it opened until 11 at night when it closed. Many of us spent our spare time there playing bridge. I studied for a Spanish 201 examination by playing bridge until two in the morning—when the Lounge closed, we moved to a study hall! All four of us passed the exam and the course.

In warm weather many students would sit on the steps of Westover Hall and sing. A guitar seemed to always be handy and a member of the Concert Choir would keep us on key—well most of us. There was a juke box in the basement of Westover Hall, and after supper, those who wanted to dance had an hour to learn the latest steps.

Many of us spent our spare time being active in various clubs and organizations. I was particularly interested in publications and dramatics. The LC Players under the direction of Dr. Robert C. Hailey produced two shows a year.

Because the drama department did not graduate its first major, Tony Mendez, until 1961, Hailey had to rely on students from every department on campus for every aspect of each production. All of the plays were mounted in Hopwood Auditorium with very little backstage space. The shop, the green room and the dressing rooms were upstairs on the third floor. Everything was built on site—sets, costumes, and props. Our budget was small, but Doc Hailey worked miracles.

The college production of “Teahouse of the August Moon” was so well received by the campus and the local community that one of the members of the opening night audience—a local judge—gave the college a new light bridge. He simply asked Hailey how much a first-class facility would cost, and before he left Hopwood, he wrote the check for $1,500 ($150,000 in our currency today)!