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O. J. Tournillon – Health & Physical Education, 1949

O.J. Tournillon

Bachelor of Science,  1949

                In 1946, I was attending Tulane University on a football scholarship. The new head coach, Henry Frnka, would not permit players to participate in the Southwestern Conference track meet, as he required that every one should attend spring practice. His adamancy prompted a decision to leave.

                Among the institutions that offered an alternative were Stanford, Texas Christian University and Southwestern. Johnny Cain  knew of my situation and invited me for a visit. Coach Cain was very impressive. Moreover, the students and the campus sold me on SLI.

                Unfortunately, my experience with Coach Cain was short lived as he accepted a coaching job at the University of  Alabama. Coach G. Mitchell was selected as his successor. Under his guidance, Southwestern won the conference track and field meet.

                While at SLI, I made life-long friendships. Stanley Richard, Larry Wiltz, Bill Gros, Al Deroche, and L.J. Raymond shared many wonderful experiences. Stanley Richard and I bought a 1928 Ford Model “B” automobile. Transportation was in short supply on campus. Wherever we went, the seats were filled and frequently there were passengers standing on the car’s running boards. On one such occasion when driving on campus, a very, very small automobile called a “Crosly” abruptly pulled in front. Our Ford lightly hit the car that was driven by  two girls. The driver of the other car panicked, lost control and hit a tree. Our passengers on the running boards went flying off! Fortunately, no one was hurt and the damage to the tank-line Ford was minor.

Naturally, Stanley and I went to help the girls. Neither was hurt, but the damage to their toy car from hitting the tree was extensive. One of the girls was the daughter of the mayor of Abbeville.  Stanley and I fixed the car after I got a book from the library on car repairs.

The Ford was the source of many adventures. Once it was stolen while we were in the cafeteria. I wanted to call the police, but Stanley wanted to look for it first. We found the car on the tennis courts, but were never able to discover the perpetrators. To this day, however, I still strongly suspect Bill Gros and L.J. Raymond. On another occasion, Stanley had a date and used the car to go to a movie in town. When he came out of the theater, someone  had put the car on a fireplug.

The only class I ever missed at Southwestern was the time I met a cute blond girl from California. We met in the Student Center and I enjoyed her company so much that I missed physics.

The military base by the school had been closed following World War II. We often jumped its fence at night for a swim in the pool. While on the track team, I would practice throwing the discus behind the girl’s dormitory. Years later, I learned that the girls would watch me, and I suspect that is how I got a job modeling for the art school class.

The gym teacher, Miss McMillan, asked some of the athletes to participate in a physical education show. We were coated with silver paint and did three different tableaus. Moving from one position to another was tedious when your body is covered with oily goop.

After graduation from Southwestern, I received a Master of Science Degree from Louisiana State University and a Doctorate from the University of Southern Mississippi. I taught and coached at Terrebonne High School, Holy Cross High School, and Fortier High School for nineteen years. I served as principal, district superintendent and assistant headmaster for twenty years at various schools including McDonough 7, Gayarre, Fortier, Abramson and Holy Cross High.

While I consider myself semi-retired, I work as an educational consultant on occasion. While I still maintain a residence in New Orleans, I attend to my farm in Carriere, Mississippi. Dr. Van Brock of LSU has encouraged me to write about my experiences as an educator; and I hope to do so in the near future.

The education that I received at Southwestern was solid. I would not trade my experiences there for anything in the world. It was a wonderful time.

Sincerely Yours,

O.J. Tournillon