A few Horned Frogs remember the when the open road became an open book.
A half-century ago, TCU was wont to send the ballet and opera sections on a West Texas trip to offer culture to the hinterlands and publicize our music department. When we reached Odessa, the bottom fell out — literally. The opera was “Pagliacci” starring Professor Ernest Lawrence as Canio. Our touring set lacked the sturdiness required to support much weight. At the end of the opera, R.G. Webb (a 300-pound Silvio) leaped onto the stage; with a crash, down went the stage, cast and all. Melvin Dacus and I stared at the audience, which, instead of weeping, was in convulsive laughter. Canio’s final words were the epitome of a double entendre: “La comedia e finita. The comedy is ended.”
Richard Roden ’55
It was New Year’s Eve 1991 around 9 p.m., and my Brite roommate, Ronnie Nowell ’95, and my girlfriend, Lisa Draskovic ’92, were sitting in Princeton House #3, bored to tears, and suddenly we decided to head to the West End in Dallas. About the time we hit Grand Prairie I suggested we go to the River Walk in San Antonio. We all three yelled, “ROAD TRIP!”
Cary A. Long ’90 (MDiv ’95)
It was my freshman year, September 1986, and my best friend, Elizabeth Gleaton, and I had been on campus three weeks. We decided to take a road trip to see the Horned Frogs play Tulane in New Orleans. We set out on Sept. 12, 1986, a day after my 18th birthday.
We weren't three miles from TCU when the transmission on Elizabeth's red 300ZX blew. Undeterred, we went to the nearest auto repair shop and unblinkingly put $1,100 on Elizabeth's father's credit card (sorry, Mr. Gleaton!) for a new transmission, and off we went.
Somehow on our freshman allowances we stayed at the Superdome Hyatt. We each had our first (legal) drink, since the drinking age was 18 in the Big Easy (strawberry daiquiris), and we had the time of our young lives cheering our beloved Horned Frogs to victory over the Green Wave.
After the game we were heading to the lobby restaurant when here comes a group of the largest men we'd ever seen. Without thinking (obviously), we asked the first two who got to us the innocent question, “Are y'all the Tulane team?” to which they responded in unison, “We're the Green Bay Packers, baby.” They were in town to play the Saints the next day. We had our pictures taken with Vince Ferragamo and former TCU Horned Frog Phillip Epps!
Shannon Coleman ’90
I went on an environmental science trip to South Texas. In addition to students, two of my favorite professors, Dr. Leo Newland and Dr. Ken Morgan, went along as chaperones. We went to a Texas A&M research station, across the border to Matamoros for Mexican food and to San Antonio’s River Walk on St. Patrick’s Day. This is one of my fondest memories of TCU. I realized then that professors are approachable, caring and can become lifelong friends. It isn’t surprising that they are still selected as favorites by students.
Kathy Sue Stark Hopper ’84
We went to Galveston with the Disciple Student Ministry group on campus. I had to take off from work and came late with a couple of buddies. I had a yellow AMC Spirit we called Harpo. It had a 30-gallon gas tank and got 35 mpg. We went to the coast and back on one tank. Had a Steve Miller 8-track tape that we listened to all the way. Can still sing “Fly Like an Eagle” by heart. Lived on Oreos and root beer for five days.
Randy Cook ’84
Late in November 1995, the idea of actually graduating was breathing down on many TCU undergraduates. Dee McWilliams and I, fighting the threat of professional responsibility, liberated ourselves one evening from the clutches of convention and good sense with an exit around 2 a.m. for one last weekend college road trip to Colorado.
We set sail from the Port of 7-Eleven an hour later. With coffee in cup, new Rand McNally Atlas in hand and clad only in light jackets, we were confident that the canvas top of my Jeep would suffice for warmth.
Unknown to us, cold, northerly winds would slice through the soft top as we approached the hibernating Texas Panhandle village of Clarendon. More, snows were soon to fall when we headed through the scenic Raton Pass. Undaunted, and fighting off sleep and the urge to wet our pants for warmth, we braved the cold front and came out generally unscathed (and dry) in Colorado on Friday morning.
