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Carnett: OCC's early dorm residents quite the party animals

May 14, 2012|By Jim Carnett

In addition to prevailing dorm hijinks, the facilities also featured a cacophony of barnyard sounds. Animals were occasionally — and illicitly — introduced into the dorms. They included ducks, chickens and an occasional domesticated cat or dog. And, of course, there was the cow.


Lewis said that a student across the hall from him kept a Hereford in his room at night.

"I know that sounds bizarre," he said with a laugh. "An agriculture major, he kept a prize calf in his room that he was raising for the fair. He'd release it during the day to graze with the college herd, but at night he'd sneak it into his room.

"Of course, the thing kept growing bigger and bigger, and the stench became unbearable. We — the other dorm residents — finally put our foot down."


A favorite hangout for students in Lewis' era was a Corona del Mar drive-in restaurant.

"The drive-in was at the corner of Coast Highway and MacArthur [Boulevard], and it was a classic. Carhops served customers on roller skates. Lots of Coast students would hang out there on weekends. We also had beach parties and bonfires."

Football weekends were especially exciting.

"We'd have a pep rally or bonfire on campus Friday night, and then the game would be played in Pirate Stadium on Saturday evening," he said. "The games were big social events for students, faculty and staff, and for the community. We'd pack the stands."

Campus dances were often held after games.

As the nation sought to move beyond a catastrophic world war, OCC's campus in the 1950s emphasized academic growth and the preservation of small-town ideals.

JIM CARNETT lives in Costa Mesa. His column runs Tuesdays.

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