Dr. Floyd Golden with a cake celebrating the 25th anniversary of ENMU opening.
Dr. Floyd Golden with a cake celebrating the 25th anniversary of ENMU opening.

"The Golden Years: 1928-1960," authored by Dr. Floyd Golden, the late second president of Eastern New Mexico University, details the years preceding the 1934 opening of Eastern through 1960.

Chapter 6

"The University in Action"

Eastern New Mexico University's athletic activities were great morale boosters by getting the student body, faculty and a large number of area people together for a "mutually enjoyable program. The games, usually well attended, provided an opportunity for school spirit that we probably could not have developed otherwise," President Golden wrote.

By the 1950's Eastern's scholarship program was on the same level as other colleges and universities in the area. Usually, an athletic scholarship included the cost of room, board, tuition, fees, books and a small amount of money for laundry and other expenses.

During the first 26 years of the institution, the school had only five head football coaches and three head basketball coaches.

The football program began with a bang in 1934 when D.H. Reed coached the team to an undefeated season (7-0-2) in the first year of the college.

Al Garten coached the team from 1936 until 1954 (except for two years at Hobbs High School). During one game he was upset with the team for not using proper tackling technique. At halftime, he told the team, "Well, girls, put on your bonnets and get back out there and start loving them around the necks. You might be able to love them to death." They played inspired football the second half and won the game.

At halftime of a homecoming game when the team was trailing, he told them "If you boys will go back in there and win this homecoming football game, I will give you permission to throw the President in the showers with his clothes on." They were so fired up they came from behind and won the game.

In 1949, Carl Richardson was employed as the assistant football and basketball coach, a position he held until 1954 when he was named head football coach. When he was promoted to head football coach, Dewey Langston, also an ENMU grad, was named his assistant.

Dr.  Hugh Braswell, an ardent supporter of the athletic teams, provided the annual banquet honoring the athletic teams. "He hatched the eggs, raised the chickens and served chicken in every form to the athletes," President Golden wrote. "He had platters of fried chicken, roasted chicken, broasted chicken, chicken pie, chicken and dumplings and chicken and dressing along with the trimmings."

During the first 26 years of the institution, there were only two presidents: Dr. Donald MacKay (1934-41) and Dr. Floyd Golden (1941-61).

Through 1973, those who retired with the title of "Emeritus" included: P.M. Bailey, Joanna Black, Ralph Ross Black, Arvel Branscum, Lucille Buchanan, Gillian Buchanan, Martin L. Cole, Herman T. Decker, Maria S. Friesen, Alvin D. Garten, Floyd D. Golden, A.E. Hunt, Ira Ihde, Florence Landon, Thelma Mallory, H. Grady Moore, Vincent H. Ogburn, Newell Page, Leroy Kenneth Pinnell, Ella Becky Sharp, Barron Mathis Stuart, Ruth Carden Stuart, Guy Waid, Warren Watkins, Peter Wetzler, Ruth Ann Wheeler and Claude Burns Wivel.

For years during President Golden's tenure, the Portales Chamber of Commerce served a barbeque after the homecoming parade—with 4,000-6,000 attending.

Another traditional event was the annual rodeo sponsored by the Agricultural Club. Included in the activities were a beard-growing contest and a rodeo parade through town.

The two annual commencements were normally held either in the patio of the quadrangle building or in the football stadium. In case of inclement weather, which happened only once during President Golden's tenure, it was moved to the basketball gymnasium.

"It was very colorful to have these graduation exercises out under the lights," President Golden wrote. "At the conclusion of the graduation exercises, a reception was given in the Student Union Building for the graduates and their parents and friends."

The mural in the foyer of the Administration Building by Lloyn Moylan of Santa Fe, New Mexico, was a Works Progress Administration project during the Great Depression. The mural represents the twelfth chapter of Ecclesiastes.

The Plymouth Playhouse Company of Boston, Massachusetts, which was going out of business, selected ENMU out of 800 applications from eight nations to receive its entire wardrobe of costumes — worth $50,000 then. Thirty-five trunkloads of costumes soon arrived at Eastern, which received letters from institutions throughout the country wanted to buy or rent some of the costumes.

Eastern also received an art collection from the Brooklyn Art Museum with an estimated value of $50,000.

Mrs. J.B. Sledge left in her will in farms and city property an estimated amount of $225,000.

W.H. Duckworth of Clovis served on the Board of Regents and also in the state senate. Very influential in politics, he summed up his feelings about the success of the college: "I was one of the skeptics in the first place. I didn't think they would ever get a normal school down there. Even when we were actually laying the cornerstone for it, I said to myself, 'Well, they will never finish the building.' But they did and after they had finished it I said, 'Well, they'll never get it open.' And they did open it, and I still said, 'Well, it won't stay open.' But I was surprised."

Many events were held during 1958-59 to commemorate the school's 25th year of existence. The major activity of the year-long celebration was homecoming on Oct. 10-11, 1958.

In President Golden's message to alumni, he said:

"Each of you has an important part in the development and growth of your alma mater during these eventful 25 years. Each of you has left your mark during student days at Eastern. A part of your life is recorded in the history of these 25 years.

"You made lifelong friendships, chose wives and husbands, laid the foundation for a future life. Each of you gave something of yourself to the university and, in turn, the university gave something to you.

"These are ties that are not easily broken."