1954: The Cactus in Sound


The Cactus in Sound: 1953 – 1954

A football rally in Gregory Gym: September 25, 1953

Inauguration speech by UT President Logan Wilson: October 29, 1953

“Time Staggers On” annual campus humor musical: January 8, 1954

Round Up highlights and UT Sweetheart announcement: April 3, 1954

UT Tower plays “Home on the Range” and “The Eyes of Texas” before 1 p.m. peal.

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 then 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: While “official” football rallies were held in Gregory Gym, UT students in the mid-1950s often staged their own, like this one at Martin’s “Kumback Burger” restaurant.

1953 Football Rally: In the 1950s, a torchlight parade and rally at Gregory Gym was held before every home football game. Listen as the band enters the gym with the last strains of “Texas Fight,” before playing the “Texas Victory Song.” (Listen to the Victory Song and see the music here.) A crowd of more than 3,000 – many ringing cowbells –  goes through several yells:

  • Yea, Orange! Yea, White! Yea, Longhorns! Fight! Fight! Fight! (Before this was incorporated into the “Texas Fight” song, it was a separate yell.)
  • Longhorn Yell: L-O! L-O! L-O-N-G! H-O! H-O!  H-O-R-N! L-O N-G H-O R-N, L-O N-G, H-O R-N. L! O! N! G! H! O! R! N!  Longhorns! Longhorns! Yea, Longhorns!
  • Texas Yell: T! E! X! A! S! … T! T! T-E-X! X! X! X-A-S! T-E-X! X-A-S! Texas! Texas! (This has since evolved into the Whisper Chant.)

president-logan-wilsonPresident Logan Wilson: On October 29, 1953, in a ceremony on the steps of the Main Building, Logan Wilson was formally installed as President of the University of Texas. Part of his inauguration speech is here.




1954-time-staggers-on-programTime Staggers On: In 1936, seven members of Theta Sigma Phi, then a campus honorary group for women journalism majors, created a campus variety show to raise $100 in order to send one of their group to the Theta Sigs’ national convention. The show was dubbed “Time Staggers On” as a spoof on a popular radio news show “Time Marches On.” (Today, Theta Sigma Phi has become Women in Communication.)

The variety show was a great success and launched a 25-year University tradition. At the start of the academic year, interested groups of students submitted scripts of potential shows along with sample songs. The Theta Sigs would select a winner and award a cash prize, and the chosen team would perform their show in Hogg Auditorium the following January. The scripts and songs poked fun at campus life, and performances often played to sold out audiences.


Above: “Priorities of a college man” from the 1954 rendition of Time Staggers On.

Two musical selections are heard here from the 1954 TSO show. Love blossoms in the chemistry lab with the song “C-24 H-22 O-11,” and UT student Rolly Wester performs “Don’t Get on Scho Pro.”

1954-round-up-parade-float-winnerRound Up: Intended as a spring homecoming (to “round up” the alumni), Round Up was launched in April 1930 with the dedication ceremonies for Gregory Gym. Within a few years it became the social highlight of the spring, scheduled in tandem with the Texas Relays. Parties, dances, an elaborate Friday afternoon parade down Guadalupe Street and on through downtown Austin, and the selection of the UT Sweetheart were all part of the festivities. Round Up as an alumni homecoming was discontinued after 1990, but the University Greek community still sponsors a “Round Up” party weekend each spring.

1954-ut-sweetheart-barbara-boozIncluded on this recording is the announcement of the best float in the parade (above left), the performance of “Hard Hearted Hannah” in the Round Up Review, and the Gregory Gym announcement of Barabra Booz (photo at right) as the UT Sweetheart.





UT Tower Chimes: Some things never change. This recording of the Tower bells more than 60 years ago might be heard on campus today. In the 1950s, a short concert was played Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons from 12:50 – 1:00 p.m., during class change. Listen to the very end as the bong of the big bell marks the hour.


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