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Wrangler & Bob

Wrangler & Bob


 Robert A. Fink


For the Hardin-Simmons University

family, past and present

and, I hope, for you . . .


“And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4.14, ESV)

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” (James 2.14, ESV)

“May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.” (Dr. Phil Christopher, pastor FBC, Abilene, Texas)

Of course I wouldn’t dare risk claiming I have a spiritual calling, or even that I’m on a Blues Brothers mission from God. You already know that everything I do is self-serving, but maybe this really is why I’m still at Hardin-Simmons, for “such a time as this.”  At least I’m telling myself this is something I can do, my work.

This past summer, I did a lot of reading and writing, completing a new poetry book manuscript and working on a book about Hardin-Simmons. Not really a book, but a new entry in my personal website , the website I had not intended to renew.  Then I began to read back through the six years of issues of The Light Standard and This Little Light and decided I might keep the website active for another year so I could share the heritage, the values of Hardin-Simmons, its faculty and staff, it’s historical leaders (icons really) I especially revere:  James B. Simmons, E. Julius Olsen, Rupert N. Richardson, J. D. Sandefer, Jesse Fletcher, and the heroic (yes, I do mean heroic) faculty and staff who have sacrificed in order to keep, as the HSU anthem declares, the worth of Hardin-Simmons increasing, keep its noble cause alive. “Long may thy worth increase. Long live thy noble cause.”

Susan Pigott

Susan Pigott

The title of the book is:  Alma Mater—Hardin-Simmons University, The Best-Kept Secret: A Memoir.  It is my offering to the Hardin-Simmons family and to the long email list of friends I want to know who Hardin-Simmons has been and is. “Hardin-Simmons, hail to thee, for famous are thy halls.” We declare this each time we sing the HSU anthem. The halls of Hardin-Simmons are famous, and I want everyone to know it. I want Hardin-Simmons’ “best-kept secret” told.

The book is available by opening my website and clicking on the title Alma Mater—Hardin-Simmons University, The Best-Kept Secret: A Memoir located at the top of the Home Page.  Please scroll down the drop-down menu beneath this title to reveal the thirty chapters in the book.  If you feel inclined, I would be happy for you to email the website address to HSU alumni, former faculty and staff, trustees, board members, friends of Hardin-Simmons, anyone who needs to know
or to be reminded who we are, what HSU has always been for its students, faculty, staff, and friends—the HSU Family.

Alma Mater—Hardin-Simmons University, The Best-Kept Secret: A Memoir is a book thirty-eight and one-half years in the making, a memoir of sorts, introspective, personal, but not, I’m certain, about me. I’m much too private. Why do you think I write poetry? I can attempt the truth by not telling it.  When people ask Katrina, “Did you really do that? What Bob wrote in those poems?,” she always replies, “Excuse me? You know he lies.” My parents and relatives in the hills of East Texas would shake their heads and tell their friends and my Sunday school teachers, “Adon tells stories.” East Texans in the late forties and early fifties preferred euphemisms. Oh, the “A” in “Robert A.” stands for Adon. I miss that kid. Almost as much as I miss Wrangler.

Wrangler instructs the rookie

Enough about me. This is supposed to be an introduction to my (there’s that pronoun) book; at least I’m calling it a book.  I did orchestrate the “chapters” in what seems to me a somewhat unified and coherent sequence.  I hope you will agree and read the chapters in order from 1 to 30. Of course you can read them in any order.  They were originally written independent of each other as articles in The Hardin-Simmons University Light Standard and in This Little Light.

You’re right (those of you who know me); they were really my Light Standard, my This Little Light, but for the five school-years, 115 issues (plus special issues) of The Light Standard and the additional sixth-year (I couldn’t just quit publication cold turkey) of This Little Light‘s 11 or so issues, I featured almost every Hardin-Simmons faculty member and many of our staff members writing personal essays, sharing themselves and their work with the Hardin-Simmons family and with a substantial Bcc email list of friends of mine.  The better side of me, the one I mostly keep in check, did intend the purpose of this pdf-file, e-mail (e-magazine?) publication to be a celebration of the Hardin-Simmons faculty and staff, honoring the on-going heritage of one of the oldest universities in Texas (founded 1891), a best-kept secret I wanted everyone (meaning those on the mailing list) to know about, and be better people for knowing. It worked for me.  I really did grieve when the publication ceased. My choice.

So, Alma Mater . . . is my attempt to share with a much wider readership the heritage of Hardin-Simmons, celebrating the values of our small, liberal arts university, its often unsung faculty and staff committed to excellence, education enlightened by faith, and even confess my love for a university at which I did not anticipate staying past the first year. Now I’m thinking I might make forty.