The highlight for me so far this week was the Fireside Chat on Sunday night. Dr. McLarty interviewed Dr. Ganus and Dr. Burks about their memories of Lectureship.
Dr. Ganus’ first memory of Lectureship was as a freshman on Thanksgiving Day in 1939. That was the day the mortgage was burned. Harding owed around $75,000 when Dr. Benson became president in 1936 so paying off that debt in three years was a big deal.
Lectureship was always on Thanksgiving week because that was the only day the school was closed. It was a big day, and both Dr. Ganus and Dr. Burks talked about the wonderful Thanksgiving meal and how Dr. Benson would have barbecue pits dug over where the football field now sits. They would cook hundreds of pounds of beef and pork to feed everyone.
Basketball was also a big part of of Lectureship weekend. Dr. Ganus told about the game on Nov. 24, 1966, when Harding was played Oral Roberts University in the Rhodes Field House. One of the Harding players received a pretty serious ankle injury during the game. As he was being attended to on the court, Oral Roberts himself came down out of the stands and offered to heal the player. According to Dr. Ganus, the player assured Mr. Roberts that he would be OK without a healing. According to the Sports Information Office, the player was likely Ron Goss as he only played in the first quarter of the game. The Bisons lost the game 80-75, and it was the only time we have ever played the Golden Eagles. (Thanks to Scott Goode for the game details.)
Dr. Burks also remembered a basketball injury that he photographed as a Petit Jean photographer. He recounted that two players collided under the goal, and the Harding player went down with a huge gash on his forehead. Dr. Burks said blood was everywhere, and he knew he was in trouble. He walked around behind the half wall that separated the lobby and the court and passed out. An ambulance came and took the player to the hospital, the floor was cleaned and the rest of the game was played — he missed it all.
One of the funny moments of the chat came when Dr. McLarty asked how Lectureship was separated from Thanksgiving week. Dr. Ganus quickly spoke up and said “it changed during your presidency” while pointing to Dr. Burks. Dr. Burks explained that the students forced the date change. School was closed on Thanksgiving Day and on Friday and as Harding students do they started leaving on Wednesday to go home and there was simply no one here. Several different models were tried before the late September date was chosen.
Dr. Ganus mentioned that he always enjoyed hearing Batsell Baxter and G.C. Brewer speak while Dr. Burks said he especially liked to hear Ira North, and he always loved his signature gold sports coat.
We have the video online here if you want to watch the Fireside Chat.
I love hearing the history of Harding from these men.