At 90 years of age, I still have fond memories of my time at North Texas — and I still live by one of the lessons I learned there.
When I enrolled at North Texas in 1935, it was during the Great Depression and times were hard. Attending college was a rare opportunity — only three of the 65 students in my Grand Saline High School class went on to college. My family really couldn’t afford it, but my mother and father valued education and wanted their children to earn a college degree. We knew North Texas was the best teachers college, so that’s where we went.
And although we were poor East Texas cotton farmers, four of us Thompsons — Bonnie (’38), Faye (’37), Joseph Benjamin (’37) and I — graduated from North Texas through hard work and sacrifice. After graduating, I taught high school for five years before joining the U.S. Women Marine Corps Reserve in 1944 to help with the wartime effort.
About 3,000 students attended North Texas in the late ’30s. We lived in a boarding house on Hickory, and as a freshman, I watched Marquis Hall being built. When it opened as the first and only dorm on campus, I thought it was the prettiest place I had ever seen. The chandeliers were beautiful.
Our school days were spent studying, but I also remember walking where the present golf course is, hiking and going on picnics — it was just an open pasture then. On Tuesday nights, a group of girls would ride the Goose to downtown for 10-cent movie night. And of course, we lived for the Saturday Night Stage Show with ’Fessor Graham.
During the summers, if we were home when the cotton was ready to be picked, we had to go to the fields to work. I found it easier to go to school. I told my parents that I wanted to go to summer school and that I could finish in three years. And I did.
It was in Olive M. Johnson’s speech class that I learned one of life’s lessons that has stuck with me throughout the years. Each class, she would write a quotation on the blackboard and ask us to think about it. She encouraged us to “impress it in your mind so it will guide you.” My favorite was, “If you cannot forgive others, you burn the bridge you yourself must cross.” Because of her, I always remembered that I should forgive others because I, too, need forgiveness.
I have enjoyed life and tried to help in civic services to my community and church. I’ve learned that attitude is everything. Being happy and being optimistic is the key.
Throughout the years, I have visited UNT several times, and I always am pleased to read about and see the continued improvements that are made at my North Texas. I am proud of the faculty, students and others who continue to bring honor to my university. Go Eagles, go Green and White!
Adene Thompson Steele (’38) was a school teacher, a Marine and a grocery store owner with her husband, George Steele, to whom she was married for 50 years before his death. She has two children, four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, and fondly remembers her days at North Texas.