Working with Ralph D. Cornell (1908-1972), who would go on to become supervising landscape architect at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) from 1937 to 1972, architect Harry K. Vaughn developed a general plan for the Fullerton Junior College in 1935. The general plan, which was featured in the November 1936 issue of California Arts and Architecture, was inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia, and consisted of rectangular classrooms, administrative, and recreational buildings arranged in axial fashion around a central library. Federal relief funds were available, and the Board of Trustees hoped to complete all of the buildings shown on the plan in ten years.
The Commerce Building was the first building to be selected for construction, and the campus went all out to celebrate the event. During Blue and Gold Week in March 1936, students marched to the new campus site for ground-breaking ceremonies.
At the stroke of 11:00 a.m. on March 12, 1936, hundreds of students, led by the Fullerton Junior College Band and the Humana Symphony Choir, left the old campus for the new one. The FJC band was an informal mix of high school and college students, and when it was discovered in 1939 that FJC was the only large college in Southern California that did not have a marching band to aid in the athletic and social activities of the school, the Student Commission quickly appropriated $600 for uniforms and equipment.
Many notable City of Fullerton figures attended the ground-breaking event, which included the laying of the cornerstone, and as the jaysee collegians cheered, an imperishable copper tube that contained the names of the entire student body and faculty was buried in cement. Harry K. Vaughn, the campus architect, is standing in the center of the front row. At the time of the Commerce Building’s construction, and well into the 1960s, there were still houses on Lemon (then Harvard) Avenue, and the back of the dwellings can be seen in the background of this photograph.
The Humana Symphony Choir performed at the cornerstone ceremony, followed by speeches from notables, including Superintendent Louis E. Plummer (seated, left of flag), from the dais. The seated man on the right with the white hair and moustache is Mayor William (Billy) H. Hale, who was then running for a third term.
Because the Commerce Building (now the 300 Building) was the first building on campus, construction was closely documented and watched by students and residents alike. This photograph shows the land being graded for construction. While the majority of new campus buildings were funded by the Work Projects Administration (WPA), the Commerce Building was actually funded by the Public Works Administration (PWA), which ran from 1933 to 1939, pumping over six billion dollars into the economy.
Architect Harry K. Vaughn (right,standing) supervised construction of all the new campus buildings, working closely with Plant/Building Superintendent William (Willy) B. Potter (left, standing), shown here in 1935. Working under Carleton Winslow, Vaughn had supervised construction of all of the new buildings on the old high school campus, and he was ideally suited to overseeing the New Deal projects completed on the college campus. Potter monitored the construction of the campus buildings and maintained a detailed log during the construction of the Technical Trades Building. Working with Vaughn, Potter assisted in the layout of the water system, including the placement of drain pipes and the sprinkling system. Kneeling, in white pants, is Howard Keepers, the head custodian.
One of the most important individuals during this first construction period was William (Willie) B. Potter (1886-1967). Before assuming the position of Plant/Building Superintendent, Potter designed and constructed Fullerton homes with local contractors Robert Ben Carey (1882-1967). The two men built a number of dwellings town (e.g., 1234 Luanne, 115 South Malden, 701 N. Richman, etc.), but are best known for the Brea Creek Bridge and the American Legion Patriotic Hall, now the Hillcrest Park Recreation Center. When the bottom fell out of the construction market during the Depression, the two men worked on separate projects. Carey was appointed to the Library Board of Trustees in 1936, then resigned in 1940 to become supervisor for the construction of the WPA Fullerton Public Library (now the Fullerton Museum Center), working under architect Harry K. Vaughn. Potter was elected twice to the Fullerton City Council, serving from 1928 to 1932. Working under college architect Harry K. Vaughn, Potter oversaw construction of the first campus buildings in the 1930s, including the Commerce Building, the Technical Education Building, and the Social Science and Administration Building. After World War II, he supervised the installation of Federal Public Housing Authority (FPHA) dwelling units on the north side of the campus. The barracks-styled units were moved from military installations and then re-erected on the campus grounds as housing for veterans attending Fullerton College. Potter was also a charter member of the Fullerton Fire Department, established on August 6, 1908, later serving as assistant fire chief. He remained a volunteer fireman for over fifty years. Potter is on the far right in this photograph. (Courtesy of the Fullerton Public Library.)
This is a photograph of architect Harry K. Vaughn taken at the time he was working on the new Fullerton Junior College campus. The photograph was most likely taken by his wife, Helen Allingham, a photographer. A 57-year resident of San Diego, Vaughn lived in Fullerton from 1935 to 1942, taking an office on the 4th floor of the prestigious Chapman Building, but returned to San Diego in 1943 where he remained until his death in 1962. While living in San Diego in his early twenties, Vaughn had received local athletic fame as the champion sculler of Southern California. As a member of the San Diego Rowing Club, he won the single-scull championship (one and a half miles with a turn) for three years running,1906-1908, and was later included in the San Diego Hall of Champions in Balboa Park. While working in Fullerton, Vaughn had offices in the Chapman Building (112 E. Wilshire) and rented at the Dewella Apartments (324 E. Wilshire). (Courtesy of the Fullerton Public Library)
Taken on December 31, 1941, this is Harry K. Vaughn standing in front of the entrance to the new Fullerton Public Library, now the Fullerton Museum Center, on Pomona Avenue. Impressed with Vaughn’s architectural designs, the efficiency with which he supervised building construction, and his ability to obtain federal relief funds, the Fullerton Library Trustees asked Vaughn to design the new WPA Library. Relations between Vaughn and the Library Board of Trustees were cordial, but Vaughn had difficulty getting paid for the project. One of the former Library Trustees had also resigned so that he could supervise the project, but he quickly began interfering with the Library’s construction, to Vaughn’s increasing anger. The Library was Vaughn’s last project in Fullerton. (Courtesy of the Fullerton Public Library)
While in Fullerton, Harry K. Vaughn also did private commissions, including the home of Louis E. Plummer. The home was originally located at 226 Helen Drive, but was later moved to 104 Park View Drive in 1942/43.
