I came from my high school to attend SMU in 1944. At that time, you could go downtown on the streetcar which ended right at the girl’s dormitory at Asbury and Hillcrest. The out-of-town students (and a lot of the Dallas students) did not have cars in college, so the streetcar was utilized considerably. The eminent teacher/author Lon Tinkle used to ride that trolley from his classes at SMU to the Dallas Morning News office where he did a column on the arts and literature.
When the veterans of WWII began to return to colleges, SMU was overwhelmed with the influx of students on the GI bill. These young men, veterans, were much more sophisticated than the average college co-ed, of course.
They soon discovered that the streetcar went from SMU to the Idle Hour, which was on the corner of Knox and McKinney, and they could drink beer there after class. The Idle Hour was owned by old Mr. Campisi who was always present at his establishment. his son, Joe Campisi was too young to be involved. So the “in” thing to do was to jump on the trolley after class and go to the Idle Hour. There was no food served at that time, but soon Mr. Campisi began to cook for his friends and he was finally talked into doing extra spaghetti to sell to customers – he was the first in Dallas to have “pizza.”
The College crowd was such a factor in the success of the “beer joint” that they hired a piano player (a very fat, happy black gal named “Carrie”) to play at night on the weekends. There was no room for a piano and her large body, so they built a loft above the booths. She packed them in and her big hit was “She came rolling down the mountain,” which was just very slightly “suggestive” and considered risque for that day in time.
Of course, as everyone knows, they expanded by buying the Egyptian Lounge across from the Dr. Pepper Co. on Mockingbird Lane. You can still see “students” there from the era of the Idle Hour, but in braces rather than bobby-sox.
Rosemary Thornton Class of 1950
I have some special memories of SMU, class of 63:
1. Formed “Fiji Islanders” folk song group, then shortly changed our name to “Men About Town” and serenading sorority row with “The Brother’s Four.”
2. “Men About Town” were the opening act for Connie Frances at Moody Coliseum. Remember almost panic moment when my guitar E string broke on our opening number; “Darlin’ Corey.” We also sang “Ghost Riders in the Sky” and my own original songs, “April Brown” and “Now the Day is Over.”
3. Rooming at the FIJI house with George Bramblett and Charlie Childers; Night after night George would get on the phone and practical joke several people. Ask George!
During the early 1960s comedian Bob Hope made several visits to the SMU campus. On one occasion he arrived by helicopter after a recent snow storm. Admiring students took advantage of the melting snow to welcome Bob with a fusillade of snow balls as his helicopter landed. The students could not have realized how dangerous this was to problematic helicopter landing procedures and pilot visibility. The helicopter was able to land safely and Bob, no stranger to entertaining the “troops,” greeted the crowd with the line: “I thought I was in a Gardol commercial.” Hope was referring to the classic 1950s TV commercial that illustrated a cavity prevention feature of the Gardol ingredient in Colgate toothpaste which supposedly formed an invisible protective shield over teeth, just as the clear Plexiglas helicopter canopy bubble protected Hope from snowballs. [Except for one thrown by Kent McCully after Hope exited the aircraft]
Bob Hope arrives on SMU campus wearing a red freshman beanie
The right Choice…
Judy Franklin was elected Manada Queen but she found herself without a “suitable” date for the Ball. She asked me to be her escort and the rest is history.
Teammate Jim Hammond and I were invited to Accounting Profssor, Dan Davis’s house for a burger to celebrate the completion of our final basketball season. After a few beers we began telling war stories. Jim volunteered that in High School I jumped cars to earn extra money. Little did we know Dan’s connections with CBS. It wasn’t long before I received an invitation to be on Gary Moore’s “I’ve Got a Secret”.
Arrangements were made with their Dallas affiliate, Channel 4 to witness my stunt on the parking lot at Ownby Stasium in front of cameras and countless incredulous friends.
After successfully clearing 3 smaller cars, I was confronted with my final challenge to leap a full size Chevy Bel Air. While tumbling on the asphalt had taken it’s toll on my hands, I was more concerened with the added width of the car so I moved my takeoff mark closer to sufficiently clear the other side. Much to my chagrin, running full speed, my thigh crashed into the car failing to clear the roof top. I rolled down over the windshield and hood in excruciating pain but greater disappointment.
