Looking Back at Baylor: Thanks for the Buggy Ride

This piece by former Texas Collection director Kent Keeth originally was published in The Baylor Line in August 1975, then was reprinted in Looking Back at Baylor (1985), a collection of Keeth and Harry Marsh’s historical columns for the Line. Blogging about Texas periodically features selections from Looking Back at Baylor, with hopes of sharing Keeth’s work with a new audience.

Watch your step! This couple departs the Baylor University campus for a buggy ride to Cameron Park, Waco, Texas, circa 1925
Boarding a buggy at Baylor! The photos in this student album were taken during the day, so they’re not part of the buggy protest, but they were taken around the same time period.

Today students grumble about the challenges of finding a parking spot on the Baylor campus, but back in the 1920s, the issue with cars was different. Enjoy a ride back to the days when cars were relatively new on the scene and students found creative ways to protest strict university policies. We’ve complemented Keeths piece with photos from a student album depicting a buggy ride to Cameron Park—you’ll see that students took this opportunity for romance. Happy Valentines Day!

If Baylor’s administrators give much thought to student-owned automobiles these days, their chief response is a sigh at the number of parking spaces they require. Fifty years ago, however, the student-operated motorcar elicited more than just a sigh from the university’s officials. The freedom from supervision which the automobile permitted seemed highly suspect to an institution which proudly stood “in loco parentis” to its students; and as the number of vehicles increased, the administration took action to safeguard its position.

In September, 1925, the dean of women, Miss Edna McDaniel, called a meeting to announce a new prohibition against “car riding” by Baylor girls after 6 p.m. “This is done, not because the women of Baylor can’t be trusted,” said Dean McDaniel, “but because they have the reputation of a Christian institution in their care.” President Brooks, who also spoke at the meeting, cautioned the young women to “avoid anything that begets gossip,” and assured them that “every gentleman will respect the wishes of a lady.”

Two couples in a buggy somewhere in Cameron Park, Waco, Texas, circa 1925
At this point, cars were on the rise and buggies weren’t in use as much. But, if the only way you can go on a double date is in a buggy, a buggy ride to Cameron Park it is!

For a time the new ruling went unchallenged. However a steady diet of evenings spent on campus soon began to pall on the students, and within two or three weeks men and women alike began to prepare counter-measures. On Saturday, October 10, senior women presented a unanimous petition to President Brooks. They were old enough and had been Baylor girls for long enough, they said, to know how to behave themselves. They therefore requested for themselves “the privilege of riding in an automobile to and from engagements after six o’clock p.m.” President Brooks promised to consider the petition.

In the meantime the men of Baylor had not left the initiative entirely to the ladies. They had proceeded on their own to organize for the same Saturday night an excursion which the Daily Lariat later described as follows:

Buggies, wagons, hacks, and surreys of every description were called into service by enterprising Baylor youths who evidently sought to prove that while night auto riding may be under the ban for women of the University, night riding of another kind is interpreted to be on the “permissible” side of the list.

Riding in every kind of a dobbin-drawn hack, some forty Baylor boys drove up to Burleson Hall shortly after six o’clock, claimed their dates, then untied their nags. ‘Giddap Napoleon’ through the streets of Waco followed.

Headed by a phaeton with glaring headlights and drawn by a blind horse, the procession set off up Speight Street, came back to the University campus, and then proceeded down Fifth to town. There the bright lights illuminated a sight long out of vogue and therefore exceedingly amusing to all motorists, shopkeepers, and street corner ornaments.

A horse and buggy ride up to Lover's Leap at Cameron Park, circa 1925
Then and now, the view from Lover’s Leap in Cameron Park inspires romantic moments. (We assume this is what the 1920s Baylor administrators worried about!)

After the “drag” had been made twice and three cheers given for Baylor, the fiery steeds were turned back toward the University and the procession broke up at the campus where a rush was made for the one surviving hitching post

The report of the buggy ride was picked up from local newspapers and humorous accounts of the students’ ingenuity appeared nationwide and in at least one Canadian daily. According to Mr. R.G. Winchester ’27 of Yoakum, who recalled the incident for this column, the students’ prank inspired a popular song, “Thanks for the Buggy Ride,” [see p. 6] which was published in San Francisco in the same year. Click on the YouTube video below to hear a recording of the tune.

While university administrators may have been amused, they were not swayed. On the following Friday President Brooks refused the senior women’s petition and the ban on evening automobile rides remained effective. Though the ploy failed, the effort was not without its rewards. The students made their point, a good time was had by all, and the buggy riders clip-clopped their way into Baylor legend. (To see more photos from the Cameron Park buggy ride, click on the flickr slideshow below.)

Photos selected and prepared by Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

Sharing Student Scholarship Online: Access at Baylor, 1900-1920

For the first five weeks of the spring 2013 semester, we’re putting up teasers about the fascinating Baylor history that Higher Education and Student Affairs students analyzed and shared on the class’ blog. So far we’ve explored students and student organizations, curriculum, and finance at Baylor. This week we’re exploring Access at Baylor, and students found that for women, students wishing to gain a more global education, and students lacking financial means, access could be limited. Did you know that…

HESA Baylor History blog

  • While Samuel Palmer Brooks and other leaders supported women’s suffrage, traditional roles also were celebrated for Baylor women, for whom studies in the domestic sciences and arts were emphasized over other academic pursuits. Explore the constraints and opportunities for Baylor women in the early 1900s.
  • Foreign language clubs and visiting lecturers helped give students a broader worldview in the early 1900s. But professors who had traveled and studied abroad were the main resource for opening students’ eyes to the international community beyond Texas and the U.S. Learn more about how students learned about other cultures before study abroad became readily available at Baylor.
  • President Brooks allocated more than $13,000 (about $300,000 in today’s dollars) to tuition and other financial support of ministerial students in 1912. Discover other ways that Baylor responded to student financial needs, from scholarships to jobs to correspondence courses.

