Monday, February 9, 2009

Before it became Carl Albert

One of the top junior colleges in LeFlore County , or should I say the only JC in LeFlore County , wasn’t always Carl Albert State College. Before it was Carl Albert, it was called Poteau Community College , or PJC. Some people used to say, “If Poteau had a college, it would be PU.”

Carl Albert’s campus wasn’t where it is now or wasn’t near as nice. It has two-story dorms, an administration office, a library, baseball field, a basketball gym and tennis courts, all the things you would expect a college campus to have. PJC, however, didn’t even have a so-called campus, nor a basketball gym and a baseball field. My first year in college was at PJC in Poteau, when it was housed at Pansy Kidd Junior High! In the back of Pansy Kidd Junior High, no less. Oh, PJC played baseball, but I can’t tell you where the field was, because I never went to a game. And I assume it had basketball and the games were in the old junior high gym, across the street from Sherman Floyd’s house. Coach Floyd was the Poteau High School football coach and his daughter Toni went to PJC, because I knew her as a pretty but chubby-cheeked girl. Yep, Toni and Georgia Kay Ollie, daughter of lumber tycoon George Ollie, were two of the prettiest girls on “campus.”

There wasn’t even a parking lot for students. We parked wherever we could find a place, on the street next to Coach Floyd’s house, by the junior gym, etc. PJC didn’t have a cafeteria, to my knowledge, only a little “hamburger place” across the street from Pansy Kidd Jr. High, where all the junior high kids ate right along with the “junior college” students. There were no dorms, just a few apartments scattered around the neighborhood. The student union was a room where some of us gathered to play cards, dominos, laugh or just have a good time. I don’t even remember any of the teacher’s names, just that I took English, algebra and a few other courses. I worked in the afternoons for Hal Dowden in Babcock & Sons Hobby Shop making trophy bases. That’s how I got through (financially) my first year of college. After a year I left with several A’s, a 3.6 GPA, a pocketful of money. (It was a very small pocket since Hal paid so well), and transferred to Northeastern in Tahlequah. Northeastern was not quite so easy. I sank to a 2.2 and left after a year to join the Air Force to keep from being drafted into the Army.

Now, I understand Carl Albert not only has another campus in Sallisaw, but is ticketed for four-year status next year. My, how times have changed.


At February 9, 2009 at 7:25 AM , Blogger Glen Lazalier said...

Good memory, John. I think my uncle took some college classes in Poteau just after WWII on the GI bill. I'm not sure it was called PJC way back then.

Jucos were a necessary step for some of us because of finances but I think they also helped make the transition from a small high school to a large university.

At February 9, 2009 at 1:23 PM , Blogger Chuck Hudlow said...

PJC is where I took my first 'college' courses, John. I went to summer school there between graduating from HHS and my first year at EOA&M (what Eastern Oklahoma State College in Wilburton was once called). I only took two classes at PJC that summer, but it was a good experience.

At February 9, 2009 at 9:45 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first year of college was also at Poteau. My experience was much like Johns - almost all A's and then off to Central State where thanks to the A's at Poteau I managed to retain a high enough GPA to graduate at Central State but barely. Some of the teachers at Poteau were Mrs. Costner, Mrs Wood, Mr. Branscum, Mr. Johnson (he only had one leg) and Mr. Brittin. I played on PJC's first baseball team and we were pretty good thanks to a couple of good pitchers that had played at Poteau High School. I got tuition paid at PJC by coaching football, basketball, and baseball at Poteau's Rodman Elementary. I got my spending money by working at Tates before and after classes at PJC. (Forty cents and hour). There was a real pretty girl at PJC when I was there too. I married her. (I'll have to do this as anonymous since I didn't learn enough ath PJC or Central State to comment any other way)
colin kelley

At February 10, 2009 at 12:07 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, didn't know Carl Albert was going to four-year status next year. Several schools seem to be doing that. Bacone did it a few years back and so did St. Gregory's. UA-Fort Smith, formerly Westark, will be a four-year school starting next year. - Jim Patterson

At February 12, 2009 at 8:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, it turns out Carl Albert is not going four-year, just UA-Fort Smith. - Jim Patterson


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