Light up those Lucky Strikes

Throughout this paper’s 70-year history, there have been some weird, wacky and wonderful headlines that have helped propel us through the ever-changing culture of our beloved university.

The Portland State Vanguard has a long and storied history since its debut as Vet’s Extended, way back when Vanport Extension Center opened in 1946. That’s right: PSU first opened as a way to help meet the educational needs of returning World War II veterans. In 1955 the center was reincarnated as Portland State College and, subsequently, the Portland State Vanguard emerged as the primary newsprint.

The earliest issues of Vet’s Extended give us a hilarious glimpse into American culture of the 1940s–50s. From Vet’s Extended Vol. 1, Number 1, on Nov. 15, 1946 comes the very illuminating title, “Non-Vets Attractive But Outnumbered.” This article informs the public of the newly-established Vanport College and how veterans outnumber non-veteran students 12:1—but hey, the author says, non-vets can be attractive too!

Don’t ask me why it was a presupposition that non-vets weren’t attractive. But to prove his point, the author gives a few examples, such as Nan Olson, a “beautiful, little blonde,” Nancy Roeckle, who is “tall and smooth” and Don Collier, an attractive but apparently evasive individual who didn’t want to give the Vet’s Extended a “personality profile of a non-vet” exclusive. What gives, Don?!

Up next is this gem from July 18, 1947: “Burning Beans Saved.” That’s right, there was an entire article dedicated to memorializing the story of a student who came into his English class and realized he had left the stove on! Upon realizing his folly, he ran home, turned off the stove, and ran back to class. Upon arriving, he relievedly announced to his classmates that “with the exception of a few beans on the bottom of the pan, no great loss was incurred.” Ah, the ’40s. A simpler time.

In my search, it was a special treat to flip past all the “Be Happy—Go Lucky!” Lucky brand cigarette ads in the issues from the ’40s and ’50s.

The headline “$5 Tuition on Horizon,” however, is heartbreakingly self-explanatory. “Spring term of 1967,” says issue 1 of the Summer Vanguard, “will see many students attending Portland State paying only five dollars for tuition.” HA! Add $8,332 to that and you get today’s base price.

The article explains the proposed five-dollar tuition measure further saying, “Students will pay the regular fees for the first two terms and then only $5 for the third term which amounts to a $105 tuition reduction.” Yeah… excuse me while I go cry over my ever-mounting student-loans and long for a return to the prices of the ’60s.

“LSD Damage Limited,” read the front page of the Oct. 6, 1967 issue. Indicative of its time, the article discussed the research of local scientist Dr. Jose Egozcue involving the speculation of chromosomal mutations caused by lysergic acid diethylamide, aka LSD or acid.

Dr. Egozcue reassuringly stated, “LSD, if taken in small doses, rarely causes broken chromosomes.” However, he then went on to vaguely say, “I don’t think LSD will cause anyone to get leukemia.”

Well, okay then! If you don’t think LSD will cause leukemia, it’s definitely safe. Thanks, Dr. E!

The ’70s were apparently the decade of the pun-based newspaper headlines, with examples such as “Campus Exposure Incidents Prove Revealing,” which covered a spate of flashers; “Support Hunger Strikes and Lettuce Boycott,” which discussed the protests of non-union lettuce served in PSU cafeterias; and “Equestrian team overcomes hurdle,” profiling the PSU equestrian team that began on campus despite the lack of funding.

The best pun headline from the ’70s articles, however, comes from the Oct. 13, 1978 issue: “Pebble Laden Chili Induces Anger.” Well, I would hope so! Especially since the then-Food Service Director Dan Beecher was reported as saying that “rocks in the chili is a legitimate beef.” I see what you did there.

In the ’80s, we saw the headline “Hobos Parade Elect King and Queen,” from Aug. 4, 1982. Back in ’82, apparently there was a second annual Hobo Parade in Portland, officially announced as the “Parade of the Unemployed and Underemployed.”

The second annual parade was done in protest against President Ronald Reagan’s administrative economic policies, aka “Reaganomics.” About 200 hobos and ex-hobos were reported to have participated, holding signs with statements such as “Hooverville ’32, Reaganville ’82,”, “Sell Nancy’s China,” and “Poor but Proud.”

Though lacking a headline, my favorite vintage piece was found in the ’90s archives. The article displayed a photograph of a local billboard featuring David Yandell, a 32-year-old PSU student awaiting graduation. The small blurb for the picture disclosed that Yandell “paid $100 for the right to put up his abbreviated resume and plea for employment on the Music Box billboard downtown.”

The billboard read: “Frustrated PSU student needs job, on verge of three degrees, creative, passionate, innovative all-around good guy—David Yandell” with his phone number.

Although my search through old Vanguard issues and articles began as a way to laugh at the past and entertain the colloquialisms and discrepancies, in the end, what I realized the most were the similarities.