02: That Good Old Baylor Line

The story of how Baylor's school song That Good Old Baylor Line came to be has lots of twists and turns.

After Baylor began playing intercollegiate football in 1899, people realized it would be nice to have a Baylor song to sing at athletic events and other gatherings to promote school spirit.

In an effort to inspire potential composers, different groups offered incentives. Baylor alumni promised a $25 prize in 1900 for the best "college chorus," but the winning song, I Love Every Stone by Hosea S. Garret, didn't have staying power.

Waco merchant I.A. Goldstein offered $5 for a Baylor song in 1906, while the Baylor Round Up yearbook thought a prize of "college" slippers would do the trick. Neither gambit proved successful.

Around the same time, Baylor President Samuel Palmer Brooks offered first $100, and eventually $250, to anyone who could write a lasting Baylor song. A number of valiant attempts were made, with song titles such as Our Baylor, Better Be for Baylor, Baylor U, Tried and True, Viva la Baylor and Baylor Dear Baylor of Mine, but none had universal or long-lasting appeal.

What did eventually catch on with Baylor supporters was a boasting parody song using the familiar music and lyrics of the 1902 Tin Pan Alley hit In the Good Old Summer Time as inspiration. By 1905 or so, Baylor supporters were singing a version of the popular tune with new lyrics added:

That good old Baylor line!
That good old Baylor line!
O where will (name of opponent school) 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.

The catchy ditty became Baylor's de facto school song until 1931, when Enid Eastland Markham, a 1923 Baylor graduate married to music professor Robert Markham, decided the lyrics needed more class.

"I got mad because SMU and TCU had a serious song, and here we were still tying people up in turpentine," she said.

In a burst of inspiration, Markham revised the lyrics. She got rid of the turpentine line, removed all football references and painted a picture of members of the Baylor family who would "march forever down the years" as they "light the ways of time."

"The tune, which is good, and with which we associate the Baylor spirit, is not changed," Markham explained. "The words have been changed to incorporate a broader and nobler sentiment."

Dean W.S. Allen, Baylor's acting president, loved it. On Nov. 5, 1931, the new lyrics to That Good Old Baylor Line were printed on the front page of the Lariat and sung for the first time in chapel. The long wait for a school song worthy of Baylor was over.