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The origins of the McCallum-Travis rivalry

Karla Saldana

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"Caesar had his Brutus, Napoleon his Waterloo, and Travis -- the McCallum game," reads the caption in the 1962 Knight. "The victory bell, purchased by the publications by the publications departments of Travis and McCallum, is guarded by editors from both schools: Judy Calvert, Janet Barkley, and Carolyn Barkley of Travis, and Gwen Chancellor and Bill Towery of McCallum." Photo from the 1962 Knight.

“Caesar had his Brutus, Napoleon his Waterloo, and Travis — the McCallum game,” reads the caption in the 1962 Knight. “The victory bell, purchased by the publications by the publications departments of Travis and McCallum, is guarded by editors from both schools: Judy Calvert, Janet Barkley, and Carolyn Barkley of Travis, and Gwen Chancellor and Bill Towery of McCallum.” Photo from the 1962 Knight.

It is true that McCallum as a school has rivalries; but the rivalry with Travis may surpass the rest due to the question of: Who will get the bell after the traditional annual football game?

Since both McCallum and Travis were opened the same year, and because of their north-south locations, it was obvious that something had to be done to spice up the competitive relationship between the two. So, in 1953, the first Shield newspaper staff sponsored by Leedell Horton and the first Travis Southerner newspaper staff got together and came up with the Victory Bell rivalry between the two schools.

According to the official Agreement on the Victory Bell, later known as just “the bell” the team having the highest score will possess of the bell from the time of the final whistle of the annual football game until the time when the teams meet again. In case of a tie, the winner is chosen by penetrations of its opponent’s 20-yard line according to the referee’s report. If penetrations should be tied, the team, with the highest number of first downs based on the referee’s report, is declared possessor if the bell, and if the downs are tied, the team with the most net yardage from scrimmage, as calculated by the official Austin American-Statesman sports reporter, will be the winner. If all of this fails to declare a winner, then a coin is tossed and the coaches call the flip.

The bell used at the first McCallum-Travis game was a fake used to stand for the real one; and McCallum won it. The official bell, “Old No. 988;” was purchased the next year for $62 from the Southern Pacific Railway company in Houston. Two legs of the bell were painted blue for McCallum and two were painted red for Travis.

After the game is over and the winner is established, the winning team and coaches get first chance of sounding the Bell and after that anyone from the winning school can ring it as long as they want, but only until midnight. Tradition has it that any person ringing the bell after midnight will have bad luck brought upon him. The team then has the responsibility of removing the bell from the field and not having it rung until the next year.

According to the Victory Bell agreement, the bell should be displayed at the winning school until the next year.

In the meantime the “owner” of the bell has the responsibility of cleaning the bell (if necessary), having it engraved with the winning school’s name and official score, and delivering it to the stadium by at least 30 minutes before kick-off at the next game.

The school “owning” the bell also has the choice as to when they want to use it prior to the game. The publications department and cheerleaders from the school not “owning the bell” have to ask the permission of the winning school to use the bell prior to the annual game.

After last year’s tie for the bell, the first since 1957, and the first victory for McCallum since the 1980s, it was obvious that anything could happen with the Bell, and as a result of lots of hard work, the Knights remained the owners of the Bell for another year with a blowout of Travis 21-0.

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 21, 1994 edition,

of The Shield.

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The origins of the McCallum-Travis rivalry