HomeNewsTyler Junior College in the wartime '40s

Tyler Junior College in the wartime ’40s


In 1944, Tyler Junior College student Frances Whitson sold over $8,050 in war bonds. She single-handedly trumped competition, breaking her own record from her previous at- tempt. Whitson proved her determination to support American soldiers, including fellow TJC students who had been taken off to battle.

Men and women from one corner of the country to another were pulled into WWII during the ‘40s. According to alumni Mary Jane McNamara, TJC was in one of many areas affected by the draft.

“The war just wiped out the boys, who either volunteered orgotdrafted,“saidMcNamara.”Weweredowntomostlygirls and just a few physically disabled boys.”

didn’t just come back to TJC by chance, it was instilled in her from the time she was a student there.

“TJC was a pure escape from ordinary life to us,” said Mc- Namara. “I think it was kind of a little paradise to all of the students, so our loyalty to the school is very strong.”

McNamara credits several things for her love of the school, including its size back in the 1940’s.

“TJC used to be a very small campus and most of the stu– dents were from around the Tyler area, so we were all pretty close,” said McNamara. “Our teachers were also with us in both high school and college because back then TJC was an exten

sion of grade school (13th and 14th grade).” TJC was the place to be in 1945, according to alumni and

former cheerleader Emma Prater. “We had a lot of fun,” said Prater. “Our speech teams went

to nationals and we got to travel with them. We also had great clubs and organizations.”

Prater feels that the school was much more of a home en- vironment. She said that people went out of their way to help students succeed.

“There was a wealthy guy who lived in Tyler who would pay the travel expenses for competitions that we had,” said Prater. “He would fill a car up with gas and send us on our way. Some people even offered for us to stay in their homes when we couldn’t get a hotel.”

“TJC wasn’t where it is now,” said Prater. “It used to be Tyler High School. It’s gotten a lot bigger.”

McNamara also experienced the growth of the junior college that she attended on a scholarship that paid 31 cents an hour.

“There is so much diversity at the school now which takes away the closeness of the students,” said McNamara. “We also didn’t have dorms in my day and students were more enthusiastic.”

McNamara also supports the technological advancements that TJC has made over the years.

“The school has changed tremendously with a great deal of technology that provides students with a better way to make a living,” said McNamara. “Now, people can take courses electronically if they cannot attend. In my day most people didn’t have cars, so those classes would have been very convenient.”

TJC has been around for 85 years and now, according to Prater, has been a home outside of home for countless students. “I think that TJC has a place in all of our hearts,” said Prat

er. “It is a great school.” Both Prater and McNamara still attend TJC events such

as football games, plays and meetings. They strongly support the school and all that it has done over the years.

McNamara attended TJC in 1941 and 1942, later coming back to be a librarian at the school for 22 years. McNamara

Over the past 85 years TJC has been through a number of changes and Prater has been around to see it all.

I’m still involved at the school and in many ways it is still similar to the college I loved so much,” said McNamara. “I wish TJC the best of everything.”

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