Taken in the 1930s, this is Margaret Plummer, the daughter of Louis E. Plummer, outside their Harry K. Vaughn designed home. Margaret was a nursing student. (Courtesy of the Fullerton Public Library.)
This photo, one of dozens taken, shows the close documentation given to the Commerce Building, now the 300 building, during construction. Workers are shown here in 1935 excavating the land. To create jobs for unemployed workers, all of the labor was done by hand. When test pits were sunk to determine the character of the soil, it was discovered that the ground consisted of layers of silt, sand, and loam of very low bearing value, so poured piles were used for the foundation work.
This 1939 shot shows the front façade (east side) of the completed Commerce Building. After construction, fifty percent of the student body began attending classes in the new building.
This is the rear (west) side of the Commerce Building.
When the Commerce Building was finally completed and dedicated, a celebratory dance was held on the basketball court in the gymnasium in 1937.
The Commerce Building contained an actual student bank, shown here in 1937, which provided hands-on banking experience for students. When the Great Depression began, students could pick up their National Youth Authority (NYA) relief funds from one of the tellers.
The bank itself was also a classroom where students could take courses on banking and finance.
The listing of classes was still small enough during this period for it to fit on one page of the student newspaper.
Women did take business and finance courses in the new Commerce Building, but were only trained for clerical or support positions. In this late 1930s shot of a Commerce Building classroom, female students are learning the fine art of filing.
In this mid-1930s photograph, female students are learning how to answer telephones and take messages. The desk candlestick telephones with the “pony” receivers would soon be replaced by round or oval based telephones with a single handset cradle for both speaking and hearing.
This 1938 photo shows an English class being taught in the new Commerce Building. The instructor, Richard Warner Borst, is standing at the back of the classroom. A well-respected and much loved instructor, Borst taught English and creative writing at FJC for decades. Borst published grammar and composition books (A Diagram Review of Grammar, 1929, and Definition and Design, 1938), a collection of verse (The Human Cry, 1911), and a novel (Freshwater, 1954), a tale of a carpenter who moves to the small town of Freshwater. The novel’s jacket blurb describes the plot’s twists as “so bizarre that only a novelist thoroughly the master of his materials would dare present it.” R. W. Borst’s son, Philip West Borst, served as President of Fullerton College from 1977 until his retirement in 1994.
As the new campus buildings were constructed, new programs were added, including nursing and cosmetology. The nursing program began in 1936-37. Students in the program are shown here in 1941. Those who desired to go as quickly as possible into hospital training could do so upon completing the first year courses.
Furnished in blue and cream, the Cosmetology laboratory looked like a Fifth Avenue beauty salon. In their four hour laboratory period each afternoon, students gained skill by practicing free of charge on beauty-seeking women of the campus. After 350 hours of practice, students became “senior operators” qualified to charge customers. Fourteen female members of the first cosmetology class in 1941 formed a sorority, Chi Beta Chi.
After the Commerce Building, the next building to be constructed on campus was the Administration and Social Science Building in 1938, also built with PWA funds. In addition to administrative offices, it provided a half-dozen large classrooms and a student lounge or study hall, which was available for social events. In 1955/56, part of this building was demolished and an architecturally incompatible wing, designed by Taylor, Warren, Nishimoto, & Conner of Pasadena, was added. Returning to the campus for a visit after the remodel, architect Harry K. Vaughn was extremely angered by the changes to the building and vowed that he would never work with the campus again.
In this 1938 photograph, a female student suns herself on the wall outside the new Administration Building. The brick walls guided students from one building to another. Harry K. Vaughn was aware that he was not only constructing a series of educational buildings, but an entire campus, and he also designed lovely paths and walkways between the structures to match the architecture.
Using WPA funds, the campus also built service tunnels for plant workman from the power house east under Lemon Avenue to the various buildings on the FJC site for $37,612 (the federal government furnished $25,214). Water-proofed, the tunnels (approximately 2137 feet of catacombs) provided protection and accessibility for steam lines, hot and cold water mains, gas and air lines, sewage and electrical conduits, and conduits for the clock, bell, public address, and school telephone wires. Over time, the tunnels became a concern, and there were structural failures on small section of the tunnel network. During later renovation projects, some of the tunnels were filled in with concrete and wiring and plumbing were re-routed.
This is a shot of the tunnels in the 1940s. During World War II, administrators planned to use the tunnels during air raids, but those never happened.
After the Administration and Social Science Building was completed, the next building on campus was the Technical Trades Building (now the 600 Building), shown here under construction in 1937. The building presented a special construction problem because the foundation and floors had to be strong enough to withstand the weight and vibration of heavy machinery. Rooms in this new building were used for mechanical and architectural drawing, machine and welding shops, mill and cabinet work, and instructors’ offices and lecture rooms. Unlike the previous two campus buildings, the Technical Trades Building was constructed using WPA funds.
The Technical Trades Building was followed by the Student Union Building (now the 840 building), shown here under construction in 1939. The wood and stucco building housed lockers and rest room facilities for college students.
In 1939, an east wing was added to the Student Union Building to house the bookstore, publication offices, and student body offices. These two photos show the interior of the bookstore in 1941.
Interior shot of the bookstore in 1941.
A fountain and lunch counter were added to the Student Union Building in 1941, but until then, college students continued to use the high school cafeteria, shown here in the mid-1930s. During the Great Depression, students receiving relief funds were often allowed to eat for free.
Before the construction of the Hornet Hive, a campus eatery, students hung out at Scottie’s, conveniently situated along Smoke Alley between the high school and college. Scottie’s was constantly crowded with students seeking fun and relaxation during their free time. It also was the spot to purchase Arden Sunfreze Ice Cream, one of the best selling lines for Arden Farms, the first certified milk dairy in California (1904).
