A Purple Treasure
Bobbie Porter Gaspard ’44 cleaned out a closet and found blast from her TCU past.
by Tracy Sterling Bristol ‘80
Updated: Monday, May 07, 2012
Bobbie Porter Gaspard ’44 shows off her personalized school spirit culottes. Last time she wore it was 70 years ago. (Photography by Tracy Sterling Bristol '80)
Bobbie Porter Gaspard ’44 was cleaning out a cedar closet when she stumbled upon a bright purple garment she hadn’t worn in more than 70 years—her personalized school spirit culottes from her TCU days.
In the early 1940s, male students ordered custom jumpsuits to wear to campus events, and girls could get a similar version with an attached split skirt.
Bobbie recently donated her well-preserved outfit to the TCU Alumni Association and was delighted to share some fond memories of her Horned Frog days.
“But don’t ask me to put on those culottes,” she laughed. “They haven’t fit in years!”
When Bobbie arrived at TCU in 1940, TCU was riding a wave of success stemming from the 1938 national championship football team.
“Sam Baugh—his name meant everything. He’s one of the reasons I heard about TCU, “ Bobbie recalled. “We girls liked to wear high heels to the football games. We had to walk from Jarvis Hall to the stadium—in those days there were no other buildings between them— and we’d carry our shoes in our hands.”
There were only two dorms in those days—Jarvis for women, and Clark Hall for men. Bobbie was mistakenly assigned to Clark when someone assumed she was male. Her mother insisted she be moved immediately to the women’s residence, but Bobbie jokes that she wouldn’t have minded staying on with her male friends in Clark.
A former Speech major, Bobbie has fond memories of pal Melvin Dacus ’44 and theatre professor Lew Fallis. Fallis made his students master vocabulary words from a huge book stressing perfect pronunciation, which Bobbie says contributed heavily to her success as a teacher.
Other happy recollections include pooling money with girlfriends to purchase a 1920 jalopy the girls painted purple and white, coeds drawing “seams” on the backs of their legs when stockings were rationed, and hanging out at the drug store on the University Drive drag.
Bobbie retired from teaching in 1986 but stays active, driving herself all over Texas to play bridge with friends, and frequently visits her daughter Joan; the two are often mistaken for sisters. She works crossword puzzles in pen and has a facebook account. And when the Horned Frogs have a televised football game, Bobbie puts on a purple shirt to cheer them on.
The purple culottes might no longer fit, but this Frog has spirit to spare.