Howdy folks, how do you do? El Dorado High is greeting you!
We have come to chase your blues away, Help us cheer and help us say;
Fight ’em Wildcats, do your stuff, Make ’em say that they have had enough.
Let ’em know the Wildcats never bluff, El Dorado fight, fight, fight!
This was the Fight Song in 1957 when I was a senior at El Dorado High School. I have no idea who wrote the song or how long it was sung as the fight song, but it was certainly there the 3 years I was in high school. I suspect it had been sung for decades before when cheer leaders, pom-pom squads and fight songs became popular on junior high and high school campuses.
Everyone in school knew the words perfectly and sang the fight song every time there was a pep rally for an approaching football or basketball game. It was simply part of the Wildcat musical repertoire along with the El Dorado High School Loyalty Song whose words will be in a later post. Two of my best friends in high school, who were both athletes and along with me had the privilege of singing the “Howdy Folks” song well up into and through our freshman year in college.
Jim Weedman and Larry Mosley both played football for the Wildcats while I was on the varsity basketball team. We all attended the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, but none of us were accomplished enough athletes to continue with college sports. We were however; fraternity members together, having pledged into Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE). Jim and I pledged our first semester in 1957 while Larry did not pledge until the fall of 1958.
Pledges in our fraternity at the time had to withstand almost a year of hazing practices before being voted into a full membership status. I suppose one reason for the pledge year was to weed out any undesirable pledges and remove them before granting full status and privileges as an SAE member. Another reason for the pledge system was to get them to do the work needed in and around the fraternity house without having to pay for outside labor. There were certainly times during the pledge year I felt like an unpaid slave, but that was simply part of the price everyone paid in joining a fraternity. The real benefit I gained from fraternity membership was in making life-long friendships with some outstanding men.
The only meal everyone in our fraternity had together was lunch, and it was a time for good food, fraternal friendship and some good fun mostly at the expense of the pledge class. During the course of the 45-60 minute meal time the pledges were called upon to stand and recite various things depending on the whim of the members at the time. Some pledges were asked to give the names and hometowns of everyone seated at his 8 to 10 place table; others were asked to sing the U of A Alma Mater. Still others had to recite all the founding members of SAE from the University of Alabama in the 1840’s. It was designed to bring as much embarrassment as possible to the pledges and as much laughter as possible to the jeering members. It was a hazing which was not physically painful, but one which each member had to endure during his pledge year.
For Jim Weedman and me it became a fairly regular occurrence when one noon we were asked to sing the El Dorado Fight Song for the first time. None of the members had ever heard the words of the “Howdy Folks” song before, and we became an instant hit when we sang it that day. As I recall they even clapped for us when we finished, which I don’t think had ever happened before! From that initial musical rendering Jim and I were asked at least once every 2 weeks to stand and entertain the brothers with our singing talents. I think some were even disappointed we were able to sing on key because many of the other pledges who would sing various songs were so off-key it added to the entertainment value. Jim and I sang so often we were able to add a little harmony.
The following year when Larry became a pledge and it became known he was from El Dorado, he was immediately requested to sing “Howdy Folks.” There may have been some urging from Jim and me because we knew Larry would definitely sing off-key, and he would get quite a few jeers from the fickle crowd. He didn’t disappoint in his (dis)ability to sing and every time he was requested to sing one could not tell which key he was using! It was all in good fun, and after several months the requests for the song stopped.
When Jim and I left Fayetteville in 1960 to enter medical school in Little Rock I lost contact with the fraternity and finally severed all communication ties in the 1970’s. I disagreed strongly with some of the stated goals and the direction of fraternities in general and SAE in particular. I don’t know if any other men from El Dorado pledged into the SAE fraternity at the University of Arkansas, but I am quite confident if they did and the fraternity had the same policy of noon-time hazing, the “Howdy Folks” song remained near the top in requested tunes. I still occasionally sing the song privately for old times sake!
Dr. John, I remember that song! In fact, as I was reading the words, I began to sing along! I graduated in 1963 in the last class to graduate from the old three-story brick building. It still upsets me that they tore it down instead of renovating it. I was home in El Dorado just after they decided to tear it down. There were strips of yellow tape saying “Do not Enter” all around the building. Well, naturally, I entered! I crawled under the tape and walked all through the building. The walls were so thick – no wonder we were never really hot or cold in there. I had forgotten that some of the rooms had graduated levels so that desks could be placed where everyone could see the teacher down on the main level. And, the auditorium was full of old cars or trucks. Remember the stage with the purple velvet curtain. All gone now. I’m always reminded of the old folk song, “build me a parking lot,” which is exactly what they did.
Jean (Beazley) Guice