Thanksgiving at UCA – 1909

Dear Friends,

TomorrowNovember 23rd, is Thanksgiving;  a holiday that has always been observed at this institution beginning with our first year of operation in 1908.

The first Normal Echo that was published in November 1909, was the Thanksgiving Number, and a big turkey was pictured on the front cover.  On page three a poem about Thanksgiving was written by Mina Renfrow of Rison, Arkansas.  Ms. Renfrow was also the president of the Crestomath Society in 1909, a literary society for women.

The front cover of the first Normal Echo and the poem about Thanksgiving by Mina Renfrow, can be found in the PDF that accompanies this email.


History of UCA Stepperettes and a Video

Dear Friends,

Happy Wednesday!  Today we are going to take a look at the UCA Stepperettes, one of the most popular organizations ever to exist on this campus.  There is also a video of them performing for several football games and one basketball game. The video appears to be from two different academic years; 1974-1975 and 1975-1976.   I hope you enjoy this time travel experience to the 1970s.

In the fall of 1957, a school-spirit organization was created, the T-Steppers, a 24 member female drill team which performed at football games, basketball games, and parades, and was modeled after the Kilgore Rangerettes.  They were an immediate success and went from 24 members in the fall of 1957 to 42 members in the fall of 1958.  The T-Steppers experienced a name change in 1967 when Arkansas State Teachers College became State College of Arkansas.  The T-Steppers became the Stepperettes and were issued new uniforms.

Their popularity continued to grow, and by 1967, the Stepperettes boasted a total of 80 members.  The Stepperettes, like the T-Steppers, were primarily noted for their performances at football and basketball games, and parades, but also served as goodwill ambassadors for UCA.  They traveled to different parts of the State of Arkansas, judging tryouts for high school drill teams, and also performed at high school assemblies.

Interest in the Stepperettes began to wane in the mid 1980s, and in 1988 the Stepperettes permanently disbanded due to lack of participation.

Here is the link:  Sound begins about one minute later. The video will be at the bottom of the next page, after you click on the link.

The L.B. Jackman Award-What exactly is that?

Dear Friends,

Since 1959, the L.B. Jackman Award has been awarded to the most outstanding player or players in the UCA Homecoming football game.  This year, 2017, there were two co-winners of the award, Hayden Hildebrand – quarterback, and George Odom – linebacker and safety.  It was reported that when George Odom was told that he was one of the recipients of the award, he stated that he did not know what it was. Odom’s response prompted me to write a brief history about the L.B. Jackman Award.

Luke B. Jackman was born in Alix, Franklin County, Arkansas, in 1897. He received a Bachelor of Science in Education from Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas – UCA) in August 1935.  He later received a master’s degree from Columbia University in New York.

According to his obituary, Jackman served as supervisor of schools in Franklin County and was superintendent of Ozark Schools before coming to UCA as registrar in 1951.  Jackman served as registrar until he retired in 1961. He died on July 20, 1966, of a heart-related condition, and was buried in the Houston Cemetery at Alix in Franklin County.

While serving in his capacity as registrar, Jackman also served as a sponsor of Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity.  According to documents in the Sigma Tau Gamma collection, during the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity meeting of September 29, 1959, Leroy Froman made a motion to recognize the outstanding player of the homecoming football game.  He motioned that the award be given the title, the L.B. Jackman Award.  His motion received a second and it passed.  Longtime Conway resident and UCA alumnus, Bill Johnson, was serving as president of Sigma Tau Gamma in 1959.

The first person to receive the L.B. Jackman Award was Henry Hawk in 1959.  Sigma Tau Gamma has sponsored the L.B. Jackman Award since it was created, with the exception of a several year span where it was sponsored by UCA Athletics.  David Grimes, UCA alumnus and longtime Sigma Tau Gamma member, said that there was a span of several years where Sigma Tau Gamma did not sponsor the award for some unknown reason.  However, Sigma Tau Gamma resumed the sponsorship of the L.B. Jackman Award several years ago, and continues to sponsor the award it created in 1959.

