Baylor Round Table

Original Airdate: January 8 (2013)

This is Living Stories, featuring voices from the collections of the Baylor University Institute for Oral History. I'm Kim Patterson.

Baylor Round Table began in 1904 in Burleson Hall with seven founding members and quickly earned the reputation for being the club for female faculty and faculty wives to join. The club offered an environment for members to get to know better one another, Baylor, and their world.

Mary McCall of Dallas became the youngest member of Round Table in the fall of 1937, when she joined as a sophomore. She had recently married Baylor graduate and athlete Lloyd Russell, who was starting in a faculty position that fall. McCall shares her earliest memories of the club:

"You wore gloves and a hat to every meeting. It was a very formal organization at that time as far as meetings went. Strictly business until the social hour, and then they were as relaxed and enjoyed each other as much as any group could."

McCall explains the educational emphasis of Round Table:

"Programs were taken very seriously. It was an opportunity for those Baylor women to keep in touch with what was going on in the world. And they were chosen carefully, and Round Table women were asked to do the programs. And that was just expected that sooner or later you'd be required to present a paper."

Mary Sendón of Waco was also the youngest member of Round Table when she joined in the fall of 1922, after graduating from Baylor and marrying Andres Sendón, a professor in the Spanish department. She recalls the challenge of putting together presentations:

"I was on the program I don't know how many—you know, I looked at those yearbooks and I saw the topics. I said, ‘How did I do that? I don't even know what that topic was all about,' but I did it. And all the ladies did the same thing. They all had to go and do a lot of research and do—it was a lecture, and it was always on deep stuff, you know, like the Renaissance. It was pretty—something you had to do a little work on or you couldn't give a decent program."

Round Table members weren't the only ones on the program, as Sendón explains:

"I made my husband take my place one time because I had something else to do. I was teaching or something. But he was on I don't know how many times. Mr. Sparkman was on. Dr. Armstrong was on. All the faculty members had their turn in those—all those—through those years."

Sendón shares a funny story from a Round Table anniversary celebration, to which husbands and other male guests were invited. The story involves Enid Markham, author of the current lyrics to "That Good Old Baylor Line."

"Enid was reading her poetry, and she was talking about her courtship with Bob Markham. And she read and she read, and she had to turn a page. In the meantime, Dr. Hawkins was sitting close to us, next to us, and he was going to sleep. And Mrs. Hawkins kept touching him on the wrist to wake him up. My husband thought that Enid was through because she turned the page and paused, and he started clapping. Well, everybody else started clapping. The clapping scared Dr. Hawkins. He fell off the chair, right down on the floor. Well, sure enough, it didn't bother Enid one bit. She just started right on reading some more poetry."

Today, the Baylor Round Table is approximately 300 members strong and meets during the academic year. Since the 1970s, the organization has given a scholarship each year to a Baylor student. Mary McCall was instrumental in the formation of the scholarship.

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