A Day in The Life of a College Student From The 50’s

As great as UNT is, it hasn’t always been the University of North Texas we know and love today. Back in the 50’s it was known as North Texas State College and that isn’t the only thing that has changed! In honor of the Union’s 70th anniversary, let’s take a trip Back to the Future style to live a day in the life of a college student from the 50’s!

Getting Ready

After waking up, you decide what you want to wear that day. Popular trends at the time consisted of super-slim skirts or capri pants with a nice top for girls and folded jeans with a button up for guys. You decide to dress casual because you’ll be walking around campus.


A boy and a girl playing badminton in the North Texas State College gymnasium. The male student is seen running forward and swinging his racquet at the birdie.

After Class

You head to your first class. If you’ve finished all your classes for the day or you have some time to spare in between classes, you might go to some of these places to hang out.

The Student Memorial Union

The Student Memorial Union was a nifty place to hang out. There was a snack bar, cafeteria, dance-lounge area, club rooms, an auditorium, game rooms, and a U. S. Post Office. Here you might find students waiting in line for coffee cake and dancing the North Texas Push.

Students congregating in the Howdy Room at the Memorial Union building of the North Texas State College.

The Howdy Room

At the center of the Student Memorial Union there was something real keen. It was the main gathering place located at the center of the Union. Decorated in a western theme with wagon wheels, ropes, and barrel shaped lamp bodies, was the Howdy Room. Here, you could gather with other students to play the piano, listen to the One O’clock Lab Band, cut a rug (dance), and watch shows like “I Love Lucy” and “Leave it to Beaver”.


Gene Hall conducts the One O’clock Lab Band while students dance in the Howdy Room.

The Cement Slab

Right beside the Student Union Memorial was the Cement Slab. The Cement Slab was the place where some classes would be held along with some of the dances and other events. It was an informal place where you and your friends could go hang out and have a blast.


Women take a physical education roller skating class, c. 1956. The Slab served as the location for dances, classes, and other student activities.

Music and Slang

While walking through the Student Memorial Union, here are some songs you might hear playing on the radio.

You might also hear the some students using these words while talking over the radio.

  1. Cooking with gas– Finally doing it the easy or best way
  2. Cool it– Relax, settle down
  3. Cruisin’ for a bruisin’-Looking for trouble
  4. Don’t flip your wig– Don’t get so excited
  5. Threads– Clothes
  6. Wet rag– Someone who’s just no fun

The 50’s were a very influential time for North Texas State University. I’ll clue you in so you can get with the times. The school received its first live mascot, a South American fish hawk believed to be a South American golden eagle. He also received his official name, Scrappy. The golf team won four consecutive NCAA Division I Championships from 1949 to 1952 and how could we ever forget, the Union was opened for the very first time! Following WWII, the Union was one of the structures added to the campus as a gathering place. It served as a memorial to the students who gave their lives. All of the events mentioned were stepping stones towards making UNT what it is today!