Let's Give Ricks to the State
Winter quarter continued after the 1930 Christmas holidays amid speculation and trepidation. The Church Board of Education had instructed the Ricks College board to offer the college to the state of Idaho so it could be included in the state educational system. Soon the 1931 State Legislature would convene in general session and the Ricks College matter would be on the agenda of both the House and Senate.
Despite the appearance of normality in the classroom and on the basketball floor, faculty and students were concerned about what would happen in Boise. Student clubs were functioning, and Student Rays and Rixida were in the publication process. Coach Packer had another successful season, losing only three games and winning the Idaho Junior College League title. However, Ricks lost to Branch Agricultural College in Cedar City, Utah, coming in second in the Utah-Idaho League tournament. The dramatic arts department performed Winston Churchill’s The Crisis under the direction of Myrtle Henderson. The Ricks College choirs combined with the Fremont Stake choir, directed by Harry Dean and accompanied by a twelve-piece orchestra and William Billiter on the pipe organ, to perform Messiah in the Yellowstone, Fremont, and Idaho Falls stakes. The Red Mill, a light opera by Victor Herbert, was prepared by the music department under the direction of John M. Anderson. M.D. Beal’s debate teams were preparing to compete on the question: “Resolved, that the nation should adopt a policy of free trade.” Night school was in session with the largest number of students enrolled in swimming classes. The annual Leadership Week was being planned and advertised. And all other classes were being taught. Nevertheless, everyone was aware of the fluid status of the college and unsure what that might mean for administration, faculty, and students.
Early in January, Mayor Arthur Porter, Jr., and President John W. Hart were in Boise trying to influence legislators to accept Ricks College into the state system. Porter, a Democrat, and Hart, a Republican, were both members of the college Board of Education and the committee appointed to develop the proposal forwarded to the Legislature. The committee, pursuant to instructions from the Church board, drew up a proposal offering the campus buildings and equipment—valued conservatively at $250,000—to the state free of charge. In exchange, the state would keep the college open, maintaining and controlling the institution. The cost to maintain the physical plant was approximately $50,000 per year. Given the effects of the national economic depression and not wanting to add to the cost of state government, the college board announced that it would ask for no appropriation from the current Legislature. It would pay for the cost of maintenance until the next legislative session in two years. The money would be raised locally, and, as added incentive, $75,000—rather than $50,000—would be raised for maintenance. This would give the state time to integrate Ricks into the state system.
In addition to the physical plant, the state could expect more than 250 students would attend the college initially, and the level of education, already well known throughout the state, would be maintained by a competent faculty. The presumption was that the state would continue to operate the college as a junior college as that movement was in progress across the nation and the means was being offered for Idaho to become part of the movement with little investment. The state Board of Education was on record in support of the junior college concept.
The argument was made that educating students was a state responsibility and that simply closing the college would deprive a substantial number of the state’s youths of an opportunity for post-high school education. Furthermore, making the school part of the state system would ensure more students from eastern Idaho would attend the state university in Moscow for the final two years. Without any tie to the state school system, a large percentage of Ricks students continued their education in Utah schools, thus depriving Idaho schools of revenue, not to mention that many of the students who finished their college education out of state remained out of state, depriving Idaho of their expertise and taxes. For those concerned about tax increases to support another state educational institution, information was proffered that accepting Ricks would raise the levy for each taxpayer one-tenth of one mill or only a few cents per year.
Several prominent men from the Upper Snake River Valley, including W. Lloyd Adams and J.W. Webster, joined Porter and Hart in Boise to help state legislators better understand the arguments in favor of accepting Ricks College. Apparently, when the subject of the Church giving Ricks to the state was first made known, many in Boise thought the proposal was a joke. After all, even in times of economic stringency, to simply give away a well-maintained, functioning college seemed far-fetched. With the arrival of several well-known supporters, the proposition was recognized as a serious proposal and would become one of the most hotly contested subjects of the session, especially in the Senate.
Representative Frank Turner from Madison County introduced the bill in the House of Representatives. There was little debate or opposition in the House where members recognized that major debate would take place in the Senate and quickly passed the bill. On January 16, 1931, Senators George A. Hoopes of Madison County, Alma Hanson of Teton County, W.P. Swanstrum of Fremont County, and Wesley Gibson of Jefferson County introduced the Ricks College Bill, Senate Bill No. 61. The bill was referred to the education committee that recommended printing the bill. While several days would elapse before the bill came to the floor, optimism was high, at least on the part of the eastern Idaho delegation and lobbyists, that it would pass.
