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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

CISCO JUNIOR COLLEGE, better known to alumni as, CJC

"Back in the day," Bobby attended Cisco Junior College for two years before he went to Texas Tech where we met.  This building was, once upon a time, the Victor Hotel.  The college bought it in 1965, and converted it into one of the boys' dorms.  Bobby stayed here on the third floor, along with about 125 other young men.  It had an elevator, but boys didn't just pile in it and run it up and down themselves, there had to be an operator to run it during the day and until about 8:00 or 9:00 at night.  The elevator wasn't a push button kind either; the operator had a lever to move it up or down.  After staying in the new dorms at Sul Ross for weekend classes, I can see the value of an elevator operator.  Those kids in the SR dorm (left to their own devices) nearly tore the elevator apart, and one weekend the elevator was locked down due to their villainy. 

 This area on the bottom floor was the cafeteria, coffee shop and newspaper stand.  Bobby says that a "little old lady," who also lived somewhere in the hotel, sold soft drinks, snacks and newspapers for her living.  There were all kinds of papers for sale--Dallas Morning News, Abilene Reporter, Fort Worth Star Telegram,and local papers.   On Sunday the cafeteria was open to the public, as well as students.  People came there to eat after church, all dressed up, so the students were required to wear a tie with a  suit or sports coat to the dinner. The meal was still cafeteria style, but on Sunday there was someone in the line to carve the roast or the ham, and serve it.  The boys would go out to the ponds in the area and kill big frogs, and the dorm cooks would fix them up, put them in their sack lunch for Sunday night.  That was another benefit to the dorm life--sack lunches for Sunday night, but you had to be dressed up and attend Sunday dinner in order to get that sack lunch.
 The lobby was here on the first floor and it was furnished with couches, chairs, one TV, and mail boxes.  Students could put their room key in their mailbox for safe keeping any time they wanted.  There was a person working behind the desk to take care of mail.  The lobby was a nice place for parents or friends to  visit their son instead of going up to the room, and students could go down there to watch a program on TV.
 This shot is taken from the Conrad Hilton parking lot, which was in front of the Mobley Hotel, the first hotel that Conrad Hilton owned; it was abandoned during the time that Bobby went to school in Cisco.  Bobby said some of the boys got caught drinking, but didn't get kicked out of school, so they got some more beer and proceeded to celebrate their success by drinking in the Mobley parking lot.  You guessed it!  They got caught right there and they did get kicked out of school,  Bobby didn't know what happened to them after that.  There is a good chance that Viet Nam was their next spot to land.

  Hilton came to Cisco in 1919 during the oil boom to buy a bank.  The bank owner jumped the price just before they closed the deal, so, he retreated to the Mobley Hotel to figure out a new strategy for cutting a deal with the banker.  He was standing around in the lobby thinking about the bank deal, and it dawned on him that the hotel was buzzing with business.  The owner was renting rooms by the hour to the rough necks, and running three eight hour shifts each day.  The owner of the Mobley was willing to sell, because he wanted to get into the oil business where people were really getting rich.  Hilton bought the Mobley for $40,000, and this was the beginning of his world wide business--right here in Cisco, Texas. I regret that we didn't get to visit inside, but it was Sunday, and everything was closed for the weekend.

The Hilton Foundation restored the Mobley, and today it is a community center, with offices for the Cisco Chamber of Commerce, along with the Hilton museum and several rooms restored to their 1919 likeness.
College life everywhere has changed.  Gone are the days when students read newspapers instead of the internet, and schools hired people to run elevators, man the lobby and give that personalized care that we received in the 60s.  When I was at Montana State, we took our sheets and pillow cases to the dorm laundry, and picked up a fresh set.  We didn't eat off of styrofoam, but real restaurant china, with real flatware.  Cooks cooked the food from scratch instead of warming up stuff taken out of plastic bags.  The girls dorms had curfews and boys and girls didn't sleep together in the dorms.  I am happy that I was part of that era, and wouldn't trade it for anything.  I can't say these are the best days of my life, because each year just seems to get better, but I can say these years are very special.

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