The members of the media vote to determine who should receive the L.B.Jackman Award.
Sources for this article include: The Scroll, the Log Cabin Democrat,, UCA Registrar’s Office, The Echo, Steve East – Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relation, Bill Johnson – Sigma Tau Gamma and UCA alumnus, David Grimes – Sigma Tau Gamma and UCA alumnus, and UCA Archives M01-11 – Sigma Tau Gamma Collection.


The attached photograph of L.B. Jackman is Courtesy of The Scroll – 1953.

UCA’s First Homecoming

Dear Friends,

The attached article is about the first homecoming in the United States and the first homecoming at UCA.  Please keep in mind that in 1927, UCA was Arkansas State Teachers College, and the writers of The Echo and Log Cabin Democrat, used only part of the name at times.  For instance, you might find it written as State Teachers College or Arkansas Teachers College – when the real name was Arkansas State Teachers College.  The acronym that was used officially was ASTC.  However, you will find it at times as ATC or as A.T.C.

Also you will see that in some editorials or articles contained in this article, the word Homecoming is capitalized and other times it’s not capitalized and at times it is two words – home coming – instead of one word.

Please note UCA’s first Homecoming Queen’s photograph on the last page of the article.  In regard to fashion and overall look, her photograph fits perfectly with someone from the late 1920s.

I hope you enjoy stepping back in time for a few minutes; when radio was in its infancy, television was only in its early experimental stage, manual typewriters were the ubiquitous standard business machine, and electronic computers and cell phones were still in the distant future.

From the UCA Archives XXXIII

Promoting Arkansas State Normal School

Dear Friends,

During the early years the faculty, staff and students at Arkansas State Normal School ( now the University of Central Arkansas) developed creative ways to promote their institution.  The primary  mass media was newspapers, magazines and other types of printed material.  According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, radio did not come to Arkansas until 1922.  So, prior to that time, promotion of Arkansas State Normal School was either by oratory, which President Doyne and President Torreyson both excelled in, or published material, mainly newspapers. Doyne and later Torreyson, traveled the state and gave speeches to promote the college.

According to The Normal Echo, the Arkansas State Normal Press Association was created in 1912, for the purpose of promoting Arkansas State Normal School.  According to The Normal Echo of January 1913, “The purpose was to promote the interests of the Normal throughout the State by means of letters written by students to their various county papers.  These were to be sent during the summer to the secretary; later a suitable recognition by the Student Council was to be made. Of the responses, it has been decided by the Student Council  that Lod Goza’s letter, which was published in the Times Journal and Malvern Meteor was the best and deserved second honor.  A copy of his letter is published below:”

In Goza’s promotion letter he emphasized several things, including the leadership of President Doyne, a growing enrollment, the quality of the main building, the family-like atmosphere of the college, sports and the various literary societies.

Lod Goza’s letter is attached to this email in a PDF.  No photo of Lod Goza, Jr., could be found.

A Poem About the World-NORMAL

Dear Friends,

Attached is a PDF of a poem authored in 1912 by one of Arkansas State Normal School’s (now the University of Central Arkansas) more creative writers, Owen O. Green.  Green was the author of “Normalite.”  The students of Arkansas State Normal School (ASNS) routinely referred to themselves as Normalites.  During the days when ASNS had no mascot the sports writers also referred to ASNS sports teams as Normalites, as well as Pedagogues, Tutors, and Pea Pickers.

Green was quite clever in his poem, “Normalite.”



The Normal Echo, November 1912

The Normal Echo- Dec. 1912

Dear Friends,

The Normal Echo began publication in 1909.  Unlike The Echo, The Normal Echo was more of a literary magazine than it was a newspaper or news magazine.  It was 6.5 x 9.75 inches in size and published short stories, poems and humorous anecdotes, editorials, information about Arkansas State Normal School (ASNS) and was written primarily by ASNS students with an occasional contributing faculty writer.

