Dan Rather, Houstonian Editor: 1952-53
ROTC and Bop Come to Campus
Fall, 1952

The summer of 1952 had been active: in England, King George VI died and was succeeded by his daughter Queen Elizabeth II, and the longest-running play ever--Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap--opened in London. In Africa, Albert Schweitzer received the Nobel Peace Prize. In Germany, 16,000 people escaped from East to West Berlin. In Helsinki, Finland, the 13th Olympic Games were held; the United States fared well, winning 43 gold medals, including Floyd Patterson in the middleweight boxing division and Bob Mathias in the Decathlon.

At the movies audiences waited through each tense minute of High Noon for the confrontation of Gary Cooper and Jack Palance as Grace Kelly waited and the jukeboxes played Tex Ritter Laine singing: "Do not forsake me, O my darlin', on this our wedding day . . ." DeMille's circus extravaganza The Greatest Show on Earth won the Best Picture Oscar. The antics of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis kept people laughing and every male fell in love with the unmatchable Marilyn Monroe. We marveled at This is Cinerama which put us in the action! Singin' in the Rain continued the escape musicals popular during any time of war. Other big movies were Ivanhoe, Come Back Little Sheba, John Wayne's The Quiet Man, and one that had a more lasting impact than any Caballero expected--Moulin Rouge.

More homes had television sets; personalities such as Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, and Imogene Coca made the days easier to tolerate. On Monday nights, studying took a second seat to Lucy and Ricky. As the school year began, there was a presidential campaign between war hero General Dwight Eisenhower and well-known Senator Adali Stevenson. It seemed as if almost everyone "liked Ike."

In Texas, there was a real quandary about the election. Many of the Democrats were speaking out for Ike and yet the Democratic nature of Texas permeated most people. This was shown at Sam Houston in a real way. Truman's Secretary of Defense Robert Lovett, a Huntsville native, came back for the dedication of the brand new ROTC program Dr. Lowman had worked so hard to get. Governor Allen Shivers would be in town the same day. Houstonian Editor Dan Rather would have a few opinions on this meeting.

The enrollment at Sam Houston had "jumped" to 1,600 (10/11/52); there were 921 men and 679 women. The departments of education, business administration and agriculture had over 200 students; each of the other departments had less than 100 apiece (SHA, Oct 52, 10). The tuition for Sam Houston in the fall of 1952 was $25 a semester and $25 a six-week summer term; living expenses were quite reasonable: $48 a month for women's dormitories and $14 a month for men's dorms; $1.20 could buy three meals in the college cafeteria (5/16/51).

The campus was saddened by the death of Miss Augusta Lawrence, credited with finding the school motto: "A Measure of a Life is its Service" (9/20/52). The Graphic Arts building was dedicated in a gala ceremony highlighted by speaker Robert A. Lovett (SHA, Oct 52, 8-9). The big change in the campus came with the beginning of ROTC; of the 921 men registered, 405 had enrolled in this new military program (10/4/52). Some of the 679 females on campus were quite vocal about some new restrictions for them: "A controversy may arise over the new regulation which does not permit women residents to wear blue jeans in the living room, on the campus, or in town after 4 p.m." This issue was too complex for an immediate decision (9/20/52). In the first issue of the Houstonian, new editor Dan Rather welcomed and warned the new freshmen that they need to carefully plan out their social and education schedules or else they will be gone next semester (9/20/52).

The Caballeros were beginning their fourth year with new Lloyd Grubbs, President, Jackie Havard, Vice President, Charlie Johnson, Secretary, Jerry Martin, Treasurer (9/27/52). Meeting regularly on Monday nights, they planned to participate again in the Halloween Carnival,(they had a concession in which a person would try to loop pop bottles with hoops), build a float for Homecoming, and have a party with the Anne Gibbs society sometime during the semester.

The Caballeros elected to all-college positions were creating enthusiasm and controversy. Bill Dietz was head cheerleader and planned many new activities for the student body to create school spirit. (10/4/52) Bill Johnston, vice-president of the Student Council, was instrumental in having the money made from the Halloween Carnival returned to the Student Council rather than go to the SUB fund (11/1/52). Both Dan Rather and Jackie Nelson, elected President and Reporter of the Junior Class, held forth their individual views about a myriad of subjects in the school newspaper. The Caballeros pledged six men: Hamp Atkinson, Joe Cronin, Bob Samuel, Jim Lanier, Jimmy Williams, and Martin Franzen (10/25/52).

One of the biggest impacts of the school year came from a young freshman right out of high school who became the center of attention. "Bucko Brings Bop from Jeff Davis High" read the headline of a special article in the Houstonian. In the midst of the jitterbuggers and shaggers, this bopper invaded Sam with a gusto unequaled. "It takes a lot of practice," George Buckow admitted. "The bop was kind of like the shag but the steps were faster." This future Caballero was "far and away Sam Houston's best bopper." wrote Rather (10/4/52).

The Caballeros worked at the annual Prison Rodeo as did other organizations. "The Caballeros were the chief salesmen, with something like twenty soda-water hawkers. They operated two booths, and had members roving through the crowds with buckets" (10/11/52).

