In the 1950s, Hickman put the Mack in McCallum

1958 alum, U.S, Marine confirms school culture embraced academics, arts long before it hosted the Fine Arts Academy


File photo from 1957 Knight

This image from Hickman’s junior year, 1956-1957, Hickman poses for the camera in his role as a baseball team manager.

Lissa Castro, Mac photojournalism

As a senior in 1957-1958, Hickman lettered in boys basketball and served as manager of the baseball and football teams. File photo from the 1958 Knight yearbook.

Mack Hickman was riding in style. His car, a shiny new 1952 Ford Convertible, was the pride and joy of his seventh through 12th-grade years at McCallum high school. He got his license at 14  years old in 1953, the same year McCallum opened. On the weekends he would pick up his girlfriend and one or two friends for drives around town.

“I loved loading the car up with my friends and tooling down the drag,” Hickman said.

Before McCallum was the high school we know today, it was a school for students in seventh through 11th grades. Later forming into the 9th through 12th-grade system we now see. The 50s were a time of celebration in America and the high school experience was no different. Although Hickman graduated from McCallum 63 years ago in the class of 1958, he will always be a Knight at heart.

“Most of our parents were in World War II,” Hickman said, “So our parents always wanted us to have more opportunities than they had.”

McCallum High School stood up to the challenge: it was full of opportunities and promoted strong futures for their pupils. Hickman was an active student; he still remembers laughter shared from playing basketball and baseball. With a smile, he recalls Frank Rundell, the basketball coach who inspired him to become a leader as well as a better person and student.

But for Hickman, school was about more than basketball and academics. To Hickman, school was social. His generation was given more opportunities than ever before and every person he talked to was more interesting than the last. He attended school dances in the cafeteria and spent time with his friends in the gymnasium. Between classes, Hickman would carry his girlfriend’s books through the hallways while other guys would go outside to smoke on the sidewalks.

Mack Hickman then and now. Photos courtesy of Hickman.

“It was also the beginning of the rock ‘n’ roll era,” Hickman said, “so a lot of guys bought guitars and imitated Elvis or Johnny Cash.”

McCallum High School later included Austin Independent School District’s Fine Arts Academy, but even when Mack attended, it had an active artistic scene. A number of Hickman’s classmates ended up pursuing musical careers. Don Burch played on American Bandstand and a PBS DooWop Special. Bobby Doyle played in his band, Blood, Sweat and Tears and later the Bobby Doyle Trio with Kenny Rogers.

“I always thought they should teach us more about how to deal with finances, owning property and how to get along in life after school.” is Hickman’s only feedback of his time at McCallum. “Of course, I had the Marine Corps to take care of all those things for me.”

As a sophomore in 1955-1956, Hickman hit the dance floor with Milly Driggs. File photo from the 1956 Knight yearbook.

Hickman enlisted in the Marine Corps immediately following graduation and continued for 8 years.

Hickman’s father always told him, “Son, find a job that you enjoy and makes you happy and you will never work a day in your life.”

For Hickman, that job was being in the U.S. Marines. He enjoyed the chance to see the world and travel. Mack will always be proud of his service.

McCallum has undergone changes both architectural and academic since the era when Hickman attended.

“I love the changes over the years and am very proud of their academic upgrades” Hickman remarked.

The most important thing he would like to remind future students is to respect the staff.

“If they ask for something, always give them more.”

Hickman recognized McCallum for helping him grow into a stronger and happier person.

“I am 81 years old” he noted, “and I know that life is too short to be unhappy for a single day.”

As a sophomore, Hickman appeared in the dance number, “Seventeen,” as part of the Royal Court Players’ production of Press Capades. In 1955-1956, the RCP also staged Harvey and presented Joan of Lorraine in the UIL one-act play competition. File photo from 1956 Knight.

The index of the 1958 Knight, Hickman’s senior year, reveals that he was an active student, involved in athletics and clubs. File photo from 1958 Knight.