When the bill came to the full Senate, passage seemed assured. Arguments were made about the impact of a junior college in eastern Idaho, the excellent condition of the campus, competent faculty, little tax impact, and no expense from the state until the next biennial session of the Legislature. Then the opposition took the floor led by Senators L.L. Evans, Sr., of Power County, E.G. Van Hoesen of Adams County, and Donald A. Callahan of Shoshone County. They did not argue against the merits of the institution, but instead centered their arguments on the cost of adding the institution to the state system. Each senator argued that adding another educational institution would further reduce appropriations for existing state institutions beyond that which were required by exigencies of the Depression. Even though a state appropriation would not be necessary until the next biennium, Van Hoesen argued that to keep the college functional would cost $200,000 annually, not $50,000. That money would need to come from the general education budget, and that would not be fair to the state university.
Editorials in both the Daily Star-Mirror in Moscow and the Pocatello Tribune argued against accepting Ricks College as it would dilute funding for the University of Idaho and the Southern Branch at Pocatello. The specter of a tax increase to support another institution at a time of decreasing state revenue assured defeat of the Ricks College Bill. Even so, the vote was close: twenty in favor, twenty-three opposed. The bill could have been recalled to the floor for further debate by parliamentary procedure. However, Senator Hoopes stopped any movement. “The bill has been fairly defeated,” he said, “and I can see no further use in considering it.”
Still, rumors of a deal were bandied about. There was the option of transferring Albion Normal College to Ricks College and using the Albion campus for the state mental hospital rather than putting more money into the institution at Blackfoot. The loser, Bingham County Representative J.H. Anderson was quick to point out, was Blackfoot. Anyway, he argued, the whole procedure was unconstitutional. Senator Hoopes was quick to deny the scheme was initiated by upper valley legislators. He did acknowledge the idea had merit, but upper valley legislators “felt they were not in a position to try to take the school from someone else just because we failed to get ours.”
Those who had argued and worked for the bill were acutely disappointed, none more than President Hart. He made a trip to Salt Lake City to confer with Commissioner Merrill about Ricks College and to ask for aid to keep the college open. He received assurances that the college would be maintained for the time being. More local support would be required because the Church could not support the current level of funding. Because of the Depression, the Church was retrenching generally, phasing out paying for secular education. Ricks College did not receive a subsidy for the 1931 summer school, and the overall appropriation was cut, which affected faculty salaries. The Church appropriation for 1930-1931 had been $38,800 with $36,850 going to teachers’ salaries; the 1931-1932 appropriation was reduced to $36,425 with $36,100 for salaries. Although Hart had hoped for more financial support, at least the college would not just close at the end of spring quarter. Another effort should get under way to convince the 1933 Idaho Legislature to accept the college. Joseph F. Merrill, Church education commissioner, wrote to Arthur Porter, Jr.: “The cause of the College is just. Let the support of the people be so generous that the College shall never die.”
Hyrum Manwaring was appointed president of Ricks College on May 6, 1931. He had been acting president for several months while President Romney, on leave of absence, attended the University of Chicago. President Romney was called to preside over the Church’s Northern States Mission with headquarters in Chicago. This call included his release as president of Ricks College and as president of Fremont Stake.
President Manwaring’s “congenial personality, affable disposition and optimistic outlook together with his skill in public address, make him a favorite among both young and old in the entire community and assure for Ricks an efficient and progressive administration,” noted an article in The Rexburg Journal. His tenure was expected to last for only two years when the state would surely accept the college as a gift. He later recorded: “How earnestly I began my tremendous new responsibilities, even though it seemed like fighting against fate.”
His first major responsibility was to present the graduating class of 1931. Dr. H. Ray Hatch of Idaho Falls delivered the baccalaureate address on “Life Values.” Featured commencement speaker was Ezra C. Dalby of Salt Lake City. His return to Ricks was greatly anticipated by many who remembered him as a former Ricks Academy principal. Returning to Rexburg must have been nostalgic for Dalby. Having helped guide Ricks Academy through tough times, he was now the speaker at what would be the next to last commencement of the school as a Church institution if all worked out as planned. He was an honored guest at the alumni banquet. He must have been struck at the irony of the banquet theme: “Ricks College 1940-41.” Several speakers used the theme to optimistically predict what the college would be in ten years; others spoke about the campaign to give the college to the state in two years.
