1954: The Cactus in Sound


Above: The Cactus in Sound for 1953 – 1954. Listen here.

In 1953, the Cactus yearbook staff decided to try an experiment. Instead of documenting the academic year only through photographs, what if the Cactus created a sound archive as well? The staff recruited Richard “Cactus” Pryor, then a UT alumnus and well-known humorist and radio personality, to serve as narrator, and promptly set out to record some of the highlights of the school year.

A formal album – an “audio yearbook” –  was produced and sold for $6.00, but the recording wasn’t as popular as the staff had hoped. The 1954 edition was the only one. Today, though, it provides us with a few precious glimpses of campus life at UT over sixty years ago.


Above: An unofficial football rally staged at Martin’s “Kumback” burger restaurant.

Included on the recording:

  • The first football rally of the 1953-54 school year, held in Gregory Gym. Some of the yells here are no longer heard on the campus.
  • The inauguration speech of Logan Wilson, installed as President of the University of Texas on October 29, 1953.
  • Selections from “Time Staggers On,” an annual musical spoof on campus life that was a popular 25-year UT tradition.
  • Highlights from the annual Round Up weekend, originally a spring homecoming with parties, dances, performances, an elaborate parade through downtown Austin, and the announcement of the UT Sweetheart.
  • The UT Tower chimes play “Home on the Range” and “The Eyes of Texas” before marking the hour at 1 p.m.

Listen to the 1954 Cactus in Sound here!

You can also find it under the “Audio” menu on the UT History Corner.

Happy listening!



Above: The Main Building and Tower in 1954 as viewed from Mary Gearing Hall. 

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