Memories Shared from Class of '67

From left, Gayle Strange ('67), Bob McMath ('67), Larry Tobias ('67), Keith Galitz ('67)

 

Like so many other folks, I will never forget where I was on Friday, Nov. 22, 1963. It was my first semester and I was having trouble with freshman algebra, and so on that Friday I was in an algebra lab getting some tutoring. After the session was over, I was walking down the hall when I heard a radio in one of the offices with its door open and Walter Cronkite announcing that the president had been shot and had just been pronounced dead. The next day, two friends from West Dorm and I drove to Dallas and stayed at my parents' home. What an emotional weekend.

Spring of my freshman year I pledged Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, and my second year I moved into the frat house with my pledge class. I remember for that year's Homecoming, with the help of a talented pledge brother, we built a large Eagle and had it on a telephone pole in front of the house. Our fraternity cook knew how to feed young college men. It was there I discovered "Frito pie," and I still enjoy it today.

After my second year at UNT, I decided to get my degree early and started attending summer school for the next two summers, finishing my degree a semester early. Like so many others, during those summers I lived at home and commuted to Denton for classes and then back to Dallas to work. Fall and spring I lived in Denton. It was my business law class that made me decide to go to law school (which I did at Baylor starting in March 1967), and it was the business school that gave me the foundation that allowed me to enjoy a successful business career when I moved from corporate law into management and leadership positions. -- Keith Galitz ('67), junior and senior class president

 

For the past 50 years I've been teaching and writing about history, and North Texas got me started. I enrolled as a freshman history major, but with no intention of making that my career. Two of my professors, William T. Hagan and J.B. Smallwood, encouraged me to pursue original historical research, and they got me hooked. Many of my subsequent writings on populism and related topics grew out of that undergraduate experience and the encouragement of two remarkable mentors.

Taking part in -- and sometimes leading -- student organizations was as important to me as what went on in the classroom. In particular, my involvement with student government, Talons and the Baptist Student Union provided formative experiences that I remember fondly.

Like most of my classmates, I grew up in a segregated Texas. My school and my community were still largely segregated in 1963, so my first experience of getting to know African American students came as a freshman at North Texas. In particular, I quickly got to know Mary Burns, a fellow freshman from Houston who became my good friend. That friendship gave me a better understanding of the social changes taking place around us than any textbook could have.

UB coffee cake! When I think of it my mouth still waters and I remember morning coffee with friends at the old Union Building. Some years ago the university published the recipe, and Linda (Linda McFadyen McMath, class of '68) has been baking it ever since.

One more recollection of the Union Building, this one from that fall day in 1963 that left such vivid memories. Not long after noon on Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, I came out of the stacks in the library and saw a knot of people at the circulation desk talking seriously. That was my first inkling that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. I quickly walked over to the UB to find a TV, just in time to see Walter Cronkite announce that the president was dead. I glanced around the crowd of people glued to the TV and saw Professor Hagan (who was tough as nails), crying. When I think of the Kennedy assassination, that's what I think of. -- Bob McMath ('67), former student government president

 

One story I remember is amusing now, but it wasn't so funny then. When I was president of Talons, our organization was in charge of collecting wood for the Homecoming bonfire. People would call to let us know they had scrap lumber and we'd assign teams to go out to pick it up. After the bonfire, we found out that one team had brought back a stack from next door to the location that had called us. It was wood someone was using, instead of scrap wood. I remember spending some tense moments in Dean Woods' office (the dean of men) explaining this. I'm not sure how it was resolved but am afraid the university probably had to pay for some lumber.

Talons was in charge of the Victory Bell. Since I was from Kansas, when it came time for North Texas to play football at Wichita State in Wichita, I volunteered to haul the bell up there on its trailer, to have it available to ring when the Eagles scored and to get a chance to see my family, who lived near Wichita. But it was so heavy that it nearly damaged my new 1966 Mustang. We tried to send the bell back to Denton on a train car, but we couldn't maneuver it in. So I ended up borrowing my grandfather's big new Buick Electra 225 to pull it back.

My twin brother, Jerry, who was a jazz drummer, and I lived in West Dorm our freshman year. I remember all of us crowded around the black-and-white TV in the lounge for several days watching the events following the assassination of JFK. For the next three years, we lived at the College Inn, where we appreciated the weekly cleaning service.

I studied radio and TV, which was in the speech and drama department then, and back when we had a closed-circuit radio station and not a broadcast station. Dr. Ted Colson was my main professor and he helped me win the first North Texas internship at WFAA-TV in Dallas. I later ran a TV camera for them on weekends, occasionally working with people like Phyllis Diller, Milton Berle and "Dandy" Don Meredith, who covered sports for the station -- pretty exciting for this Kansas farm kid.

When I left to serve in the Navy during the Vietnam War, the station told me my job would be waiting when I returned, and it was -- more than three years later. I enjoyed working there very much, but the Dallas traffic soon motivated me to head back to Kansas, where I returned to my wheat farming roots for several years before moving into the health care field. -- Larry Tobias ('67), former Talons president

 

I came to North Texas State University in 1963 to pursue a degree in interior design and a minor in industrial arts. The two disciplines, wisely linked, have served me well throughout my life in the construction and design business. Dr. Ray Gough and Professor Fritz Roberson made a difference in my life. I worked diligently on my art projects. All mounted and framed art had to be stamped with "Faculty Approval" on the back. I was dismayed to find that one of my submissions was displayed upside down and duly stamped as approved!

Art was in transition, moving into abstract forms. I was a traditional painter, no match for the guy who threw paint onto a canvas spread on the floor from atop a ladder. Industrial arts classes made more sense to me; besides, I had taken geometry at Ball High School in Galveston, unlike many of my mostly male classmates. Mechanical and architectural drafting courses were my way of drawing reality -- yes, by hand, no CAD programs.

Eventually, I switched my major to English and loved that program, too. I even wrote a paper for Dr. Rich, in the style of J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, using some fairly, at the time, unacceptable language. I got an "A" despite the racy language!

I pledged Alpha Delta Pi, practiced and marched with Angel Flight (we even marched for the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans), and sang in the Chapel Choir, all while taking 20 hours one crazy semester. Campus life was a whirlwind of activity: studying in the library, looking up research materials and making notes on 3x5 index cards, attending organizational meetings, creating art projects and cheering for our football and basketball teams.

Vidal Carlin, who was in my graduating class in Galveston, was our quarterback. Basketball games in the Men's Gym were crowded with students filling every inch of space, packed tightly around the court. It was not a friendly place for visiting teams, but we loved it. Afterwards, we would troop off to the Union to dance the North Texas Push, listen to our famous musicians and eat "UB Coffeecake," loaded with sugar and cinnamon.

Social life on campus was still decidedly different for men and women. Only women had a curfew: 10:50 p.m. on weeknights, and it was not to be violated for any reason. I tried it once and Dean Imogene Dickey, the dean of women, informed me that I had broken the rule and was to be confined to campus for the next several weekends.

The dress codes and curfews are relics of the past, but the '60s were a time of deep change and transition. We at North Texas were a part of that new world dawning. -- Gayle Strange ('67), first woman to serve as chair of the UNT System Board of Regents

Melissa Huffman
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