President Manwaring had an immediate, pressing problem. Rumors were widespread that the college would close at the end of summer school. Other rumors surfaced that the college had, in fact, already closed. After meeting with the Church commissioner in Salt Lake City, he announced that the Church was going to continue to support the college and it expected Ricks to continue to grow. After all, if the state were to accept the college, Ricks needed to be a viable institution, one which would be an obvious advantage to the state educational system.
The 1931-1932 school year marked a change in structure. Prior to this year the school calendar had included four quarters, counting summer school as a quarter. Now only fall, winter, and spring quarters were officially part of the school year. Summer school was to be a separate entity. The survival of summer school was tenuous.
Before school commenced in the fall, attention was given once again to securing land for an athletic field. Some argued the sense of buying land for college expansion just to give it to the state. Nevertheless, Dr. Earl Soelberg, M.J. McIver, and D.W. Stowell met with the county commissioners to make arrangements to purchase county land adjacent to the college on the west side. By September the county had agreed to sell the property. Some land already had been purchased for the athletic field with options granted on the rest. The present problem was lack of money to exercise the options when they came available. President Manwaring and Mayor Arthur Porter’s spirited pleas for additional funds were accompanied by their donations, as an example to others. After all, having a facility to help produce outstanding football and track teams would enhance the college. Involving the community in the land purchase would promote community-college relationships. A vigorous campaign was made to raise the balance of required funds.
Student recruitment packets for the next school year were sent to 1,500 prospects. Each packet included a copy of the daily class schedule and a letter from President Manwaring. He encouraged each prospective student to consider the importance of an education for future achievement. Specifically, he addressed effects of the Depression. “The ‘hard times’ we are now passing through are making us all more serious-minded, and many more young people than ever are thinking about going to school,” he wrote. “When times are normal again, there will be a great call for young men and women who are prepared for responsible places, but it will be just ‘too bad’ for those who have let their educational opportunity pass by.” For those with little money, President Manwaring suggested that “they come and rent an inexpensive room, bring most of what they need to eat from home, and get along with a very little money. In our clothing, living, and recreation we can afford to ‘cut to the bone’ in order not to lose our educational opportunity.” Apparently, the president’s message was effective. Registration began on September 21. A record number of students registered, and there were more to come.
President Manwaring sent another letter to those considered as candidates for college enrollment. He noted that crops were in and rather than sit around all winter, they should “spend the winter with us. Here you can be with a fine group of associates, enjoy every day of the winter and get an academic training that will fit you to meet the social, economic, and spiritual progress of the times.” The Church Board of Education, Church commissioner of education, and college “are all extremely anxious that none of our young people shall be kept from school and forced into idleness. The danger of slipping into bad habits that will blight a young life forever is too great.” Several must have taken to heart the counsel of President Manwaring. New student enrollment for the winter quarter was up substantially from the previous year.
Even though winter quarter commenced on December 14, 1931, students could still register for classes on January 4, 1932. Missed work could be made up and they would get a full quarter’s credit. The administration hoped the policy would bring more students to Ricks. Area women were specifically encouraged to sign up for Morton’s modern drama class or Joseph Jenkins’ child psychology class taught each Monday afternoon; businessmen were encouraged to sign up for physical education classes taught each Monday and Thursday evening. The college tried hard to get those who would just as soon spend the winter months sitting around the house to realize the intellectual and physical benefits that would be obtained by attending winter quarter. The college advertising campaign seemed to work and a marked increase in enrollment was noted. Perhaps advertising that President Manwaring had been elected president of the Idaho Education Association Department of Higher Education also had an effect. After all, his being elected to that position certainly increased statewide publicity for the college.
Dr. Joseph F. Merrill visited the campus on January 11, 1932, and spoke to a student assembly. He was still Church commissioner of education. He also had another title—he was the Church’s newest apostle. There was considerable ambivalence about Elder Merrill—not about his ecclesiastical position, but about his role as commissioner and his involvement in trying to give Ricks to the state of Idaho. There were those in the community adamantly opposed to any effort to relinquish Ricks, the pioneer educational institution of eastern Idaho founded because of the perceived injustice of Idaho territorial educational policies. There were those just as adamant that the only way to see the college continue was to give it to the state and let the state run it. Preservation of the college was what was important, not who ran it. There were few who took an “I don’t care” attitude. The community polarization would ebb and flow for many years.
