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Shirley Tacheron Oral History Interview, November 18, 1985

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´╗┐Kim Smith: This is an interview with Shirley Colleen (Smith) Tacheron, an alumni of OSC, who entered as a freshman in 1946. The first year after World War II was a time of dramatic growth and change as hundreds of veterans more than tripled the school's population. After her marriage, she was employed by Dr. Ordeman and worked in the Registrar's Office. This interview is being conducted on November 18, 1985, at Shirley Tacheron's home in Camas, Washington. The interviewer is Kim Smith, a graduate student enrolled in an Anthropology oral history class.

Shirley, how was it that you decided to attend Oregon State?

Shirley Tacheron: Well, I didn't decide. When you were in our family when you completed high school you went to Oregon State.


KS: Did you have other family members that attended?

ST: On the campus at that time? No, but my parents attended and my cousins before me, and it was the college you attended.

KS: A family tradition.

ST: Yeah, right.

KS: Can you tell me what it was like when you first went there? What your impressions were?

ST: Well, as I recall, for some reason, and I don't remember, we started a week late. I truly don't remember other than there was a lot of confusion. It was the first year that the veterans of World War II had returned, and so there many, many students--7,000+. A jump from the previous year. I believe there were like 3 or 4 [thousand]. So there was a lot of crowding and just you know. The campus, 00:02:00I don't think the campus has changed from then. It looks the same now as it did then with the exception of new buildings, of course. There are more buildings, but the beauty--the campus was beautiful with shrubbery and trees and so on and laid out nicely.

KS: The quad area and the MU [Memorial Union] was all the same?

ST: Mm-hmm. Yeah. The MU was there. That particular year the West end of the MU was used for women's dorms, which was interesting [laughs].

KS: Can you tell me more about that? How that came to be?

ST: Well, they didn't have enough places to put the women because of the increased enrollment. I think, and I'm kind of hazy about this too, but I think 00:03:00that they used some of the dorm facilities for men because they had so many men descend on the campus. I know that they had prefab [prefabricated] men's dorms on the west part of the campus too and faucet huts for classes and the Ag [agriculture] building, the administration building at that time, was prefab and they moved in from Adair, from Camp Adair.

KS: Where were they located?

ST: The Ag building was located near the Home Ec [Economics] building, off to the, corner to the west of the Home Ec building, I think. Yeah.


KS: Was it then next to a dorm? Next to Snell?

ST: It was, oh, no, it wasn't. it was in back of the Home Ec building, yes it was in back of Home Ec building and East of Snell Hall. I remember, yeah. Mm-hm. And we registered in the men's gym.

KS: Because there wasn't the coliseum.

ST: Mm-hmm. They started construction of the coliseum in 1950.

KS: Can you tell me a little about the faculty and this situation for the faculty? What classes?

ST: Well, I had a history class in a Quonset hut. I'm sure it must have been a 00:05:00burden for the faculty. I don't really remember. The only faculty member that I knew personally was Dean Gilfillan, who was dean of the Science Department at that time. He was a family friend. I knew him. But I didn't really know, and I can't, I don't know. Probably a pain.

KS: Can you tell me some of the activities that you encountered as an incoming freshman?

ST: The traditional things at that time were they had--Wednesdays were freshman day. They called it something. Anyway, and freshmen had to wear a green ribbon 00:06:00in their hair and the men were to wear a little green hat. Many of these returning veterans were not interested in doing that [laughs]. So that was a break from many of the traditions on a part of a lot of students at that time. They had a dance every Wednesday for the freshman. We had very, very rigid hours that were enforced, and this was difficult for me. Because there were returning women veterans too as well as men. In fact we had two in our dormitory. They found the rules and regulations difficult, really. Although they were serious 00:07:00students. But they really didn't feel that anyone needed to tell them at what time they should be in [laughs]. As I recall, they were kind of rebellious. The rest of us didn't know any differently than attempt to obey the rules.