Scottie’s closed in 1943, when it was replaced by the Hornet Hive, shown here under construction in 1941. The building was constructed for around $15,000.
On warm days, the area outside the Student Union (known simply as “the Patio”) became the social and study place of the student body. The large tables, bright umbrellas, and benches around the trees afforded an ideal place for relaxation. The Patio area was also adjacent to the Hornet Hive, a popular campus hang-out where students could get a sandwich or coke.
A student-owned eat and drink shop, the Hive, which was adjacent to the Student Union Building and lockers, became equally popular with students, and it was a sure place to hear the latest news, get a ride to the beach, obtain family notes and messages, or snag a date for the week-end. It also served as a reunion center for college alumni. The juke box was usually playing, and Mrs. Schuepbach, the general hostess of the Hive, was around to distribute double lime cokes and sandwiches.
The Hive had small heaters, but on cold or rainy days, students could hang out in the Social Hall, shown here in 1938. The Administration and Social Science Building contained two large student study and lounge rooms, as well as a large and well-equipped kitchen available for student use.
Those who wanted to meet off campus usually ended up at the College Inn (246-248 E. Chapman), which rapidly became one of Fullerton’s most popular student gathering places. In addition to a juke box, the Inn, located right across the street from Fullerton Union High School, featured sandwiches, special ice creams, and refreshing drinks. Male students who wanted to play pool congregated at Joe's.
Another popular place to hang out was Evans Candy Shop, located on the northeast corner of Amerige and Harbor Avenues (200 N. Harbor). The sweets were a draw, but students really enjoyed the soda fountain, considered the best in town. Owner Otto Evans was known as Mr. Fullerton because of his never-ending boosterism. He once sold tickets to a Fullerton event to complete strangers while on vacation in Hawaii. In this photograph, Fullerton College students engage in impromptu singing on the roof.
Because the campus had no hedges, trees, or flowers, the WPA also funded $47,793 for campus landscaping. To provide jobs, the initial landscaping was done by unemployed workers, such as those in this photograph working outside the new Commerce Building in 1938.
WPA funds were also used to build a greenhouse in 1937. The greenhouse was used for horticulture classes, but equally important, students were able to propagate plants that were then used for campus landscaping, saving money needed for other projects.
Fullerton Junior College students enrolled in landscape architecture courses were also given hands-on experience in landscaping. The loveliness of the new campus was not lost on students. The 1943 yearbook noted: “Inspirational beauty is the key note to the landscaping of the Fullerton campus. A vast expanse of lawn, lovely flowers, and many newly planted trees make a perfect background for the magnificent buildings of Spanish stucco. The brilliant sunshine brings every color vividly to life, the green of the grass, the tan of the buildings and the red of the roofs.” The new Commerce Building (300 building) is in the background.
Initially, college students, especially those enrolled in agriculture clubs, were called upon to maintain the landscaping for both the college and high school. When the Depression started, students needing money for college were often hired with federal relief funds to maintain the campus grounds. Taken in the mid-1930s, this photograph shows a college student mowing the lawn in front of Fullerton Union High School.
In October 1940, 75 Japanese high school and college students presented the campus with a lovely Japanese garden. Some of the students who landscaped the new garden are shown in this photograph. Situated west of the Administration Building, the garden featured a pond filled with lilies and goldfish, while typical Japanese trees lined the edges.
The Japanese Club, which included both high school and college students, was mentored by Anita Shepardson, a math instructor at both schools from 1913 to 1945. During a time when Japanese and Japanese Americans were sometimes faced with anti-Japanese sentiments and segregation, Miss Shepardson strove to promote cultural understanding and friendship between students. When Shepardson passed away in 1945, her family presented her Japanese doll collection to the Library. The dolls are currently displayed on the first floor of the library.
This photo shows the student parking lot on registration day, September 8, 1940, at 7:45 a.m. Many students attending the college furnished their own transportation. For the accommodation of cars, a federal project was undertaken to grade and surface an approximately 60,000-square-foot area lying at the east end of College Place and Nutwood Place off Lemon Avenue (behind the Student Union Building). The area was leveled and surfaced with oil and accommodated around 280 cars. A parking lot with 65 spaces was also set aside near the power station for faculty members. Before the parking lot was paved, it became flooded and muddy during rain storms so students dubbed it Lake Fullertonian. On page two of the Feb. 21, 1941 issue of the Weekly Torch, the newspaper ran a series of photographs of the slippery lot.
While the new buildings were still being constructed on the FJC campus, many students still walked over to the high school to attend classes. The route that all students took going from one campus to another was nicknamed Smoke Alley or Tobacco Road because it was a good spot for a quick cigarette break. Fullerton College became a smoke free campus in 2007. A poll taken by the Weekly Torch staff, reported in the May 23, 1941 issue, found that out of 462 students, 267 were opposed to campus smoking, 73 were in favor, and 122 were indifferent.
This 1943 shot shows a couple strolling along Smoke Alley or Tobacco Road.
It was not unusual for two or three groups of students gathered on Smoke Alley to talk, argue or engage in some type of game (in this case, craps).
Until well after World War II, this small sign marked the location of the college. During this period, the high school and college basically functioned as one unit with the Board of Trustees administering both schools. As late as 1945, college science, mathematics, physical education, business, home economics, art, and music classes were still sharing the high school buildings. The college paid an annual rent of $30,000 to the high school for the use of its buildings.
From 1936-1941, the physical appearance of the once vacant campus land changed significantly. This aerial shot of the campus was taken in 1938.
This aerial shot shows the campus two years later in 1940. Starting in 1941, federal relief funds declined dramatically, limiting the construction of new buildings on campus. When World War II started, all federal money was funneled toward the war effort, and it was not until the mid-1950s that FJC began another building program. At the time of this photo, FJC ranked 7th in enrollment in California with 1469 students. The top junior college in the state was Los Angeles City College with 4837 students. The State’s 46 junior colleges had a total attendance of 43,652.
