A Day in The Life of a 1930s NCU Student
Picture this: it’s 1938 and you’re a student at North Central University (Formerly known as North Central Bible Institute). Today is the first day of classes, and you’re about ready to blow your wig. But there are numerous questions to answer before you begin your day. What does America look like at this moment? What will you wear to class? How will you talk with other students? What does the campus look like?
To give you a little background on the timeline, here are a couple of important things you should know. Currently, the former governor of New York, Franklin D. Roosevelt, is President of the United States. Congress has just passed the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act which means all future store-bought products will need extensive testing before they hit the shelves. Congress has also recently passed the Social Security Act, meaning you will have a pension for a retirement fund when you retire sometime in the 1970s or 1980s.
Pop culture and language
In terms of pop culture, music, movies, and theatre, the world is exploding! Color TV, Broadway musicals, Jazz music, and art deco are on the rise. The movie The Wizard of Oz is set to be released next year, and it’s one of the first movies to have a trailer. Now that you know where you are at in time, you need to know how to communicate with those around you. In order to speak clearly with your floor and professors, you need to know the slang of the day. Here are several popular phrases from 1930s American slang.
Behind the grind = Behind in one’s homework
Blow your wig = To become very excited
Egg = A crude person
Evil = In a bad mood
Crust = To insult
Slip me five = Shake my hand
Pally = Friend or pal, sometimes sarcastic
Pip = An attractive person
Murder! = Wow!
Make tracks = Leave quickly
When looking at 1930s fashion and hairstyles, it is easy to see why older teens would often be mistaken for young adults. For the first few school years at North Central, students wore dark uniforms. From what modern-day Northerner Staff can tell, men wore suits and ties while women wore knee-length skirts and long-sleeve shirts with a white necktie.
Much like today, North Central campus life was bustling in the 1930s. In fact, much of the remodeling of Asbury Hospital into dorms and classrooms was done by faculty and students in 1937. Yearly attendance at NCU was $160, this included housing and meals. This comes out to be $3,186 in modern-day currency. Students are also required to help maintain the campus, giving 10 hours a week to serve the needs of the building.
Miller Hall, for the most part, was the entirety of North Central’s campus. It wasn’t until the 1960s that modern-day T.J. Jones Library, Liechty building, and Carlson Hall were acquired by North Central’s Campus. As for student life, it was not too different from today. Attending classes, sitting in chapel with roommates, playing games on weekends, and walking around Elliot Park were all popular activities.
In order from left to right (on mobile top to bottom): NCU’s Northerner staff 1938, Miller Hall 1930s, Front of Miller Hall 1930s, NCU’s Cafeteria 1930s.
A Lesson From a Past Age…
All in all, being a North Central student in the 1930s was an incredible time to be alive. As I researched more about life in the 1930s, I realized how everyday life back then was much richer than it is now. In an age of social media when more than half of our time is spent online, we are missing out on important elements that have slowly died out with the introduction of the internet and smart devices. We’ve lost important social and conversational skills as well as the ability to slow down and “smell the roses” in our everyday life.
How differently would our everyday lives and life goals look if we took away the distraction of modern technology? What would our friendships and dating relationships look like if we took time to slow down? How would our mental health change if we spent solid blocks of time reflecting on our life experiences and memories instead of scrolling on Instagram? As we look forward to the future of technology, we cannot forget the age of simplicity that lies behind us. We must remember the shoulders we stand on of all the students who prayed for students like us, nearly 100 years ago. So today I encourage us students to take life a little slower, notice the beauty around us, and never forget the history we’ve come from.