History Preserved

Sept. 9, 1998

by Colin M. Witt

'The Preservers of History Are As Heroic As Its Makers.'

These words, inscribed atop the southeast side of Pat Neff Hall call to mind remembrances of those who make great sacrifices to carry on history and tradition.

In 1959, Clem Jarvis Hamrick of Elm Mott made but a small sacrifice: a newspaper purchased for a nickel. For almost 40 years the newspaper he buried within a wall in Penland Hall stayed there, an unknown time capsule waiting to be uncovered.

Until this fall.

Working at night to finish renovations to the Penland Food Court, Waco Construction workers recently unearthed Hamrick's contribution to history along with another copy of the same newspaper issue.

Looking through the 20 pages of the Sept. 16, 1959, Waco News-Tribune (it was a Wednesday) is a fascinating journey back in time.

Penland Hall was built during the 1959-60 school year and dedicated in September 1960. It was one of the last construction projects completed at Baylor during the presidency of Dr. W.R. White.

By the fall of 1959, Judge Abner V. McCall had settled in his role as executive vice president and was preparing to become president within the next two years. McCall's presidency would be an overwhelming success, and McCall himself has become the standard by which all future Baylor Presidents are judged.

The paper notes the enrollment of 2,153 on the first day at Baylor, and while that number would grow for the 1959-60 school year, that first-day total enrollment figure is several hundred below the number of new freshmen at Baylor this year.

There's Dear Abby answering questions about relationships, and News-Tribune Sports Editor Dave Campbell with a column about, what else, football in Texas.

While President Clinton recently returned from a trip to Russia, the 1959 paper offers extensive coverage of Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev's visit to the United States.

Greyhound was encouraging readers to "leave the driving to us," and the sciences appeared to offer the best job prospects for recent graduates.

The Waco City Council in 1959 approved an annual budget of just over $6.5 million. For the whole city.

Even the nickel price of the newspaper has something to say about the economics of the day.

Baylor students in 1959 knew no Kennedy assassination, no Vietnam War, no moon landing, no disco, no Challenger explosion. Certainly, no Branch Davidians. In 1959, there was no Berlin Wall, just as today there is none.

Oh, and there's one more thing. When Hamrick placed the newspaper in the walls of Penland, Roger Maris was not yet the single season home run leader in Major League Baseball. And despite 37 intervening years to the contrary, when the newspaper again saw the light of day, Roger Maris once again is not the single season home run leader.

The more things change ...

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