In the December 1912 edition of The Normal Echo, there was news about the Normal’s four literary societies, three stories about Normal sports, one article on education, four poems and short stories and one editorial.

The editorial was expressing concern about the low graduation rate of Normal students.  According to The Normal Echo, “More than twelve hundred students have been enrolled in the State Normal since its establishment, and their value to the communities into which they have gone as teachers, or to which they have returned for the time, is beyond estimate.  It is to be regretted that, of this number, only ninety attended sufficiently long to complete the course and receive their diplomas, the number now in attendance being excepted.”

The  editorial pointed out the great demand for properly trained teachers in Arkansas and that some states do not permit the employment of teachers who have not graduated from a normal school.  The rest of the editorial discussed the importance of literary societies, President Howard Taft and how nobly he had accepted defeat, and that the ASNS students were looking forward to Thanksgiving.

One of the more interesting short stories published in The Normal Echo was “An Odd Marriage” authored by Ethel Smith, a freshman in 1912.  I made a PDF out of Ms. Smith’s story and it is attached to this email.  I hope you enjoy it.


Hendrix College-Longtime Friend to UCA

Dear Friends,

When the employees of the UCA Archives were putting together the display materials for the Chavares Block/Ryan Henderson Collection, we were amazed at the size and the number of signatures on the Hendrix condolence banner.  It reminded me of the close friendship that UCA and Hendrix College have enjoyed over the years.  Even though the two schools were staunch rivals in sports for many decades, they also worked closely together.

The following was taken from “Hendrix College A Centennial History” by James E. Lester Jr., “The creation of a normal school in Conway led to an institutional rivalry between Hendrix and Arkansas State Normal School.  Both schools vied for local support as well as supremacy in athletics and other intercollegiate competition.  Initially, however, the Hendrix community welcomed the arrival of the new school.  In October, 10, 1908 the Mirror assured the faculty and students of the Normal School that ‘Hendrix entertains the best of good will towards the Arkansas State Normal…We do not believe that the life of your school means the death of ours, the existence of both can only work to the upbuilding of Conway and education…the promise for the future is bright.  We wish you success.'” The Hendrix College Mirror was a literary magazine.

The relationship between UCA’s second president, B.W. Torreyson and Hendrix College president, Dr. John Hugh Reynolds, was very close.  Torreyson and Reynolds were famous for playing practical jokes on one another.  In one instance, at the meeting of the Conway Rotary Club where both men were members, the following took place – but a bit of background information will help.

Torreyson, a native of Hillsboro, Virginia, was 61 years old when he became president of Arkansas State Normal School.  In 1923, when Dr. Reynolds made his comments, Torreyson was 67 years of age.  According to Ted Worley, author of “A History of Arkansas State Teachers College,” the following took place in 1923. “Rotary was the scene of much good-natured jousting between Torreyson and Dr. John Hugh Reynolds, president of Hendrix.  A typical exchange of compliments was that of 1923 when Dr. Reynolds remarked that Virginia men matured very late in life and therefore he had not abandoned hope for Torreyson.”

In 1959, UCA’s fifth president, Silas D. Snow, was granted an honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) from Hendrix College.  Hendrix College has been a good friend to UCA and this friendship continued to be exhibited in the large 4′ x 12′ condolence banner that Hendrix students, faculty and staff created for UCA after the October 26, 2008 murders of Ryan Henderson and Chavares Block. This was a very kind gesture and UCA is indeed grateful to Hendrix for being so thoughtful.

There are approximately 500 names on the banner and some students left words of encouragement.  A few of those comments were captured on camera and are attached to this email.  This large banner will continue to be preserved, along with the Northern Illinois University banner, and with other materials in the Block/Henderson Collection in the UCA Archives.


October 26, 2008 – A Sad Day in UCA History

Dear Friends,

We are quickly approaching the ninth anniversary of the worst tragedy to take place on the UCA campus.

