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.

The Normal Woods

Dear Friends,

It has been a while since I have written anything about the Normal Woods, or early student entertainment, and I came across some information from 100 years ago and thought you might like reading about it.

The Normal Woods were south of UCA off Donaghey and is the area just across Dave Ward Drive. Business buildings are now located in that area, but in 1917 it was heavily wooded.  Students, faculty, and staff made use of the Normal Woods on a regular basis.  Walking was the way in which most people traveled to the woods, and they would usually walk in groups.

The Normal Woods was the scene of many bonfires.  Bonfires provided the light for other activities such as plays, choral singing groups, initiations for literary societies and later for sororities and fraternities. In 1917, it was a magical and special place for students to go, and get away from school work.

According to The Normal Echo of October 26, 1917, “An initiation service rendered in the woods around our campfire leaves in our minds pleasant memories of our formal entrance into the society, that will follow us through the time when our school days are over.  It is a pleasure to have with us representatives of our sisters and brothers from the other societies of the Normal School.  We greatly appreciate the presence of those members of the faculty whose duties allow them to respond to our invitation.”

A women’s literary society, the Nikatima Literary Society, conducted their initiation for new members in the Normal Woods.  There were only three buildings on campus at that time, the first building that was later called the E.E. Cordrey Science Building, Doyne Hall – residence hall for women, and the Green Building – the model school building. But, the Normal Woods was deemed at the time a more appropriate setting for the initiation ceremony.

According to The Normal Echo, “Therefore, last Friday afternoon when the bell rang for dismissal, all Nikatima girls, some members of the faculty and presidents of other organizations in the school, threw aside the cares and responsibilities of the classroom and donned their sporting togs to enjoy an hour of recreation in the woods.  When we reached the grove which we call the “Normal Woods,” we found a campfire laid and ready for business.  Merrymaking began immediately.  No one was allowed to stay out of the games.  Mr. Short and Mr. Denney were kept busy and Mr. Coolidge, our new acquisition to the faculty, was introduced to the delights of Normal Autumnal festivities.”

After the induction of the new members into the Nikatima Literary Society, songs were sung and a charge was given by Miss Mattie Brown, the president of Nikatima and the first person to graduate from Arkansas State Normal School (now the University of Central Arkansas) with a four-year degree.

According to The Normal Echo, “The Nikatima song, ‘Sisters we stand Nikatima!’ yells for the new girls, visitors and faculty, the program ended with the singing of our beloved ‘Normal School.’ Nineteen girls were formally made Nikatimas and we believe that they are strong and enthusiastic and ready to live up to our ideals.”

The Normal School song that the women sang was sung to the tune of “Maryland, My Maryland,” and was written by UCA’s first president, J.J. Doyne. It first appeared in The Normal Echo of May – June 1912.  The three verses are as follows:


Thou art my Alma Mater dear,

Normal School, my Normal School! 

Thy mem’ry I shall e’er revere,

Normal School, my Normal School!

My steps may wander far from thee;

Thy walls I never more may see;

Yet in my heart enshrined thou’lt be; 

Normal School, my Normal School.


Thine inspiration through the years, 

Normal School, my Normal School!

Shall brighten hopes and banish fears, 

Normal School, my Normal School!

How can I prove to thee untrue;

While former scenes pass in review;

And bring to mind thy charms anew;

Normal School, my Normal School?


Thy purple deep and silver gray, 

Normal School, my Normal School!

Aptly thy sterling worth portray,

Normal School, my Normal School!

The bow of promise spans thy sky;

To thee new strength the years supply;

Proudly aloft thy banners fly;

Normal School, my Normal School. 


UCA’s 9/11 Collection

UCA has the largest collection of 9/11 materials in the State of Arkansas.
Dear Friends,

Today is the 16th anniversary of 9/11/2001, the worst terrorist attack on the United States.  During the day of the attack and for months afterward, the UCA Archives collected newspapers from across the nation, along with the following:

  • News releases by Arkansas government officials
  • News releases by New  York Governor George Pataki
  • Statement from Congressman Vic Snyder
  • Statement from Congressman Mike Ross
  • Statement from Senator Tim Hutchinson
  • Statements from U.S. governors
  • Essays from elementary students, middle school students, junior high and senior high school students – from the central Arkansas area.
  • Essays from UCA students
  • Essays from students at St. Bartholomew School in Queens, New York
  • Protocol information from UCA Police Department
  • Excellent aerial photographs and ground photographs of the World Trade Center shortly after the attack.
  • A video of the attacks, moments after the attack and action afterwards.  This video was created for the UCA Archives by the late Dale Nicholson of KATV Channel 7.  This is an excellent video that also covers what is happening in Arkansas at the time.
  • Many other materials – all related to 9/11
— I encourage all who want to see this collection of 9/11 materials to visit the archives between today, September 11, and September 21st.
Dr. Stephanie Vanderslice was instrumental in helping the UCA Archives to acquire the essays from St. Bartholomew School in Queens, New York.