An assembly held on January 20, 1932, was especially noteworthy. William Billiter of the music department spoke about the importance of good music, especially an appreciation of classical music. Students listened to some examples of classical music played on the gramophone and by music students, with Billiter making comments.
Amid proper introduction, the Ricks College Booster Club was organized to promote Ricks activities. To test enthusiasm, members of the new Booster Club, pep band, and entire student body headed downtown to stage a pep rally. The focus of the rally was to get the basketball team, in the middle of a successful season, prepared for two crucial games against Weber. Ricks lost the first game but won the second. Assessing the role the Ricks College Booster Club has played in promoting the college from that beginning in 1932 until today is not hard. The club has been, and continues to be, vital.
President Manwaring gave the tenth annual Leadership Week—and the college—some far-reaching advertising. He accepted the invitation to give an address over the local radio station. After giving a short historical sketch of Ricks, he spoke about current conditions and future plans and touted the forthcoming Leadership Week. He announced plans under consideration to run school buses from Marysville on the north and from Shelley on the south to Ricks. He said this “would enable students to get two years of college work and remain in their own homes. It could be done at a minimum cost of $150, as compared with $350 if they left the valley and went away to school.” If the bus line proposition were realized, he said the college could exceed an enrollment of 400 students the next fall. Although his plans were optimistic, using the radio to advertise the college programs was unique and set a precedent.
For several days prior to commencement, President Manwaring traveled throughout the Upper Snake River Valley visiting high schools and talking to graduating classes. He sought to impress them with the importance of continuing their education, especially at Ricks College. He had no travel budget, and recruiting was done at his own expense. Other faculty members who were asked to make trips to encourage attendance at Ricks had to pay their own expenses. That was a considerable hardship. M.D. Beal helped recruit students and spoke at high school graduation exercises in the area as well. He received no reimbursement from the college until a cow was accepted from a student in lieu of tuition. That cow was given to Beal, although he really did not want it. That cow would become famous as a provider of milk for several faculty member families and provide a small income for the Beals. The cow also became famous as part of what Beal called “an unbelievably crude, school boy prank” that is described later.
The school year came to a close with M.G. Neal, University of Idaho president, delivering the commencement address. Inviting Neal to speak was politic, as he would be able to see the campus condition firsthand, assess faculty and facilities, and note student academic achievement. He would be able to understand the need for the college to be accepted by the state during the 1933 legislative session so it could be a feeder institution for the University of Idaho.
Following commencement ceremonies and the alumni banquet, the alumni ball and the R ball were held jointly at the Playmore downtown. Holding the dance downtown illustrated another difference between former President Romney and President Manwaring. President Romney refused to allow any student to participate in “downtown” activities, especially dances. Attending any dance other than those held at the college or the tabernacle brought suspension from the school. President Manwaring eased the restriction on attending dances downtown, but always cautioned students not to be involved with those who smoked or drank (there were still a number of bootleggers in the area).
For the first time in several years, Ricks would have no summer school because no funding was available. The state was supporting a summer school at Albion Normal College and to try to compete was neither politic nor economically possible. However, if a sufficient number of students wanted to take extension courses, Ricks faculty would be available. Tuition of $20 was split between the college and the teacher.
At a special session of the college Board of Education held on August 16, 1932, a decision was made to inaugurate a school bus line from Shelley to Rexburg. Orville Cook of Ucon, who was awarded a contract to run the bus, agreed to have a new school bus ready to deliver students to Ricks by September 10. Now many students could stay at home while attending Ricks. The only expenses they would incur would be for tuition, transportation, and books. That would amount to $135 per year. President Manwaring reported that the faculty had a goal of at least 400 students for the coming year, and running a bus made the goal realistic.
To help reach the attendance goal, the president sent another letter. He had already contacted bishops of each ward in Idaho and asked for names and addresses of each graduating senior. “We are encouraging as many as possible to make supreme sacrifice, and [enroll at Ricks College] in spite of ‘hard times,’ ” he wrote. “May we encourage you to think and scheme and be determined to go while there is little else to do,” he counseled. “Unless one is tied up to some progressive work, it is so easy to get careless and drift into useless and foolish things, and form bad habits, etc.”
At the September 13, 1932, opening faculty meeting for the new school year, Arthur Porter, Jr., greeted and advised faculty on behalf of the Board of Education. The faculty met for three days and discussed problems facing the school and possible solutions. The two most pressing issues were operating the school on reduced monetary resources and mounting a campaign to convince the state to accept the college to keep it operational.
