This story began 52 years ago.
It occurred during the 1956 football season. The intense rivalry between Tarleton State College (TSC) (now university) and Arlington State College (ASC) (now the University of Texas at Arlington) was at full throttle.
Both colleges were fully state-supported junior colleges, and a part of the Texas A&M College (now university) System. Both had winning football seasons, and one would go to the Junior Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.
This is when Perry Elliott, a student at ASC, makes his entry into this story. Perry would later become a banker. He has served the past 38 years in the banking business in Stephenville.
Perry and his wife, Meldeene, will be honored at 7 p.m. Saturday at an Appreciation Dinner and Roast at the City Hall Restaurant at the City Limits on the east side of town on U.S. Highway 377.
Getting back to the 1956 football season — one of the favorite past times of TSC and ASC students was to apply paint to various structures on the opponent’s campus. The favorite painting spot on the Tarleton campus was a World War I cannon, which set in front of the Administration Building (now the E.J. Howell Building).
At that time the cannon was painted silver. ASC’s colors were blue and silver. Thus a little blue paint on the cannon would signify that ASC students had been on campus as part of a college prank. Some times the intruders would get caught by the campus police, and other times the painters would escape.
The 1956 painting episode involved Elliott and a number of fun-seeking ASC students. The long-time Stephenville banker reluctantly admitted to this writer he took part in the 1956 event; however, he quickly pointed out, “I’m also a former student at Tarleton. Over the years, I’ve taken a number of courses at Tarleton, and I am more closely allied to Tarleton than to Arlington.”
And Elliott’s allegiance and loyalty to Tarleton are evident. He and Meldeene attend almost all Tarleton athletic contests. They are active supporters of the local university’s athletic program. Tarleton’s purple and white colors are a basic part of their lives. They have traveled countless miles over the United States to attend Tarleton sporting events.
One of the major parts of the Saturday night Dinner and Roast will be to announce an endowed athletic scholarship at Tarleton in the Elliott’s name.
“As of this date, almost $80,000 has been raised for this endowed scholarship,” Bob Glasgow, co-chair of the Advance Contributions and Gifts Committee, announced.
During their almost four decades in Stephenville, the Elliotts have been involved in many activities in the city and Cross Timbers area. Meldeen has held memberships in the Stephenville Study Club, the Harris Methodist-Erath County Hospital Board and the Project Hope Board. She has been a mentor at Hooks Elementary School. She holds the honor of having the second longest tenure as a volunteer worker at the local hospital. At one time, she and two other women owned and operated the garbage pick-up service in the city.
Perry has also been active in civic affairs in Stephenville. His service includes being a member of the City Council, president of the Chamber of Commerce, president of the Optimist Club, president of the Tarleton Texan Club on eight different occasions, chairman of Harris Methodist Erath County Hospital Board, president of United Way, a faculty member at the Southwest Banking School at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and the holder of many awards from Tarleton.
The couple has two children - a daughter, Marisa; and a son, Scott. Both children reside in Dallas.
Should you desire a banquet ticket, call Joe Bob Huddleston at 965-3151. Price of a ticket is $50.
Now, let’s return to the 1956 football season. Did Tarleton State or Arlington State receive the Junior Rose Bowl Bid? Although Tarleton State defeated Arlington State, 30-7, in late November at Tarleton Memorial Stadium, the Rebels from Arlington State received the bowl bid.
Perhaps Perry will explain at the Saturday night dinner how ASC received the California bowl bid. Did the application of blue paint on an old cannon have any influence on Junior Rose Bowl officials extending the invitation to Arlington State?
Dr. Chilton, a retired educator/journalist, lives in Stephenville. He occasionally writes for this newspaper.