Look Back: What Rhymes with “Turpentine”?

August 20, 2023
Students Singing Good Old Baylor Line

In the heart of Texas, nestled against the banks of the Brazos River, there is a line. That line, imbued with the collective spirit, passion and faith of every Baylor Bear past and present, traverses all 50 states, crosses oceans and passes through 90 countries to wrap around the world and back again. This line does not lie silent but reverberates with the same song and spirit that it has for nearly a century.

Lariat with Line Lyrics

Not long after the University began playing intercollegiate football in 1899, the need for a school song became clear, and the search for the right tune began. The student body tried on several options, such as “Better Be for Baylor,” “Baylor U, Tried and True,” and potentially the most fascinating option, “Viva La Baylor.” None of these, however, had enough staying power to last more than a season or two. It wasn’t until 1906 that a student by the name of George Baines Rosborough would pen the earliest draft of “That Good Old Baylor Line.” Set to the melody of the 1900s hit song, “In The Good Old Summer Time,” George’s humorous set of lyrics were Baylor specific and allowed for the student body to take a good-hearted jab at their opponent on the day of contest.

“That good old Baylor line,
That good old Baylor line.
Where will [name of opponent] be when
Our stars begin to shine?
They’ll wish they were at home again,
Done up in turpentine.
The day our backs come up the field,
That good old Baylor line.”

After being sung in Chapel for the first time by a student quartet, it was adopted by the student body at large and could be heard at almost all campus functions until 1931. At that time, a graduate of the class of 1923, Mrs. Enid Eastland Markham, wife of music professor Robert Markham, took up the challenge of elevating the lyrics to more closely align with the degree of dignity that the song should have to represent the whole of the institution. The “Good Old Baylor Line,” complete with new lyrics, was promoted to the status of official school song Nov. 5, 1931. The new lines were published on the front page of The Baylor Lariat and sung for the first time in Chapel.

The tune of the song would later be paired with an original arrangement that fit Mrs. Markham’s lyrics through the work of Jack Goode and Donald I. Moore. This was the final modification to the song, transforming it into the beloved symbol of Baylor Spirit it is today. The spirit of the Baylor Line doesn’t stop with the school song, however. There was one more component that the University didn’t know it was missing until its incorporation — the Sic ’em.

To sing the “That Good Old Baylor Line” without punctuating it with a resounding Sic ’em is not unlike a prayer without an amen. The Sic ’em spirit yell was introduced in 1960 by Baylor’s yell leaders alongside the iconic “Bear Claw” hand signal to what were surprisingly mixed reactions from students and faculty. The Sic ’em would languish through more than a decade of sporadic and inconsistent use until the arrival of Grant Teaff as Baylor’s head football coach in 1972, which ushered in a new era of pride in Baylor athletics.

So, from 1906 to today and so long as stars shall shine, we fling our green and gold afar, to light the ways of time, and guide us as we onward go, that good old Baylor Line.

Sic ’em, Bears!