For the academic year opening on September 19, 1932, recruiting efforts seemed to pay off. President Manwaring was gratified to learn that enrollment had increased 20 percent over the same period in 1931 and 60 percent over that of 1930.
Harry Dean, director of the music department since 1925 when he was hired to replace Apollo Hansen, was granted a sabbatical leave for the 1932-1933 school year. His deciding to commence the leave in January 1933 provides an example of the risk involved in leaving a job during the Depression years. Even though sabbatical leave policy allowed him to receive one-half of his salary for the year of study and a guarantee of returning to Ricks, problems developed. He noted in his journal that he had to write to Joseph F. Merrill, Church commissioner of education, to find out what his half salary would be, as President Manwaring was reluctant to tell him. Merrill responded by pointing out that his current salary was $2,100. Every faculty member was to receive a 10 percent cut for the 1932-1933 school year; therefore, Dean’s salary would be $1,890, one half of which would be paid him while on leave. That was less than Dean anticipated, but he went to Brigham Young University on leave anyway. He was to resume his position at Ricks for the 1933-1934 school year.
Dean received a letter from President Manwaring dated March 24, 1933, that caused some consternation. “No doubt you know that the State of Idaho was not disposed to take over Ricks and run it as a state school,” he wrote. “So it is now up to our local board to run the school if it runs at all. It looks anything but bright.” He noted that he asked the Board of Education “what I had better do about you boys on leave of absence. They said that they had so little to offer, that I had better write and tell you to look for a job someplace else or arrange to remain in school for another year,” he concluded. “I am sorry for this condition and I don’t know just how it will effect you boys. But as things are now here due to our present financial depression, it would be tragic for a man with a family to come here. Of course we can get these young kids to come and teach on a very low salary that will fit a cut budget.” President Manwaring wrote again and offered Dean a salary of $1,500, but he accepted $1,660 to teach at Preston High School instead. After one year, he was hired at Snow College and did not return to Ricks.
Before Dean left, he prepared a combined college-stake choir to present Handel’s Messiah in Rexburg and Idaho Falls. Dean established what became a tradition at Ricks. The oratorio has been performed every Christmas season since 1932.
Ricks won the Idaho junior college basketball league title and placed second in the Utah-Idaho tournament. Perhaps the season would have been more successful but team focus was shattered late in January 1933 when a freak accident claimed the life of a star player. The basketball team had played Idaho Southern Branch on Saturday night. Joseph Parkinson was driving to Rexburg from Pocatello on Sunday morning, January 29, and was accompanied by three others. About a mile south of Thornton, Parkinson was confronted by a sleigh being driven down the wrong side of the road. He swerved to try to avoid a collision, but the “tongue of the sleigh went through the windshield and struck Leonard Jenson who was riding in the front seat.” Jenson was struck in the head and rendered unconscious. He died after three days without regaining consciousness. Jenson was eulogized at funeral services, not only for his athletic ability but for his sterling character. Interment, supposed to occur in the Rexburg Cemetery immediately after the services, had to be delayed until Tuesday, as the worst blizzard “in a generation” blew in accompanied by 40 mile per hour winds and below zero temperatures. Many who wished to attend the funeral could not get to Rexburg because neither automobile nor train traffic could negotiate the huge snowdrifts. By Tuesday morning the snow had stopped, but the thermometer read 50 degrees below zero in Rexburg. Nevertheless, many made their way to the Rexburg Cemetery to witness interment rites and pay condolences to the family.
While the college continued classes, student development, and planning for Leadership Week, apprehension increased as local and state public resources decreased. Public officials’ salaries were slashed. Public and private employees were laid off or forced to accept grossly reduced wages. These economic exigencies did not augur well for Ricks to be accepted and operated by the state. Arthur Porter, Jr., through his Rexburg Journal, reminded the community about the importance of the pioneer educational institution of the Upper Snake River Valley and the sacrifices of the pioneers in the school’s development. Founding the institution was the pioneers’ problem, “the perpetuation is ours,” he wrote. “The sweated brows, the tired hands, and the anxious hearts of our fathers would cry out against us if they saw that we are inactive or unready to fight at such a danger period.” Furthermore, “it may be problematic whether Ricks College should be continued under Church or state auspices, but it is not a question whether it should be maintained.” Porter concluded with a ringing declaration: “Every man, woman and child should be ready to bear the Ricks College banner, shout her slogan, and vigorously fight for a definite plan that will ensure its perpetuity and future usefulness. Let us unfurl and fling this slogan to the Idaho breeze: ‘Ricks College—Ours—Now and Forever!’ ”
Mayor Arthur Porter, Jr., followed his declaration by traveling to Boise with President Hart to attend the inauguration of C. Ben Ross as governor of Idaho and the opening session of the Legislature. They were there to lobby legislators again on behalf of the college plan to give the institution to the state.