The Board of Trustees oversaw the construction of the new campus. Members during this period (left to right) were Claude Ridgway, Albert Launer, John Schiller, Fred Johnson, and Leland B. Stewart.
Dean William T. Boyce (left) and Superintendent Louis E. Plummer (right) hand out diplomas to members of the 1939 graduating class. Boyce would be demoted as dean a year later and temporarily replaced with Acting Dean Samuel H. Cortez, but reinstated in 1943, when Cortez asked for a leave of absence to enter military service. Friday, June 20, 1941, saw the highest number of graduates during this period: 300 students. Ceremonies were held in the high school auditorium (later Plummer Auditorium) at 8:00 p.m. Enrollment reached a peak of 1500 in 1939, but declined even before World War II as students entered the draft or accepted jobs in the defense industry. As with the previous period, a significant number of graduates were from prominent and pioneer Fullerton and Orange County families, including Walter and Marjorie Chaffee, Jay McAulay, Lucina Maag, Robert Bastanchury, Ray Launer, Harry Maxwell, Jr., Walter and Vivian Cadman, Herbert Ford, John Starbuck, Doris Tuffree, Claire Crooke, Wanda Stedman, Warren Bowen, etc. The largest minority group of graduates was Asian.
This 1940 photo shows Louis E. Plummer using a microphone to make an address to the campus. A few months later, he would be removed as superintendent of the high school and college by members of the Board of Trustees. His firing upset students, faculty, and members of the Fullerton community at large. Fullerton residents petitioned the Orange County Grand Jury to investigate the Trustees, but the Grand Jury found nothing to justify the action. Plummer’s removal was due to a number of factors: his proposed changes in the heads of departments; angry suppliers who weren’t awarded contracts for campus building projects; and the election of a new member to the Board of Trustees who did not support Plummer.
Louis E. Plummer’s removal prompted R. Dudley Boyce (left), editor of the 1941 Torch annual, to dedicate the yearbook to Plummer, a move which almost got him expelled. Dudley (known as “Dud”) would make his father William T. Boyce proud by going on to graduate with a Ph.D. from Stanford, attend the Harvard Graduate School of Business as a naval officer candidate, and serve as a founding faculty member of Coast Community College from 1948 to 1957. From 1965 to 1976, Dudley served as the first president of Golden West College, overseeing the college as it grew from farmland into a full-fledged campus. In 1983, Dudley returned to the Golden West campus for the dedication of the R. Dudley Boyce Library and Learning Center, the first time a Golden West College edifice had been named for a person. Unlike his long-lived father, who lived to the age of 90, Dudley Boyce died in 1984 at the age of 62 after a series of heart attacks.
While Dean Boyce supported his son’s publication of the 1941 Torch, he was not so supportive of Arnold Fickle, 1935 vice-president of the Associated Student Body. In 1936, Fickle served as one of the editors of an unofficial student magazine titled The Stinger, which contained jokes, witticisms, cartoons, and acidic commentary on campus personalities. Although other FJC students had worked on the publication, Fickle was the only student identified. Boyce threatened “consequences” if The Stinger was published, finding it “too raw” and “off color”. All 1,500 copies of the magazine quickly sold out. Facing suspension, Fickle defended his association with the publication, declaring he had a right to join the venture since it was not a student body endeavor. Boyce countered that the magazine bore the college emblem, used the college address for mailing, referred to college personalities, and contained cigarette advertisements in violation of school rules. More than half the members of the student body signed petitions asking that Fickle be reinstated after his suspension, but the Board of Trustees stood firm. Fickle transferred to Santa Ana College where he graduated in 1937. The Weekly Torch made no mention of the dispute, but it was closely followed by the Los Angeles Times the first two weeks of March 1936, resulting in bad press for the college. The fight over what students could and could not publish would continue in the next decades, with conflict reaching a head in October 1960 with publication of The Black Flag: A Journal of Opinions, which rocked the campus community. During this period, the official literary publication was Flagstones, available for a quarter in the bookstore.
Louis E. Plummer’s replacement as Superintendent was Frederick T. Chemberlen, the former Executive Secretary of the Board of Trustees and Director of Personnel. Before coming to Fullerton, Chemberlen was active in the Los Angeles City School system. He lasted as superintendent until 1943, and eventually moved to Long Beach where he worked as an administrator for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) until retiring and moving to Los Alamitos.
Chemberlen was replaced by Alfred S. Redfern, who served as superintendent until June 30, 1945, when he retired after thirty-two years of service in secondary education in Fullerton. After retiring, Redfern took up the hobby of shell collecting, eventually amassing 3,000 shells for some 1,500 identified species as far away as Australia. Redfern donated his shell collection to the FJC Science Division in 1962.
When Dr. William T. Boyce was demoted, Mrs. Esther Litchfield also lost her position as Dean of Women. She was replaced by Mrs. Myrtle V. Stuelke, an English faculty member, in 1943. In an article in the Fullerton News Tribune, later reprinted in May 1945 issue of Junior College Journal, Mrs. Stuelke described her new job as being “counselor, guide, and friend to every woman in college” (p. 424). FJC continued to have Men and Women’s Deans into the 1960s.
That same year, the Dean of Men was Denver S. Garner, a former speech instructor and forensic advisor. One of Garner’s responsibilities was to assist the Associated Men Students in their annual Stag event held in the men’s gymnasium. Male students and their fathers were entertained with various tumbling acts, while bar work, boxing, and wrestling matches were featured.
The unsung heroes of the campus were often the support staff. Beatrice DeVelbiss, shown here in 1939 with an unidentified student, was the secretary of the Deans of Men and Women’s Office.
In this 1945 photo, Dr. William T. Boyce (center) stands with faculty members. World War II depleted the ranks of the faculty, and older instructors, who would have preferred to retire, continued to teach.