After arriving at Clayborn S. Gaillard’s ’94 home in Colorado Springs, we spent Friday evening regaling the locals with tales of bravery and Mini-thins. On Saturday it was on to Boulder for events too numerous and hazy to list. However, one fact warrants mention: Burritos were involved.
McWilliams and I left Boulder on Sunday just in time to skip classes the next day. In less than a month, it would all be over, our lives changed forever. Yet it was this final road trip, this fantastic voyage through the seas of impracticality, that enlightened us to the subtle nuances of wrapping rice, beans and mystery meat artfully in a large, flour tortilla. Salud!
Mark Mourer ’95 (MS ’04)
I believe it was 1956. The Frogs played Baylor in Waco. Some of us Delts went to the game to cheer for our SWC championship team. During the game, a severe rain storm hit the stadium, and over the P.A. system came an announcement that a tornado had been sighted nearby. It was a panic situation with all spectators trying to exit the stadium. We all got wet and scared. What a trip!
Murl Moore ’58
When the BSU took a mission trip to Juarez in 1980, I remember being astonished at the living conditions. I remember the joy of dredging up my pathetic 8th-grade Spanish to communicate with joyful Mexican children. But most of all, I remember coming back into the U.S. and realizing that one of our group, a German student, had left his documents behind. We knew everyone had to declare citizenship to the Immigration and Naturalization Service. We frantically coached Alex on pronouncing “American” without an accent. When the moment came and the guard was waiting for his answer, Alex spluttered, “You ESSS.” We were waved through, and then we exploded in laughter over our alien-smuggling success.
Irene Minton Pham ’82
I remember a train trip from Fort Worth to Kansas City with the football team and cheerleaders. We fought to a 0-0 tie with Kansas in a horrible rainstorm and mud. The train ticket cost $27 for one night going and one coming back.
Betty Stinson Barker ’50
It was my freshman year and my first spring break. The year was 1973. The new movie out was "Deliverance" with Burt Reynolds. It was a very wet spring with all the rivers up. So we, of course, wanted to go canoeing down the Guadelupe River above Victoria with about 12 SAEs. We lost two canoes to high water. No one drowned thankfully so of course we had the best time ever. the banjo song still brings a smile to all our faces.
Bob Conger ’76
My favorite road trip was Homecoming '92. Several friends and I went to the TCU/Rice game. At halftime, in the pre-LaDanian days, the score was getting out of hand and we retired to the parking lot. Someone suggested a road trip to Mexico and the spirit of the moment took us. So Chris Ohlweiler ’91, Donnie Tyler ’91 and I jumped in Donnie's rag-top Mustang headed south. We met many interesting folks and had some good times along the way. More than 900 miles and a phantasmal 24 hours later we were sunburned, worn out and ready to tell our tales.
Jay Edward Nelson '90
Five of us TCU students made a cross-country road trip in a Chevy truck to Michigan for a friend’s wedding. Both the bride and groom were from TCU and we stayed at various spots along the way — all people we knew from TCU. It was crowded in a truck with guys, but it was a blast.
Jacob Langford ’05
My best friend Dawn VanDever Schmitt ’93 and I headed to New Orleans for spring break our senior year. The first day there was spent walking the French Quarter in the rain. We found a wonderful room after we left one that had bugs. We were on a strict budget — $6 a day for food and $20 a day for hitting the Quarter at night. Our priorities are certainly different today.
Michelle Raiford Weeks ’93
My Brachman friends Andy Lewis, Mark Patterson Davie Smith and Rob McAdams and I went from Fort Worth to Riodoso, N.M., to ski, then drive from there to Corpus Christi to go to the beach and back to Fort Worth for spring break. We made a giant triangle trip so we could go skiing and go to the beach all in one trip. I will never forget it!
Doug Walton ’87
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