Senators George A. Hoopes of Madison County, W.P. Swanstrum of Fremont County, Wesley Gibson of Jefferson County, and A.I. Jensen of Teton County introduced Senate Bill No. 65 during the last week of January. It provided for transfer of Ricks College physical facilities valued at $250,000, while directing the state to operate it as a junior college and appropriating from the general fund $80,000 for operating expenses for the coming fiscal year. The bill was introduced during the last week of January.
As the bill went through the legislative process, chances of passage appeared slim at best. Only eighteen “yes” votes were certain. Those in Boise trying to convince legislators of the efficacy of accepting the college became disheartened. At a special meeting, they voted that the best interests of the college would be served by withdrawing the bill, hoping that economic conditions would improve by the 1935 session so another attempt could be made to preserve the college in the state system. Senator Hoopes, in a rather lengthy speech before the Senate late in February, reviewed the history of the college, the reasons for asking the state to include the college in the state system, and the current condition of the physical plant, faculty, and student body. He concluded, “We have decided that owing to the depressed financial condition of the state we will not press our cause at present, but wait until a return of more normal conditions at which time we expect to renew our claim.” He then asked for, and was granted, unanimous consent to withdraw Senate Bill No. 65.
The college Board of Education issued a call for a mass meeting at the tabernacle on March 19. All from Madison County and surrounding counties were invited. The only item on the agenda: What should be done about Ricks College? The Church was getting out of the secular education business; the state did not want the college because of financial and political restraints. The large number attending the meeting agreed that the college needed to be continued, even after an explanation that to operate the college would require increased local support. Committees were established to aid the Board of Education, which effectively assumed control and administration of the school. J.E. Graham was appointed chairman of the all-important finance committee with Arthur Porter, Jr., Delbert Taylor, P.H. Craven, and J.E. Jensen as members. Enrollment and publicity committees also were created. A central committee with Peter J. Ricks as chairman had overall jurisdiction. Enthusiasm was high. President Manwaring and the faculty were pleased with prospects of continued jobs.
President Hart and other members of the college board, accompanied by President Manwaring and Oswald Christensen of the faculty, journeyed to Salt Lake City on April 8, 1933, to meet with the First Presidency and Commissioner Merrill to see if the Church could possibly aid the school again. President Hart already had written to the Church commissioner requesting a $20,000 appropriation for Ricks. The rest of the college operational funds would be raised locally. He had received a return letter indicating that “probably $10,000 would be allowed.” The board explained plans to continue operation of the college and reported the extent of local support. The First Presidency and commissioner were impressed with the determination and agreed to allow the college to operate under local support. The Church would give a reduced appropriation while the bulk of financial support had to be raised locally.
Meeting on May 15, 1933, the board finalized arrangements to hire faculty for the coming school year, approved the budget, and received several public committee reports. Greatly increased public involvement with the operation of the college brought about a decision to add two community members who were not Latter-day Saints to the Board of Education. So far, the board had been comprised entirely of ecclesiastical leaders. After reviewing recommendations, President Hart appointed J.E. Graham and P.H. Craven.
Ricks College conferred associate degrees on sixty graduates on June 2. The class of 1933 faced especially bleak prospects because of the Great Depression. Yet, despite rather severe odds against them, they persevered and graduated. Even if many could not immediately enter the workforce in a trained-for profession or continue on for advanced degrees, they were optimistic of being able to put their education to use in due time. Even knowing that the college would continue to operate for another year was encouraging.
Some recent graduates enrolled for the nine-week summer session offered by Ricks. Courage was required to offer summer school in 1933, even though Ricks was the only summer school in Idaho south of Lewiston. A variety of classes were offered, with most classes designed to assist teacher certification. All classes received full Idaho accreditation. Summer school was deemed successful despite economic hard times. Many teachers from Utah attended the school to meet the recently promulgated state requirement that any out-of-state teacher wanting to teach in Idaho had to complete a session in an Idaho accredited summer school. President Manwaring announced that 80 percent of those seeking teaching positions were hired. He credited that high percentage to the fact that Ricks was recognized as a fine educational institution and graduates from the college or those completing the summer school course were in demand.
