Yell leader remembers early spirit squad years

Posted on Jan 30, 2017 in Alumni News and News

KU Spirit Squad alumni 1960
Pete Anderson, f’60, recently reminisced about his time on the KU Spirit Squad. The post below was originally published on the KU Spirit Squad Alumni Facebook page, and is reprinted here with permission. Check out their page each Monday for a new alumni feature.

We had no budget. Dick Wintermote of KU Alumni was our sponsor, and we were supplied with the heavy red sweaters and a “letter jacket,” and the jacket had to be returned at the end of the season. We paid our own expenses for the most part; some of the squad had cars so we got to go to Manhattan, Ames, Columbia and maybe a few other places. We practiced in the Union building once or twice a week. This was just the beginning of the acrobatic era and we did very little at that time. I think Dick Wintermote saw the future with more gymnastics coming along…and wow…now it’s awesome.

Late August 1958, Dick Jones, our head cheerleader, brought over ten megaphones. I painted them all white, and then put on the red KANSAS and the persons name on the back. It was quite a job but I was excited to be a part of the squad and to do the megaphones. We supplied our own white pants and black and white saddle shoes, and the girls had white pleated skirts and a “jerken” in blue as they called them; sort of a slip-over-the-head sleeveless sweater garment. We all thought we were hot stuff at that first football game. We soon learned how HOT the heavy wool sweaters could be.

KU Spirit Squad alumni 1960

One highlight was meeting Louie Armstrong who was playing at the Union. The team came in after a game and he struck up “When The Saints Come Marching In.” Imagine standing right next to Louis Armstrong with your team right there…incredible.

Ken Gray and I were both Phi Psis on the team and our house was proud of our participation. Carol Abernathy was my partner and she was great. Jane Perry was from Lawrence so I had known her all through school. Ann Underwood married KU basketball player Lynn Kindred who later became an MD…as did Howie Elfeldt and Ken Gray. Heather Grayham was a tiny girl and we called her “Heather The Feather.”

Sadly I have lost track of all the gang, but have seen Jane Perry off and on through the years. Three years ago we moved to a town home at Lawrence Presbyterian Manor, and while sorting out 36 years of stuff from our house, I found my red sweater in a bag with moth balls…all those years, and in perfect condition…so I donated the sweater to the Booth Hall at Allen Field House. Dick Jones’ daughter brought in his sweater and megaphone also. Representing KU was, and is, always a pleasure.

I look forward to the Kansas Alumni magazine throughout the year and often recall familiar names from yesteryear.

Pete Anderson
Class of 1960

Tags: , ,