Golden Memories

Golden Eagles, Class of 1960. (Photo by Michael Clements)


When members of the class of 1960 celebrated their Golden Eagle status this fall, they marked an important milestone for the university as well. Their freshman class was the first to be integrated, as the first group of African American freshmen enrolled in fall 1956. Since the Golden Eagles graduated, UNT's enrollment has gone from fewer than 10,000 students to more than 36,000. Here are a few of their memories.

I was a member of the freshman class of 1956, which was the first year that North Texas admitted freshman Afro-American students. I was also an Athletic Barrier Breaker, as one of three Afro-Americans (along with Abner Haynes and Leon King) to play varsity football for North Texas. — James Bowdre ('60), Radnor, Pa.

Journalism majors tend to remember events associated with campus publications, especially if one were editor of the campus paper. Thus, two events stand out — a blockbuster news afternoon involving a student death, the announcement of a football road trip, and a third, now-forgotten, newsmaker — that involved totally redoing the front page of The Campus Chat. This task was more difficult in those days of typewriters, "hot" type and 10:50 p.m. curfews. The second was some mysterious gastrointestinal "bug" that struck much of the campus. Those of us still standing got the paper out and later even won an award for that particular edition. — UNT Professor Emerita Charldean Newell ('60, '62 M.A.), Denton

Dr. Martin Shockley, English professor, was notorious for leaving classroom windows open, no matter what the weather. When a snowstorm began one January morning, his 1 p.m. class came prepared. We had the usual coats, scarves and gloves, but we also brought along blankets and bedspreads to keep ourselves warm. Snow and wind made the room unbearable, but we had class as usual — and Dr. Shockley never acknowledged that anything unusual was going on. — Sue Coffman ('60, '65 M.A., '76 Ph.D.), Dallas

My fondest memories are of fraternity brotherhood and the lifelong friends I made as a result. Being a government major prepared me for my career as a lawyer. I once took a campus stray cat to class at a senior level seminar. Every time the professor turned his back, the cat would stick his head up. Provided laughs for everyone but the professor. I enjoyed being a part of student government. The experience taught me that the group is more important than the individual. Mostly, I just had a ball. — former UNT Regent Edward V. Smith ('60), Dallas

Upon my return from the service in late 1958, I focused on finishing a 27-hour requirement to graduate from the university. I decided to take my last 18 hours in fall 1959. I met my future wife, Grace, at the company where I worked full time and we dated every night until my graduation. During this time, I got very little sleep, lost about 30 pounds and relied on adrenalin to maintain my existence. Shortly after graduation, I married Grace, and we recently celebrated our 50th anniversary. This time in my life was "as good as it gets" and very intense. I knew then that hard work, luck, being at the right place at the right time and a little smarts were the key ingredients for future success in the business world. — William Hunt ('60, '64 M.B.A.), Dallas

During my freshman year, I lived for a time in a large boarding house on Hickory Street. About 10 boys lived there. A man and his wife managed the house. They did not serve meals, but every Friday the lady-manager would bake pies and serve them to all us guys after class was over for the day. One year, I lived with three other guys in a house on Barnard Street. It was owned by a lady across the street. She did not have a lawn mower. Instead, we would come home and find a cow grazing on the yard. I remember eating at a small cafe near the campus called the Hop House. It had cheap meals, and pinto beans were on the menu every day. I also remember eating at Barlow's Cafe just off the square downtown. This was before credit cards. The owner would let you charge your meals and then pay him once a month. Can you imagine someone doing that today? — Don Lee (’60), Dallas

It was a great day when I enrolled in Social Dance, which was a P.E. course. On the first day of class I was paired with a tall, good looking boy who couldn’t dance at all. However, two years later he became my husband. We just had our 50th wedding anniversary. (Business Dean Emeritus) Henry Hays and I have danced through our lives together very happily. — Sue Seely Hays (’60), Denton

A memory, to which our children cannot relate, was the flashing of lights that used to tell all who were bidding “good night” that they must enter their dorm or be late. Being late could even cause one to make a visit to Dean Bentley’s office. Happy memories of college days are those spent with friends at the UB dining on that great coffee cake. — Jackie George Whitescarver (’60), Kerrville

It was my great privilege and honor to have served in at least one office in Sigma Nu Fraternity each member year and the highest Chapter honor of having been chosen Sigma Nu of the Year in 1959—when I should have graduated, explanation follows. April 16, 1959, a freak accident resulted in my being hospitalized for several weeks, most of which was totally unconscious. The best neurosurgeon and orthopedic surgeon in Dallas at that time said I would never walk again. That ended the 1959 graduation. But, a miracle occurred and I returned to campus in mid-summer, worked at the Varsity Shop where I had already worked for two years, re-entered classes in mid-November at the semester point I had dropped out and graduated in January 1960 instead. During the 1978-1983 time frame it was my privilege and pleasure to serve as president of both the Mean Green Club and the Alumni Association —and it was a joy. I twice received the Mean Green Eagle trophy for most money raised for athletic scholarships, and still proudly display them. — Charles G. Oxford (’60), Sulphur Springs

I had been accepted at another college, but I came to North Texas because I got a job as a student fireman with the Denton Fire Department. I remember completing IBM punch cards for registration. One of the questions was: “Are you employed part time?” My answer was: “Yes.” Then the question was asked: “How many hours?” My reply was: “84.” This was a correct answer! I lived at the Central Fire Station, and we had 24 hour shifts, and duty on alternate weekends. — Robert Lair (’60), Columbus, N.C.

In the spring of 1961, I was serving as a teaching assistant in the English department at North Texas while working toward an M.A. in English. In a section of English 131, Freshman Composition, I assigned “My Plan for the Perfect Crime” as one of the topics for a weekly essay or theme, as it was then called. I was shocked when a young man who had never demonstrated or expressed any dislike for me or the course itself turned in his best essay of the semester, which described, coolly and methodically, how he was going to murder me! He had observed the route I took when the college library closed each evening and I walked to my rooming-house on Hickory Street. He planned to surprise me in the dark shadows by the gazebo-like structure which stood in a small grove of trees. At the gazebo, he was going to throw a rope around my neck and hang me! The student even described in detail the intricacy of the knot he would tie in the rope to assure that it would do its work with great thoroughness. It was my practice in those days to read some of the best responses to the writing assignment aloud to the class before I returned the graded papers, always, of course, without identifying the authors. As I recall, my prospective murderer (at least on paper) had received an A or B on his essay, whereas he usually earned a D (if he was lucky). As I read his essay aloud, he blushed a deep red but made no other sign to indicate his authorship of the essay. Just to be on the safe side, I found a new route to take to my rooming-house each evening for the rest of the semester. — Philip Tapley (’60, ’62 M.A.), Alexandria, La.

Continue Reading