By JIMMY BRYANT
During the University of Central Arkansas’ early years, the entertainment enjoyed by students was usually provided by the students themselves.
Occasionally, UCA officials arranged for a guest speaker or vocalist, but that was rare in those days.
For the most part, the students used their creative talents to manufacture their own form of entertainment.
One of the most popular events created by the students was the annual "Pow-Wow." The "Pow-Wow" took place in the woods that were located about 1 1/2 miles south of the campus and began after nightfall.
The event was always well-attended with more than 300 attending in 1920, which was about 62 percent of the student body.
The nomenclature associated with the "Pow-Wow" was based upon Native American culture. Also, many of the programs put on by the students were related to Native American culture.
The students dressed as Native Americans using copper-colored makeup and feathers.
The person in charge of the "Pow-Wow" was called "Chief," and the groups of students were referred to as "tribes." The "tribes" were represented by the various classes of students and each class put on a program.
The "Pow-Wow" was lighted only by the light that came from a bonfire that took the better part of a day to build.
The event began with a speech from one of the students who had been elevated to "Chief" for the occasion.
According to The Echo, the student newspaper, "Chief Louis Dunaway stepped forward and delivered an address to the tribesmen, referring repeatedly to the Great Bear Spirit - the spirit of the Normal School (now UCA).
"His speech was followed by tributes to the Great Bear by Ciss Feda Salyers and W.E. Castelberry, who were accorded wild applause by the crowd."
The four college classes were joined by the on-campus Training School in putting on the programs.
The Training School members enacted a snake dance and the freshmen class entertained the audience with a ghost dance.
The sophomore class sang a collection of college songs which included a song written for each class of UCA and the junior class put on a circus.
The "Pow-Wow" was the type of event that brought young people together for simple entertainment in a tranquil environment, lighted only by the glowing fire from a bonfire, at a time when artificial lighting was in its infancy.
Each year the students looked forward to the "Pow-Wow" and they made a great effort to insure its success.
According to The Echo, "After all the apples were eaten and all the marshmallows toasted, the different tribes departed for home, all declaring that this "Pow-Wow" was the largest and best in the history of the school."
Another form of entertainment that proved very popular was the "Big Time Carnival," an event that was created and produced solely by students. Students dressed as clowns, put on magic shows and sold food to raise money for the Scroll, the UCA yearbook.
The advertisement in the April 7, 1922 Echo stated, "It will behoove every Normal (UCA) student to be present. The Skeezimajack will be there in all of its mystery. Big shows never heard of before. Lots of things to eat. All very cheap. Only requires FIVE CENTS to get into the game. Remember it is a Scroll benefit. Come and bring your girl."
Candy pulls were also a big part of campus life and in 1922 the social event was enjoyed by all students.
Typically, female students sponsored a "candy pull" and the male students were the guests of honor. Candy was actually made at these gatherings and according to The Echo, "Some students were said to be happily engaged in cracking nuts and making candy while others gathered around the piano and sang songs."
The curfew for "candy pulls" was 10 p.m. and at that time the male students had to depart. According to The Echo, "The boys left reluctantly, after expressing their hopes that such good times could be enjoyed quite frequently."
A form of entertainment that was created solely for women was the Girls’ Hiking Club. The Girls’ Hiking Club was organized in early 1921, and those who joined received one-tenth of a course credit.
All members of the club were required to hike 50 miles during the semester and to provide themselves with notebooks because they had to take notes on the trip about what they observed and experienced.
The group took hikes on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons and on one Saturday afternoon the group hiked from UCA to the train tunnel and back.
According to The Echo, "On the way to the tunnel, hills were traversed, mud holes crossed, and many other difficulties surmounted before the tunnel was reached. Everyone went home feeling that she had derived great benefit from the hike."
The 1922 Scroll stated, "The spring term marked the beginning of the second year of the Hikers Club in this institution. At the beginning of the season 62 enthusiastic girls reported for hiking. Only the hardiest could endure the blistered heels which resulted from this exercise."
Author’s Note: The sources used for this article included The Echo, the Scroll and A History of the Arkansas State Teachers College by Ted Worley.