On October 26, 2008, the UCA community suffered an unprecedented tragedy.  Two UCA students, Chavares Block, 19, and Ryan Henderson, 18, were gunned down and killed while standing outside Arkansas Hall, a UCA residence hall.  The two innocent victims were shot by non-students who were firing from an SUV.  The shooter, Kelcey Perry, 19, of Morrilton, is being held by the Arkansas Department of Corrections, and will be eligible for parole in 2035.

Word of the tragedy spread quickly and soon the UCA shooting made national news headlines.  An outpouring of sympathy resulted and letters and cards from around the nation soon began arriving at UCA.  Some of those expressing sympathy were the University of Washington, the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Arkansas Tech University, Hendrix College and Northern Illinois University

The students at Northern Illinois University (NIU) created a banner, made of heavy cloth material, that was approximately five feet long and three feet wide, and covered in words of sympathy and encouragement from NIU students.  NIU had been the scene of a murderous rampage on February 14, 2008, when a gunman killed five people and injured 16 with gunfire from a shotgun and three handguns.  Some of the comments from NIU students included, “Huskies feel your pain.  You are in our thoughts;”  “We know what you’re going through.  Our thoughts and prayers are with you;”  “I’m sorry that this is how we have become united, but we’re here for you;” and, “Huskies give UCA Bear hugs.”

Students, faculty and staff from Hendrix College also created a banner. The Hendrix banner is very large at four feet wide and twelve feet long and has the same type of messages as the banner from NIU.  The Hendrix banner was signed by several hundred people.

The University of Washington Graduate and Professional Student Senate observed a moment of silence for UCA’s Chavares Block and Ryan Henderson as well as for one of their own students who was gunned down in 2007, Rebecca Jane Griego.  The University of Arkansas at Little Rock Student Government Association also held a moment of silence for Chavares Block and Ryan Henderson at one of their meetings.  The university that sent the most letters of sympathy was UCA’s longtime rival, Arkansas Tech University (ATU).

The students from NIU drove to Conway and delivered their condolence banner during the halftime of a football game.  NIU also held a candlelight vigil for the UCA Community, two days after the shooting on October 28.  One of the students involved with organizing the candlelight vigil was Justin Kuryliw, who I now consider a friend.  Justin recently sent me the video of the vigil held by NIU and it is at the end of this article.  The video turns green on occasion, but, continue watching until it times out at two minutes and forty seconds.  The quality of the video is not the greatest, it was made at night, but it was an emotional experience for me.

Starting on October 16th and ending on October 27th, the UCA Archives will display all the materials held in the M08-09 Block/Henderson Collection.  Visitors to the UCA Archives will be able to read the letters written to UCA students and see the two large banners and the touching comments made by those at Hendrix College and NIU.

The link below is the video of the NIU candlelight vigil that was held for Ryan Henderson,  Chavares Block and the Bear Nation, on October 28, 2008.


Bears Vs. Razorbacks-Former Opponents in Sports

Dear Friends,

Most people are unaware that the Arkansas Razorbacks and the UCA Bears once competed in football, baseball, men’s basketball and women’s basketball.  For the men’s teams, the last time  Arkansas State Teachers College (now University of Central Arkansas – UCA)  and the University of Arkansas (U of A) at Fayetteville competed in a sporting event; Harry Truman was president, a loaf of bread cost 14 cents, the average new car cost $1,250 and gasoline was 16 cents a gallon.  The year was 1948 and the last game played between the Bears and the Razorbacks was baseball.

Competition between women’s teams has been more recent. The UCA women’s basketball team played the University of Arkansas women’s team during the 1977-1978 season.  The Sugar Bears lost a close game to the U of A, 59 to 65. UCA and the U of A did not schedule each other every year, but from 1921 to 1948 and then again in 1978 they met in athletic competition, a total of 27 times in four different team sports.  It should be mentioned that the 1977-1978 UCA Women’s Basketball Team was in its second year of competition, since 1932.  There was a long hiatus in UCA Women’s Basketball that began in 1932 and ended in 1976.

