Editor’s Note: For now over 75 years, Baylor Line has been publishing vivid storytelling from across the Baylor Family. I don’t think our archives full of deep, inspirational features should live solely on shelves, so we are bringing them back to like in BL Classics. In this installment, enjoy a trip back in time to read about the origins of Baylor’s beloved “That Good Old Baylor Line,” the way the lyrics were finalized, and how the song was first recorded.
Published on: July-August, 1954
Baylor folks are going to be excited when they hear a new recording of “That Good Old Baylor Line” and, on the reverse side, the two Fight Songs, recorded in May by the Golden Wave Band and the Bards. For several years, Baylor students and alumni have been agitating for two things: (1) a really good recording of their school songs and (2) new uniforms for the Golden Wave Band. Some alumni have even gone so far as to say they were ashamed of their band in the drab uniforms they’ve been wearing for several years.
Now it looks as if both those problems have been met. Proceeds from the record sale are destined for a band uniform fund. There are 150 members of the band. Each uniform costs about $55.
A lot of people helped make the recording a reality. For several years it has been discussed but copyright troubles and other problems delayed it. The Ex-Students Association agreed to handle the sales. Holders of the copyright on “The Good Old Summertime” agreed to a royalty payment from each record sold until 1957 when their copyright expires.
Donald I. Moore, band director, directed the recording. Working with him were Miss Martha Barkema, director of the Bards, and Alfred Reed, graduate assistant in the School of Music and temporary conductor of the Baylor Symphony, who arranged the score. He has a background of NBC radio shows and arrangements.
The Bards are a chorus of 24 to 28 men singers, chosen from the student body by auditions. Miss Barkema organized the chorus, along with a women’s Rhapsody in White chorus, when she joined the School of Music faculty in the fall of 1937. They have made tours to Mexico and Atlanta, Ga., with one scheduled for Washington, D. C., next year.
Baylor’s first Fight Song was written by Bandleader Fred Waring when he had a nation-wide radio program saluting a different college each week.
A few years later, two students—Frank Boggs, B.A. ’48, and Dick Baker. B.A. ’50, got together one afternoon and decided to write a new Fight Song that would be easier to sing. This they proceeded to do within the hour.
“That Good Old Baylor Line” is the song that started out not as a school song but as a parody on the tinkling waltz, “The Good Old Summertime,” so popular around 1908. Through the years, it became so ingrained that the students instinctively changed its whole tempo, rhythm, and harmony into an alma mater song.
Despite its meaningless words and a long-standing offer of $100 by the late President Samuel Palmer Brooks to anyone who would write a school song, “‘That Good Old Baylor Line” continued to be the song the students sang spontaneously and the only one that raised their blood pressure.
Many songs were submitted and urged upon the students over the years but they withered and died. The western or yippee-ki-yo school predominated with a scattering of gospel-hymn types but the students weren’t having any. They continued to sing:
“That good old Baylor line, that good old Baylor line
Oh. Where will TCU (or the current opponent) be
When our stars begin to shine.
They’ll wish they were at home again done up in turpentine
The day our backs come down the field
That good old Baylor Line.”
This is known as the turpentine version and it lasted until the fall of 1931 when Enid Eastland Markham, the young bride of Music School Professor Robert Markham, got her dander up and did something about it. Her account of it goes like this:
“In the fall of 1931 there was to be a big alumni meeting in Waco Hall before the Homecoming football game. Waco Hall had just been completed and it was the first time most of the alumni had seen it. The night before the game there was a pep rally at old Carroll Field, one of the first in what later became the traditional Homecoming pep rallies.
“At the pep rally, it dawned on me how perfectly silly the words to ‘That Good Old Baylor Line’ really were. I’d sung it all the time that I was a student and hadn’t thought anything about it. But there were all these imposing and prosperous-looking alumni rared back singing to a dignified alma mater hymn tune about ‘done up in turpentine,’ and I thought what a shame it was that Baylor didn’t have a better song than that for the alumni to sing.”
After the rally was over, the Markhams went to their apartment on South Eighth Street, called Memorial Apartments. She sat down and while her husband made sandwiches for their supper she dashed off some new words to replace the ones she thought needed cleaning up.
“It didn’t take but about 15 or 20 minutes,” she recalls. “I was just doing a hurry-up job for the alumni meeting the next morning. Goodness! If I’d known that it would turn out to be the school song, I probably would have worked on it for three weeks and then it wouldn’t have been as successful.” She says she really didn’t change much of it. Rewriting four lines and part of another, changed the whole meaning from a vindictive song about a football line to the long line of Baylor students of the past and of the future, she explains.
When she finished writing, she ran across the hall where Dean Sims Allen and Mrs. Allen lived in an adjoining apartment and showed them her new version. Dean Allen grabbed the paper and took it to his office where he was having some mimeographing done for the alumni meeting. A Lariat reporter got a copy that night and ran it on page one of the morning Lariat. When Mrs. Markham went to chapel for the alumni meeting, she says that students were walking to chapel singing the new words from their copies of the Lariat.
Mrs. Markham didn’t get the $100 as “That Good Old Baylor Line” wasn’t considered a new song. Doctor Brooks had died the preceding spring. Her words were copyrighted recently by a young Baylor law graduate and as the crowning blow, her name was misspelled “Enid Easterland Markham” and it can’t be corrected.
Jarrell F. McCracken, B.A. ’50, M.A. ’53, owner of Word Records in Waco, is pressing 5,000 Baylor records in two sizes-78 and 45 rpm. He has offered to mail out-of-town orders for the Ex-Students Association at cost.
Price of the record is $1.00 if bought directly from the Baylor Book Stores. Mail order are an additional 25 cents.