Old Times of AGRs

(From AGR Newsletter, Spring 1996)

By Larry Pitman, BS '58 MS '65
Rt. 1, Brookland, AR

The First Shamrock

Between the years 1953-1957, there was tough competition on the U of A campus between the Engineering students and the Agri Students. Each Agriculture Day and Engineering Day there was a tug of war, but the engineers never won. Each semester, the AGRs had the highest grade point average of all fraternities on campus. This didn't help the morale of the Engineers. They had to come up with something to get ahead of the farm boys….

Signs started appearing on the walls of the Agri Building: "Watch for the immovable shamrock," "Erin Go Bragh" (whatever that means).

During Engineering Week the big event happened. All the Engineering students and other students wanting action, or just beer, met on the Agri Building lawn at about dark. They dug a hole about three feet deep and filled it with concrete; then set 550 pounds of molded shamrock over the hole. They had reinforcing rods out the underside of the shamrock, and sunk the shamrock in concrete.

The Engineers anticipated confrontation, but none came. The Agri's were out numbered ten to one. We had a spy (David Grimm) in the bushes across the street by the old student union. All the other AGRs fully dressed, with the lights out in the house, stayed in waiting. At approximately 12:30 a.m., David ran down the hill, reporting that about 25 engineer guards left on watch for the concrete to dry were going on a coffee break and left only two to stand guard.

"In about two minutes, the brothers and the old Ford pickup were there, the guards subdued, the shamrock loaded and gone with the Engineers running and yelling behind."

Now, what to do with that? After much discussion, we put it on the living room floor in the AGR house, and went to bed. This was the last sleep for several nights. The only shamrock casualties among the AGRs was Edgar Cole's hand, which had been caught under the edge of the shamrock when it was put on the living room floor, only skin peeled off, no bones broken.

The word on campus was that the Engineers and anyone that they could recruit were going to get the shamrock after dark. The AGR house was immediately fortified with two cases of old hatchery reject eggs, five hand pump fire extinguisher, all the waste baskets in the house filled with water and carried on top of the roof, etc…

After dark, a crowd filled the street in front of the house. A rush was made on the house, and driven back. The injured were treated and they made several other runs at the house. The ones that made it through the egg barrage were drenched before they got to the porch to meet the big boys. Will (Woolly Bear) Calaway, Sid Wiggert, and Genie Boy Kilburn were taking turns knocking them off the porch.

The next night they came back. There were twice as many. They were fortified, armed with mud balls, green ink bottles, tear gas, smoke bombs, and raincoats. They managed to cover the house with ink, mud, and knocked most of the windows out. We tossed the smoke and tear gas bombs out the back as fast as they came in the front. For some reason, someone called the police. When the cops came to the house, the engineers painted shamrocks on the police car and somehow a rotten egg got tossed in the police car window. The cops left mad and never returned.

I thought that we were going to lose House Mother Moore over the ordeal, but she stuck with us. They never got the first shamrock and all the brothers were running out of gas and needed some rest, so we hid the shamrock on Mr. Glenn Will's farm on the hill. We didn't tell Mr. Will for a long time.

The Second Shamrock

The Engineering students couldn't stand to be outdone. So the next year, they decided to try again and plant another "Immovable Shamrock."

They built another slightly larger concrete shamrock and started the propaganda of posting signs around the Agri Building that read: "Watch for the Immovable Shamrock &endash;Erin Brach."

The big day came with a crowd of Engineers and others to protect the planting of the shamrock. Agri students were out numbered 15 to 1, so again we had to spy. The crowd stayed until day break Sunday morning to give the concrete time to harden.

Sunday morning, with everything quiet, we drove Mr. Will's Studebaker two-ton, flat-bed dump truck, backed up to the shamrock, tied to the back of the bed and dropped the bed. This pulled the shamrock up, and we drove away.

We found out that the reinforcing rod had been wrapped around underground gas pipes when the concrete was poured in. Several confrontations followed in the next few years but the engineers never got the shamrock back.

Engineer's Weather Balloon

Eventually, the Engineers gave up on putting a permanent shamrock on the Agri lawn. But they switched to other forms of recognition like constructing a ten-foot helium-filled weather balloon with shamrocks and engineering signs hung on it to float above the campus forever (so they thought).

The Launching Ceremony started at dusk with the filling of the balloon with helium. The balloon was hooked by cable on the back of the big smokestack by the Chemistry Building.

The balloon rose majestically. As it reached the top, a cheer went up (Erin Go Bragh!). At that moment, the "Perkmobile" came on the scene as a spectator. The door of the bright yellow Mercury driven by Leamon Dale (Perk) Williams opened and "Little John" Heinke stepped out with a three shot lever action 10 gauge shotgun, loaded with buckshot. Boom! Boom! Boom! All was quiet, except the duel Hollywood mufflers, racking off as the yellow blur disappeared over the hill in front of the student union.

Perk parked the Merc behind the AGR house on Maple Street, in the parking lot in plain sight. The AGR house was dark, but all occupants were wide awake and fully dressed. But the work bothered the Engineer's tuffs. They parked on Maple Street and walked into the parking lot where the only car was the yellow Percmobile decoy. About twenty of the Engineer tuffs were immediately surrounded by AGRs and a full-fledged beard trimming took place. When the melee was over, the main Engineer tuff stepped out in front of his bunch and announced that he would take on any one of the AGRs. Little John Heineke (fresh out of the Marines) stepped up and said, "Ha, Ha, how about me?" Little John swung from the crowd up to the old boy's jaw and rolled him back through the crowd. The next morning, the yellow Mercury had a few bloodstains on it and the parking lot looked like there had been a hog killing and scraping. Also the word on campus was, "Don't mess with the AGRs, they play rough!"

AGR Entertainment at the Engineers' Banquet

After awakening one morning during Engineers' Week and finding green shamrocks painted on the AGR house front porch and walls, the consensus was, "Don't get even, get ahead!"

The Engineers' Banquet was held on Dickson Street at the UARK Bowl. One AGR worked in the kitchen and knew where the fuse box was located. There was a walkway down each side of the building below the windows. One opossum, two tomcats (some hi life), and a bushel of bats were gathered up. The bats were divided into paper bags and a holder was placed at each window. One tomcat was getting rambunctious and about to shred the holder and had to be tossed in just before the lights went out. The opossum landed right in front of the podium. The cats were warming up and crossing tables and the bats were landing in people's hair. Odd noises and screams were emitted as the place was vacated. There were no casualties (I think).

Monday morning, I got to sit in a mandatory meeting with other Agri and Engineering officers, faculty, advisors, etc…in the president's office. We had it explained where we could understand that if there were any more demonstrations, Agri Week and Engineering Week would be canceled…