KS: What were some of the rules?

ST: Well the hours were, as I recall, on Sundays we had to be in the dorm by 7:00 in the evening. Weekdays, if you went to the library, you didn't have to be back until 10:00, but you had to have permission from the house mother to go to the library. Thursday nights we were required to dress for meals for dinner. It 00:08:00seems to me that Friday night was midnight and Saturday night was 1:00 provided there was a dance, a campus activity. Otherwise, it was midnight. If you disobeyed these rules, the dorms were locked. You could not get in without climbing through a window or sneaking in. if you had to knock on the front door you had to talk to the house mother. If you were late and you didn't have to do that, then your parents were notified. They were very strict about if we went on a date to a place that served alcohol in that area they wrote your name down on a list which was turned into the Dean of Women. What else, let's see--that's 00:09:00about... Then there were always lots of rules concerning your behavior in the dorm. There was never any thought of men being in the dorm other than in the living room to pick up a date. Special permission for moving furniture and so on in the rooms, maybe. But I'm trying to think. I suppose that could have been up to the house mother, but-- smoking was permitted in smoking rooms only. They just, they had very rigid rules that they enforced. [Clears throat] Excuse me. I 00:10:00don't know. I don't think they were all that bad, really. Some of them maybe were a tad silly, but, it did seem to me that it didn't hurt people to--everybody needs limits [chuckles].

KS: Tell me more about the dinner meal you had dress for--when you say you had to dress for that?

ST: Oh, on Thursday, we had to wear stockings and a dress and the meal was served differently. We didn't go through the cafeteria. It was served family style, which was put on the table and somebody was the hostess. As I recall, we rotated rooms. We took turns doing that. And manners were required. There was, you'd get a, I can't remember--I kind of think we had to pay a nickel for an 00:11:00infraction of table manners. So they were strict about it.

KS: This was, sounds like, Sunday meal was with company?

ST: Right, well, and Sunday dinner was the same way. On Sunday we had a big meal at noon, or lunch at 1:00. I think it was at 1:00 or something. Then a supper in the evening. The rest of the week we had dinner in the evening. We had house mothers. I remember the house mother in Waldo was Mrs. Downs, and I can't remember. I lived in three dorms: I lived in Waldo and Snell, as did my mother, 00:12:00which was kind of interesting. In fact, we were the first people to live in the new Sackett Hall, which really was just a lovely dorm room. It wasn't finished when we moved in, and this created a lot of problems. They had a lot of trouble enforcing the rules. They couldn't lock the doors [laughs]. There were a lot of workmen in the basement. We called them the catacombs. But they really were, after having lived in those two old dormitory buildings, just really a nice place to live.

KS: How long before you were able to securely live?

ST: Oh it was just weeks, like it was just--[chuckles].


KS: Can you tell me more about the role of the Dean of Women?

ST: Well, she was very much a part of the campus life. Everybody knew her name, and she attended lots of the, she was in evidence, I guess you'd say, and not somebody we all knew who she was and she was influential in student behavior.

KS: So was her role, was she a liaison between students and their parents as well as students and faculty?

ST: Yes, I believe she was.


KS: And the administration?

ST: She had the best interest of the women students at heart and the things that she did and the example that she set, she felt was exemplary. It was exemplary. Certainly done purposefully for the young women to emulate her and be successful.

KS: Were there any specific incidents that you can remember that she was involved in for a student with the faculty?


ST: No. Not that I'm particularly aware of. Oh, you've got down on the outline under dorm life laundry. And yes, they did put laundry facilities in Sackett Hall. Previous to that, we sent our laundry home in laundry case, much to everybody's amazement in this day and age. But that's how it was done. It didn't occur to most of us that we could do our own laundry. There wasn't any place to 00:16:00do it. You sent your laundry home. But when they constructed Sackett Hall they put washers and dryers in the basement and laundry rooms.

KS: So you sent your laundry home, what, weekly?

