Sarah Greene, Class of 1947, must be in the oldest group on this mailing list, and it always reminds me of what drastic changes I have experienced since those long-ago days in Missouri.
“A Stephens Snapshot” in the new issue caught my attention, for it dealt with the Prince of Wales Riding Club, the longest continuously active riding club in the country. Horseback riding, on English saddles was offered as a physical education subject.
Since owning a saddle horse, fox trotter preferred, was a recurring part of my life, I naturally tried out for the Prince of Wales Club and was pleased to be accepted.
THINGS I didn’t know as a member were disclosed in this story.
It seems that the club began as a joke about Prince Edward VIII and his knack for falling off his horse during steeplechases.
According to folklore which seems to be true, a Stephens student in 1926 fell off her horse at the feet of James Madison Wood, then president of the college. and Rolf Raynor, director of the equitation program. Raynor joked that she had performed “a Prince of Wales maneuver.” So the club was originally born for women who had fallen off a horse at least once. I was in that cohort.
The club’s charter is signed by Wood and Raynor, and bears the names of the 14 charter members.
THE REST is told here:
As the story goes, Stephens invited the prince himself to sign the charter, but he apparently declined. The College then reached out to the notable humorist Will Rogers, a horseman himself, who dropped out of a military school in Boonville and who often poked fun at the prince’s riding skills. Rogers signed the charter, wishing the group good luck.
The requirement that a student must fall off a horse has since been lifted, but the club’s original colors—black and blue, of course—are still used.
Although members today are serious about their work, they also make time for fun events, including a barbecue with some “goofy games,” Sara Linde Patel, Equestrian Studies instructor and the group’s adviser, said.
“Our students work so hard, they have to have some downtime to laugh and have some fun,” she said “We work hard, but we also need a chance to laugh hard.”
Rogers would certainly agree.
ALSO OF note in the “good news” category was a story headlined A Momentous Gift.
It told about how an anonymous donor had contributed a $15 million unrestricted gift to the College —the largest in Stephens’ 180-year history.
Always proud of its uniqueness, Stephens had 2,000 students as a 2-year women’s college in the immediate post-World War II years. It was not a “girl’s finishing school,” faculty and friends insisted.
College President Dianne Lynch, who announced the gift, vowed to use it to invest in the vision of Stephens as a college renowned for its programs in the creative arts and health sciences.
Today Stephens is a 4-year college with 500 students. That may sound like going backwards, but it’s not. We’ve every reason to say, “You’ve come a long way, baby.”