Admittedly, the Bears did not  compete very well with the Razorbacks in football and lost all three games.  When the first game between the two clubs was played in 1923, the Bears were treated very kindly by the University of Arkansas Boosters Club.  After the Bears arrived in Fayetteville they were treated to a reception in their honor and a dance was held for them on Saturday night.  The Bears’ coach, Guy “Big Dan” Estes, was very familiar with the University of Arkansas and was a former Arkansas Razorback football star who played for Coach Hugo Bezdek.  During his coaching career Bezdek, who was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, served as head coach for the University of Arkansas, University of Oregon and Penn State University.  He was admitted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954.

It must be noted that UCA’s former cross-town rival, Hendrix College, tied the Razorbacks twice, according to former Hendrix Warrior basketball coach, Cliff Garrison.  In 1920 the Hendrix Bulldogs, under Coach Charles R. Woody, fought the Razorbacks to a 0-0 tie.  In 1932 Hendrix, now coached by legendary Coach Ivan Grove, tied the Razorbacks again with the same score, 0-0.

While UCA did not win any games against the Razorbacks in football, it was a different story in baseball.  The Bears and Razorbacks observed a home and home series and played a total of 17 games, according to Ted Worley, former UCA history professor.

The Bears beat the Razorbacks in baseball the first time they played in 1921, with the Bears winning 4 to 2. The Bears swept all three games with the Razorbacks in 1947, and beat Arkansas 5-4, 10-9, and 9-5.

The baseball series between the Bears and Razorbacks is tied, with the Bears winning 7 games and the Razorbacks winning 7 games and 3 games ending in a tie.  While a draw or a tie is certainly unusual in baseball, it could happen under the right circumstances.  After the next season (1948) ended, the Razorbacks were never again on UCA’s schedule.

The Bears and Razorbacks also played men’s basketball against one another.  The U of A dominated UCA in this sport winning all six games played between the two schools.  The scores and year of the basketball games are as follows: 1924 – UA 62 UCA 28; 1924 – UA 34 UCA 14; 1933-1934 – UA 54 UCA 30; 1935-1936 – UA 42 UCA 38; 1935-1936 – UA 66 UCA 27; and 1946-1947 – UA 59 UCA 39.

Currently, UCA and the U of A do not engage in athletic competition with one another.  However, in recent years they have played some of the same opponents in at least one sport; Kansas State University, Missouri State University, Tennessee Tech University, University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), Wichita State University, University of Kentucky, University of Oklahoma, University of Missouri, Stephen F. Austin, Southeastern Louisiana, Northwestern State University, Texas State University and the University of Texas at Arlington.

When this author asked about the U of A’s policy regarding in-state opponents, Kevin Trainor, who in 2012 was the  Associate Athletic Director of Public Relations for the University of Arkansas, stated in an e-mail, “It has been a long-standing policy of the University of Arkansas Athletic Department to not schedule competitions in team sports against other institutions within the state. The practice began with former coach and athletic director John Barnhill and has been continued in the years following its introduction. The policy has enabled fans from all around the state to be united in their support for the University of Arkansas while also supporting the other intercollegiate athletic programs within Arkansas.”


Steve East, Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations, said that UCA’s Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Teams compete in events where Arkansas might be competing.  It is also possible for UCA and Arkansas to compete in golf tournaments and track and field.  But there is no direct competition between UCA and the University of Arkansas on a one-on-one team vs. team basis.
Author’s Note:  Sources for this article were The Echo, the Scroll, the Log Cabin Democrat, record books for football, baseball, and men’s & women’s basketball that are compiled and maintained by Steve East, “A History of the Arkansas State Teachers College” by Ted Worley, University of Arkansas Office of Institutional Research, Penn State University website, Coach Cliff Garrison, Kevin Trainor and Steve East.

 The 1947 Bear Baseball Team swept the Arkansas Razorbacks in a three-game series.