ST: Mm-hm. I sent mine weekly. I assume that's how most of them did it, in a long thing called a laundry case. You bought it at a furniture store. That's what they were--or maybe it was at the bookstore. I don't remember where I bought it. A heavy metal box that fastened with two belts, one around either way, a reversible address, and you'd send your laundry over and your mother did it, or whoever, and it goes back in the laundry case and send it back to school.


KS: How would the laundry cases be sent home?

ST: In the mail. We mailed them at the post office. We'd call the post office.

KS: There was a post office on campus?

ST: At the MU. Mm-hm. The bookstore.

KS: I'm trying to visualize all these metal cases being delivered.

ST: [Laughs]. Well, and some of them were heavy cardboard. Yeah, heavy cardboard type cases.

KS: And your home was in Coos Bay. How long did it take for your laundry to get--?

ST: I don't remember. It couldn't have been over a week, because it would come back, and usually there were cookies or a new blouse in the laundry case, which was kind of nice [chuckles].

KS: How easy was your access to get home? Did you have your own transportation?


ST: No, we had only--Oh, let's see, the first year I was there just by bus. You couldn't get to Coos Bay or by train from Corvallis. You could by going to Portland, maybe Eugene. I don't recall. We never did use the train, I know. But then in 1948 an airport opened in Coos Bay and there was also one in Corvallis, and you could fly back and forth. Other than that, you had the Greyhound bus or the automobile.

KS: How long of a trip was that to go on the Greyhound?

ST: It seems to me like it was 4 or 5 hours, maybe longer because generally we'd go out to Newport and down the coast. So it'd be 4 or 5, four hours probably.


KS: And there was a train that went from Corvallis to Newport?

ST: A train?

KS: That you--

ST: I didn't know that. I never was on that. And what you got down here too: peer pressure, which there was a lot of. I did not join a sorority. I lived in a dorm all the time I was at Oregon State. Back then sororities were the thing to be in, and they didn't-- You can't, shouldn't make generalities, but the sorority girls really didn't like to mingle a whole lot with girls that did not belong.


I don't know. I understand that that norm was really true. It didn't make that much difference. I really don't know. I must have had the same feelings then that I have now about discrimination. I never did go through rush, and all my friends did. Well, except for one close friend. They'd go through rush and pledged and encouraged me to do this, but I never did. I never did want to for some reason.

KS: Was rush a big activity on campus?

ST: Very, yes, very. And there was--oh, it was a, as I recall, very tense time: 00:21:00wanting to be chosen by the right group and so I don't know, I just, I really don't believe in that and how it was done. And I just never--But at that time I really don't think I consciously, I don't know maybe I didn't do it because I was afraid I wouldn't pledge. I really don't know why I didn't do it at that time other than I disapproved of it in my own thinking. You didn't ever say it out loud to anybody [laughs]. I don't know. I guess disapprove isn't the right word. I shouldn't say that. It's not what I wanted for myself is a better way to put it. You want to talk about classes? They were most often co-ed 00:22:00[educational]. I was a Home Ec major, so there was very few men in any of my classes. It seems to me there were a few in composition and in some of the freshman classes English and so on there were men of course. But specifically Home Ec classes there were not.

We had the same women's gym that's there now. A lady named Mrs. Huprich who I'm sure had been an army sergeant, led our PE class. We had our PE class and we had 00:23:00our health classes in a wooden building next door to the gym. I can't remember the name of that building we talked about the other day when we were walking around on campus. I just don't remember. Oh, we had, maybe you still do this too, exchange dances with various other dormitories, men's dorm and sororities and fraternities. We would have what they called exchange dances. Those were fun. They were small and with the other living organizations. They were a lot of 00:24:00fun. The MU dances were a lot of fun. I remember while I was there, must have been '48, '47 or '48, Stan Kenton, who became famous for his jazz contribution, his band came and played a concert. It was the first time that I was aware of that a dance band played a concert where you sat and listened rather than danced. The vocalist was June Christy. It was an event. Another band I remember coming there was Vaughn Monroe. Quite a dance at Oregon State.


