The Twelve Days of Raiderland: A TTU Holiday Ornaments Exhibit at the SWC

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It seems like we never run short of new exhibits here at the Southwest Collection! In November and December, our University Archives is displaying yet another wonderful collection of artifacts for our visitors to look over. This time it’s a roster of Texas Tech’s annual holiday ornaments. Designed around various locations, events, and symbols of the University, the ornaments are available every year. Twelve ornaments grace the exhibit, and here are some of the best.

The first is, of course, an ornament of one of Texas Tech’s mascots, the Masked Rider (above) distributed in 2000. The holiday season is football season, so, really, they belong together.

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This 1997 ornament depicts TTU’s iconic bell tower, known to ring out from time to time during the holiday season. And that, folks, is how you make a pun.

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This ornament, fashioned in 1998, depicts Tech’s ubiquitous Double T symbol. The accompanying photo (one of this author’s favorites) is the Double T Bench, donated as the 1931 senior class gift. It resides on the south side of the Administration Building.

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In 2016 TTU’s Carol of Lights will celebrate its 58th year. While this photo of the event in 1960 is beautiful, today the Carol is a sight to see. Over 25,000 LED lights adorn the 18 buildings surrounding Memorial Circle, the Science Quad, the Engineering Key, and the Broadway Entrance to campus.

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The United Spirit Arena was one of the priority fundraising endeavors conducted under Texas Tech’s first Chancellor, John T. Montford. It officially opened in the fall of 1999. This ornament was created in its honor that same year. Fun fact: the first concert held there was by Elton John on February 8th, 2000. In 2010 Elton John returned to the arena for a second show.

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This ornament (and this homecoming parade float) celebrated TTU’s 75th year. The college was established in 1923 by Texas Senate Bill No. 103, which is often referred to as “the school charter.”

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2003’s ornament celebrates the Matador song. Written in 1930 by R. C. Marshall with musical score by Band Director Harry LeMaire, it is sung at the end of every graduation ceremony at Texas Tech.

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The Texas Tech Seal was designed in 1924 by architect William Ward Watkin, and now a 12-foot red granite seal anchors the Broadway Entrance to campus in the Amon G. Carter Plaza. 2004’s ornament celebrated the seal.

There are but eight of the ornaments in the exhibits. Feel free to come check out the others, or any of our many other exhibitions!

 

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Dirk West: Sports Cartoonist

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It’s time for a new exhibit at the Southwest Collection! This fall we’re sharing a tribute to Dirk West, a Texas Tech alum and famed sports cartoonist of the Southwest Athletic Conference (among many other accomplishments.) On the evening of Friday, October 14th, we’ll be hosting a reception celebrating the exhibit’s opening. Come on by and visit! Or at least check out some of the exhibit’s fabulous images below.

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Gerald Glynn “Dirk” West (October 23, 1928-July 26, 1996) was a businessman, television personality, and former mayor of the City of Lubbock, Texas. Shortly after his birth in Littlefield, Texas, Dirk’s family moved to Lubbock, Texas. There, while attending Lubbock High School, Dirk created “Westerner Willie” for the school’s Westerner World. Dirk’s widow, Mary Ruth West, recalls Dirk stating that this was also the beginning of his nom de plume. After graduating high school Dirk continued cartooning at Texas Tech University (TTU).

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At TTU, Dirk created an oafish character named “Smedley” (above) for the Toreador, the Texas Tech student newspaper. Mary Ruth believes “Smedley” served as the precursor to “Ol’ Red,” the grizzled version of Raider Red that decorates the image below. The figure graced the Toreador’s pages until Dirk’s graduation in 1954 with a degree in Advertising.

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Some years later Burle Pettit, sports editor of the Lubbock Avalanche Journal, asked Dirk to consider drawing a Southwest Athletic Conference (SWC) cartoon for the paper. And so it was that on September 24, 1964, the first SWC cartoon appeared therein. It featured Texas Tech Football Head Coach J. T. King and his men preparing for the arduous task of playing the defending National Football Champions, the Texas Longhorns. He would go on to develop the mascots of all the SWC schools into recognizable caricatures, such as UT’s Bevo, below.

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So come on by and check out our exhibit! And if you’d like to see more of Dirk West’s work, as well as his archival papers, don’t hesitate to get ahold of our Reference Staff. They’re always ready to help you out however they can. We also hold the records of the Southwest Conference, the Big XII Conference, and a host of other sports organizations. They too are available to interested researchers.

Texas Tech University Football Firsts

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During football season last year we told you that the SWC archives hold the entirety of the old Southwest Conference’s records, as well as a large portion of Big 8, Big 12, and NCAA archival material. But the Southwest Collection is located at Texas Tech University, so it’s high time that we focused on Red Raider football, a story that began almost 90 years ago. McMurray1925 ttu first game

This is the cover of the program for the first football game played by the newly-opened Texas Technological College (you can see the whole program here courtesy of our University Archives!) It was a heated contest held on the afternoon of October 3rd, 1925, at Lubbock’s South Plains Fair. The McMurray [sic] College Indians traveled north from Abilene to face off against the Matadors, and the game resulted in a 0-0 tie. An inauspicious beginning, perhaps, but things would soon turn around.

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Although Texas Tech’s first bowl game was against West Virginia in 1937’s Sun Bowl (a 7-6 loss,) perhaps their most historically significant bowl appearance came after the 1953 season. As you can see from the cover of the 104-page program above (the entirety of which you can see here,) the Red Raiders squared off against the University of Auburn Tigers in the 9th annual Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day. Although the 17th-ranked Tigers led early, the Red Raiders surged back in the second half to win the game 35-13, handing Auburn one of its more lopsided bowl losses. Not surprising, perhaps, considering Tech’s 10-1 regular season record, but a closer look at the box score reveals that Texas Tech did the bulk of its work in 7 minutes, racking up 28 points in that short amount of time under the lead of now-legendary halfback Bobby Cavazos. He scored 3 times and also stopped an interception return that would have likely resulted in a defensive touchdown. Bobby and his fellow 1953 stars can be seen in the image below, taken from that same game program.

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“But this article is entitled Texas Tech Football Firsts!” you might be pointing out to us right now. And we appreciate the reminder, because while the 1954 Gator Bowl was one of Tech’s biggest wins up to that point, it was even more notable for two historic moments in Texas Tech Red Raider football history. First off, this was Tech’s first televised football game. In the 60 years since then, the Red Raiders have had their share of television coverage, but it all started with this game. But here’s what really matters to fans: this was the first official appearance of the Masked Rider! The Rider had shown up from time to time since 1936, but the Gator Bowl was the first time it galloped onto the field as Tech’s new official mascot. Thousands of spectators shared a moment of amazed silence before erupting into cheers. According to Atlanta Journal’s sportswriter Ed Danforth, who was also a press box spectator, “No team in any bowl game ever made a more sensational entrance.”

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In 2004, the saddle above was given to then-Chancellor Kent Hance to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Masked Rider. Generously donated to the SWC in 2014 along with many of Kent Hance’s papers, it is one among many unique Red Raider artifacts that we preserve. If you’re curious about those, our other Texas Tech collections, or the many, many sports-related archives we keep around, hurry up and contact our Reference Department and they’ll see about getting you a look at those!