In 1934, FJC formally adopted the hornet as their official mascot. Originally known as the Yellowjackets, the name Hornet was given to Fullerton in 1921-22 when it became inconvenient to come up with yells and songs using the word yellowjackets. Physical education instructors Arthur L. Nunn and Loren O. Culp held a contest to change the name. Class poet Betty Frazee,inspired by the blue and gold striped socks worn by the football squad, wrote a poem titled “The Hornet,” then entered the contest and won. As the class colors were gold and blue, the Hornet name seemed perfect as the gold reflected the yellow color of a hornet, and the blue represented the mood of opponents after they have been stung. The campus was later nicknamed Hornetville, with female students as Henriettas and male student as Herbies (when together they were known as a swarm). The look of the hornet mascot changed over the decades. During construction in the 2000s, the hornet mascot was given a hardhat and nicknamed Buzzy.
These short poems from the March 14, 1941 issue of the Weekly Torch reflect how FJC students viewed Herbie and Henrietta Hornet.
Student population peaked at 1500 during this period, small enough for the students to still get to know one another. Prior to World War II, the student newspaper featured a popular gossip column that tracked the comings and goings of students.
In 1940/41, FJC’s 1200 students elected Roland Tornquist, a graduate of Whittier Union High School, as student president. He would go on to become San Bernardino County Assessor.
In 1943/44, Joan Guss, a Speech Arts major, became the first woman to hold the office of student body president. A member of Delta Psi Omega, a national dramatics fraternity, she appeared in the 1944 campus production of Claudia, a very popular comedy based on the novels of Rose Franken (1895-1988). Upon graduation, Guss would transfer to Occidental College
In 1940, Opal Ulrich, a Life Science major, achieved the highest grade point average ever attained at Fullerton Junior College. At the time, students received a grade point total and Ulrich led with 54. Twelve other students earned 45 grade points or more.
While a student at FJC, Betty Lou Nichols was designated the class artist and cartoonist, and her work was often featured in the student newspaper and other campus publications. “Hoarding” is one of her cartoons, appearing in the October 16, 1942 issue of the Weekly Torch. Family and friends called her B’Lou (pronounced “blue”), and she often just signed her early work as Blue or Blue Renken.
Internationally-known ceramicist Betty Lou Nichols was born Betty Lou Renken in 1922. She attended FJC from 1940 to 1942, where she was an art major and developed her talents as a ceramicist. In 1942, she married fellow FJC student John Nichols. When her husband joined the armed forces, Nichols began making pottery in her old childhood playhouse in the backyard of her parents’ home in La Habra (118 West Frances). Her one cubic foot gas kiln handled five pieces at a time. Her first figures—head vases featuring “the Gay ‘90s”—were first sold to the Bullock’s Wilshire department store in Los Angeles. Her artwork is still featured in museum shows.
Betty Lou Nichols specialized in head vases, which became so popular that she and her husband set up a factory and showroom in La Habra that featured just her work. Her vases were unique in that she used cooking utensils and equipment (e.g., cookie cutters, pasta cutters, pasta makers, rolling pins, etc.) to make her pottery. Her work is featured in Maddy Gordon’s Head Vases Etc.: The Artistry of Betty Lou Nichols published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd., and her pottery may be purchased on the Internet through such websites as Ebay and Etsy. In her final years, Nichols turned to painting. Her portrait of President William T. Boyce is housed in the Fullerton College Library Archives.
In 1943, Betty Jo Beaver became the first handicapped student to graduate from FJC. Deaf from birth, Beaver was assisted by fellow cosmetology student Maribelle Jones. The campus would not offer services for the handicapped until after World War II.
Another influential student from this period was Jack W. Cadman (1918-2003), who studied forensic science at FJC in the late 1930s. After serving in the Navy during World War II, Cadman started the first Orange County Crime Laboratory in 1948 in a converted women’s restroom in the county jail. For the first ten years, he worked alone, establishing methods for analyzing drugs and narcotics, and for typing blood found at crime scenes. He created groundbreaking methods using the gas chromatograph and ultraviolet spectrophotometer for identifying samples of blood, breath, and urine, and his research laid the groundwork for development of the Breathalyzer.
Before World War II, the campus sophomores held a yearly popularity contest to determine the best liked students. In 1938, the winners were Pony Swenson and June Massey.
In 1939, FJC started electing an annual Turkey Day Queen who was crowned at half time ceremonies during a Thanksgiving Eve football game. The 1941 winner was Milo Sweeney from Anaheim.
The grand finale of Blue and Gold Day in May was the Candelight Dance. In 1944, Prince Tom Bevins and Princess Eva Bonner were crowned in the traditional ceremony to reign over Hornetville.
To celebrate the town’s first fifty years, Fullerton residents staged various celebratory events across the city during 1937. As part of the celebration, townspeople voted for the Queen of the Golden Jubilee. Four Fullerton co-eds were nominated, but the selection of Pearl McAulay Phillips, a former FJC student, as Queen was controversial at the time because she was married.
One of the most prominent positions on campus was chairman of the Social Committee, a position always held by a female student. The chairman directed plans for all study body functions, including the fall and spring formals, the annual picnic, the receptions for the opening of new buildings, the Christmas party, and other numerous social events. The chairman for 1938 was Mary Jean Cox.
The chairman of the Social Committee was assisted by five student members and a number of deputized associates, with the Dean of Women serving as advisor. This photo features Social Committee members for 1943. When World War II began, many social events were curtailed by dim-outs and gas rationing.
This 1938 photo features the annual sophomore formal dance, an event planned by Social Committee members.
In this 1943 photo, two couples dance at the Spring Formal, always held at the end of the school year.
While the campus sponsored formal dances each year, the most popular dances were actually the impromptu noon dances held in the women’s lounge. Beginning promptly at twelve and ending with the one o’clock bell, students danced on soaped-up floors to the music of popular recording artists.