1952 was an election year; it was Eisenhower and Nixon for the Republicans and Stevenson and Kefauver for the Democrats. Ike seemed a "shoe-in." Truman was finishing his unpopular term, having fired MacArthur among other things. The Democrats had been in power a long time, had gotten the country into wars; it seemed time for a change. And Ike was the perfect father-figure. There was no doubt about it: Ike was popular.

Since Eisenhower had been born in Dennison, Texas, being a Democrat in Texas at this time was common but not admitted by many. The campus held a mock election and surprisingly Stevenson had won by one vote (10/25/52). Two days before the election, Rather, being able to vote for the first time, took a stand. (He asked fellow journalist Bob Hazlett to present the opposition's opinion.) Presenting "both sides of Tuesday's election arguments, this week's column will be on why I'm for Adali Stevenson for president," Rather began. He justified his support for the Democratic Party, with proof of their accomplishments while stating the shortcomings of the Republicans right after the depression (11/1/52).

Dr. Lowman revealed expansion plans for SHSTC for the next ten years. Three new buildings were in the future; "We have needed a new gym for years, but for the Korean War and government regulations, we would have probably already had one," Dr. Lowman stated. "The tentatively planned Speech Building [now the Evans Complex] to be located between the new Music [building] and Graphic Arts building, is to be constructed along the lines of a `little theater,'" with office and classroom space. Additions to the science building would accommodate physics and chemistry. More use of Country Campus was planned (11/8/52).

Following Homecoming, the issue was brought up again at Student Council about the sponsorship of homecoming. Many representatives felt that the Esquires should relinquish their sponsorship because the event was a campus-wide one. Larry Corley, Esquire advisor, argued the validity of the present setup. The objections were tabled by the Student Council (11/15/52).

One important issue that had direct impact on the entire university---students and faculty---was initially proposed. The first request to change to a five-day class week was presented. If it found favorable response, hopefully it would work its way to the Board of Regents. Both the students and the faculty were overwhelmingly in favor of the shorter week (11/15/52).

The first week in December all the organizations met to pass the 1953 Pioneer Roundup bylaws. Caballero Lloyd Grubbs was in charge of the advance sales and tickets. Among the bylaws were:

  1. A screening committee must approve of shows and scripts.
  2. No public address systems outside midway.
  3. Shows cannot begin after 10:15 on Thursday and Friday and after 11:15 on Saturday.
  4. Talent can be gotten anywhere but cannot be compensated.
  5. A charge of 30 to 40 cents may be charged. Pioneer Roundup money must be used. 30% of the proceeds will go back into Association for next year's event and awards.
  6. Buildings cannot exceed 80 feet by 40 feet. Barker stands no more than five feet in front of shows.
  7. Selling of ads handled by Pioneer Roundup Association (12/6/52).
Although the Korean War was still going on, there was optimism in the air. Eisenhower had been elected President and the new leadership nationally provided security of sorts, and new ideas on campus prompted curiosity and inspiration. The U. S. had shown its power by exploding the first hydrogen bomb at Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific on November 6. Rocky Marciano showed his power becoming the world heavyweight boxing champion defeating "Jersey" Joe Walcott.

Another new Christmas song, "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" became a permanent holiday standard and joined the ranks of the big hits of 1952: "Jambalaya," "It Takes Two to Tango," "Your Cheatin' Heart," and "Wheel of Fortune." Good Christmas gifts were current best-sellers: Ralph Ellison's The Invisible Man, Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, Steinbeck's East of Eden, Edna Ferber's Giant, and Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking.

As soon as school started back after the Christmas break a flu epidemic broke out on campus and the clinic was packed with sick students. All the beds were full and many went home to recuperate. Several missed finals the next week and had to take an "incomplete" in courses. On Wednesday, January 14, the Cabs had a "Finals and Flu" party with Anne Gibbs (1/17/53).

Winning Wars
Spring, 1953

The Caballeros elected officers during the final meeting of the Fall semester; they found it necessary to add an additional vice-president and an historian: President Willis Gresham, 1st Vice President Larry Rice, 2nd Vice President Lloyd Burr, Secretary Charlie Johnson, Treasurer Bob Samuel, Historian David Hicks, Reporter Jack Nelson.

The Cabs planned their entry for the Pioneer Roundup show. They would work with the Anne Gibbs society and tentatively named their entry "Filthy Flanagin's" (2/7/53).

Dan Rather's first editorial for the Spring semester concerned a future Caballero! Freshman Jimmy DeShong had several money-making devices to help pay for his schooling. One of these was selling the famous Marilyn Monroe calendar (2/7/53). It was certainly timely, because Niagara was showing down at the Life Theater! (2/28/53)

In the February issue of the Alumnus the feature article "Bearkats Win Shrimp Bowl Game" was written by Caballero Bob Haeberlin. There was also an editorial by Rather entitled "Art Lund---Journalist," in which Rather eulogized this former Houstonian editor who had been killed in the Korean War ( SHA, Feb 53, 28).

