Photos: Jay Moore, speaking at convocation; Dr. Lanny Hall, HSU president, enjoys Moore's humor
Few people can tell a story as humorously and with as much heart and substance as Jay Moore, says HSU president, Dr. Lanny Hall, as he introduces Moore as the fall 2012 convocation speaker to students, faculty, and staff gathered in Behrens Auditorium.
Moore is the head of the social studies department at Abilene High School, a two-time graduate of HSU, and the creator of the video history series History in Plain Sight. Moore has written and narrated the documentaries, The Bankhead Highway; Who Is That Street; Fair Park of Abilene; Wooten: An Abilene Life; Camp Barkeley; Abilene: a Look Back; and currently in production, Abilene Beginnings.
The typically humorous Moore starts by regaling HSU students with, “I’m going to talk fast because I told my students at Abilene High, ‘I’m just running down to the office and will be right back.’
“In my year’s spent at HSU I have been in this auditorium for convocations, graduations…I guess I am just trying to say, I have been exactly where you are today…falling asleep,” he follows with a quick jab.
But while Moore has a way with prodding his audience to laugh, he also has a way of prodding his audience to think; to think about what it takes to make a difference in the world; to think about how small acts, aged with perspective and time, become meaningful and great.
Moore tells the story of one of HSU’s founders, Judge Krivin Legett. On Arbor Day, 1926, Legett joined friends and planted 50 pecan trees along the south side of the campus. Today, the campus is adorned with pecan trees. “Legett was a man who stuck a shovel in the ground and turned the dirt,” says Moore.
Another small act of greatness came when a pond was envisioned for the campus. Dr. Jesse Fletcher was president of the university then, and despite those who said a parking lot was needed, Fletcher and others pursued a pond to grace the entrance of the campus. “Today people come with their children and take their Christmas pictures at that pond.” Moore reminds students, “Another small idea that came up big. Like Legett before him, Fletcher stuck a shovel in the ground and turned the dirt.”
Moore relates the story of Clyde Shaw, from Ovalo, Texas, who in 1917 came to what was then Simmons College to play basketball. “His coach said of him, he’s cool under pressure, dogged in his plays, and always available to assist.” Clyde, who was nicknamed Babe, “sailed off to France to shockingly find himself in the mud, and blood, and the hell of WWI,” says Moore.
“On September 12, 1918, while attacking the Hindenburg Line in France, Shaw volunteered to go ahead of his troops and cut the barbed wire that blocked passage through the trenches. While cutting the wires for others, Babe Shaw lost his life. Shaw, as his coach once said, was cool under pressure, dogged in his plays, and always available to assist.”
Today a cannon near the HSU pond commemorates the brave acts of Babe Shaw and 12 other students who died during WWI. Shaw’s basketball coach provided the funds for refurbishing the cannon.
“If you want to make the world a more beautiful place,” Moore says, “just take that shovel in your hand and turn the dirt, lift your hand and volunteer, move your feet, cut the wire. Take your dreams and ideas and make that first step. Be reminded of the power of little things. Long live, long live this noble cause.”
One more of many small acts of greatness to note, is the idea and construction of the convenient walk bridge over Dr. Fletcher’s campus pond. Funded by the graduating class of 2002, graduates named it the Legett Bridge, to honor one of HSU’s founders, the one who planted trees.
Moore earned a Bachelor of Behavioral Science degree in history and political science from HSU in 1982 and a master’s degree in history in 1996. In 2002, Moore taught Global Awareness, a leadership course at HSU and currently serves as the department chair of social studies at Abilene High School.
Moore was recently honored with the National Award of Merit by the American Association for State and Local History for his video series of documentaries that chronicles the history of Abilene.
“Moore’s presentations are both humorous and inspirational,” says HSU President Dr. Lanny Hall. “He holds a wealth of information about HSU history and the history of Abilene. Moore is a gifted speaker who always presents meaningful and memorable information. He is one of HSU’s finest products, an excellent role model, an exemplary citizen, and one who gives of himself to his community.”