In 1913, a need for a High School was voted by the French ISD just north of Beaumont ISD. In 1927 FISD was then affiliated with standards equal to other 11 & 12 grade schools in the US.
In 1948 the FISD consolidated with the BISD. The French family, early settlers to the area donated the land for the school and so it was named "French High".
The first FHS was located on Pope St in Beaumont. Then in 1952 built a new school on Concord.
Through the years FHS saw many changes and it's classes will forever remember the place "neath the pines so green and cool".
The early years, were the years when preppy clothes were in style, movies had just been introduced and
Rudolph Valentino was an uprising star.
In the early 30's clothing style were simple and everyone wore the same thing. The girls' apparel consisted of skirts, blouses and oxfords accompanied by bobby socks. Boys apparel consisted of ties, sweaters, shirts and slacks. Dress codes were strictly enforced. Young ladies were not permitted to wear pants and boys were not permitted to wear shoes without socks. Hair styles were straight or finger waved.
If one was caught disobeying school rules they were disciplined by mean of expelling the student, memorizing prose or licks. And there will always be teachers who were remembered for their strict rules or the way they taught. The most memorable from French in the early 30's was, Mrs. Hillburn...band. Basketball and math were the classes most enjoyed by the students of that time.
Due to the lack of facilities the students ate lunch at the elementary schools. The favorite foods includes hot dogs, hamburgers and french fries. Fortunately, times have not changed the taste buds of teens. The stunts of yesterday were very unlike those of today. They were simple and very memorable. One of the most recalled stunts is that of two guys selling false teeth power that was suppose to keep real teeth from falling out. The humor is that the students bought it.*S*
Music tends to make a certain point in time. The teens of the 1930's remember Rudolph Valentino and western music as the love of the country. Movies were new. But neither music nor movies erased the stark reality of the Depression, which forced some students to quit school in order to work. Ginger Roger became the Vanna White of the 30's and she danced her way in to the hearts of many Americans. Soon, teens began to duplicate the fancy foot work of this famous dancer as they danced.
Whoever said "All good things must come to an end" must have know the Depression was on its way to touch and in some cases smash the lives of families. Many students were forced to drop out of school in order to help support their families. Tears and hunger replaced Ginger and Rudolph. America was at its worse. The 30's were years filled with pain, sorrow and many obstacles to over come and those years can be remembered happily in spite of the many hardships.
These were the 40's when television was something new and everyone was drinking RC cola. The 40's were great times in Beaumont. The clothes worn throughout the 40's were boy's khaki pants, loafer, blue jeans, button downs, t-shirts and oxfords, & plaid shirts to name a few. Haircuts were different. To name a few were the boy's ducktail, faded haircuts, and ever-popular "Ivy League". The style for girls was shoulder-length, straight and the page-boy. The dress code was very conventional at French. Boys were not permitted to wear tight pants and were required to tuck their shirt in. In addition, girls were not to wear pants or tight sweaters.
Although many styles have changed through the years, the one thing has not changed is a teenagers eating habits. Junk food was preferred then as it is now ! Lunch at school was either bought or the students would walk home for lunch. Among the favorite foods were, french fries, strawberry malts, cherrycokes and frosted cokes.
During the 40's popular hangouts were as follows: The Ice Cream shop on Mariposa, The Pig stand, and the ever popular drag races. Although there were good times at French, there were also a time for class work & from the viewpoint of some of the people interviewed the favorite classes were Mrs. Hugh Lester's - English, Mr. Lon Wright's - World History, and Mrs. Virginia Lee's - Speech and drama.. And many remembered and loved Principal - Mr. D.L. Hybarger.
As with all schools, French had it's share of slang words. Just to name a few there was..."O.K.", "Zoot suite", "Kilroy was here", "Cool cats", "you're a sap" and "egg head". Stunts have seemed to be a way of life for most teenagers to express themselves, in the 40's as well as now and some of the most common stunts of the 40's were hiding in the trunk of the car to get in to the drive inns free and harassing girls with live animals, showing how the more things have changed during the years, the more they've stayed the same.
The 50's saw a lot of changes, In 1952, FHS was moved to a new school on Concord.