Social Committee members also planned this 1944 annual fall picnic held in the Sycamore Grove area of nearby Hillcrest Park. Afterwards a dance was held at the American Legion Hall (now the Hillcrest Park Recreation Center).
Off Lemon Avenue, Hillcrest Park became a popular hang-out for students. This photo shows a couple sitting and standing near the brickwork leading to the entrance to the Isaac Walton Cabin in 1940. All of the stonework in the park was hand-made by unemployed laborers hired by WPA funds. At the beginning of the Depression, many of the park workers actually camped out on the grounds because they could not afford housing.
One of the most memorable events took place in October 1941 when country music star Tex Ritter (1905-1974) appeared with the FJC band during halftime at a football game. All of the 56 FJC band members were attired in brand new western outfits for the first time. A singing cowboy star, Ritter was at the peak of his popularity in the 1930s and 1940s. FJC students and the Fullerton community at-large loved country music, especially Western swing. When World War II started, FJC band members turned to more military-styled uniforms.
Even more popular with FJC students was big band music. A student poll reported in the March 14, 1941 issue of the Weekly Torch found that Glenn Miller and his orchestra was their favorite music maker, followed by Tommy Dorsey and Kay Kayser. An amazing moment occurred for three Weekly Torch reporters—Lee Oliver, Howard Seelye, and Gearhart (left to right)—when they got to interview their hero, Glenn Miller (right), on the 20th Century Fox movie lot in April 1941. The trio also watched Miller filming Sun Valley, which featured Sonja Henie, John Payne, and Lynn Bart. On May 18, 1941, FJC became the first junior college in America to be accorded the honor of being announced over CBS radio coast to coast when 600 students showed up for a live Glenn Miller performance at the Columbia Playhouse Theater in Hollywood. Miller joined the World War II effort as an entertainer, and the plane carrying him and members of his band disappeared while flying over the English Channel on December 15, 1944. The Torch reporters had also scored in February 1936 when they got an exclusive interview with polar explorer Rear-Admiral Richard Byrd, who was speaking at the Fullerton Union High School Auditorium.
Freshmen and sophomore classes continued to produce a play each year. Advertisements for plays were posted on wooden display boards around campus. This photo shows the advertisement for the 1937 production of The Dark Tower, a comedy-mystery written by George F. Kaufman and Alexander Woollcott in 1933. The Student Union Building is in the background.
This photo features a scene from The Dark Tower, with Earl Allison, June Massey, and Dana Winters (left to right). The Dark Tower was turned into a movie titled The Man with Two Faces starring Edgar G. Robinson and Mary Astor. In the storyline, an actress is taken to the apartment of a theatrical producer by her husband. Hours later, she awakens incoherent at home, with her husband dead and the theatrical producer missing.
Staged in 1937, this is a scene from A Flower of Yeddo, a 1906 one-act drama that portrayed the customs, dances, and manners of Japan. When World War II broke out, sympathetic treatment of the Japanese on stage and in film became a thing of the past.
This mid-1930s photograph shows college students rehearsing for a musical production, most likely in the Louis E. Plummer Auditorium.
This 1939 shot features FJC students taking part in a talent show.
On May 29, 1939, the Dance Club presented a recital in the Louis E. Plummer Auditorium. The theme was “Youth Speaks on War.” All of the dances for the recital were created by Dance Club members under the direction of Miss Bobbie Randall, college dance instructor.
Despite the Depression and World War II, FJC students continued to form new clubs during this era, including the Varsity Club, shown here in 1935. The Club’s purpose was “to cement more firmly the friendships formed on the athletic field, to establish and maintain athletics on a plane with the ideals of the college, foster true sportsmanship, to maintain a high grade of scholarship among the athletes, and to serve the college in any capacity which it may be called upon.”
The Geology Club, formed in 1934, is shown here on a field trip to Orange County Park in 1935. The purpose of the Club was “to create interest and to gain further knowledge in the field of geology.” The requirements for membership were one semester of Geology (with a grade of “B”) and an interest in the field of geology. While never a large club, members of the Geology Club formed life-long friendships and continued to meet until 2008. The advisor, Mabel A. Myers, also kept in touch with the “Prospectors” until her death in 1978. The scrapbooks and other memorabilia collected by Club members are in the Fullerton College Archives.
This is the Geology Club float for a parade in downtown Fullerton. The float is moving north on Harbor (then Spadra) Boulevard, getting ready to make a right on Commonwealth Avenue. The Stein-Strauss Company (100-104 South Harbor) in the background was a very popular department store at the time.
In 1940, members of the newly formed Spinsters Club posed for a photograph in Hillcrest Park.
Another new club was the Home Economics Club, formed a year later in 1941. The Torch yearbook noted that club members “seek preparation for work in the field of dietics (sic) and related subjects and in the age old field of marriage” (p. 54).
Kayak Club members took advantage of severe flooding on March 3, 1938 to move around Fullerton. These kayakers are around Elm Avenue and Harbor Boulevard. Freek and Brown Auto Repair (601 S. Harbor) is in the background. From 1887, when Fullerton was founded, until 1938, the city was pounded with periodic severe rains and flooding. It wasn’t until this 1938 flood that Fullerton government officials applied for and received federal relief funds to construct flood control channels.
The winter of 1941 was also a particularly rainy year. In this photograph, a female is assisted by a chivalrous male student as rain pounds outside the Commerce Building.
New sororities and fraternities also continued to be organized during this period. Formed in 1935, these were the first members of the Theta Nu Theta social sorority, which was organized “to promote a closer relationship between freshmen and sophomore women and to better acquaint girls of different districts with one another.” By the next year, membership had doubled. Theta Nu Theta’s activities included preparing food baskets for the needy, giving teas for new women students, and a combined formal dance with a fraternity.
New organizations were also formed for artistic expression. In 1935, a dance orchestra was created by college musicians. The men enjoyed playing before assemblies, fraternity and sorority dances, high school dances, and out-of-town engagements.
