Recollections Contributed to the NCSU Libraries in 2005
After learning about the NCSU Libraries' exhibit, a number of former GI Bill beneficiaries, family members and friends shared their own recollections of returning to civilian and college life after World War II or Korea. Because their accounts contribute to the historical record, the Libraries requested the correspondents' permission to add their letters to the NC State Alumni Collection in the University Archives of the Special Collections Research Center. Here are a few excerpts.
James S. Parker (Class of 1950) of Lubbock, Texas
Excerpts from a letter dated July 15, 2005.
"I was in the Army Air Corps from 1943 to 1946. By the time I received my discharge in April of 1946, most of the universities were already full with veterans. However, State responded to my inquiry and said I was welcome there, but they had no place for me to live. After a frantic summer, I enrolled at Presbyterian Junior College, mostly because the school had a room for me in a private home. Surprisingly, the education I received there was quite good and I had no problem in transferring to State for the fall semester of 1947. And it had to be an act of God that I found a comfortable room on Hillsboro street for my wife and me.
I studied in the College of Textiles, and while the textile classes were easy enough (I had worked for two years in a textile plant before entering the Army), I spent some serious hours with math, physics, and chemistry. In spite of all the problems in trying to get an education, I graduated in 1950. The photograph on page 5 of the exhibit [catalog] shows the first ceremony in Reynolds Coliseum, and I remember that very well. The temperature there was worse than anything I had experienced in the Army. Everyone was dripping wet in a short time, and due to the heat, the planned program was not completed. Governor Kerr Scott was there to shake hands with all the graduates, and he did, and then he was supposed to make a speech. Much to the pleasure of everyone, he declined that, said he wished all the graduates well and departed to a cooler clime. How can you forget something like that? [...]
[During the 1950s], I taught in the School of Textiles as an assistant professor. I remember a number of my students became company presidents. On page 11 of the exhibit [catalog] I see that you have a picture of Julius Lasnick, who was president of the Hillel Foundation. Jules was one of my students. Also, on the same page is Eddie Gilbert, president of the Cosmopolitan Club. I don't recall that he was my student, but I believe he studied in the School of Textiles. I remember seeing him there."
Parker became chairman of the Textile Engineering Department and director of the International Center for Textile Research Texas Tech University. He retired in 1992.
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