KS: These dances--were they well attended?

ST: Very well attended. You bet. And they were formal. The girls in all the dresses and very, very crowded. Everybody went. And very few cars. You walked down, unless you were [trails off]. The homecoming was very traditional. Well, I don't know if they still have homecoming sign competition or not? The living organizations? And I was there, once again, at the end of World War II and the kinds of things you used for making signs and floats and so on had been totally 00:26:00unavailable for several years and so it was just, really, everybody just went crazy making animated signs. People really got into homecoming. It was a big event, lots of visitors, yeah, and-- Wagner's--that was the name of the restaurant. That's where you always went with your parents.

KS: Oh, that was the parent's facility.

ST: Yeah. When your parents came to town. Oh, on Monroe Street, that description of Monroe Street? There was The Electric Lunch. Starting at 23rd and Monroe, 00:27:00that corner was a drug store, and then you'd go down the north side, of course the south side was campus. That was a drug store and I don't remember what was in there. There was the campus ministry house and a place called Electric Lunch. There was a dress shop and a florist shop.

KS: What about getting your hair done? Did you--?

ST: Oh, there was a beauty parlor in the Memorial Union. I think I had my hair cut there a couple times, but we didn't--whole permanents were just coming out. 00:28:00I don't, but we all set our own hair. Everybody did their own pin curls back in those days. I don't recall ever going there other than like a date when I'd dressed up.

KS: What about the dating, the dating scene?

ST: Oh, it was anybody, any girl there could go out three times a night, if she wished [laughs], because of the ratio of men to women, there were at least twice as many men, probably three times as many men as women. They'd all, it was like [unintelligible]. They were ready to play.

KS: What were some of the places that you would go to most often?

ST: Oh, we'd go to the [unintelligible] the Chat-n-Chew between Philomath and 00:29:00Corvallis. There was a place in Albany. I don't remember the name of it. We used to out to Colorado Lake a lot. And then the beach. That was a lot of fun. And in the winter people would go up to Hoodoo to ski. I think probably pretty much the same things now that...

KS: What about house dances? Were there a lot of house dances?

ST: It seems to me like nearly every weekend there was a dance to go to. One of 00:30:00the dances was during the middle of the week, I can't remember what we called it. But anyway, and there were, oh, there was a Chinese tea room downtown, and that was kind of fun to go to. It seems to me like there were two theaters, and the drive-in theater between Albany and Corvallis opened while I was in college. And that, oh my that was a big deal. I don't know who Helen is? You have Dean of Women?


KS: I was wondering if you knew who the Dean of Women was?

ST: Milam.

KS: Milam.

ST: Now, Kim, some of this stuff we talked about before I'm not going to put on a tape [laughs].

KS: Would you like me to turn the tape off?

ST: Turn the recorder off [laughs]. We had a really wonderful basketball team and everybody was, all the students were really supportive of basketball. And they played then in the old men's gym, and they could only get a couple thousand people into the building. At that time it was 7,000 students on campus. Getting 00:32:00to see a basketball game was a real treat. Back then they played two consecutive nights they'd play back to back. So the even-numbered students body cards to go one night and the odd-numbered student body cards the next night. People would stand in line just to get in to see the event, and they'd stand in line all afternoon. I guess it still is about the same ratio, just about, it's a bigger problem now I guess than it was back then to see a basketball game. But it seems to me they, I know they were West Coast League Champion in I think '46 or '47. 00:33:00And then the coliseum was constructed while we were there. Maybe it was completed in 19--no, because we would go in the--. But I think the coliseum was finished by 1950, maybe in '49. Well, because I--no, it would have been '50 because when I worked for Dr. Ordeman we had registration in the coliseum for the first time and we set it up. Let's see, you asked me some questions about 00:34:00Dr. Ordeman. He was the registrar, and another kind of a thing that was interesting at the time, I think, was anybody involved with the mechanics of running a college, and later in 1950 Dr. Ordeman and Eva Blackwell, who was the assistant registrar, were doing the grades were pen in ink. The grades were still being done by hand. They wrote them all.