The college board discussed plans on August 23, 1933, with President Manwaring for the ensuing school year. Everything seemed ready and the board was confident that Ricks would have a great year. Three faculty members had resigned; four were granted leaves of absence to pursue further education. Marriner Morrell, who recently received a juris doctorate degree from George Washington University, Joseph Catmull, and Ellen Terry replaced the three who resigned. The four granted leaves of absence would not be replaced in the interim. That meant that their teaching schedules would be picked up by the existing faculty: President Manwaring, Oswald Christensen, Clyde Packer, Edna Ricks, Hugh C. Bennion, Gene Conger, Virginia Kotter, John Anderson, Lucy P. Lloyd, Morrell, Catmull, Terry, and M.D. Beal. (Beal had requested a leave of absence. The board approved, but could only manage to pay Beal 25 percent of his salary. Beal refused that offer.) The faculty did not complain about either the increased workload or the one-third decrease in salary. They were glad to have jobs. Judging from the number of inquiries from prospective students about registration and housing, they were optimistic that the next school year would be successful and their salaries met.
The forty-sixth academic year commenced on September 18 with a record-setting freshman enrollment. Large fall enrollment seemed to indicate a possible record enrollment for the year. However, registration for winter and spring quarters turned out to be disappointing, making the 1933-1934 academic year registration considerably lower than the 1932-1933 academic year.
Undoubtedly affecting fall quarter enrollment was publicity surrounding a forthcoming football game. Coach Packer had received an inquiry in June from Harold Kay, a government officer on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, asking Ricks to enter an arrangement with McKinley School of Honolulu to play football. (Initially, McKinley High School was announced as McKinley College.) Coach Packer and the college administration agreed to play McKinley. The college had to guarantee McKinley $3,500 to offset expenses. In return, McKinley would guarantee Ricks $5,000 to play in Honolulu in 1934. The games would be sponsored by the Shriners, who would be largely responsible for raising the guarantee money.
Publicity for the Ricks-McKinley game continued through the summer and into fall. Local high school bands were invited to join with the Ricks band to provide music. The Associated Press and United Press provided information to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and Honolulu Advertiser, giving Rexburg and Ricks College international publicity. Articles sent from Honolulu were published in local papers, some replete with pictures of the “dusky boys” of McKinley School. The Micks of McKinley represented ten nationalities and were considered by Coach Frank Hluboky to be the strongest team McKinley had produced. By game time much was known about the McKinley team. All indications were that Ricks was in for a tough contest.
The McKinley team arrived in Rexburg on October 11, having already defeated the Brigham Young University freshmen and Weber College. Those games had been widely publicized and Ricks was the decided underdog. Coach Packer’s Vikings outweighed the Micks. That, coupled with the noise of the fans, eight bands, and cheer squads just might tip the balance for the local team. To help the local team, Union Pacific Railroad established a special fare from any place in Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Nevada to Rexburg. For one penny per mile a person could get a round trip ticket to Rexburg to see the game. A great many spectators took advantage of that very favorable rate, including the entire Weber College football team.
By kickoff on October 14, 1933, the fairgrounds football field bleachers were full. Sidelines were crowded with those who could not get seats or who wanted to be closer to the action. Bands and cheerleaders had fulfilled their promise and 5,500 spectators were prepared for the contest. Although local commentators felt that the Vikings had outplayed the Micks, the first half ended scoreless. After barefoot-kicking demonstrations by members of the McKinley team at halftime, play commenced but the third quarter again remained scoreless. The fourth quarter seemed to repeat the third. Then midway through the quarter, a Viking pass intercepted by the Micks team captain was returned thirty-five yards for a McKinley touchdown. The extra point was good and McKinley led 7-0 with time running out. Ricks was on the move when the whistle blew ending the game. Despite defeat, no Viking fan went home disappointed. They considered having held the Micks to only seven points a victory. The team looked forward to next year’s game in Honolulu.
Ricks received a grant from the Civil Works Administration in time for winter quarter enrollment. The college board decided to use the money on grounds improvements, including putting in a reservoir west of the main building. Students needing financial assistance worked on the project.