Time can be compared with a merry-go round. Styles and fashions of the 50's are very much like those of today. During the 50's, some popular hairstyles for guys were ducktails, crew cuts and flattops. Girls wore their hair long. Guys wore rolled up jeans and t-shirts or hawaiian shirts and the girls wore long skirts and bobby socks. Favorite dances were the bop, the bunny hop, the two step and the jitterbug. A few popular hangouts included the Pig Stand, Highway Dinner, Shelton's, Graddy's, Big Oaks and 11th Street. The dress code at French allowed girls to only wear dresses to school. Discipline rules consisted of smoking only in designated areas, no chewing gum or talking in class, girls could not be pregnant and go to school and no one could be married. Punishment was either licks or being expelled. School lunches were described as "Yuck!!". Students were allowed to leave campus at lunch time. Two places student went for lunch were M & M cafe and the Snack Shack. French fries, hamburgers, chicken fried steaks and coke were the favorite foods.
Some teachers remembered for leaving a lasting impression on students were Mr. Leon, Mr. Knight, Mrs. Simkins and Mrs. Dunn. There were several clubs one could belong to at French in the 50's. They were the Science Club, the Red Cross Club. the 4H Club, The Home Economics Club, The Key Club, The Math Club, the Fishing Club, Y-teens, Hi- y for boys, Foreign Club, the Glee Club and Honor Society.
Some social groups of the 50's included the Hoods, the Athletes and the Nerds. Common slang words were "Gimme five" and "What's Happening?". Many original stunts were pulled during the 1950's. Guys would put mirrors on their shoes so they could look under girls skirts. Stink bombs were made in chemistry. Firecrackers were put in lockers. Universal joints were disconnected in students cars and air was let out of tires.
The Korean War was a major historical event in the 50's. Others included Chevy coming out with a V-8 engine and cutting Biblical History classes and prayer at school.
During the 50's the best movies were "the Alamo" "Iwogima", "Giant", "Gone with The Wind" and "On The Waterfront". Some of the favorite stars were John Wayne, Doris Day, James Dean, Rock Hudson, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor.
During the 60's hair styles changed a lot. Girls styles moved from the traditional long hair with bangs to short teased hair and finally such "groovy" styles as the flip and the pageboy were popular. For boys nothing could beat a flat top or crew cut. Later in the decade, longer hair was in style but due to the strict hair codes, it was not allowed at school. As much as hair changed, clothing styles changed equally. In the early 60's girls wore long skirts and were forbidden to wear pants. By the late 60's the girls wore mini skirts and they were allowed to wear pants on cold days. Mini skirts were worn with colorful pantyhose and tight sweaters, the standards for boys was blue jeans and a tucked in shirt. Bell bottoms became famous in the late 60's. Preferred teachers and classes included, Mrs. LaBella's Choir class, Mrs. Dunn's Art class, Mr. Thomas' Drafting class and Mrs. Knox's Secretarial skills class. Rules and regulations at French became more relaxed towards the end of the decade. Short skirts and pants became permitted for girls, but such rules as no gum, the hair code, shirt tails tucked in, keeping natural hair color, and closed campuses were kept. Favorite foods were the classic favorites such as hamburgers, pizzas, french fries and onion rings.
Politically, the 60's were very eventful. American troops were sent to the Bay of Pigs and Viet Nam, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and several leaders were assassinated. Despite the political scene, students in the 60's had a "blast". "Slender in the Grass", "The Graduate" and "Romeo and Julet" packed the theaters. Favorite actors and actresses were Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Elvis Presley and Jack Webb. Musicians were also popular and Fabian, Sandra Dee, the Beach Boys and the Beatles sang their way to the top of the charts.
Besides going to the movies and listening to music, the things to do were cruse 11th street, (THE DRAG), hang out at the Pig Stand, the Village Bowling Alley or any number of pizza parlors. School dances were also always packed. Kids moved to the beat doing the twist, the bop, the watusi , the jerk and the swim. Pranks were also a thing of the times. Mirrors on shoes to see up skirts were still popular, and a toilet replaced a princess in a homecoming parade.
At the graduation ceremonies of the class of '69, the class upset everyone by chanting..."Sex, beer and wine, we're the class of 69.."
Certainly the 60's were an unforgettable decade, not only because of the political upheaval, but also due to the Buffalos' stunts.
When asked about their school years, students within the same decade will usually have about the same story to tell. NOT SO with the students of the 70's.