UCA Fight Song

Dear Friends,

Here is a little information about two of UCA’s fight songs.

UCA has had two notable fight songs to speak of, the first being “The Eyes of Teachers.”  This fight song was based on the music of “The Eyes of Texas” and just substituted the word “Teachers” for “Texas.”  “The Eyes of Teachers” was played as early as 1938, according to Mary Ferguson, who was in the ASTC band at that time.  “The Eyes of Teachers” was not a terribly popular fight song because of its obvious close association with “The Eyes of Texas,” but the band always played it with great enthusiasm.  In 1973, the Royal Rooters had a contest to change the fight song to something more appropriate, but no one entered.  This led the college band director, Homer Brown, to find another fight song.  Brown chose the trio to the “Purple Pageant March,” by K.L. King, as the replacement.

A member of the band, Gwen Begley, then wrote the lyrics to the new fight song.  The song was introduced to the public at the first pep rally of the season in the fall of 1973.

The UCA fight song can be heard on  Just click on the link below.

GO BEARS BEAT KANSAS STATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1917 & 2017 UCA Football Teams

Dear Friends,

I had intended to write a short article about the differences between the 1917 and 2017 UCA football teams.  However, after comparing the two photographs, I think the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words” or in this case, ten thousand words, is appropriate.

As many of you know, UCA did not adopt the Bear as the mascot for sports until 1920.  During the 1917 football season, sports writers most often used the term “Pedagogues” when they wrote about the Arkansas State Normal School (now the University of Central Arkansas) football team.  The term Pedagogues comes from the fact that Arkansas State Normal School was dedicated to one thing, teaching its students how to become teachers.  At other times, sports writers also used the terms tutors, teachers, and Normalites.  But the two names that sports writers preferred were Pedagogues and Pea Pickers.  The moniker of Pea Pickers was due to the farm that UCA maintained for several decades. According to Ted Worley, who wrote “A History of Arkansas State Teachers College” the football players preferred Pea Pickers to Pedagogues.



1917 Team

2017 Team

Arkansas State Normal School – 1911

Dear Friends,

At the beginning of the 2016-2017 academic year, I posted something about G.Y. Short, who graduated from here and eventually served under five UCA presidents.  I thought the letter he wrote in 1911 was well done and appropriate, and decided to send it to readers a second time.

106 years ago this coming September, G.Y. Short, namesake for Short Hall, entered the Normal as a student.  Like many early Arkansas school teachers, he qualified for a teaching certificate before he graduated from high school, at the age of 17.  His first teaching job was at Mud Creek, located eight miles from Middlebrook, Arkansas.  He also taught at Choctaw.   In 1910 he entered the University of Arkansas for one year and then transferred to Arkansas State Normal School (now the University of Central Arkansas) where he received the Licentiate of Instruction in 1912.  He later received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Peabody College and did post graduate work at the University of Chicago.

During his career he served under UCA’s first five presidents; Doyne, Torreyson, McAlister, Irby and Snow.

The attached PDF is a letter Mr. Short wrote to The Normal Echo in October 1911.  In the letter he offers his opinion about Arkansas State Normal School.  The last sentence in his letter is very heartwarming, and personally, I feel just as he did and hope all our students and employees feel the same way.



The Normal Echo, October 1911


August 24th, 2017

1917-1918 UCA Academic Year

Dear Friends,

This article is about the difficult academic year of 1917-1918.  The United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, and the draft took a heavy toll on the male students.  Due to World War I,  enrollment dropped significantly, and some professors also left their faculty posts because of the war.  The female students and female faculty stepped up and did their part during that time period, and that is explained in the article.

While there is currently no war going on with the same magnitude as World War I, there are thousands of Americans serving in war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Additionally, UCA alumni are serving in those war zones.

The photographs used in this article are Courtesy of The Scroll, 1918.




1917-1918 Academic Year at UCA


August 23rd, 2017