The college Board of Education executive committee met on March 15, 1934. Committee membership included President John W. Hart, Peter J. Ricks, Arthur Porter, Jr., J.E. Graham, President Manwaring, and Gene Conger as secretary. The college had been under their direct control for almost a year and the committee wanted to assess the year and begin planning for another year. President Manwaring reported on college academic and athletic achievements and noted that at a time when “gloom might have borne down heavily,” the “spirit of the school is excellent.” He indicated that they were within budget and “straining every nerve to pull the school through without a deficit.” The committee, pleased with improvements made on grounds and buildings, encouraged President Manwaring to “go forward with every improvement that can be made by the voluntary sweat of willing hands.”
By the end of April, a hundred Siberian elm trees and grass had been planted on the east and west sides of campus. A tennis club was organized to administer a newly constructed tennis court. A fee was charged to use the court: twenty-five cents for students registered in the spring quarter and summer school and a dollar for non-students. A baseball field was laid out near the center of campus; nearby were horseshoe pits. Plans were under way to get men and teams of horses on the athletic field to complete leveling. The campus was being beautified and made more useful for the college and local communities. In less than one year another attempt would be made to give Ricks to the state, and the campus needed to be in excellent condition.
The annual R ball held on May 18, 1934, included a presentation of awards to outstanding football and basketball players, debaters, and student-body officers. Those chosen to represent the class of 1934 received scholarship recognition. Reed Schwendiman of Newdale would deliver the valedictory address at commencement on June 1; Blanch Harrison of Downey was chosen salutatorian. Two new clubs made their presence felt at the ball—the Purple Keys and the College Bachelors. Twenty-six graduates received associate degrees at commencement exercises. The main speaker was L. Tom Perry, a Logan attorney and former Ricks teacher. He also spoke at the alumni banquet as a representative of the class of 1903. Much was said about local community support that provided most of the finances to get Ricks through another year. Encouragement was given to continue support until the state extended educational jurisdiction over Ricks.
By mid-July, an advertising campaign was under way for students to enroll for the coming school year. Especially prominent in the advertising was the football game to be played in Honolulu. The prospects of a trip to Hawaii brought inquiries from many prominent high school athletes about playing for Ricks. Committees organized to see to details of the trip were instructed to be especially vigilant concerning athletes who only wanted to enroll to go on the trip, but were not interested in continuing after fall quarter or would drop out of the football program after the game. Eligibility rules would be closely followed.
The 1934-1935 school year opened with a 38 percent increase over the previous year. Among those registering were forty-six athletes hoping to make the trip to Hawaii with the football team. That undoubtedly helped the male-female ratio—almost as many young men registered as young women.
Late in November, thirty-one Vikings (including thirteen fans) left Rexburg by train heading for Honolulu via Ogden and San Francisco. Arriving in San Francisco on November 21, they spent the day sight-seeing—Chinatown being of special interest. The Vikings played Santa Rosa Junior College Thursday evening. The home folks could get reports of the game by calling the Western Union office in Rexburg starting at 9 p.m. As each quarter ended, Western Union would send a brief synopsis to Rexburg. Those who called only received bad news. Ricks was easily shut out 19-0. That did not augur well for the team. The team, minus six who did not qualify for various reasons to go with the team to Hawaii, left San Francisco on Friday aboard the SS Lurline. Upon their arrival in Honolulu, players were greeted by McKinley High School students and toured points of interest. A banquet in their honor was given at Child’s Blaisdel Hotel, owned by Matt and Cowley Child, both of whom were raised in Rexburg and attended Ricks Academy.
Although the Vikings had tried to prepare mentally and physically for a football contest in the island paradise, they could not adequately prepare for the difference in climate. They had prepared in wind, freezing temperatures, and often snow. They played in 78-degree temperature accompanied by high humidity. Nor were they prepared to play in front of 19,000 noisy McKinley partisans, encouraged by seven bands. The game was sent by wireless from Honolulu to San Francisco, then by telegraph to Playmore Hall. A play-by-play account, described by an Associated Press announcer, was received in Rexburg. Ricks played good defense the first quarter, but the Micks’ passing game proved to be the undoing of the defense during the rest of the game. Ricks was defeated 24-6.
While many were disappointed with results of the final football game, no one was disappointed with opening day registration for winter quarter. Registrar Gene Conger announced that 218 had registered and that he expected more than 300 before registration was complete after the first of the year. An unusually low number of students left after fall quarter and an unusually high number of new students registered for winter quarter. A large enrollment would be a selling point when the Idaho Legislature was again approached about accepting the college.
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