Monday, June 13, 2005

Long on Baylor Pranks

During his more than 40-year tenure as university handyman, Arch Long knew where most of the bodies were buried when it came to pranks on the Baylor campus.

Waco Times-Herald
December 17, 1935


Arch Long, Starting His 44th Year With Baylor, Hasn’t Led Cow From Building in Years

Young people, it seems to Arch Long, don’t prank about as much as they used to.

Arch begins his forty-fourth year of service with Baylor University today. He hasn’t led a cow out of the president’s office in years. It may be that lack of a horse is responsible, but it appears to him that even if there were one in the stables at Baylor now, the boys wouldn’t be so sure to shave his tail every April Fool. He thinks the ways of young people are a little different from when he started work for the institution in 1892.

Born of Slave Parents

A 6-foot-2 negro born at Chilton of slave parents freed during the Civil war, Arch was in his early thirties when he applied for a job with Dr. Rufus Burleson, president of Baylor whose statue now stands on the campus. Arch, incidentally, has pulled many a beer bottle out of this statue’s stone hat, but even that sort of fun hasn’t appealed to the students lately.

He has been with Baylor ever since; has never taken a vacation; has hardly ever missed a day’s work from illness; has raised three sons on the campus, two of whom went to college at Prairie Hill themselves; has never had a quarrel with a student and has never been taken to task by an official. In fact, President Pat Neff last year made him the guest of honor at a chapel service commending his faithful service.

He’s Near About 74

“I guess I must be 74, near’bout as I can get at it,” he says. “I been here under Dr. Burleson, Dr. Cooper, Dr. Brooks and Mr. Neff -- and a lot of substitutes between times.”

Dr. O.H. Cooper was the president who excited the most “pranking” among the students. In those days, there were only two buildings on the campus, the two brick ones now designated as Georgia Burleson hall and main building, with a servants’ house for the dormitory cooks behind.

Arch went in one morning to unlock the main building and the president’s office, and he knew right away something was wrong. It unquestionably was. A cow had spent the night in the president’s office. “She must a knowed me,” he recalls, “way she bellered. I got her out fo’ Dr. Cooper ever come down.”

April Fool Target

A horse belonging to Mrs. A.H. Newman, herself matron and wife of a one-time professor in the university, was the special target of April Fool pranks of old-time students. His tail was not only shaved plain, tufted and in stripes, but was dipped in vari-colored paint that only time could wear away. Arch used to be requested to participate in some of the stunts, but his answer was “I can’t be in dat kinda fun.”

He has worn cowboy boots for 60 years, and his present pair has its original high heels worn down almost level with the ground. White boys where he was raised up, he explains, wore them and he liked their looks. When he got older he bought a pair, and has had the same kind ever since.

Despite nearly a half-century with a Baptist institution, Arch is a Methodist.

“Looks like dey both pretty good churches,” he says.

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