Impression: John Barney Taylor and George B. McCullough

George B. McCullough (B ’48, B ’52) and John Barney Taylor (B ’48) first met in 1943, when they arrived at Tulane as members of the Navy V-12 officer training program. 

After months of training and being housed in what is now the Avron B. Fogelman Arena in the Devlin Fieldhouse, they were both commissioned as ensigns for World War II. 

During the war, Taylor worked as a paymaster on a naval base in Manila, Philippines, while McCullough was part of a secretive mission in the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA. Near the end of the war, McCullough was also sent to the Philippines. 

“I was walking through the Officer’s Club, and this young, commissioned officer walked up to me and said, ‘Is your name Taylor?’ and I said, ‘Yeah,’” Taylor recalled. “He said, ‘My name is George McCullough. Do you remember me?’ and that’s how our friendship started.”

John Barney Taylor (left) and George B. McCullough (right)
John Barney Taylor (left) and George B. McCullough (right), photo provided by Patrick McCullough

They both returned to Tulane and became roommates, and finished their undergraduate degrees in what was then called the College of Commerce and Business Administration, now the A. B. Freeman School of Business. 

It was the start of a lifelong friendship. Fast forward some seven-plus decades, and they still keep in touch with each other and have traveled to veterans’ and other events together. 

“We were two wild kids,” said Taylor of their time together as students.  

“We lived about a block from a shopping center, and we spent a lot of time there playing with a pinball machine,” said McCullough. “We didn’t have much money, so we didn’t go very far.”

“We got a room in the cheapest place around,” he added. They lived in an attic in a house on Palmer Avenue that cost them $8 per month. 

“It was only tall enough that George could stand up in the middle,” said Taylor of their shared room. “It was about the size of the closet.”

As students who had lived through the Great Depression, they each only had one jacket to wear on dates. 

“We were short on wardrobe,” said McCullough, so they decided one night to trade jackets to switch it up a bit. “The problem was, I was much taller than John.” They made a funny sight in their ill-fitting jackets, he recalled fondly. 

Taylor was McCullough’s best man at his wedding in 1951 to fellow Tulanian Colleen Beacham McCullough (B ’48). Taylor remembered being nervous at his friend’s wedding. “George gave me the wedding ring to hand over at the wedding, and when I handed it over in the palm of my hand, George said there was a pool of water in my hand!”

Their friendship remained even when they lived apart. “We stayed in contact no matter where we were,” said Taylor. They are both now living near Houston, Texas, and are happy to see each other and recall their adventures whenever they can. 

“We’ve been together for some 70 years now,” said Taylor. “Not many people can say that.” 

Since this story went to print, John Barney Taylor and George B. McCullough have passed away, John in December and George in February. Our hearts go out to the Taylor and McCullough families.