Friday, February 23, 2007


Baylor History, Part Nine

During the years around the turn of the century, Baylor’s identity was fluctuating in ways large and small. For example, in 1901, the Board of Intenders came close to making the school single-sex. Two competing factions emerged on the Board—one favoring a change to an all-male student body, the other favoring the exclusion of males to create a Women’s College. Due to the fact that no less than three members of the Board suffered from an odd neurological disorder which caused their right hand to shoot upward affirmingly at any suggestion, both motions passed, effectively banning the admission of both males and females. A brief debate ensued on whether it was feasible to continue the College with such an odd rule in place. While a significant minority of the Board wanted to seek out non-gendered students, ultimately both votes were rescinded.

Similar confusion reigned over the selection of a mascot for the college. From 1900 through 1901, the official mascot was “Pretentious Man,” a large-headed individual in a tuxedo, top hat and spats carrying a riding crop and Harvard diploma. He appeared to have an unpleasant sneer, and was roundly disliked. As their Senior gift to the college and community, the class of 1901 drowned him in the Brazos. As he was being put down, the mascot protested in his uniquely effeminate way: “My word! I do believe they intend to kill me! This is scandalous! Stop, unlettered scalliwags!”

The Autumn of 1901 saw the installation of a new mascot, known as the “Unlettered Scalliwag.” Played by an illiterate A & M graduate, the Unlettered Scalliwag was, in contrast to Pretentious Man, extremely popular. Dressed in a Baylor sweater and oversized diaper, he roamed campus handing out beer to faculty, students and small children alike. Always pleasant, he offered up a popular chant at football games, as he attempted to lead the crowd in spelling out “Baylor.” At times, the attempt went into hundreds of letters, often including “X,” “J,” “Z” and other Scrabble favorites. Sadly, he also met his end quickly when, in Spring, 1902, he was struck and killed by the first automobile to visit Waco, an Oldsmobile driven by President Brooks as he arrived in town to take his new post.

In the Fall of 1902, the symbol of the school became the “Baylor Oldsmobile,” which was simply the President’s car painted in the (then) school colors of Black, Gray and Mauve. This mascot disappeared during the infamous 1903 “Disaster Bowl” football game against the booze-soaked New Orleans School of College University [sic], and was replaced by “Mr. Ghost,” which was simply a random Baylor freshman dressed in a sheet with two holes cut out for his eyes. Mr. Ghost lasted for a relatively lengthy two years, before he perished in a dove-hunting accident. He is still remembered annually through Baylor's tradition of "White Out" at a basketball game, at which the spectators remember their mascot by wearing all white.

Subsequently, in 1905, Baylor adopted “Prudence Abstinence,” a Bible-quoting church-lady mascot. Perhaps the least popular of any mascot, ever, anyplace, she carried a King James Bible and a handgun, and often shot at students she felt were violating the moral code of the Baptist faith. Her tenure ended in 1906 when she was convicted of multiple murders and executed on the lawn of a freshman dormitory to the great Huzzahs of the student body. In turn, she was replaced by Darty, a large poisonous snake. Darty quickly matched the death toll achieved by Prudence Abstinence, and in turn was replaced with "Pluggy the Clown," an overweight middle aged man in a clown suit known for his catch-phrase, "Hey, kid, get in the van." Pluggy proved to be a tort liability disaster for the school, and the Board of Intenders finally acted to normalize the situation, passing a motion naming the bear as the Baylor mascot and allocating funds to provide the campus with at least two live bear mascots, to be named in a manner most ingratiating to the President of the University at the time the bear was obtained.


Is that a picture of Liberace?
Did he attend Baylor Law School? I just KNEW I had seen him the other day as one of the Anna Nicole Smith Lawyers...
Osler I just had a Grosse Pointe Flashback.... Did you ever go to that thing in Detroit at Historic Fort Wayne where all of those people dress up like the civil war and they have like cider and stuff? I think they have it in the fall or something.

PRUDENCE ABSTINENCE made me think of it.

I did! In fact, I had my 10th birthday party at Ft. Wayne. I suspect that the other kids thought that 19th century American history was kind of a lame theme for a birthday party.

That sounds like a fun birthday! I do not remember my tenth B Day. I think it probably involved pizza and Ice Capades, though... hahah
Your parents took you to a War of 1812 era park in the middle of February for your birthday? Scary.

We did cool stuff, like tobaggoning, bowling, and ghost riding. Well maybe not until I was a lot older than 10.

My brother, with his August bday got to do mini golf or pool parties. I resented that.
Since my birthday occurs in the middle of April, my parties often had a Lenten theme. The "Good Friday" party was particularly somber with a bunch of 10 year-olds dressed in black. I called off the Maundy Thursday birthday and its "Last Supper" theme because it was just too maudlin for a celebration.

btw, what's an "ungendered student"?

I'm pretty sure there was an article on ungendered students in the New York Times a few months ago. Just not at Baylor.

Hey, didn't you have a relative who was on the Board of Intenders at that time?
This history is getting really violent. And it has a public execution in it. Is there a body count so far? Anybody keeping a running total? Are there children reading this?

Of course, I went to UVA, where the Honor System originated after a student shot a professor on the Lawn, so I have no room to talk.
Listen, Swissy, I just tell it like it was. That's the way things went down in Texas back then.
Also, Swissy, I thought you went to the booze-soaked New Orleans School of College University... or is that just basically the same thing as UVA?

