Down the Corridor
Graham’s first instrument was a handmade cigar-box fiddle.
From that beginning evolved a knack for music that made him one
of the most famous professors in North Texas history.
This Oct. 15 marks the 100th birthday of the man known as ’Fessor
Graham, who died in 1974. His 47 years at North Texas began in 1927,
when he joined the music department, teaching and conducting the
concert and marching bands. But the charismatic teacher was also
a showman who incorporated a public relations course into the department
and created the Aces of Collegeland — the university’s
dance band and a powerful public relations tool.
As director of the Aces and the Saturday Night Stage Shows, which
were presented weekly from 1927 to 1961 and annually from 1962 to
1970, Graham entertained the campus, community and state. The Aces,
together with other acts, traveled and performed for civic organizations,
veterans’ hospitals and Texas military bases.
Graham always showed a genuine interest in his students. His daughter,
Pati Haworth (’76), says he frequently stayed after classes
to give more instruction. During the Depression, he helped students
obtain instruments and secure lodging and meals.
Jack Rumbley (’51, ’52 M.M.Ed.) played the drums in
the Aces for three years and fondly remembers Graham. “’Fessor
carried my drums in his car because I didn’t have a car,”
Rumbley says. “And he paid us well; we each got $4 per engagement.”
Graham’s dedication did not go unrewarded. In March 1958,
the United Students of North Texas declared the first “’Fessor
Graham Day” and proposed an annual award be presented in his
name to a faculty member selected by students. The ’Fessor
Graham Award is still given today to recognize faculty members for
“outstanding and unselfish service beyond the call of duty
to students.” And his name lives on in the annual meetings
of the Floyd Graham Society, open to all who value his contributions
to North Texas.
Floyd Graham Society will meet at 11 a.m. Nov. 2 in the Golden
Eagle Suite of the University Union. Festivities will include
dancing to the Aces of Collegeland. For reservations, contact
Lindsay Keffer at P.O. Box 310710, Denton, Texas 76203-0710,
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
by Oct. 30.