from Arkansas State University
For Release: March 24, 2004
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Clyde moves to Student Union, after keeping
watch over students many years
After more than 40 years on the campus of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, some people would think it is time to let go.
very unique. After all, he’s been charged with “keeping watch over the
students” in two centers of student activity. First, he was placed in
Wilson Hall and, most recently, in the Reng Center.
is very special to the ASU campus, as many alumni can attest. As the years
have come and gone, he’s been more special to certain groups of students
is a symbol of tradition inspired through the hearts and minds of a few
individuals back in 1958.
is a 1,000 pound Carrara Marble statue from Italy of an intricately
sculpted Native American Indian chief. He will be moved in grand style to
the new 92,000 sq. ft. Student Union at 11:30 a.m. today (March 22).
ASU history books, yearbooks and even the campus newspaper archives are
filled with memorable accounts and photos of Clyde as he stood watch over
the students through the years.
to accounts taken from these books, Clyde was purchased in 1958 by the
Student Government Association (SGA) for $1,200.
statue became affectionately named by students as Clyde, because he was
purchased through Clyde Spence Monument Co. of Jonesboro. Clyde Spence
Monument Co. was a forerunner to Bookout Monument Co., formerly owned by
State Senator Jerry Bookout of Jonesboro.
December 1958 story in “The Herald,” read: “An Indian Chief, life
size and majestic, stands ready to defend ASC (Arkansas State College in
those days)… The Indian Chief is a symbol of courage, strength and
alertness. His place in American History is unparalleled and his spirited
defense of his home country lives in numerous legends repeated by
Americans from coast to coast.”
after arriving on the ASU campus, it became tradition for freshmen to
“tip their beanies” as they passed Clyde. In those days and until
1970, freshmen were required to wear red and black beanies on their heads.
students who did not “tip their hat” were required (if caught by upper
level students) to “kiss the feet” of the 7.5-foot chief. Obviously,
Clyde quickly became the hub of many jokes and much laughter as upper
level students delighted in the activity.
Runnels of Bentonville, an ASU alumnus and 1969 freshman, recalled being
required to recite the “beanie poem.” He can still recite it to this
I’m a freshman at ASU, a beautiful beanie they’ve given to me. I wear
it atop my young pointed head and tip it to Clyde when before him I tread.
Without it I know I must never be caught, or else to the head of the class
I’ll be brought….Although, I’m a freshman and green as can be, I
know that there still is some hope left for me. For someday perhaps, I
will gain the finesse of a true upperclassman - alert and beanieless,”
Kerner Fowler of Jonesboro, an ASU alumna recalled, “In the fall of
1970, Clyde was in the main hall of the Carl R. Reng Center. I was a
freshman then and we had to wear those beanies. If you were in the Reng
Center and caught not wearing your beanie, an upper classman made you kiss
Clyde’s feet. How’s that for spreading germs?”
Dr. Ray Hall of Jonesboro, a 1967 alumnus of ASU, recalled the
freshmen antics as well. “Freshmen had to pay reverence to Clyde,
tipping our hats. College life was so different back then. There were only
5,000 students and everyone knew everyone,” he said.
1970, freshmen at ASU were no longer required to wear to the famed
beanies. Although, the ASU Marching Band continued the tradition for many
years with their freshmen in the Music Department. Many students from the
mid-1970s until today don’t know stories associated with Clyde. Many
students don’t even recall where he is located.
is the result of a few students getting together to get a mascot on
campus. Clyde’s inception was small – like a lot of things. The
driving force back in those days, and still is, the SGA. The SGA contacted
Clyde and Helen Spence (former owners of the monument company),” Jerry
and Helen Spence really wanted this statue -- this piece of sculpted
marble -- to be just right. She worried and fretted about it so. From the
time the students approached them about the Indian Chief until it arrived
in Jonesboro, Mrs. Spence spent many sleepless nights wondering if it
would be something the campus would be proud to have,” Bookout said.
of the Art Department at ASU designed the Indian Chief and through
personal contacts of Clyde and Helen Spence, the design was sent to Italy
to be sculpted.
an alumnus of ASU, spent a few years in the Army prior to operating Spence
Monument Co., which became Spence-Bookout Monument Co. and ultimately
Bookout Monument until the family sold it several years ago.
Spences worked with us for nearly three years. They always talked about
the Indian Chief. Mrs. Spence was particularly proud of it and working
with students of the time. The design, purchase of the marble, sculpting,
transportation and erecting was a huge undertaking,” he said.
much discussion with campus officials, Bookout supervised the
transportation and placement of the statue in 1959. “Arlis Johnson
called me and asked if would take charge of making sure the Indian Chief
statue was erected properly. And, I said, well, Arlis, I don’t know.”
in the end, I agreed and brought all of our equipment and ASU provided the
labor. I was mighty relieved when it was moved. It is not that easy to
move 1,000 pounds of marble,” Bookout said.
is a family secret about the statue. You know, since the design was sent
to Italy to be sculpted, it has certain attributes from Italy. If you look
carefully, if you look into his face – you see Italian features. He’s
probably the only Italian Indian statue in existence,” Bookout added.
faculty member, Bob Ferralasco, recalled a similar story from Robert
Moore, dean of students at the time. “The story goes that when Dean
Moore saw the statue, he said, ‘it doesn’t look like an Indian, it
looks like an Italian’.”
the original intent of Clyde, he remains on campus and will be proudly
displayed in the new Student Union. The Native American Indian Chief
statue will once again serve in an admirable capacity as an example of
strength, courage and alertness.
ASU mascot is a trio of Indian-attired students popularly known as the
Indian Family. The Indian Family consists of Chief Big Track, an unnamed
princess and an unnamed brave. In 1996, members of the Athletic
Department, Alumni Relations, the SGA and former Indian family members
joined together to begin tryouts for the Indian Family.
addition, the group visited with and received a vote of approval from a
group representing the Cherokee nations as well as other Native Americans
about authentic dances, symbols and costumes, etc.
Indian Family, ASU’s official mascot, represents the university and its
athletic programs in a stately and dignified manner befiting the Indian
tribes who once lived in the area. The Indian Family is selected by a
campus committee through tryouts which consist of interviews,
horsemanship, appearance, attitude, school activities and academics. The
family represents ASU not only at athletic events, but at other campus
functions as well as the community.
opening festivities for the Student Union will take place for ASU students
on Tuesday, March 23, at noon -- complete with a cookout and the stomp
band, “Recycled Percussion” in the courtyard. Other grand opening
festivities and the Open House for the community will take place on
Wednesday, March 24, beginning at 11 a.m.
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