The late 60’s and early 70’s are a special and important chapter in the history of this country. The post-World War II generation was grown up or growing up.
My schoolfriend Butch Peterson was the first Marine to return to Abilene in one of those big silver-colored military funerary boxes. By the time I left Abilene, there were stacks of them outside each of the local funeral homes.
In those days, Hardin-Simmons University had a military department run by active-duty soldiers. It was called Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). It was a way for really serious military guys to get directly commissioned as officers. “Cadet colonels” got commissioned the same day that they got their diplomas. My friend Chad was the colonel, and he had his bars all polished so eager was he to become a soldier and the leader of men.
The anti-war movement was growing across the country, but not in Abilene and certainly not on the HSU campus. Then, the regular army colonel got wind that Chad had said the war might actually not be a very good idea. Within hours, Chad was busted down to cadet sergeant and saw his dream of a commission and career in the army fly out the window.
One change that went virtually unnoticed at HSU was the makeover of the “face” of the Brand. I concocted a masthead identical to that of The Village Voice in New York City. (Only one faculty member noticed the change. I swore him to secrecy in an exchange which is still classified.)
The biggest change to my paper, however, was noticed by everybody. With two or three exceptions, all college newspapers were published once a week. But my business manager Bob told me that he could sell a lot of advertising. He was right. The Brand became the only small college paper that published twice a week. (I don’t know whatever became of Bob. He was a bit of a hustler. I figure that he ended up as president of a major corporation or, just as likely, a convicted felon.)
I loved my time at Hardin-Simmons. The real rounders there were students in the music department and Lynn Taylor. On the wall of my study is a picture of The Cowboy Band circa 1935.
It’s safe to say that the only person who celebrated the end of my time at HSU as much I did was Dr. Elwin L. Skiles, 13th president of HSU. He rejoiced, as I was a constant source of despair for him on Tuesdays and Fridays.
My only regret is that I never got an HSU t-shirt and a recording of The Cowboy Band playing Bob Wills’ San Antonio Rose.