[Secretly, we William & Mary grads are just jealous we didn't have nearly as much fun as y'all]
Well... I don't resent the parties at UVA. They had this thing called "Easter" that had nothing to do with the theme elsewhere! I decided at my 13th birthday party at Williamsburg that I'd go to W&M... (Ok, so it wasn't a b-day party, but the rest is true!) ~Your friendly band nerd!
Prof. Osler,

Little known fact with modern relevance: did you know that President Brooks was, in fact, non-gendered? He was also a person without a state, for his roots tore him or her almost literally in half, with one side favoring New Mexico ancestry and the other favoring Louisiana heritage. A Rajun Lobo, if you will.

Well, on to campus he or she came, but until his or her arrival, nobody had heard of a non-gendered person. So here he or she was, drawing the ire of the Board of Intenders, which risked the wrath of God for allowing a non-gendered person to lead the Baptist institution. So board members started mocking him or her. Any decision he or she made thereafter became part of the “Brooks Collage.” One particular program that he or she established was the Great Big Books program designed to fill in the many empty spaces on the library shelves. He or she even set up a department that was given the honor of finding the biggest (or at least widest) books they could. Word of the Great Big Books program got back to the Board of Intenders, and they mocked that as well, with one-- Earle “The Square” Henderson -- saying, “Ah-ha! Now we have an ‘Honors Collage’ to plaster on the Brooks Collage!”

Things had gotten out of hand, as you can imagine. So the Board of Intenders agreed to meet on the dirt path adjacent to Old Main with President Brooks and the Great Big Books honor department, expecting to bludgeon these people into submission. The Board was startled, to say the least, when its members heard that the President and this department wanted official recognition of the Brooks Collage and the Honors Collage. The Board collectively laughed so hard that they failed to hear that the word being used was “College,” and hence the controversy continues today. This really ought to be added to this:

Not all was lost, though. Henderson, breaking from his belly laugh for a few seconds, said, “I’ll… let you have your Brooks and honors collages if…. You’ll name these buildings after me! Remember the Square!” President Brooks and the others thought for a moment and recommended “The Quad,” so as to make it sound slightly more educated. Henderson at that moment was on the ground, hyperventilating, but the motion passed.

As for the bears, Brooks—-always egotistical—-thought it somehow appropriate to honor his or her own heritage, so knowing that New Mexico (Ursus americanus amblyceps) and Louisiana (Ursus americanus luteolus) both had their own types of black bears, he or she suggested that the bear sounded like a good fit here. Little did he or she know of the history of Judge Baylor and the bears of Waco that you described so eloquently.
Yes, UVA/The New Orleans College of University was definitely booze-soaked. Odd, that connection: there always seemed to be some Queen Poobah of MArdi Gras or whatever they are called that was a UVa coed. I mean, like just a few years ago.

Regarding bears, do you know that there are live bears in a bear pit in Bern, Switzerland? They are the town's ancient mascot. I've seen them. (Well, not the ancient ones.)

Okay, it's late over here.

Actually, it is not a well-known fact that Osiris Jahosephat Tallerude was on the Board of Intenders just before the ungendered Brooks and his Big Books program came into being. At a meeting of the Floral Arrangement subcommittee, which he chaired, he first suggested a major in Medium Books. A modest fellow, Osiris didn't want the folks at Baylor to brag about the size of their books. The Medium Books program, originally run out of the department of old Dead Languages, where they taught Swedish, Danish, and Basque, was a moderate success and did not overtly tax the reading abilities of the young lasses in Fashion Merchandising.

Osiris went off the board in protest of having an ungendered president. He moved to Minnesota, founded the town of Savage (he wanted to remember a particularly ugly encounter he had had with a drunken bear just outside of Old Main after a particularly lucky night at poker--he was an expert at Texas Hold'em) met his future wife Hildegard, and started going to the Lutheran church.

Until recently, I had no idea any of my family had even the remotest ties to Baylor. I do have a strange feeling that I must be a distant relative of Wally Christian. Great-grandpa Osiris would regale us with stories of the charges in which he participated under the orders of Wally as a part of Baylor Equestrian. His stories moved me.
Yeah... we're getting to that. I think a lot of people don't realize the role that the Equestrian team played in helping save Baylor.
I've seen the live bears in the pit in Bern! Maybe that would be a good birthday party theme!

Oh, and the UVa. resentment? There was nothing secret about that at all. I am proud of the fact that I did attend the last all out Easters, before it went underground.

I also attended midwinters and on the way back to Williamsburg at about 4 AM, hit 120 mph on I-64 in the previously featured Green Monster Plymouth Satellite. That car was amazing once you hit 70 mph, which was risking it back in the day of the double nickel speedlimit.
Seriously, I have no idea what "Easters" was. Unlike Swissy and IP-ey, I spent much of my college career reading books and attending classes.
Spencer is having a B day party on March 31. He will be three years old and we will have 12 three year olds to contend with all wearing fake hard hats as part of his desired "BOB THE BUILDER" theme.

So tell me, are those bears for rent?

GAWD I am gonna need a serious drink after that one. At least the party is off site, at Toney Baloney's Coffee house for kids:

OUr house will not be done by then.
A coffeehouse for kids?

Where was this in the 80s?! of my KD sisters was a Mardi Gras princess a while back. Kind of cool. :o)
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?