To appreciate the time period for this story, please take a mental step back to the year 1945 when our country had, the year before, celebrated D-Day, and was anxiously anticipating the Japanese surrender which would finally end World War II.
I was a sophomore and the president of the first Jr. College in Florida which was named Palm Beach Jr. College and located in West Palm Beach, Florida. The two residences where our classes and meetings were held were on the street next to our high school, Palm Beach High School where my pesky younger brother Jerry Thomas, was completing his junior year.
There were only 100 students in our combined Jr. College classes. The fellows in my sophomore class, while eager to serve their country, were disallowed from military service because of physical conditions. The boys in the freshman class were greater in number, but some, including my brother Jack, were not serious students as they were eager for their 18th birthday. This would allow them to join a branch of service.
My older brother Lee, who had formerly attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, was serving in the US Navy. Dad received a check for $15.00 monthly from Lee’s meager pay which he had designated to assist in the expense of my education. It helped because money was scarce for most everyone those days.
On May 27, 1945 when my sophomore class graduated, Dr. Doak Sheridan Campbell, president of Florida State College for Women, gave the Baccalaureate address “ to the tenth graduating class of Palm Beach Jr. College” at the Memorial Presbyterian Church, WPB.
I began attending Florida State College for Women in Tallahassee, Florida in 1946 which had an attendance of 1300 girls. FSCW was a highly rated school scholastically, but most of us would have appreciated greater association with the opposite sex.
In 1947, after the surrender of the Japanese and the end of World War II, service men, through the GI Bill were given financial assistance to attend a university, and many, including my brother Jack, enrolled in our school.
One day in this same year, I was on the sports field and there was a cardboard box with the message, “Name the new football team.” I thought of labels which would be similar to the name “Gators”, which our neighboring college had already adopted. I began recalling how, as children Dad would take us to Florida attractions where we saw the Seminole Indians actually wrestling with alligators. Of course the Seminoles always won. With a pencil stub, I scribbled the name “Seminoles” on a small sheet of paper and stuck it into the slot. Did I win? Yes sir re! The next day when the ballots were counted eleven of us gals had named the new team!
That year, our senior class was to be the only graduates to ever receive a diploma which read:
Florida State College for Women
Florida State University
And for my younger brother, Jerry Thomas, he also graduated from Palm Beach College, which had moved to Morrison Field, a deactivated Air Force Base in West Palm Beach. On or about 1948, he became a student in Florida State University His graduation was followed by a stint in the US Marines Corp. Later he became a Florida Senator and was elected President of the Florida Senate (1970-72) He also served in Washington DC when, on March 18, 1976, he was named undersecretary of the treasurer by President Ford. Little pesky brothers can surprise you!
As for the Seminole Football Team, I am so proud that I helped to name it! Go Noles!