College is a time for serious study and learning, but put a large group of 18-to-24-year-olds together on a small campus, and sooner or later mischief will arise. UMHB Life put out a call for alumni to share their memories of pranks played during their years at MHB, and the response was immediate. Spanning eras from the 1920s to the 2000s, their stories prove that there is no time limit on tomfoolery!
Doozy of a detour
Part of freshman initiation each year involved the sophomores trying to discover the theme of the freshman reception. This was the first time the freshmen became a cohesive unit working toward a mutual goal. Secrecy was paramount, since the sophomores always found out and played pranks such as chasing decoration committee members around town to discover the theme and stealing formals on the night of freshman reception while the girls’ dates waited downstairs. One evening a carload of sophomores was chasing freshmen and ended up taking a short cut through Dr and Mrs. Parker’s garden. Thus the circular drive in front of the Parker House was born! –Gayle Lindner | Class of 1975
When the Class of 1961 attended MHB, the classrooms were not air-conditioned. We sat in classrooms with windows up, hoping for any small breeze. Our history class was upstairs in Wells Hall. Mr. Harold Hollingsworth was the instructor. Mr. Hollingsworth was a tall guy, and he was not thin.
One day, Mr. Hollingsworth was late to class. Our class thought it would be fun to lock him out of the classroom. We locked the door and sat there anticipating his arrival. He could be heard when he approached the locked door. Nothing happened–not a word from him. A few minutes later, Mr. Hollingsworth emerged through a window. He had climbed the fire escape!–Delia Lucky Stephens | Class of 1961
During my senior year in 2002, Governor Rick Perry visited the campus to speak in chapel. Tony Sanchez was his Democratic opponent that year. We collected Sanchez signs from across town to welcome Governor Perry onto campus. When he arrived that morning, a massive Sanchez banner borrowed from College Station was hanging from the roof of the Davidson Building, and the President’s Home (now the alumni center) had a lawn full of Sanchez signs. –Jon Webster | Class of 2003
In 1973 several boys took their dorm director’s VW beetle’s tires off, turned it sideways, and walked it through the front door of their dorm. They then turned the car right side up and put the wheels back on, leaving it in the lobby. Unfortunately, when he discovered the prank, the dorm director tried to drive his car out of the lobby. The front of the dorm was immediately scheduled to be renovated.
PS: I have no knowledge of any repercussions from this incident.–Gayle Lindner | Class of 1975
My grandfather, Lonnie Houston Webb, attended Mary Hardin-Baylor in the mid 1920’s as a campus boy. There was a flag pole near the entrance to the school, and a big rivalry existed between the freshmen and sophomores to see whose class flag would fly on top of the pole each day. The sophomores approached my granddad and three other campus boys and asked them to take down the freshman flag, putting the sophomore flag in its place. Not to leave damsels in distress, my granddad and his cohorts agreed.
That night, my granddad shinnied up the pole and made the switch. The sophomores were elated for a day as their flag flew supreme. The following night, of course, the sophomore flag was removed by the freshmen, and the lower class’s flag flew proud and strong the next day. The freshmen also upped the ante by greasing the bottom half of the pole, making it impossible to climb. Not to be outsmarted, my granddad secured a long extension ladder from the maintenance area where he worked, and that night he and his “gents in crime” were back at it. As they leaned the heavy ladder against the flagpole, however, it snapped at the base and landed squarely on a prominent statue of a woman holding a torch, breaking it in two pieces.
After a sleepless night, my granddad and his buddies waited outside Dr. Hardy’s office, anxiously awaiting his arrival to work. They recounted what happened and offered heartfelt apologies. Dr. Hardy explained that they would have to pay for all repairs and that he expected no such foolishness from any of them in the future. They gratefully made their restitution.–David Pryor | Class of 1986
Comfort station on the Quad
My years at Mary Hardin-Baylor were filled with fun adventures, one of which happened not long after the Ely Pepper building had been demolished. Someone from the administration had an idea to make a memorial to Ely Pepper, and one day there appeared an obelisk in the quad made of bricks from Ely Pepper’s original building materials.
Everyone wondered what this eyesore was doing in the middle of the quad, and eventually someone in administration realized that this haphazardly thrown up monument did not do justice to the great structure that was Ely Pepper. Additionally, Charter Day weekend was fast approaching and, with it, lots of MHB alumni visiting the campus, some of whom had lived in Ely Pepper and would hate to see it reduced to rubble.
So, in his or her infinite wisdom, someone (who shall remain nameless) decided the solution was to temporarily build a wooden box covering up the Ely Pepper memorial. Now there was an unexplained six-foot-tall by about three-foot-square wooden rectangle standing on end in the quad.
You may have noticed that those are approximately the dimensions of an outhouse, so a couple of my buddies and I decided to finish the job the administration had started. With black spray paint we created a proper outhouse of the structure, with windows and appropriate decor, so it would be ready for viewing just in time for Charter Day. It was the talk of the town!–Jo Ann Brandon | Class of 1983
All’s well that ends well
The best pranks take time and careful planning. The best pranksters are patient. They are also team players, knowing that sometimes it takes a village.
Being a choir nerd, I was always in Presser Hall, and I met most of my favorite people in that building. Every year the music department put on a huge musical. All the fine arts were involved with putting it on. It was an honor to be chosen to direct and an honor to be chosen to have a part.
This prank took me two or more weeks to plan. The victims? Matt Crosby, the director of my choir, the University Singers, and David Guess, the director of the Concert Choir.
After the last performance of the musical, we were planning to have a cast party in the Mayborn Campus Center. Next to the building, there was a small piece of grass that everyone would be certain to walk past, just perfect for parking two cars.
Needless to say, I needed help. I enlisted Todd Gregory to ask for Mr. Crosby’s keys the day of the final performance and “forget” to give him the car keys back. I also phoned Mr. Guess’s wife and requested her key to the vehicle her husband would be driving that night.
I went out and bought car chalk and rolls upon rolls of toilet paper, and I asked people who were in act one but not in act two of the musical to decorate. I then picked someone I trusted to drive one of the cars. I met with my co-conspirators, and we went over and over our parts in the scheme.
If my memory serves me right, the plan went something like this:
Intermission of 2nd show: Pick up keys, move car, and hand off backpack of supplies and keys to decorating group.
Second Act: Decorate cars.
Finale: Return to our places for the final curtain.
A direction group was assigned to make sure both directors followed the correct path past the cars.
This plan was pulled off without a hitch and included 10 people (all participants in the production), who played their parts perfectly (pun intended).
This day is and always will be included among my best memories of UMHB. We had such fun!–Ify (Anene) Omini | Class of 2007
I must make a confession as a university president.
I do not recall the year, maybe 2004, when we had lost in the regular season football game to Hardin-Simmons; like all other Crusader fans
I was greatly disappointed. At the end of the season we still received a bid for the playoffs, and as usual we had to play Hardin-Simmons.
Uncharacteristic of myself, I ordered a funeral wreath from Precious Memories to be sent to the UMHB football field house, swearing florist Norman Northen to complete secrecy. The wreath was supposedly a “Rest in Peace” to the UMHB football program from HSU fans! Of course the Crusaders responded by soundly beating HSU! I honestly doubt that the wreath made any difference, but I was greatly pleased we had once again overcome the Cowboys!
PS : Mrs. Bawcom was quite surprised and disappointed in me when I finally told her what I had done.
Jerry G. Bawcom, Ph.D.
University of Mary Hardin-Baylor