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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

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An excerpt from the March 8, 1955, article in "The Aztec" student newspaper describes the "Skills for a Lifetime" film depicting campus life. An excerpt from the March 8, 1955, article in "The Aztec" student newspaper describes the "Skills for a Lifetime" film depicting campus life.

Were You a Student Film Star?

A researcher is looking for films depicting campus life in the 1950s.
By Tobin Vaughn

Whatever happened to two films depicting campus life in the 1950s? 

That’s what alumnus David Caterino wants to know. He’s working as a coauthor with Seth Mallios, chair of the SDSU Department of Anthropology, on a book about the history of Montezuma Mesa.

Cinematic discovery

In his research, Caterino came across two articles from the student newspaper from 1955 and 1957 describing films shot on and around campus. But he is unable to locate the actual films or anyone who can remember seeing them.

“I would really love to find a copy of either film,” said Caterino, who works as a coordinator with San Diego’s South Coastal Information Center, “but I would also be happy to hear from anyone who might have seen one of them or who participated in making them.”

The first movie mentioned in an article from the March 8, 1955, “Aztec” is called “Skills for a Lifetime.” The article said it was to have been shown that day on campus at 11 a.m. and the film is described as shot over a two-year period and featuring “many persons on campus.”

According to the article, the film was narrated by speech arts professor Paul Lewis Pfaff. It was made available to campus groups and could be obtained through the campus audio-visual department.

“No one on campus I’ve talked to has ever heard of it,” Caterino said. He hopes an alum or former staff or faculty member might be able to help with his search.

1957 film

Likewise, Caterino is looking for anyone involved with a film mentioned in a November 26, 1957, article in “The Aztec.”  That’s the day an untitled film made by Film Productions International of Burbank was to have wrapped up shooting. 

The movie reportedly depicted the campus activity of Presbyterian groups at half a dozen colleges and universities across the country, including San Diego State. It featured many campus activities and locations, including a rush party at Kappa Sigma fraternity, a steak fry at Scripps Cottage and classroom scenes from a biology lab and a lecture. 

The article mentions the names of seven students involved with the production. University records led Caterino to one, Joe Bousard, who had a speaking part in the film.

“I had a small part in it and we were all talking about student life,” said Bousard, who now lives in Phoenix. “We were all in the theater and they asked us to come in and do this.”

Although the Westminster Club was the Presbyterian group on campus at the time, Bousard said he was not a member. He is also unsure where the finished product may have been shown.

"It might have been shown to the community at times or maybe one of our teachers did a lecture, but I think it was strictly meant to be in-house for students and it may have been shown at the student union or maybe they did a little party or something,” he speculated. “I honestly don't remember that much about it.”

Help find the students

That’s why Caterino hopes to locate others who may remember more about where the movie was shown and what might have happened to it. Although Bousard was the only alumnus Caterino was able to contact through university records, the 1957 article also lists the names of the following students as participants in the film:

  • Igbal Balock
  • Jack Brennan
  • Bob Dyer
  • Dorothy Embree
  • Darleen Geer
  • Phil Severns

Caterino requests that anyone with information about either film or who may know someone involved with either production to please contact him at