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The Good Old Days
Of '40 and '41
By JACK J. VALENTI
It all began one day in early 1940.
A group of campus leaders discussed some
way to boost school spirit. The roll call of those
energetic, colorful students reads like a Who's
Who of Cougar great: Johnny Goyen, Joe Potter, Henry Taub, John Taub, John Sargent (who
died in his plane aboard the U. S. S. Bunker
Hill, victim of a Kamikaze), Ray Campbell (who
died leading his Ranger company onto the
beaches of Sicily), Joe Koppel (who died in his
flaming plane on an Oklahoma prairie), Alice
David, Louise Butler, Gene Cuny, Hal Berry,
Norma Jean Schwecke, Grace Keller Van Allen,
Dick Schill, and others talked and planned. Then
they went to work. The whole school went to
The result was the first Frontier Fiesta of 1940.
For the first time in the history of the school,
the student body congealed into a harmonious
mass; the Fiesta became the only topic of conversation; it became a "reason for living/7 On
the branch-shrouded earth, that today is burdened with the Recreation Building and benches-
full of lusty-eyed males who "guard the bridge/'
the Fiesta slowly writhed and squirmed and
came to life. Students worked afternoons, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. Lovely co-eds
wielded hammers and saws, honor roll lads
crumpled their thumbs driving nails; logs and
paint were transformed into tents and buildings.
The Fiesta opened.
There was Scoggins' Scanties where many a
pretty ankle and saucy smile were displayed
... there was Judge Roy Bean's Court, where
the Pre-Law boys mixed corn and Texas folklore . . . there was Jack Daly's Taxi Dance . . .
there was the midway, popcorn, and soda pop,
sawdust and laughter.
When it was over, one irrevocable decision
was made: There would be another Fiesta the
And there was.
Where now the tennis courts languish, the
second Fiesta of 1941, extracted from the same
kind of hard, unrelenting, yet fun-filled work,
lifted high its banners. There was the Night Club
Review of Lou Ann Flanagan and Clement
Moore . . . there was the Cougar Collegian
Conga Club . . . Judge Bean and the Pre-Law
Club made their re-appearance . . . the Red
Masquers produced a wild extravaganza . . .
Bill Sparr and M. K. Alston waded in ankle deep
mud spreading sawdust . . . for two days and
two nights, Houstonians streamed through the
Fiesta midway, enjoying the only all-student
produced, student-acted, student-built enterprise of its kind in the Southwest. Houston was
proud of its University.
Then came Pearl Harbor.
Naturally, plans for future Fiestas were
shelved. But, now, 72 months later, a truly intrinsic portion of the U. of H. is once more
breathing and alive. Directed by Johnny Goyen,
one of its original founders, and the result of
work and cooperation of every student on the
campus, the Fiesta is the personification of University spirit.
All over the world, U. of H. alumni are grinning broadly at the prospect of a re-born Fiesta.
I am certain, too, that Lt. (jg) John J. Sargent,
USNR, naval pilot, Lt. (jg) Joe Koppel, USNR,
naval pilot, and Capt. Ray Campbell, AUS, combat Ranger, are happy too. They wouldn't have
it any other way, for it is due to them and a
hundred other Cougarmen who died in their
Country's uniform that this Fiesta is possible.
So to Houston, we, the students and alumni
of the University of Houston, hold high our hands
and with a joyful shout say: "Welcome, welcome,
to the greatest college show on earth."
It's the Frontier Fiesta of 1947.
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