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eagle tale

illustration by Shannon Mooney ('94)
In memory Beanies, tennis shoes, fumbles and lots of ice by Ernest Caddell ('40)

Missing shoes

Almost the first dollar you spent on campus was to purchase a Freshman Cap, called a "beanie." Green and white panels resembled a skull cap. Mine said "'36" — my expected senior year and an impossible dream. An annual practice was to gather up shoes from all freshmen at one of the football games, leaving them frequently with no shoes or maybe only one.

The pile of shoes was loaded on a flatbed truck, driven down the cinder track to a green grass strip and shoveled off with all the mixing possible. Freshmen were sometimes hunting a shoe after the game lights were turned off. I never, ever saw my almost new tennis shoes again.

Kidney guards

A friend from my hometown, Jeff Jeffries, and I came out for freshman football under Choc Sportsman. Jeff and I had never played football and were the object of some derision. We had to have assistance putting on shoulder pads. And our kidney guards — we buckled them up in the rear to protect our front ends. Jeff was a wonderful athlete, the best I've ever known, and he soon drew the coach's attention. I managed to make the traveling squad and got credit for P.E. I also gained a love for football, which remains until this day. I can still remember how difficult it is to get a handle on a fumbled ball.

Ice wars

On a warm October Thursday in the middle '30s, President Joe McConnell had a dilemma. Although the blowers were operating on the auditorium air conditioner system, the cooling compressor was down. There was to be a noted speaker the next day, and attendant conditions would be almost unbearable.

Dr. Joe contacted the two ice companies in town, Frank Mahan and Penry Bros., about the possibility of using ice. Bright and early on Friday morning, the two competing businesses were on hand. Three levels of long corridors and a narrow, winding stairway to the roof were problems. Various schemes of derricks, ropes and pulleys were tried, but all were too slow or dangerous.

Frank Mahan strode over to his truck, donned his leather cover, picked up a pair of hooks, slung 50 pounds of ice on his back and walked over to the 30-foot ladder. Without pause or hesitation, he delivered his burden to the top.

A Penry ice man, not to be outdone, followed. Then came a continuous caravan of deliveries. In one hour, the job was done and 800 pounds of ice were resting in Dr. Joe's cooling chamber. Ice sold for 40 cents per hundred pounds in those days and was worth it.


Much of my ice route was in the North Texas area of boarding houses. In the early hours of each day I often saw money, jewelry, watches, rings and other valuables lying on a dining room table or dresser. The ice man was always trusted. Co-eds in all stages of undress were ignored by me. I didn't have time to do otherwise.

But my id was permanently scarred on one happening, when I heard a distinct male voice issuing from a darkened bedroom saying, "Aw, come on Hortense (name changed), it was only the ice man!"



Editor's note:

Ernest Caddell ('40), the author of our first Eagle Tale (spring 2001), died April 7 at age 90. He came to campus as a freshman in 1932 and worked as an ice delivery man, among other jobs, to pay for school. He was known as quite a story teller, and we print these final tales in his memory.










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