Saturday, January 09, 2010
Well that was... unusual...
As many of you already know, I am not actually an alum of Baylor University. However, I have devoted my teaching career to the school, and happen to think it is an excellent institution of higher learning. Not having arrived here until mid-life, however, I am always on the lookout for sources of information about Baylor and especially its history.
Perhaps the strangest and most disturbing volume I have yet procured is a poorly-bound book entitled "A Sentimental and Highly Inaccurate History of Baylor University," which is available from Amazon.com for about ten bucks.
This history describes a vibrant and violent Baylor which has endured many more challenges than one might imagine. For example, consider this section, which describes the University's role in a crucial presidential election:
Though the Baylor Administration was not to blame, save through inaction, in 1928 Baylor and Waco tipped the Presidential election in the wrong direction. Al Smith’s own miscalculations were his downfall, I suppose, and we knew it at the time. Smith came to Waco and spoke at Homberg House on the edge of campus, orating from the front porch of the mansion of his chief benefactor in Texas. Smith was not an ideal candidate for Waco, as he was from New York City, opposed prohibition and was a practicing Catholic.
Sadly, a foul-up in telegraphy resulted in a cable meant to say, “Try acting Baptist non-drinker Southerner Stop,” coming through as “Stop acting Baptist non-drinker Southerner, Try.” As a result, Smith blew into town in a large black Packard with an accompanying posse of Pennsylvania beer handlers, Catholic Priests in full regalia, and Northern civil rights leaders. During his address, he included in his presentation the chugging of four Yuengling lagers and a full infant baptism in which he assisted as Godfather. Further, he sent the civil rights leaders into the audience to seize any firearms and concluded with a somewhat inebriated version of “The Whiffenpoof Song,” performed while urinating on the steps of the house.
In contrast, the protestant, pro-prohibition Republican, Hoover, arrived the next day and simply sat, corpulent and motionless, at the corner of 5th and James as well-wishers filed by and admired him like a piece of art or prize hog. As history well recalls, Hoover’s Republican slate won Texas for the first time since 1880, and thus the election.
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Being the proud owner of this "book" and an amateur historian myself, I must commend Class of '31 and his/her extraordinary depth of research. This work is essential in understanding how Baylor got to where it is today. I rank it right up there with Barbara Tuchman's brilliant "A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century" -- with which it shares a number of eerie parallels.
Ok - I found the premise of the tree parade fairly interesting. However, a flaming cross in the segregated south of the 1920's does not make for a pretty image.
huh - the first time I read the post it was about a 'tree parade' in Waco that started lots of fires.
I notice that it is being sold on Amazon for the (reasonable) price of $9.99 and used on Amazon for the (unreasonable) price of $32.Post a Comment
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