Back in the Day
Imagine a time before personal computers, cell phones and cable TV: when I-35 was a two-lane road, business classes were held in Welch and Waggener Hall and being married before your senior year was pretty common.
In celebration of his upcoming 50-Year Reunion, McCombs TODAY spoke with Harold Carter, BBA ’62, about the good old days on the Forty Acres.
What was your favorite spot around campus?
The Drag was really an active place. Home Drug Store was an old timey drug store next to the Co-op, with a fountain and booths, where you could get a Coke or coffee and a sandwich. It was a real hangout place. Pete’s was a beer hall that was very popular. Beer was a quarter a bottle on Friday nights. A block north of that, there was Hank’s, a great chicken fried steak place. You never went into those places and didn’t see somebody you knew.
What were some of your favorite things to do around Austin?
UT sports were a focus for a lot of us: football games, basketball, baseball. And there was a party at the fraternity house nearly every Friday or Saturday night.
I was fortunate enough, I was in Sigma Nu fraternity, and we were the only fraternity or sorority on campus that had a swimming pool. So in the good weather, activity on Saturday or Sunday afternoon around the pool was a lot of fun. And then going to the lakes and the rivers around Austin, just like the kids do now.
I enjoyed social life beyond my fraternity. I was in the Texas Cowboys, I participated in the inter-fraternity council, and we had a petroleum land management club in the Business School.
What were the popular trends on campus?
The flat-top was still a popular boy's hair cut, and bobby socks and poodle skirts were still worn by the girls. Blue jeans, khakis and "alligator" Polo shirts were popular.
Is there a particular song or band you remember hearing all the time?
Of course, Elvis Presley was at his height in the late 50s and early 60s. Johnny Cash was really popular, and in fact, he performed at Round-Up one year. And Johnny Mathis and the Kingston Trio were very popular.
What was your favorite class and most challenging class?
My favorite classes in the business school were the business law classes, and in our degree plan, I think I took every business law course offered in the school. My most challenging courses were economics. And I, like most students, really had to work to pass that.
Where did you live?
I lived at the fraternity house until after my junior year, and then that’s when Bitsy [Betty Ruth Carter] and I got married and we lived in apartments after that.
Our first apartment was a garage apartment on Enfield. It was $75 a month. Then a good friend and his wife moved out of their apartment around 35th and Lamar. It was $65 a month, so we moved in.
How did you and your wife Bitsy meet?
We met during rush of 1958 when Bitsy was a freshman. We were married the summer of ’60. We were probably among a half-dozen of my friends that got married that summer. It was not uncommon at all. When you turned 21, you thought you were old enough to get married, and a lot of us did.
What was the “cool” new career for graduates in your class?
The dynamic change that we enjoy today—with new inventions like Facebook once a month—that wasn’t going on. Everybody was doing what they did like their daddy or their mother did.
We were beginning to hear more about things like information processing. By the mid-‘60s, Ross Perot had started EDS. IBM was in business, and it was a big company. But nothing like today—you used data card punch cards to put in the computer to process the data. Those things were in their infant stage. There wasn’t a new hot something every year.
After my sophomore year, the petroleum land management degree plan started. It was about half science and engineering and half business. That was something new and a lot of people transferred into it while I was still in school.
When did you first work with computers?
When I went back to Harvard for the PMD program in ’77, we used them to process data in our case studies. In my career, I never did use a punch card. Now, they processed data, but not at the level of anyone working at the desk. Everyone dictated letters to the secretary—still the way they did it 50 years earlier.
How would you characterize that time in your life?
It was a wonderful five years of my life. Everyone thinks their time was the best, but we really were at the end of a great period of time, when people didn’t lock their doors. Life was much simpler.
Harold Carter has worked in the oil and gas business for over forty years. He is semi-retired and still involved in investing and consulting.
Are you a member of the class of 1962? Don't miss out! Register today for the 50-Year Reunion on April 25-26, 2012.