Formed in October 1931, the Humana Symphony Choir, shown here in 1936, was the largest vocal group on campus. Singing without musical accompaniment, the Choir’s purpose was “to experience through combined effort the singing of the greatest and most beautiful musical compositions of a religious and sacred character.”
In 1943, the student body established Vespidae, or the student court. The function of the group was to settle individual and group student problems. Members were nominated by the student commission and elected by the student body. Members had no special meeting time, but were convened whenever a problem arose.
Men’s and women’s sports continued to be popular on campus. These are the 1939 yell leaders (left to right): Lloyd McMillan, Ronnie Lemen, and Bob Wilcox. Later the yell leaders started wearing yellow sweaters with Hornet written on the front.
These three majorettes—Lorraine Dillow, Barbara Rich, and Barbara Matson (left to right)—led the FJC band at all the home games as well as a few of the away games in 1941.
In this mid-1930s shot, a song leader poses for a photograph in the stadium.
Harry Lustgarden, show here in 1940, was a national weight-lifting champion. He would go on to serve in the Army Air Force in World War II as a physical fitness instructor, and after the war, he became a jeweler.
In this 1938 photo, a FJC track member crosses the finish line.
Taken in 1938, this is the FJC basketball team at a game in the high school gymnasium. During this period the basketball team, coached by Art Nunn, won the Orange Empire Conference Title five years in a row, 1937-1941.
There were relatively few African Americans in Orange County during the 1930s and 1940s, but they were welcomed at FJC, as were all minority groups. In 1936, Thomas L. Berkley (1915-2001) was elected captain of the basketball team (center row, second from left). A political science major, Berkley transferred to UCLA, where he graduated in 1938. He attended both Boalt Hall and Hastings School of Law, receiving a Doctorate of Law degree in 1942. He served in the Army during World War II and attained the rank of second lieutenant. He resumed his law practice after his discharge and also became part owner and publisher of the Oakland Post and El Mundo, as well as co-founder of the West Coast Black Publishers Association. As a staunch supporter of civil rights and housing opportunities, Berkley developed Berkley Square in 1955, a 250-house racially integrated housing track in Las Vegas, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1967, he was appointed to the Oakland Board of Education, and also served 11 years as a member of the Board of Commissioners of the Port of Oakland, and two terms as its President. He was the nation's first African-American to serve as a commissioner of a major port.
This is the 1935 baseball team. In 1940, the team won the Orange Empire Championship.
Coach Jimmy Smith’s swim team set a number of records during this period, while also winning five consecutive Southern California championship crowns. These are the swim champs for 1940.
The Hornet football team was rated the second best junior college team in the United States in 1943 (the Santa Ana Dons were number one).
Started in 1934, hockey soon became the fastest growing sport for women. Initially, the women had no teams to play against, so freshmen and sophomore teams were formed and they played against each other. A few years later, the hockey players became affiliated members of the Los Angeles Field Hockey Association and were able to play other teams. This is a shot of the 1942 women’s hockey team.
This montage features FJC women athletes in 1936.
This is the 1939 women’s basketball team.
FJC students go through mass calisthenics on the floor of the girls’ gym in 1942. As the Torch yearbook of that year noted, “Building stronger and healthier bodies is the main objective of the girls’ athletics. A program is established in which each girl may receive the benefits of stimulating and well-rounded exercise.” Unlike the men, female team competition was played down, with the yearbook noting that the women “are usually able to boast a small but attentive audience at almost all of their events.”
During this period, women sports were downplayed, and the Associated Women Students (AWS) often booked speakers like “charm expert” Marie Fontayne, a private counselor to Hollywood screen and radio stars. An expert in “streamlined charm,” Fontayne’s November 17, 1937 lecture discussed “correct dress for every occasion, correct posture, conversation, art of making introductions, colors to suit the individual, the ability to please,” and other ideas to help “any woman develop a poised and charming personality.” After World War II started, and women began to work in the defense industry, the AWS began booking members of the WACS (Women’s Army Corp) and the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services) as speakers.
This is a 1940 shot of Donald C. Cruickshank (1904-1979), who was then administrator of the National Youth Administration (NYA) program on campus. He was assisted by two women clerks. Founded in 1935, the NYA was a New Deal program designed to address the growing problem of unemployment among youths from the ages of 16 to 24. The NYA provided grants to high school and college students in exchange for work, allowing young people to continue studying while at the same time preventing the pool of unemployed young from becoming any larger. At its peak in 1940-41, 192 FJC students received a monthly grant of $11.36. In 1943, the NYA was disbanded when large numbers of college students went into military service or found jobs. Cruickshank first came to Fullerton High in 1931 to teach physical education and coach football, but also taught health education at FJC. After serving four years in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, he returned in 1946 to the High School where he was appointed dean of boys, then vice principal in 1951, and finally principal in 1956.
This is an anti-war cartoon from the May 29, 1940 issue of the student newspaper. It preceded the following editorial.
While FJC students supported World War II once it began, most were isolationists, preferring America stay out of the European conflict. This editorial (“God Bless America. Stay Out of War!!), published in the May 29, 1940 issue of the student newspaper, reflected the general view of most students on campus. A student poll, reported in the March 21, 1941 issue of the Weekly Torch, reported that 96 percent of FJC students did not favor American entrance into the war, with only four percent in support. One FJC student, Rose Donnelly, was very active in the “Rearm for Peace” movement designed to promote worldwide peace and goodwill. Donnelly was instrumental in getting members of the Moral Rearmament Group to speak on campus the last week in September 1939. One the group’s main goals was to abolish war.
The first war draft in FJC history was answered in February 1942, with over 160 campus men registering. For their convenience, an office was set up on campus to take registration. Bill Llewellyn is at the front of the line. By the Spring semester of 1943, enrollment had dropped to 500, 259 less than the previous semester’s 759. There were three women to every two men.
