By Kendall Fomby-Bell, Staff Writer
September 14, 2023
Ouachita celebrated the historical birthday of Cone-Bottoms this past Monday, Sept. 4. The 1920s-themed lawn party brought together faculty, staff and students, carrying them to new heights on the featured hot-air balloon ride. Felley Lawson, Communications and Marketing Manager, shares some of the highlights of the celebration. “Cone-Bottoms hosted vintage lawn games, a performing aerialist, a postmodern jukebox playlist and signature snacks and drinks: sparkling purple lemonade, Purple Cow ice cream served with chocolate-filled waffle ‘cone bottoms,’ and popcorn or glazed almonds served in paper-cone replicas of The Signal’s coverage of Cone-Bottoms opening in 1923,” Lawson said.
Junior accounting and finance major Andrew Ellis attended and volunteered at the party. He shares his experience.
“It was awesome to see campus at sunset from a hot-air balloon,” Ellis said. “This is a once in a lifetime chance that I am grateful to have experienced.”
Cone-Bottoms is much more than just a building. Alumni and current students alike share many memories that include Cone-Bottoms. The lawn party celebrated this, and the rich history of the building was put at the forefront as the event was being planned. Lawson recalls the impact Cone-Bottoms has left on her and many past students’ lives as well.
“I have a photo in my office of my mom and two of her very best friends,” Lawson said. “It was taken outside Cone-Bottoms when they lived there as students in 1961. Their suite was on the third floor at the end of the hall. Today, that space is Dr. Sells’ office.”
Lawson shares some of her own memories on Cone-Bottoms’ steps. “I serve as a staff sponsor for the social club I pledged as a freshman,” Lawson said. “One of the founding members of our club came to Ouachita as an orphan. She followed an older sibling here, with everything she owned packed in the trunk she brought with her on the train to Arkadelphia. Cone-Bottoms was her literal home. Even though she came here alone, she made a place for herself, found great friends and helped start a club that [has] lasted almost a hundred years,” Lawson shared. “It’s easy to take for granted a building that’s such a part of life around here. But that’s kind of the point: Cone-Bottoms is such an important part of life at Ouachita – students’ lives, experiences, and memories, and it has been for decades. That’s a beautiful thing to celebrate.”
Through the development of Ouachita’s campus, Cone-Bottoms has remained planted, encapsulating much of the school’s legacy, traditions and history. Tiffany Pickett, Acting Director of Communications and Marketing, shares many traditions that originated years ago on Cone-Bottoms lawn and are still carried out today. “School traditions from freshman year move-in, first day of school pictures, Tiger-Tunes, graduation, club and social club pictures, lawn parties and many more continue to connect past and present Ouachitonians through these moments carried out on Cone-Bottoms,” Pickett said.
The ordinary and extraordinary moments play out in front of Cone-Bottoms, which plays a big part in keeping the Ouachita spirit alive for years to come.
Lauren Lester, senior softball player and communication sciences and disorders major, shares her perspective on Cone-Bottoms and the memories there. “A bunch of significant things during my years here happened at Cone-Bottoms,” Lester said. “My first ever freshman meeting, bid day and letter day for my social club, first day of school pictures, end of Tiger Tunes shows and soon to be my graduation,” Lester said. “It is so special that my Ouachita career began on Cone-Bottoms’ steps and that this lawn will be where I graduate at the end of this year. It really is full circle.”
These stories and moments surround Cone-Bottoms, helping to make Ouachita a special place to reconnect with history and establish new memories. Cone-Bottoms is the front door of Ouachita and holds these memories beginning and ending on the lawn. Ellis reflects on what the Cone-Bottoms party meant to him as a student.
“It was truly a celebration of Cone-Bottoms and Ouachita,” Ellis said. “There is no better way to recognize and appreciate such an iconic piece of Ouachita life and history than to all gather together as a Ouachita family.”
Watch Ouachita News Show reporter Kaelin Clay for more on the story: