THE CABALLERO YEARS
1950-1951

An Uphill Climb: 1950-51
14 New Members
Fall, 1950

"At first, the Cabs had an up-hill climb, as the start of the Korean War in 1950 and the accompanying draft caused many of the charter members to enlist in the then glamorous Air Force, and some were drafted before a workable student deferment system was established."

The Korean "crisis" took its toll on the enrollment at Sam Houston. Just the year before it had grown to nearly 2,300. Now it had fallen back to 2,016, with a huge decrease in veterans (9/30/50). The war was on everyone's mind and the college men, so vulnerable to soldiering, had the fear of leaving anytime. The Board of Regents, in an early August meeting, had anticipated the problem of men dropping out of school irregularly because of the Korean crisis. Special stipulations were devised by the Board of Regents at its August 10-12 meeting for these emergencies to accommodate the student:

Any student of 1950-51 who withdraws from any one of the six colleges in the system after November 21 and enters immediately some branch of the active armed forces of the United States will be given full credit in each course for which he is enrolled and in which he is making a grade of "C" or better. . . . Procedure for securing academic credit and refunds is to have your commanding officers write your dean a letter stating the fact that you are in and the date of entrance.

Although there was real fear in the air, campus activities continued to build spirit and traditional activities were important to morale. The SUB construction was under way; projected completion was sometime in early spring. The entire college population became concerned early in October when Dr. Lowman was taken ill while traveling to St. Louis (10/7/50). He was a "student's president," as Dan Rather labeled him two years later, and the cards and letters flowed in at a steady pace. After three weeks of quiet and recuperation, Dr. Lowman returned to activity on campus.

During the first week in October the Caballeros elected officers: Tommy Perdue, President (pictured left), W. R. Lewis, Vice President, and Charlie Stanley, Secretary/Treasurer. They decided to have three dances during the year, one of them being the Dream Girl Dance. The Caballeros "pledged" 14 men who were to be initiated before the Christmas break. The new Caballero pledges were Abel Adams, Jim Bob Roper, James Lindley, Pat Hanson, Cliff Tanner, Bill Sprayberry, Jim Brittain, Valry Long, J. D. Cook, Oscar Griffin, Danny Townsend, Lloyd Burr, Ruell Riggs, and Lloyd Grubbs.

Locally, the merchants were raising prices and the students didn't like it! It would cost more to go to the movies and to have your clothes cleaned; the barbers were raising the price of a haircut from 75 cents to $1.00. A petition protesting these increases quickly circulated campus and was signed; the Student Council would present the document to the merchants and if no results were obtained, the students would boycott certain establishments. In the October 21, 1950, issue of the Houstonian this proclamation appeared:

We, the undersigned students of Sam Houston State Teachers College, do hereby protest the rising prices charged for certain commodities handled at the following establishment in Huntsville:

All cleaners
All theaters
All barbershops

We, also, are organized and prepared to take certain drastic measures to curb these prices at the approval of the Student Council of our college.

With no response from the merchants, the boycott was on!

The annual Halloween Carnival was held to support the SUB fund. The Caballeros sponsored a concession in which a person, for 15 cents, got two chances to throw hoops around the necks of floating ducks for prizes (10/29/50). The carnival was successful, bringing in over $800 (11/4/50).

The first week in November brought the news that there had been an assassination attempt on President Truman during his visit to Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican students attending SHSTC were asked about the unfortunate event and responded that they felt it was too bad that it had to happen in their country which was eager for independence; they were quick to note that the assassin had also attempted to kill the Governor of Puerto Rico (11/4/50).

Homecoming was mid-November and the usual festivities were held: alumni receptions, the parade, the game, and the dances that night. The Cabs entered a float designed as a boat (11/15/50), which they built in the backyard of Young House with Mrs. Young and the girls helping out! (Interview: Perdue) Meeting regularly on Mondays at Young House, the Cabs decided to have the Dream Girl dance in the fall semester so she would be included with the club in the Alcalde picture. December 1 was set as the date and would end the week of initiation. There was no formal initiation written at this time; there was no badge; there was no crest; pledges were called "prospective members." What kept the Cabs going was their closeness as friends---their brotherhood---and their living together.

On Tuesday, November 28, the fourteen pledges were "initiated." They shined shoes on campus---anyone on campus who wanted their shoes shined got them shined---scrubbed the walks and steps of Old Main, and went to informal initiation that night where they gathered on the second floor of Young House in the hallway, and were given a short indoctrination talk and accepted into the club (Interview: Perdue).

The following Friday, the Dream Girl dance was held at Belvin Dining Hall at 8:00. Charley Stanley, Earl Hancock, and Roy Ralston were in charge of arrangements. The cost was 50 cents (11/29/50). Guests danced to the music of the Houstonians, playing "Mona Lisa," "How High the Moon," and "Come On-A My House" among popular favorites. Marilyn Keeling was crowned Dream Girl of 1951; she was given a dozen American beauty roses and an identification bracelet with her name inscribed on the front and "Caballero Dream Girl of 1950" on the back (12/2/50).

The boycott against some local merchants was still continuing, but some students were "giving in," so in one "last-ditch" effort the Student Council and the university orchestra combined forces for a concert. The orchestra played "long-haired" music to emphasize the rise in haircut costs! (12/2/50). But, despite these efforts, the boycott was lifted in January (1/6/51).

Just before Christmas break, 400 men met with administrators to discuss forced resignations from school due to the war (12/20/50). The war affected every aspect of life.

As school halted for Christmas vacation, Ben Gillespie, Editor of the Houstonian, wrote in his editorial "Christmas, 1950" some quietly compassionate personal feelings as many friends left for home and many more left for the service.

Christmas is almost here again, complete with a war and all the trimmings.

It reminds us of another Christmas not so many years ago when the world faced the same dark prospects upon the eve of the birth of One whose life is the basis of all goodness and mercy in mankind.

In December of 1941, the future could have been no more fraught with danger and sense of loss than it is today. The picture is almost the same, only then war had been officially declared. . .today the striped-pants boys haven't gotten around to openly admitting we blundered and are once again sitting in the lap of war.

Yet, this Christmas season, just as then in '41, we'll pause and offer our prayers and give thanks to God for the true basis and value of Christmas. We'll remember the Christ in Christmas.

For those of us who are leaving for the services, it will be our last Christmas at home probably for quite some time. Maybe it will be our last Christmas.

But whatever we do, wherever we are, no matter what faith or religion is ours, we'll remember that as long as there is a God, and he gave his son to us, there will always be a Christmas, and no overly ambitious, Godless totalitarians can change it.

And while we're enjoying that Christmas dinner, opening our presents and having a good time, let's remember those guys who are spending this Christmas in Korea, those in the training campus, on the seas and all over the world. Their Christmases probably won't be as much fun as ours. . . . B.G. (12/20/50)

On January 6, 1951, the Houstonian's headline read: "106 SH Students Leave for Service." Four days later 25 more; three days later 20 more (1/13/51).

On January 13, the announcement of the beginning of Sam Houston's own reserve unit sparked interest in many men who were enrolled in school. The reserve unit---"B" Battery of the 352nd Armored Field Artillery Battalions---was part of the 22nd Armored Reserve Division (1/13/51). Among the Caballeros (present and future) who joined this unit were Billy Curbo, Roy Ralston, Earl Kahla, Herman Hitt, Bill Dietz, Lloyd Grubbs, Jack Nelson, and Dan Rather.

123 students were included on the fall honor roll. "Requirements for the honor roll classification are 45 grade points for six subjects, 39 for five subjects, 33 for four subjects, and 27 for three subjects. An A merits three grade points, a B two, and a C, one" (SHA, Apr 51, 10).

As the fall semester ended, much had occurred: friends were suddenly gone; futures were in doubt; uncertainty filled the air. What else could happen?


The SUB Opens
Spring, 1951

How about a cold spell! As soon as everyone returned back for the second semester, a record cold wave hit! On Monday, February 5, the temperature went down to 25 degrees; on Tuesday, down to 22; on Wednesday, down to 11! On Thursday, down to 7!! On Friday, it warmed up to 18, and on Saturday it was back up to 29. Needless to say, there were some real problems with the pipes freezing (2/7/51).

Enrollment was good considering the war: 1,018 men and 694 women. The three buildings under construction--the $350,000 SUB, the $350,000 music building, and the $428,000 Graphic Arts building--had problems with the cold and their openings were delayed until early summer (2/23/51).

The Caballeros met regularly and planned out the semester's activities even though membership was dented by the war. The first order of business for the semester was the election of officers: Tom Purdue was elected President, Eddie Dougherty, Vice President and Ruell Riggs, Secretary/Treasurer.

The Cabs planned a hay ride when the weather got better and another dance for the end of the semester (2/23/51). The clubs were taking prospective members, but the numbers were low due to the pressure of the draft or enlistment.

In March the country was shaken by the news that President Truman had relieved General MacArthur of his command. Everyone had an opinion; the consensus of Sam Houston students felt uncertain about the war now that MacArthur was no longer involved (4/14/51). The campus was further stunned at the death of long-time Dean Roy H. Adams at the end of March (3/13/51).

But in April good news came: there was a new draft deferment plan okayed by Congress that went into effect immediately. Any man could now finish college (as long as he kept his grades adequate) and then serve his country (4/4/51). The men living in Jackson-Shaver celebrated by purchasing a 17-inch television set, which cost over $350 (4/21/51). Instead of going to the "expensive" movies, they could enjoy Milton Berle, "Your Show of Shows," the Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy, and the Friday Night Fights, which would have more of an influence on the Caballeros that anyone knew at this time.

The library, housed in the Estill Building, announced it had 91,476 volumes and a seating capacity of 320 (5/2/51). Campus elections got under way and the competition was heavy.

The Caballeros canceled plans to sponsor a dance at the end of the year because the SUB was going to open in early May and there were many festivities planned. At the meeting on April 16 the Cabs knew their Caballero Brother Bill Turner would be the next Houstonian editor (an all-college elected position), and backed him completely (4/25/51). They also nominated Betty Jo Birdwell as their representative in the end-of-the-year extravaganza, the bathing beauty contest; she won the title over twenty competitors (5/12/51).

At the May 7 meeting, the Cabs elected officers for the Fall semester: Roy Ralston, President, Lloyd Grubbs, Vice President, Herman Hitt, Secretary, Bill Johnson, Treasurer, J. D. Cook, Reporter, Ed Doughterty, Parliamentarian. (5/12/51)

A special issue of the Houstonian on Wednesday, May 16, announced the opening of the SUB the next day, just a few days before school was to close for the semester. The special edition pointed out the facilities of Sam Houston and plans for the future (5/16/51).

Both interior and exterior [of the SUB] are calculated to give maximum relaxation and satisfaction, and students will no doubt avail themselves of all the pleasure and comfort of the chapel, the attractive recreation rooms, the cafeteria and snack bar, the patio to the Southeast, and other cozy spots created for the delight of the student and the ex-student.

And by June the new Music Building will be ready for use. . .

Then there is the Graphic Arts building with its welcome ramifications, for it is from this building that air ducts connecting with the other building will furnish the many rooms with air conditioning. . .(SHA, Apr 51, 2)

The end of the semester did not necessarily mean the splitting up of the Cabs for the summer. Those who were in the three newly-formed reserve units had to spend 15 days on active duty at Camp Chaffee, Arkansas. No officers attended and "since the camp will include only basic training, only those reservists with less than 15 days previous military training were required to attend." (6/22/51) One of those was Caballero Jackie Nelson, Houstonian reporter, who wrote about the activities and antics of the men.

On the 450-mile journey the Cabs engaged in many activities: Roy Ralston was studying, trying to keep up in summer school; Lloyd Grubbs was teaching card games. Herman Hitt was asked if "he had a motor to propel his size 13D boots." Some were complaining about having to get up at 5:30 am; but Bill Dietz said it wouldn't bother him because "he was accustomed to serving breakfast each morning at the girls' dorm." Other Cabs along were Bill Curbo, Earl Kahla, and Dan Rather (6/22/51). At camp the men "spent 16 out of every 24 hours on their feet and moving, learning the art of warfare." The second week was spent on bivouac; at the rifle range they "used up $10,000 worth of rounds in one day." Upon returning one man said he "would never mind attending a 7:30 am class again after having to get up at 4:00 am while at camp" (6/29/51).

During the summer there was much activity with the moving of many departments due to the completion of buildings. The Demonstration School Building which housed the junior high school of Huntsville had moved out, making it available for education, geography and sociology to create a unique opportunity for students: "This department has a working agreement with the Texas Prison System. No other group of sociology and abnormal psychology students has such a human laboratory." The Peabody Library, vacated by the music department, would now include the Women's Physical Education department, the Y, and the Industrial Arts department. English would be in the Social Center and Old Main, along with speech, math, and social sciences (SHA, Apr 51, 5).

The most "refreshing" improvement was the completion of the air conditioning for the entire campus, except for the Men's Gym. The installation of a 1075-ton unit was done, thereby cooling all the buildings except the SUB and the new Music building which had their own units (SHA, Apr 51, 5).

Also completed in the summer was a better switchboard which could accommodate 200 place connections, which meant that "fifteen conversations can be handled at one time. Only ten could be handled on the old board" (SHA, Apr 51, 19).

The faculty used its new lounge area in the Austin College Building and gave a farewell party for Professor Joseph L. Clark on August 25. "Doctor Clark is known to every ex-student regardless of when they attended Sam Houston: 1910 or 1951" (SHA, Apr 51, 19). They also honored W. E. "Brick" Lowry on his appointment as Dean and J. D. Neal, recently appointed Head of the Business Administration department (SHA, Apr 51, 10).


1951 Alcalde Picture

Seated: Ed Dougherty, W. R. Lewis, Tom Perdue, Charles Stanley, Ruell Riggs

Standing: Roy Ralston, Lloyd Burr, Gerald Smith, Earl Kahla, (Unknown), (Unknown), Adrian Farr, J. M. Brittain, Calvin Sloma, Abel Adams, Bill Johnson