To keep the campus community informed of war efforts, the Weekly Torch added a “War: Its Effect on Us” column to the front of each issue starting in 1942. These are the announcements for March 6, 1942. At the time, there were a total of 33 Japanese students enrolled at FJC, all of whom withdrew from the college. The Japanese students and their families were transported to inhospitable assembly centers such as the Santa Anita Race Track where they were housed in horse stalls for months while the relocation centers were constructed. After the completion of the relocation centers, many Orange County Japanese ended up imprisoned in the Poston War Relocation Center in Arizona. In May 2010, two of the Japanese students forced to withdraw—Stella Yano and Mitsuko Funakoshi—were invited to return for honorary degrees. During the war, the Weekly Torch had a number of servicemen who reported on their daily activities for the student newspaper, including Everett Carmichael, former Associate Editor, and Bill Bayless. The number of readers of the Weekly Torch actually doubled as issues were mailed around the world to former students.
George Makanishi was a graduate of Fullerton Junior College, where he studied machine shop work. Makanishi is shown working on an engine lathe in the Poston War Relocation Center, Arizona, where he was interned during World War II. The photo was taken by the Department of the Interior, War Relocation Authority. ( Photo courtesy of the National Archives.)
The campus regularly received updates from students, faculty, and staff engaged at the front. This letter is copy of correspondence from track coach, Ed Goddard. (Courtesy Diane Oestreich.)
In the Jan. 9, 1942 issue of the Weekly Torch newspaper, this editorial urged students to stay unified and to support the war effort, particularly by buying war bonds.
When World War II broke out, FJC students quickly responded with fund-raising. In the spring of 1943, the students of the high school and college sold $94,850 worth of war bonds and stamps in just 16 days. This 1944 shot shows a Victory Booth set up to sell war bonds to students. Students also started a memorial fund for fellow students killed in action. In addition, campaign drives were started to sell Pearl Harbor pins, defense stamps, and patriotic Christmas cards.
A War Service Committee, shown here in 1945, was set up to deal with all bond drives held on campus and other war efforts. Women students would often “adopt” a pilot or service man with whom they would correspond during the War. Servicemen who wanted to keep in touch with the college were mailed copies of the Weekly Torch. The War Committee would also invite Marines training in El Toro to FJC dances.
When the Red Cross made a call for blood, students lined up to volunteer and 117 were chosen to donate their blood.
A Red Cross Surgical Dressing Room was set up on campus, and students and faculty alike spent their free periods folding bandages.
During World War II, a number of clubs consolidated to form another club. One of those was the Cosmopolitan Club, composed for the former International Relations, Spanish, French, German, and Japanese Clubs. The initial effort of the Cosmopolitan Club in February 1942 was to gather books to send to servicemen. Boxes were set up in which students dropped books which were delivered to the public library and later to army camps. Noon dances were staged by the club, and the price of admission was a book, increasing the number of contributions. The Creative Arts Club was in charge of entertainment for local army campus, and for preparing and distributing programs monthly at the soldiers’ dances in Orange. To coordinate all the clubs on campus, a Campus Activities Board (CAB) was set up.
To train pilots needed for a potential war, the Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA) in 1939 selected 11 California colleges and universities, including Fullerton College, to participate in the government’s civil pilot training program. From 1942-43, students trained in Prescott, Arizona, and during 1943-44, the school was moved to Holbrook, Arizona.
Initially the Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA) program had a small enrollment, but by 1941, it had grown to 120 students. Although men students formed the larger group, a small number of women also received training. The physical requirement for those who took the instruction was the same as the requirement of an army cadet, and each student had to pass a stiff physical examination by an approved physician. After fifty hours of work, students would receive a private pilots license.
With the passage of national defense legislation, demand for airplane factories and other war industries grew quickly, and FJC was pressured to turn out as many men possible for employment. The demand was so intense that classes were conducted on an almost continual basis, with government officials even sponsoring evening classes. At one point, the welding machine shops were called upon to turn out defense supplies.
When World War II broke out, hundreds of FJC students were drafted or enlisted in various defense units. The campus kept an honorary display commemorating men killed or missing in action. Of the 56 Fullerton residents killed during the war, 39 had attended the high school or college. Students who entered the military while enrolled at the college were included in the yearbooks with “Military Withdrawal” or “Merchant Marine” next to their photographs and were immediately reinstated upon their return.
Alfred Gallienne, lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps, was the first FJC alumni killed in action. After receiving his commission in 1941, Gallienne was stationed at Hamilton Field near San Francisco until December 7, 1941. Among the first to leave for the scene of action after the entry of the United States in the war, he was killed in action in the Pacific war theater.
Harry G. Maxwell, Jr. (1918-1944) graduated from FJC in 1938, then attended the USC School of Architecture where he was a member of the Alpha Rho Chi honorary architectural fraternity. He enlisted in the U.S. Marines Corp. in August of 1943, and died in action in the South Pacific on October 24, 1944. Maxwell's father was the former mayor of Fullerton.
Gerald B. Heinz (1922-1945) enlisted in the Army Air Force on February 17, 1943 (seated, sixth from the left). He went overseas on September 10, 1944 with the 326th Ferrying Squadron, and was killed in France on January 4, 1945.
The World War II hit particularly close to home when William Goodchild, the son of campus head caretaker Charlie Goodchild, was reported missing in action in January 1943 in the South Pacific. William had been active in FJC athletics and was attending San Diego Teachers’ College when he enlisted in the Air Service. He was officially declared dead at the close of the war. (Courtesy of the Fullerton Public Library)
Taken in 1942, this is head campus caretaker, Charlie Goodchild, the father of William Goodchild, former FJC student who was missing in action in World War II, and officially declared dead at the close of the war.
In the fall semester of 1945 as World War II was winding down, Dr. William T. Boyce hosted an Eastern Conference of educators to discuss how colleges might better aid returning veterans.