The Spring was busy. Sam Houston was going to begin celebrating its 75th Anniversary on April 21. In February the decision was made to move Commencement to Prichett Field (2/21/53). There was a major problem with parking on and around campus and the Student Council was receiving criticism for tabling the reports. A faculty committee had been appointed by Dean Lowry to investigate whether there could be a campus-wide policy on cuts and tardies; the students felt there should not be a policy, that it should be left to the instructors or to the student (2/14/53). There were new rules for cheerleader tryouts, the primary one being a public tryout (4/18/53).

The organizations were gearing up for Pioneer Roundup, building structures and rehearsing acts for their shows. Many of the Cabs, including Bill Dietz, David Hicks, Bill Johnston, Dan Rather, and Johnny Bob Mooney had stopped shaving for the Beard-Growing contest (2/21/53). Since those in ROTC could not grow beards because of regulations, Colonel Carpenter gave permission that the cadets could grow mustaches; so George Buckow, Bobby Ellis, Hector Long, Jerry Martin, and Larry Rice entered this contest for the Cabs. The name of the Caballero/Anne Gibbs' entry was changed to "Golden Horseshoe," and would have three chorus lines, an impersonator, and the Four Spades, entertainers from Houston (3/21/53).

Most of the 1,598 students went to Pioneer Roundup and enjoyed many hours of entertainment, western style. All the acts and shows were judged and awards were given. The Cabs picked up the trophy for the Best Act: Smitty Brown. Dan Rather was named best MC and also won the best All-Around Beard! (4/11/53)

The Cabs planned their Dream Girl Dance for April 18 (but was changed to April 30) at State Lake. Smitty Brown and the Four Spades would entertain. There was barbecue in the early evening with Anne Gibbs women and the dance later on (4/11/53). Jeanelle Kingsley was crowned Dream Girl after having won the bathing beauty contest a few days before (5/9/53).

Bill Johnston was named King of the annual Coronation as the semester was quickly coming to a close (5/9/53).

The Student Council ended their year by "lambasting" the Houstonian and its criticism of organizations and its evaluation of the Student Council: "This year's student government was no better or no worse than the ones in the past. They carried on student government for a year, just as has been done in the past" (5/16/53).

ROTC ended its first year by presenting awards. The best company commander was Company C Cadet Captain Tom Burke; his "C" Company also was selected the best company. "It was chosen on the basis of appearance, number of demerits, and best marching in reviews" (SHA, June 53, 10).

This school year ended with many accomplishments on the part of Sam Houston's athletes. The football team won eight games losing only to East Texas; the basketball team was first in the Lone Star Conference and the baseball team was also the Lone Star Champ (VR, 164).

June brought two divergent occurrences: on June 27 the armistice was signed ending the Korean War; on June 26 the first 3-D movie came to Huntsville! (6/26/53) During the summer, two teams in the Pittsburgh Pirate farm system had spring training at Country Campus. They used several facilities: "the Lone Star Baseball Camp, a summer baseball school sponsored by Sam Houston State Teachers College, the Texas Prison System stadium with a seating capacity of 30,000 and Sam Houston's baseball park, which seats 2,500 and is the only lighted collegiate park in Texas" ( SHA, Feb 53, 6).

Caballero Profile

Dan Rather is unquestionably the Caballero's most well-known alumnus. He is undoubtedly Sam Houston's most famous graduate. As a student at Sam Houston he was quite active in campus life. He emceed a multitude of campus shows, such as the Press Capades and Pioneer Roundup shows. As editor of The Houstonian he wrote a weekly editorial; topics ranged from the serious to the sublime. Whenever a controversial issue arose for which he felt compelled to express a view, he allowed the opposition the opportunity to voice its view. He was a member of the Ramrods, a service organization, and named to Who's Who at Sam Houston and Who's Who in American College and Universities for two consecutive years. He was voted All-College Favorite his junior year, Junior class president and received other campus honors. His academic achievements earned him membership into Alpha Chi.

As a Caballero alumnus, he was active with the Alumni Association; in 1955, when the association was formed he was the first Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors, and in 1957 was elected Chairman of the Board. At the annual awards banquet, he emceed the proceedings, even though he had to fulfill his job in Houston as broadcaster for the University of Houston football games and many times had to drive back and forth from Huntsville to Houston in one day!

Dan Rather was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus in 1977; he was presented his plaque by Caballero Brother Herman Hitt, President of the Alumni Association. In August, 1989, he returned to Texas to emcee the retirement party in Houston for retiring President Dr. Elliott T. Bowers. He returned once again in 1992 to introduce Major General Mike Myatt, also a Caballero and a charter member of Sigma Chi, when he was named Distinguished Alumnus. On October 21, 1994, the Communications Building was dedicated and renamed "Dan Rather Communications Building" in his honor. At this time Rather said: "I know in my heart of hearts it is not something I deserve. I'm trying to exercise gratitude to everyone who had anything to do with it. Apart from my family and faith, I don't know anything that has had such a profound impact in my life other than Sam Houston. I learned a lot at Sam Houston---a lot about myself." Not only is Sam Houston proud of this alumnus and his accomplishments, the Caballeros and Sigma Chi are proud to have him as part of our heritage.