Central’s current Alma Mater replaced the original one, set to the hymn-tune “Finlandia,” in the 1980’s as a way to express CMU’s mission as the College that Cares, and was coauthored by two CMU professors, Dr. Don Eidson (lyrics) and Dr. R. Paul Drummond (music).
The original fight song, Hail Victory, was written in 1938 by Robert E. Stepp, Jr., then a band student at Central College. Upon coming back to Central for his 50th anniversary in 1990, he was amazed that we were still using the fight song he had written as a student. Deciding that there needed to be a new fight song, he contacted Prof. Keith House, then Dean of the Swinney Conservatory of Music, and asked that he find someone to write a new fight song, offering $250 for this commission. Professor House contacted Andy Glover, a 1983 CMU alumnus and current Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Barnhouse Publishing Company, who composed the music and lyrics for a new fight song, Fighting Eagles. This led to a rare distinction for Central, as the new was simply added to the original so that for a time, CMU had two fight songs until 2005, when the new song was formally adopted as the official fight song of Central Methodist University.
The Central experience begins and ends with a significant tradition – passing under the tower. At Freshmen Convocation, the very first day of classes, freshmen line up on the sidewalks and are led under the tower and into the church to begin their career as CMU students. When they finish their four years here, they line up for the procession for their Baccalaureate service, signaling their transition from student to graduate.
One of the most beloved traditions for Central’s graduates is the Baccalaureate procession on the morning of Commencement Day. Students and faculty line up in their Academic Regalia on the Quad before the Baccalaureate service in Linn Memorial Chapel. As the procession begins the students line the sides of the sidewalk and applaud their faculty as they process through. As the faculty approach the entrance to the church, they split to the sides of the sidewalk and applaud the students as they process through and enter the church.
No home football game in Fayette is complete without a trip to the square to take in the Marching Eagles. The Marching Band still keeps a time-honored tradition of marching from in front of the steps of Linn Memorial Chapel to the Howard County Courthouse steps to perform tunes and get the home crowd geared up for the game. Just as time-honored, but less frequently carried out, the band traditionally marches back down to the square for a celebratory concert in the event of a home team win. Go Eagles!
No matter what generation you are from, Hwy. 240 holds a special place in students’ hearts as the winding road that never seems to end on your way to or from home, or just a night out in Columbia. About 5 miles south of town, on the northeast side of the road sits the Lucky Barn, down in a valley, its face adorned with a quilt pattern. The details of the story change from decade to decade, but every true Eagle knows that to pass by the Lucky Barn without honking – once for each passenger and once for the barn – is to risk a decidedly unlucky outcome. Ask an alum about the boy in the barn…
Speaking of spooky legends, Central is home to some seriously haunted buildings, with the Fayette campus consistently being ranked as one of America’s top colleges for the paranormal. From long gone band directors roaming under the Church Tower late at night and the boy that wanders Brannock Hall to the girl on 5th Floor Howard Payne Hall and the innumerable sightings of the inexplicable in virtually every space on campus, traditions at Central span from this dimension to the next!
For more than 6 decades, Central’s students and alumni alike gathered at MacMillan’s Café – known affectionately as Mac’s – as a legendary local watering hole, a mainstay of homecoming reunions and the proverbial place where everybody knows your name. While Mac’s closed in 2003, the legend continues through the many stories. Just ask an alum about their favorite time at Mac’s!
Beginning sometime in the early 20th century – the exact year is not known – a tradition developed that, when the football team would win a home game, the student body would march on the President’s Home, then located only a block from campus on Linn Street, and demand a day off from classes. Records indicate that on at least two occasions, they were successful in getting classes cancelled for the day. But don’t get your hopes up – Eagle Football has come a long way from those days when wins were a much rarer commodity!
Built in 1858, the co-ed residence hall known as Howard-Payne is so-named because it originally housed students for Howard Female College, which was eventually merged with Central College in 1922. Part of the original structure included grand, covered wrap-around brick porches, where many a coed mingling would take place at the extraordinarily late hours of 8 and 9pm! A last goodnight kiss when the dorm mother rang the bell became a standard lover’s tradition till the porches had to be removed when they became structurally unsound.
Initiation rites are as intertwined with the college experience as any other tradition. One such ‘first week” tradition entailed the freshmen men being marched out of the (then) all-male McMurry Hall late at night and marched over to the all-female Howard-Payne. The ladies would have the windows open and the men would be told to say hello, or pray for rain, upon which the women, ready with their buckets of water, would douse the poor freshmen, who would then be marched back to McMurry singing songs with the upperclassmen.
For many generations of students, late night hunger meant a run to the Windmill (later called the Bobber Café) Truckstop in Boonville for their infamous 24/7 breakfast. While biscuits and gravy may not be available at 1am any longer (the Bobber has since closed), dodging the New Franklin Police on the way home is still a freshmen rite of passage – literally.