If you hung around the Hi-Hat Lounge long enough, you were bound to get to know the owner. His race-oriented jokes so monopolized any conversation that he became known to most of us as "H.W. Duke, white man, 35."
A friend often took pleasure in reading T.S. Eliot aloud in front of H.W. Duke, white man, 35, purely for the fun of hearing him say: "Sturk, if I didn't know you better, I'd think you was about half Homo sapien."
The old drugstore served valiantly for many years as a combination Student Union, Letterman's Lounge, newsstand, book stall, cafe, post office, speakeasy, hot-check receptacle, salon and theme-writing agency.
It was just across from the drugstore that a group of us intellectuals once protested the library's leanings toward non-classics with a rather spectacular book-burning and record-breaking ceremony and fondly addressed each other as Ivan, Dmitri and Alyosha.
As for the TCU Theater, it could always be counted upon to present something worthwhile, like Casablanca or AH About Eve, which could teach you more about the arts than any of the Proust I ever tried to read.
The Drag was TCU. And it continues to be one of the first sights you encounter if you visit the campus, in what is still a fine old neighborhood. Not long ago, however, I couldn't help noticing that the drugstore had become yet another night spot catering to dropouts and music lovers of the stone-deaf variety, and the theater had sharply reversed the trend in movies by offering Bruce Lee-type films. Most of the letters on the theater marquee were either missing or slanted at curious angles.
I will let TCU in on a secret. It will be easier to recruit the athletes who might be able to turn the football program around, plus the ever-popular Kappa Sigs and Tri Delts, if the school's wealthiest old grads will stop buying artificial turf and building weight rooms long enough to do something about the blight that has hit The Drag.
If I can't have the drugstore and the theater back, I'll settle for a modest little Hyatt Regency on that block so I will have a place to stay when TCU starts playing big games again. The current condition of The Drag is all the more reason to talk about the past.
The Southwest Conference into which I was blessedly born was organized in 1915, and for the first 25 years of its existence no football champion ever repeated, which was why sports-writers were inspired to label it a jinx-ridden, upset-prone, wild and woolly place. Incidentally, what generally passed for colorful sports-writing back then was a story that might well have begun:
College Station, Tex., Oct. 23—Yippee-tie-yi-yee! Baylor's Bullet Billy Patterson, the Hillsboro Dilly, threw a green-and-gold lariat around the gallant but hapless Texas Aggies Saturday, and despite the dipsy-doodle footwork of A&M's Dick Todd, the Crowell Cyclone, the hungry Bears corralled the maroon-clad Farmers 13-0 and kept alive their title hopes in the topsy-turvy, wild and woolly....