Fifty years ago
During Homecoming weekend, 30 members of the class of 1958 returned to campus to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their graduation at the annual Golden Eagles luncheon. Below are a few of their favorite memories.
When I transferred to North Texas from Hardin-Simmons University, I was well on my way to a journalism degree and somewhat overconfident in my abilities. One of my first courses was feature writing under the legendary C.E. "Pop" Shuford, who founded and headed the journalism department and already was widely admired and acclaimed across the country. One of our early assignments was to compose a short feature, a "brite," which Pop would read to the class and discuss with the students.
As luck would have it, the very first feature selected was mine. Pompous young fool that I was, I assumed he'd selected it as an example of clever and stylish writing. Without comment, he read my feature to the class, looked up and smiled. I smiled back. Then he wordlessly wadded up the paper, hurled it to the floor, stomped on it a couple of times and dismissed it with a common barnyard expletive.
Suffice to say I was sufficiently mortified. I wondered for a moment or two about slinking from the classroom, fleeing the campus and escaping back to the less volatile climes of H-SU. But I stuck it out and soon realized that episode was just Pop being Pop. And the lessons I learned that day would be journalistically invaluable and forever inspirational. Years later, I recounted this episode in a first-person Associated Press story at the time of Pop's death. He struck fear in our young hearts, but we all loved and respected him mightily.
My career got off to a bizarre start. My grandfather was an independent Oklahoma oilman, and shortly before graduation a company he dealt with frequently and profitably offered me a job on its public relations staff. All excited, I rushed in to Pop Shuford's office to tell him that I was going to work at Sohio Oil Co. for a princely weekly salary of $150.
"Nope," Pop said. "You're going to work for the Denton Record-Chronicle. I've already made the arrangements. Starting next week, they'll pay you $1 an hour until you graduate, then $60 a week when you go on full time."
I told him I couldn't take a $90 a week pay cut on my first job.
"Yes, you can," he said. "One of these days you'll thank me."
Actually, I did. Many times. — Mike Cochran ('58), Fort Worth
I remember as the Yucca photographer one year, I went to all the sporting events, concerts and social activities. One assignment was to photograph someone in the library. I happened to ask an attractive girl if I could take her picture in the stacks. This girl, Billie Jeane Purvis ('58), and I celebrated our 51st wedding anniversary this year. — Robert L. Garner ('58), Southlake
I remember how much fun I had in an advanced pattern-drafting class in the home economics department. It was the first year North Texas was integrated, and many teachers returned one summer for certification work. I was the only undergraduate white girl in the class of experienced black teachers. They taught me so much, especially how to have fun while learning. We laughed a lot. — Billie Jeane Purvis Garner ('58), Southlake
I still remember those days back in 1956 and 1957, when I would spend the afternoons in the Union Building playing bridge. Yes, back in 1957, we were busting at the seams to enroll 6,500 students. — Dick Greenbauer ('58), Seguin
On the roof
I will never forget looking out the window of Terrill Hall and seeing a boy sitting on the very peak of the roof of the Hop House (rooming house) across the street, looking at our dorm through binoculars. … I married Jack F. Demetruk ('55 M.B.A.) in 1956. We had our 52nd anniversary in February. — Louise Shepherd Demetruk, Stephenville
My classmate from Wink, Roy Orbison, and I came to UNT along with four other Wink classmates. Roy heard two kids named Dick Penner and Wade Moore sing a popular song on the campus called "Ooby Dooby." He got their permission to record it and that was a start to a musical career that catapulted Roy into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. — R. David Lipscomb ('58), Dallas
Bruce Hall was still the newer dorm when I was a freshman. It was great. My only granddaughter started college this year, so I've had fun telling her all kinds of details about my first year. — Ruth Covin Hall ('58), Houston
I will always remember walking across the stage at Fouts Field to receive my graduation diploma. That has always been one of the highlights of my life. Other memories are the Sigma Nu Fraternity and all of the functions I went to. Members of Sigma Nu will always be my brothers. — Lee Edwin Mitchell ('58), Bellaire
I remember Saturday night Stage Shows in the Auditorium, starting with a couple of numbers by the North Texas Orchestra, followed by 'Fessor Graham and the Aces and occasionally area talent putting on performances. This was followed by a full-length movie, all for the price of 25 cents and a Student Activities card. Cheapest date opportunity around.
I remember "necking" on the benches at the Pond; dances played by the Aces on the Slab behind the Union on Friday nights when the weather was good (and there weren't too many mosquitos!), or inside in the Union cafeteria when it rained or was too cold. I remember performances of "Dinner Theater" put on by the drama department, experimenting with "theater-in-the-round" in the cafeteria, before it became famous and moved to a venue in Dallas.
I remember some of our professors were pretty informal at times, sometimes moving a class to the Union to sit together in one corner, drink coffee, smoke cigarettes and hold a lively discussion of a class topic. …
I remember putting off a required statistics course until the summer before graduation scheduled for January, hoping to survive for six weeks in a dreaded must-pass course. (Math had never been my long-suit.) Much to my surprise, and later my delight, I got newly minted Dr. Earl Kooker ('48 M.S.) for a teacher — one of the best I've had in my entire academic career. He made the subject not only interesting, but also easily understandable. I ended up with an "A." …
I sincerely appreciate what good ol' NTSC gave me in the way of an education. — Robert H. Walters ('58, '70 M.S., '75 Ph.D.), Waldport, Ore.