--1938 postcard courtesy of  Betty J. Bennett, White County Historical Society


A glimpse into life after homework


Hanging Around At Harding



            When those neon fast-food signs dimmed for the night, students living off campus had to use their imagination, says Hanaba Munn Noack (’70).  “I had always studied in the dorm lobby, so I had to find a new place.”

            That place was Ma’s Truck Stop, an all-night diner off the old highway near Bald Knob.  “It was a hole in the wall, and it’s a stretch to call it a truck stop,” says Noack.

            Truck drivers did, however, drop in for biscuits and gravy around 5 a.m., and Noack and her crew were often still there to greet them after their own all-nighter.  She recalls the shocked expressions on the truckers’ faces one morning when they walked in to see art student Rick Smith (’71) finishing up his class project – a plasticene sculpture of an ear.

            “Ma” treated her strange, nocturnal customers pretty well, but she wasn’t afraid to enforce a few ground rules:  “We weren’t allowed to sit at the truck drivers’ table,” says Noack, and Harding students were barred from playing the pinball machine.  Ma told them she didn’t think the school’s administration would approve.

            “Sometimes on leaving we would lower the antenna on Dale Hardman’s (’71) MG Midget and carefully drive under a parked truck,” Noack says.  “Daring stuff.”


            But perhaps it’s the least adventurous of Harding hangouts that is the most enduring:  the Harding swing.  Students today gather around those swings every evening for after-dinner conversation, just as they did back in the 1930s and ‘40s. 

            Hawley says it’s no accident Harding-like swings are fixtures on other Christian college campuses, including York College, for which he serves on the board of trustees.  “They became a prototype.  When Harding people worked on the boards of other Christian schools, they brought the swings with them,” he says.

            He recalls that, with no money and no car for a night on the town, “I would meet on a swing to talk to my girl” – namely, Julia Tranum (’45), his wife of 55 years.

            “I guess, as I reflect on it, we must have been pretty deprived,” he says, then adds with a chuckle, “but we didn’t know it.”   fff