We hope you’ll explore these blog posts and enjoy the benefits of the HESA students’ research and scholarship. If you’re inspired to dig deeper, most of their sources can be found in the University Archives within The Texas Collection and in our digitized materials available online in the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections.

Background on this project: Students in the Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) masters program have taken on the challenge of creating original scholarship that adds to what is known about Baylor’s history between 1900 and 1920. As part of Dr. Nathan Alleman’s Foundations and History of Higher Education course, students were grouped under the five class themes: curriculum, finance, students/student groups, access, and religion. In collaboration with Texas Collection archivists and librarians, students mined bulletins, newspapers, correspondence, and other primary resources as they researched their topics. Final papers have now been posted on a University-hosted EduBlog site and grouped by their particular sub-topic so that patrons, researchers, and other interested persons could benefit from these students’ work. This is the first installment of an annual accumulating project–please visit again for future installments.

The Baylor Bear Facts: Fun and Games at The Texas Collection

Baylor Bear Facts trivia game
Although we can tell the game was created in the 1980s, we don’t know much about its origins. Anybody out there know more about this project?

The Texas Collection’s holdings include many weighty academic tomes and important archival records. Even the paintings that hang in our reading room tend to the serious side—neither Samuel Palmer Brooks nor Pat Neff look amused in their portraits. But we have many fun items too, like the Baylor Bear Facts.

Baylor University Registration in the 1990s
Baylor women in this 1990s registration photo are taking advantage of the dress code rule passed in 1969. (#4)

A trivia game centered on Baylor, the game was produced in the 1980s and includes trivia tidbits in the categories of sports, clubs, history, personalities, and potpourri. Below are just a few of the many questions available in the game. Try your hand at some Baylor trivia and find out how well you know Baylor! You might be surprised by some of the “bear facts.” (The photos are clues for a few of the questions—and answers are below the photos.)

  1. What was Baylor’s first women’s social club?
  2. Were there any dancing classes taught at Baylor in 1922?
  3. What did S.P. Brooks abolish in 1906?
  4. On April 7, 1969, what could Baylor coeds wear for the first time anywhere on campus?
  5. Baylor played a cross-town rival in its first-ever Homecoming football game. Who did Baylor beat in that historic game?
  6. What year did the senior class gifts become a Baylor tradition–1907, 1931, or 1945?
  7. Who was Baylor’s first clean shaven president?
  8. He is a Baylor grad, [was] director of the Student Center, and was elected mayor of Waco in 1984. Name him.
  9. This famous folk group performed in Marrs McLean Gym in a three hour show in 1969. The show was referred to as the P, P, and M show. What was the name of the group?
  10. This former Baylor student of 1856 rescued Cynthia Ann Parker from the Indians. Who was he?
Sul Ross, a Baylor alumnus, Texas governor, and president of Texas A&M
After rescuing Cynthia Ann Parker, this gent went on to serve in the Civil War, as Governor of Texas, and as president of Texas A&M. The elementary school that was behind the Whataburger near campus bore his name. (#10)
William Carey Crane, Baylor University's fourth president
This president helped Baylor survive through the end of the Civil War and the university’s last years in Independence, Texas. A program for gifted undergraduate students in Baylor’s Institute for Faith and Learning bears his name. (#7)

 

1899 Baylor football team--the first!
As rough a sport as football can be today, in the late 1800s to the early 1900s, it was brutal. Baylor was among many universities that were concerned about such a violent sport being a part of their campus life. (#3)
Baylor University Centennial Monument, 1945, located on Founders Mall
The Centennial Monument, located on Founders Mall, was not the first senior class gift. Here we see students bring forward the time capsule to be placed in the monument. The capsule is to be opened in 2045. (#6)

Answers:

  1. Alpha Omega (now Pi Beta Phi)
  2. Yes, in the Physical Education department, folk dancing was taught. (The first official dance at Baylor wouldn’t be till 1996, however.)
  3. Football (due to the brutality of the game—but the sport was reinstated in 1907, due to popular opinion and modifications to the game to make it safer)
  4. Shorts and slacks (Before, even if a woman had a physical education class, she had to wear a long coat over her gym attire while walking to class.)
  5. Texas Christian University (before its move to Fort Worth)
  6. 1907 (The gift was a circular bench to sit outside Carroll Library–and it is still there in Burleson Quadrangle.)
  7. William Carey Crane. (The Texas Collection holds the William Carey Crane papers in its archives. The Royston Crane papers also have a good deal of information about Crane’s presidency and Baylor at Independence.)
  8. Ruben Santos (He served 35 years as director of the Student Union Building. Santos also was active with the Heart of Texas Regional History Fair, which is now housed within The Texas Collection.)
  9. Peter, Paul, and Mary. (To learn more about the wide variety of guests Baylor has hosted, check out this Digital Collections blog post on the Baylor press release digitization project.)
  10. Sul Ross (He rescued Parker in his role as a Texas Ranger. He went on to serve as a Confederate general, President of Texas A&M University, and Governor of Texas. The Texas Collection holds the Ross Family papers in its archives.)

The Texas Collection has archival records on many of these historical figures and events. Come visit us to learn more!