KS: You said they also set up registration in the Memorial Union?

ST: I mean in the, I'm sorry, the coliseum. Right. Oh, we, let's see one year registration was--was registration in the ball room of the MU one year? I think 00:35:00it was a long time ago.

KS: When did you start working for Dr. Ordeman?

ST: In 1950. When my husband, Bob, who was in school. Let's see, I went to work for him in, I want to say like in the Spring of 1950.

KS: Was it after, right after, you were married?

ST: Yes. We were married in November of 1949 and then went back to on campus. Bob started Winter quarter in January and I [unintelligible]

KS: Were there many positions available for married wives?

ST: Well, there must have been, Kim, because I don't remember going to work being a problem. You decided you were going to go to work, and you went to work. 00:36:00I worked one summer, and it must have been that summer--I not only worked at the Registrar's Office. I did a lot of typing for a lady that was getting her doctorate. What was her name? I can't remember. An older lady who was getting her Ph.D. as well as worked for the registrar. I just really don't think--I think there were lots of jobs available for anybody that--we had to take the State's civil service exam. If you passed that then you were, working was not a problem.

KS: Were there many married students?

ST: Oh, probably, I think probably. Yes there were. I don't know what the 00:37:00percentage would have been, but there were many, many married men and women.

KS: Was it possible to be married and still go to school as well as being able to be a student, or?

ST: Yeah. Mm-hm. I don't think very many of them did. Most of our friends, the wife worked and the husband went to school [chuckles].

KS: So when you worked full time--

ST: Yes, yes, I did. And my particular job was I evaluated transfer students who entered.

KS: Can you tell me a little about your housing?

ST: Housing for married students was a real problem. We lived in the upstairs of a little house that was nestled by the railroad track [chuckles] in back of 00:38:00[unintelligible]. It's no longer standing. They took all those houses down and put in a parking lot for the housings. But it was sub-standard housing and I don't remember knowing anybody that lived in a decent, a married student, that lived in a decent place. They really were just crummy dumps for the most part. I assume that's been remedied. I imagine [chuckles]. Yeah. But the construction of Gill Coliseum was a real event. It was a desperately needed facility, and it really was an eventful thing when it opened, and we had a place big enough to do 00:39:00some things. Because previous to that they really didn't.

KS: How adequate was the administration building?

ST: Well, terrible. It was just a series of prefab buildings that were put together and, as I remember, a kind of an L-shape, and they were hot in the summer and cold in the winter, and they were just shells. Everything, all shelving and counters and that kind of thing, had to be added. Plus they were small. But it was better than the, it was a bigger facility than the old 00:40:00administration building, which was down on the lower part of campus. I don't remember much about that building. We were never really in it for registration.

KS: Did the president live on campus? Near the campus? Was it President Strand?

ST: I probably was President Strand. I assume so. I don't got any idea. I don't know.

KS: Was he very visible on campus?

ST: I don't think so, although I remember him. So maybe he was. I don't remember that making any particular impression. I may remember him because I remember 00:41:00meeting him one time at the Gilfillan's. But I don't remember that he'd-- I think he was kind of--I don't know. Not anybody the students were aware of particularly. Much rivalry with the University of Oregon. I'm sure that hasn't changed.

KS: How did that manifest itself?

ST: Well, there would be at the time during a big string of athletic events, there would be the burning of the letters of the colleges in the various lawns 00:42:00[chuckles] back and forth. I had friends that they were in a sorority-- that'd be everybody else. There was, because of--the rivalry at the games, I kind of thought, used to get out of hand because at the end people would get in a, there would be an occasional fist fight [chuckles]. The University of Oregon always [recording cuts off].