END of STORY…
The year was 1960 and SMU was playing Rice in a night game at the Cotton Bowl in the first conference game after losing 3 tough non-conference games away. There was a good crowd looking for a win. Neither my partner or I had ever run Peruna before and we never thought of a little practice before hand. No problem we thought. Incidentally, back then you ran the entire length of the field whereas today I believe they just run down and across the field. Well, it was time to run and the horse knew it. So, we struck out down the field ahead of the band. That little horse was fast as “greased lighting” and I did pretty well for 80 yards but around the 20 I began to lose my balance and around the 10 yard line did a complete flip in the air and landed on my feet (at least this is this way I remember it after over 50 years). Wasn’t hurt except for my pride and, of course, the whole stadium saw it and reacted accordingly. What we learned was that little horse was so fast all you needed to do was lean back and he would fly you down the field. Incidentally, that little horse when we were in school was much faster than what I see today. He was the Secretariat of his time.
The Peruna handlers always had a great time going on the away games—Austin, Lubbock, Waco etc. One great trip was a train trip to Lubbock to play Tech. Peruna road in the baggage car with his hay and we were in the passenger cars with our dates. Lots of fun.
My best and lifelong friends were made on the Hilltop, not in elementary school or high school or as a professional, but during our freshman year in the fall of 1958. A walk down memory lane finds me in Snider Hall. Voices come from my suitemates’ room, shared by Jackie and Becky. Laughter echoes down through the years and a few tears. Registering for classes that first semester was terrifying! How many times did I change majors? Rush. What an experience; pledging Pi Phi, what a joy! Time flies. There were some memorable and some not so memorable football games at the Cotton Bowl, but we dressed to the ‘nines’. We danced our way through all four years. Ah, ‘the push’. I had a really great dance partner, 6’1 or more to my 5’1, and dance we did. Loved the music of The Kingston Trio and The Everly Brothers. The height of entertainment was Bob Hope on the Hilltop. What an ambassador for the school he became. And there was other entertainment at Gordo’s with great pizza and my first beer! Sorority row and living in ‘the house’. Dating ATO’s. Manada. Homecoming. And wrapped around all that fun was a great education, delivered by professors we would call ‘intellectuals’ today but were called radical then. The early 60s were tumultuous. Sit ins occurred right across the street at the drugstore we frequented. Change was in the air. That gave us all pause to think, about beliefs, about our future. And all too soon, the future was now and graduation drew to a close the SMU chapter of our lives.
I fondly remember cheeseburgers at Gordo’s trying to decide whether to attend a Sunday evening double-feature at the Majestic. No one knew why Gordo’s couldn’t open on Election Day until after the polls closed since none of us could legally buy a beer anyway! Speaking of…who can forget TGIF parties upstairs at Chantley’s on Lemmon? After a couple of cups of “purple passion,” who can remember those afternoons? Evenings spent racing from the Moody Coliseum parking lot to get our dates back before dorm closing, then to the Toddle House where Blanton served a cup of coffee and a slice of black-bottom pie.
Speaking of Moody, the Kingston Trio at the height of their “Tom Dooley” fame played to a standing-room only crowd. Bob Hope appeared on SMU’s campus almost every year as well. Professors Boller, Mouzon and Tinkle, in their respective fields, influenced a generation of admiring scholars. Engineering students were identified by the K & E slide rules dangling from their belts. Term papers for Dr. Nance were cranked out on my trusty Smith-Corona portable. Comparitive literature had been invented but Wikipedia, alas, had not.
My recollection is that SMU was considered a “dressy” school, at least by Southwest Conference standards. The “Ivy” look was popular among the guys, and students dressed up for football games at the Cotton Bowl. We even attended the games. Manada, Pigskin Revue during Homecoming and spring Sing Song are all distant memories of a happy time in my life.
What’s your favorite memory? We’d love to hear from you.
Bob Mebus ’62
I wanted to go to SMU ever since I was nine years old watching Doak Walker and Kyle Rote on the gridiron.
Memories are many, but pranks and shenanigans were at the top of my list.
One memory that was a favorite was going to Gordo’s (located by Ms. Baird’s bakery) on Sunday evenings with friends for a brew and a cheeseburger and then onto the Majestic or Palace theater for the sneak preview.
I can’t wait to share more stories with classmates at our reunion weekend, May 11-12.