Memories from Rosemary Thornton ’50

I came from my high school to attend SMU in 1944. At that time, you could go downtown on the streetcar which ended right at the girl’s dormitory at Asbury and Hillcrest. The out-of-town students (and a lot of the Dallas students) did not have cars in college, so the streetcar was utilized considerably. The eminent teacher/author Lon Tinkle used to ride that trolley from his classes at SMU to the Dallas Morning News office where he did a column on the arts and literature.

When the veterans of WWII began to return to colleges, SMU was overwhelmed with the influx of students on the GI bill. These young men, veterans, were much more sophisticated than the average college co-ed, of course.

They soon discovered that the streetcar went from SMU to the Idle Hour, which was on the corner of Knox and McKinney, and they could drink beer there after class. The Idle Hour was owned by old Mr. Campisi who was always present at his establishment. his son, Joe Campisi was too young to be involved. So the “in” thing to do was to jump on the trolley after class and go to the Idle Hour. There was no food served at that time, but soon Mr. Campisi began to cook for his friends and he was finally talked into doing extra spaghetti to sell to customers – he was the first in Dallas to have “pizza.”

The College crowd was such a factor in the success of the “beer joint” that they hired a piano player (a very fat, happy black gal named “Carrie”) to play at night on the weekends. There was no room for a piano and her large body, so they built a loft above the booths. She packed them in and her big hit was “She came rolling down the mountain,” which was just very slightly “suggestive” and considered risque for that day in time.

Of course, as everyone knows, they expanded by buying the Egyptian Lounge across from the Dr. Pepper Co. on Mockingbird Lane. You can still see “students” there from the era of the Idle Hour, but in braces rather than bobby-sox.

Rosemary Thornton Class of 1950

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