During the early 70's a popular hair style for girls was the swing, which was long on the sides and short in the back. During the latter part of the decade the girls wore long straight hair parted down the middle. Afro's were also popular. Clothing styles consisted of mini skirts for girl and blue jeans and t-shirts for boys. With bell bottoms being popular for both. Later in the decade the country western look and dashikis hit the scene.
Dances changed a lot. Early favorites were the twist, the jitterbug and the jerk. The hustle was the dance of the disco era. Some of the favorite hangouts were the Pig stand and 11th Street. The parks were also popular, especially Magnolia Park. The dress code in the 70's did not allow girls to wear jeans to school, but in 1974 this changed. Dresses had to be to the knee. Campus rules permitted hand holding and there was designated areas for smoking. Seniors were permitted to leave school for lunch, which at school was described as boring and "edible". but not "preferable".
At FHS in the late 70's, the dress rules were ignored and students wore shorts, tube and tank tops, and hats in the building. Historical events affecting students during the 70's were the end of the Viet Nam war, The Watergate scandals, Nixon became the first president to resign and for the first time the U.S. had both a President and Vice President who were not elected!
Some of the favorite teachers were: Mrs. Smith, Coach Smiley, and Mr. Samuel. Favorite classes were Home Economics, Journalism, Chemistry, Weight Lifting and World Civics. Popular movies during this time were: "The Way We Were", "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid". Favorite actors were Barbara Streisand, Harrison Ford and Kris Kristofferson. Most of the social groups were school organizations such as, Key Club and Hi-Y Club. There were also gangs and semi- fraternities. Slang was mostly vulgar, but those who did not use vulgar language used slang terms similar to those today. School life included stunts such as, wrapping the school and house. But more serious things included burning "FHS" in the grass at Forest Park's Stadium, putting a VW bug on top of the school and riding a motorcycle in the halls.
Over all campus life was enjoyable.
The 80's brought FHS something that no one ever thought could happen. Due to the merger with BCP, the FHS campus became the ninth grade center for Central High School.
The fashion and styles were typical of teens. any thing went! Hair for boys and girls was long or short, straight or curly and the "punk" styles even had popularity. Green, pink, or orange hair? You BET! Girls wore over sized shirts and "Guess " jeans, polos and stirrup pants. Boys wore button down shirts, tank tops, Jams and Levi's. Concerning school rules and dress.... no shorts or short mini skirts were allowed and the no pass no play rule became effective with the passage of House Bill 72. Favorite teachers were: Mr. Ruby, Mrs. Graham and Mrs. Moss During the 80's there were many significant world events, among them, Regan's becoming President, the appearance of Haley's Comet, conflicts with Libya and Ghadafy and the Challenger disaster.
These events, though appeared rather insignificant to some ardent Buffalo fans, when, in 1984 the mighty "ORANGE CRUSH" won the state football co-championship tying Odessa Permian 21-21 the weekend before Christmas.
The best movies of the time according to the students were: "Star wars", "Raiders of the Lost Ark", "Beverly Hill Cop", "E.T." and "16 Candles". Some favorite stars were... Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Michael Jackson, Molly Ringwald, Sylvester Stallone and Eddy Murphy to name a few. Activities of the 80's included the usual school dances, along with parties at friends houses, cruising Dowlen Road - the drag of the 80's.
In 1986 Big Bill was put out to pasture
but the spirit he embodied
was carried on to BCH
by the students and teachers
who became Jaguars, but remained Buffalos at heart!
DOES BIG BILL, THE FIGHTING ORANGE AND WHITE, OR THAT PLACE OF LEARNING THAT SO MANY HEARTS YEARNED FOR BRING BACK MEMORIES OF THE GOOD 'OL DAYS AND MAYBE EVEN A TEAR OR TWO? FRENCH HIGH SCHOOL SAW MANY DECADES AND WITH EACH DECADE CAME NEW STYLES, FADS, AND FASHIONS FOR THE STUDENTS THAT CHEERED FOR THE "ORANGE CRUSH"
I want to thank ... all the students who worked on "FLASHBACKS" -- a project of Caruther's Honors English II classes, for all the hard work they did on a great book.
The book it self is a true reflection of the merging of the schools. The book reflects back on all the schools, though I only put FHS on my page. The entire book is a very rewarding tribute to all the teachers and students. ** I added photos..... and a little on the bottom.
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