In honor of the Union’s 70th anniversary, let’s continue our time travel adventures to see what a day in the life of a college student was like in the 1960’s! Let’s hope we don’t accidentally create a multiverse…
The 60’s began with one of the biggest moments in the history of the college as North Texas earned university status in 1961, becoming officially known as North Texas State University. Despite the mantra “tune in, drop out” popularized during this counter-culture generation, enrollment soon topped 10,000. As the decade neared its end, students who remembered the assassination of a president marched in memory of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King. The campus paper, formerly known as The Campus Chat, wrote, “Dr. King never came to North Texas. But part of his dream did.”
The building that would be later dedicated Willis Library in the 70s began construction to again meet the growing campus needs. As facilitates grew, so did programs and new learning opportunities. KNTU launched on Halloween 1969. The first program aired was Orson Wells’ War of the Worlds.
As the saying goes, once an eagle always an eagle. Well, maybe no one says that, but studying at NTSU during the mid-to-late sixties was the singer/ songwriter/drummer of The Eagles, Don Henley. Oh, and a young man from Temple, TX by the name of Joe Greene enrolled at North Texas where he put the mean in Mean Green. “Mean” Joe played football on the varsity team from 1964-1968.
The University Union
The growth of the University brought needed change to the campus infrastructure. Student services had to increase to match the growing campus population, and a renovation to the student union was approved. The first phase of construction completed in 1963 with the second phase completed shortly thereafter.
If you didn’t have your books or supplies yet, your first stop would be the new campus store that opened with the new Union in 1964. Students could grab everything they needed from desk lamps to office supplies.
As for what to wear to class, earlier in the decade you might have opted for a more clean cut, formal look. The later years were emblazoned with denim, colorful patterns, and t-shirts ushered in by the early hippy-era.
The new Union provided new opportunities for students to unwind, socialize, or relax. The trophy room was converted into a TV room, providing an area for students to congregate and watch the news, sports events, or shows like The Ed Sullivan Show or The Twilight Zone. The Union also created a new lounge area complete with six pool tables for recreational usage.
Around town, you might have checked out a new health food conscious establishment, The Cupboard, which opened in 1965 and recently closed in 2018 after over 50 years in business.
Music & Movies
The soundtrack to the era, is nothing short of iconic. Here’s a small sample of songs you would hear on the radio or on your record player. Mind blowing fact: did you realize that the entire Beatles Catalog was essentially a product of this decade? All of their music was released between 1963-1970. And their evolution encapsulated the change of styles throughout the decade, going from pop music to psychedelic experimentation back to rock ‘n roll.
If you were a cinephile and escaped to the drive-in on weekends, the 1960s were a critically favored decade for film. Below are the top 10 films of the decade based on their Rotten Tomatoes critic score:
- Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
- Psycho (1960)
- Dr. Stranglove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
- 8 1/2 (1963)
- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
- Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
- To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
- Midnight Cowboy (1969)
- Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
- La Dolce Vita (1960)
The vernacular of the time period was as wild and unconventional as the decade.
- Far Out – a compliment, a sign of approval.
- Bummer – You’re sad about it; derivative of “bum rap”
- Foxy – applicable to man or woman, denotes an undeniable sex appeal
- Can you dig it? – asking if you understand what’s being said
- Freak flag – being the weirdest one in the room
- Hang loose – spending your day taking it easy and relaxing
- Fuzz – police officer
- Bogart – not giving someone else a turn; hogging it all
- Bread – money, cash, dinero.
The 1960s were defined by challenging conventional lifestyles and institutions. It was an era of protest, experimentation, controversy, love and war. A decade of change; socially, politically, culturally. A ripple effect we still feel today, you dig?