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  • Jack Bowerman

1973 Baker Stag

Updated: Jan 12, 2020

The information for this post was provided by Kent Stromsted, the unofficial historian of the goings on at the Kappa Sigma house in the late Sixties and early Seventies. During Stag at the Kappa Sig house in 1973, Cecil “Spike” Bronston, Baker class of 1925, gave a speech to the assembled brothers, extolling the virtues of Baker University and venerating the 1923 50-year class of Baker Kappa Sigs.

Spike must have loved Baker. He reminisced about his time in “Beautiful Baldwin, praised the presidents of Baker during his time and since, and talked about each of the professors that made a lasting impression on him. When he got to the heart of his speech he had quite a bit to say about each of the members of the Kappa Sig class of 1923: Leonard “Duke” Axe from Council Grove; Charles “Chocy Callahan from Independence; Herbert “Herb” Friend from Horton; Clarence “Pat” Kliewer from Cherokee, Oklahoma; John Leslie “Les” Lehew Jr. from Pawnee, Oklahoma; Russell “Russ” Ober from Boynton, Oklahoma; Martin “Mike” Schoenfeldt from Independence; Deane “Ducky” Smith from Independence; Ralph “Doc” Warner from Parker; Ralph “Doc” Welty from Neodesha

Obviously, Spike was an accomplished speaker and he left his audience laughing by relating some of the most hilarious pranks that were pulled off during his time at Baker: “A great group of men, this Class of 1923! History does not record that there were any major pranksters among them. Of course, “Brick” Chezem, a member of the group as an underclassman, is reputed to have improved the portrait of Bishop Baker, hanging in the Centenary Chapel, placing in the austere Bishop’s hand a sudsy beer mug and adding to his lips a large, fat cigar. No one actually pinned the artistry on “Brick”, but Miss Ella Heath, the demure art teacher of the time, exclaimed, “Only Mr. Chezem could have done it so well!”

Spike goes on: “I am not familiar with modern pranks, but I am sure they must go on today as in the past. One I can never forget is Hurst Majors’ story of the big bass drum standing on the Chapel platform. As the praying professor of the morning intoned, “Our Father”, the bass drum went “BOOM”! The prayer was continued, matched by the drum, “BOOM! BOOM!”, until someone broke the string that ran from the drum apparatus back into the sophomore section near, according to Hurst, the usual seat of “Skeeter” Delashmutt.”

“Then I remember one cold night, in 1924, we were startled from our sleep by an outcry from “Major” McGill. He and Everett “Mose” Laury shared a double bed located just outside the bathroom window. Some brother had attached a small hose to a hot water faucet, had run the hose out the window and down between the sleeping pair, had opened the faucet valve slightly, and departed down the street. Trickle, trickle came the warm water. Trickle! Trickle! Major was the first to feel it. Slowly he roused. Then, in a rush of realization, he raised from the bed. “Mose, Mose! MOSE!”, he exclaimed. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Mayhem was in their hearts that night as they tore through the house and sleeping porch searching for the culprit who successfully, and luckily, feigned sleep across the aisle.”

“Another tale is that of Dean Markham’s chair. In the Faculty hierarchy on the Chapel platform the Dean sat next to the President, center stage. Now, no one really disliked Dean Markham. We came to realize, after we were alumni, that the Dean was a man of good humor and an affable, lovable gentleman. Presumably, however, as the Dean he was a symbol of authority the restraints of which must have seemed to justify some offsetting devil-may-care action. So, one night, a trio bent on such action climbed the creaky stairs of Centenary Hall to saw and sever the legs of the Dean’s chair from its seat, leaving the parts in position, standing upright in apparently normal condition. Next morning, the Dean came on to the Chapel platform, but to go to the second row. The reason became evident when President Fleming entered escorting Mr. Joab Mulvane, from Topeka, an elderly gentleman who was then in the process of giving to Baker the money to build the Science Hall which now bears his name. Mr. Mulvane was about to sit in the Dean’s chair but was moved over a spot to permit that morning’s speaker, his son, Dave, to sit there. Dave Mulvane was the publisher of one of the Wichita newspapers and the then Chairman of the Kansas State Republican Committee. Lo, the chair stood – to the relief of the trio, I suppose, who must have thought the janitors had discovered their handiwork. That is, the chair stood until the first hymn was announced. As Dr. Fleming offered Dave Mulvane a hymnal, his center of gravity moved, the engineering planned for the Dean worked perfectly, and the chair gave way, “Kerplop!”. Dave dropped backwards, feet high in the air, to come to rest with his head in the lap of one of the women professors, a lady of some proportions. To his everlasting credit, Dave took the episode in stride and in his talk thanked the student body for his touching reception. So far as is known, no attempt was made to identify the pranksters. Dean Markham was seen to chuckle when he left the Chapel service.”

Cecil Pulliam Bronston was born August 14, 1903 in Princeton, Kansas. His father, Oliver Cromwell Bronston, was a Methodist minister and the family frequently moved around Kansas as his father accepted new appointments. He attended Baker, graduating in 1925, and then received a law degree. He married Dorothy V. Campbell on July 26, 1927. They had two sons James Campbell Bronston, who also attended Baker, and Charles Williams Bronston. Cecil spent most of his career in the trust department of Continental Illinois National Bank in Chicago where he became a Vice President. The couple moved to Mesa, Arizona when he retired and he died in Mesa, March 18, 1982, at the age of 78. Cecil and Dorothy were supporters of Baker throughout their lives.

Cecil "Spike" Bronston at age 17

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