Delgado A-Z: Yearbook

by: Bob Monie

What the Class of ’72 Carried with Them 40 Years Ago:
 the Turtle—Delgado’s First (and Only) College Yearbook

Nineteen-Seventy-Two was a banner year for Delgado. Six years had passed since House Bill 604 had been approved to transform Delgado from a trades school to Louisiana’s first accredited junior college, and veteran administrator Dr. Marvin Thames was still at the helm as president to preside over the transformation.  The spring graduation in the cafeteria-auditorium of Building 11, a gala affair conducted by Dr. Cecil L. Groves (who later built Austin Community College into a large and successful Texas institution), featured an extraordinary collection of talent. The Delgado Chorus sang under the direction of Claus E. Sadlier, a graduate of the college of music at Yale University; the Delgado Band performed under George Jansen,  Loyola University professor and Wynton Marsalis’s first trumpet teacher; and Charles Colbert,  dean of  Columbia University School of Architecture and Louisiana State Board of Education member, delivered the commencement address.

Cartoon of Delgado asking La. Legislature for approval as a junior college
Brochure for Spring 1972 Delgado graduation

 About 422 students graduated that night, Friday, May 26, in a range of disciplines wider than any previously offered at Delgado.

Noteworthy trivia: George M. Genet, M.D., the recipient of a community services certificate in jewelry-making at the ’72 graduation, is only one of the many medical doctors who have completed the Delgado jewelry manufacture and repair course throughout the years. Often the hand that performs surgery is equally gifted in crafting golden pendants and lockets, and many surgeons take jewelry making as a relaxing diversion from their stressful profession.

The 1972 graduating class had the unique advantage of being able to purchase the first and only official yearbook Delgado has published—the Turtle. Extant copies of this yearbook are rare; few Louisiana libraries possess a copy. Though the turtle is not exactly the best animal for a school mascot—too testy and snappy in the jaws and too slow on its feet—it isn’t a bad name for a school yearbook, especially a school near New Orleans City Park. The graduates inside the Cafeteria-Auditorium that night had often, on the way to class, passed turtle families safely sunning themselves on the concrete bank of the lagoon outside Building 11. The familiar reptile was endemic to the campus then, as it is now. And, in Aesop’s fable, wasn’t the industrious turtle able to beat the lackadaisical rabbit to the finish line? What could be better than Delgado students following the turtle’s example, hitting the books, completing the course assignments, and earning their time in the sun by graduating?  Besides, the turtle makes a great logo, its shell forming the outline of a class ring, or a porthole looking into the future, and its tail marking the passage of time, like the pendulum of a grandfather clock.
The Turtle Logo from the Yearbook Cover
Inside the Turtle lives the lost world of the counter-cultural 1970s—the long sideburns, the Beatle hairdos, young men sporting wrap-around beards, pirogue races in the school lagoon, visits from local celebrities like television pioneer Mel Levitt, signatures scratched on paper as mementos, word-processing machines, IBM  keypunch and verifier machines for “Do not bend, fold or mutilate” punched card, the entrance to Building 1 flanked by momentous palms, the Elleanora Moss Memorial Library, where many lasting friendships were made, some of them turning into marriages. The following year, 1973, Barbara Streisand sang, in “The Way We Were”:   “Memories light the corners of my mind  / Misty watercolor memories / Of the way we were.”  The Turtle retrieves memories of the way Delgado was 40 years ago.  Is it time now for another yearbook? And should it also be under the sign of the turtle?

Building One in 1972, Flanked by Two Momentous Palms

President Marvin Thames, with Long Sideburns
Dr. Cecil Groves, Master of Ceremonies at the 1972 Graduation
Beatle Hairdos on Campus
Students Sporting Wraparound Beards
Graduates' Signatures - Memento of the Class of '72
Pirogue Race on the Lagoon - All the Turtles are Hiding
Local TV Personality Mel Levitt Visits Delgado
Claus Sadlier Directs the Delgado Chorus
Registration Desk - IBM Card Processors
The Moss Memorial Library

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