Guns Up: A Texas Tech Tradition Origin Story
Adjusting to life after college can be challenging for many alumni. For Red Raiders Glenn ('61) and Roxie ('70) Dippel, it was especially excruciating.
"We moved to Austin in 1970 and so many things were burnt orange," Glenn said. "The carpeting, the countertops, everything."
It was inevitable they would find themselves surrounded by the color, considering Austin is home to the University of Texas (UT) Longhorns. Nevertheless, it was a big change from the red and black of Raiderland and the friendly, small-town atmosphere that attracted Glenn to Lubbock (and to Texas Tech as a freshman in 1954) and that had been home to Roxie all her life.
"I enrolled as a freshman in 1958," Roxie said. "Glenn and I were newly married. I was born and raised in Lubbock and had never considered any other school."
After Glenn's graduation with a degree in economics and Roxie's with a degree in accounting, the couple moved with their three children to the state capital and started an accounting practice. In Austin, more than UT's signature color constantly surrounded the Dippels.
The university's alumni and students were joined by countless fans whose passion for all things Longhorn often exceed their own. The Masked Rider and Will Rogers riding Soapsuds, two of the couple's favorite sights on campus, were replaced with images of Longhorn mascot, Bevo, at every turn.
And all of them – the students, the fans and images of Bevo – were constantly flashing the "Hook 'Em Horns" sign.
For the Dippel family, including sons, Len, Doug and Tim who would all attend Texas Tech, it was too much. They decided to come up with their own sign.
For weeks, Glenn and Roxie attempted to create a hand sign out of the Double-T, with little success. But a glance at the Lubbock-Avalanche Journal, which they still received in Austin, gave them an even better idea.
"Dirk West's cartoon character, Raider Red with his oversized pistols, was our inspiration," Glenn said.
The couple raised their hands in unison, mirroring the mascot's iconic pistols and the "Guns Up" salute was born. Now, it was just a matter of getting the rest of the Red Raider family on board.
"After having lived in Austin for almost two months now, I have seen the 'Hook 'Em Horns' sign so many times that I'm weary of it," Glenn wrote in a January 1971 letter to the Saddle Tramps. "This weariness has, however, given me an idea which I should like to submit to you for your consideration, at the risk of being labeled 'copy cats.' I propose that Texas Tech have a 'Hook 'Em Horns'-type sign of our own.
"This idea came to me about two weeks ago, and I wrote it off as too much of an imitation of the 'Hook 'Em Horns' sign," Glenn continued. "It might be an imitation, but it has continued to haunt me, and the more I think about it, the more I like it. Consider the idea and see if it has the same effect on you."
In addition to a description of the gesture, made by extending the index finger outward while extending the thumb upward and tucking in the other fingers, Glenn listed several reasons for the new salute, including giving students and "exes," as graduates were called, an easy and immediate way to recognize each other. It would also serve as a way for Red Raiders to "bear our banner far and wide" and as a salute when "The Matador Song" was played.
It did not take long for the "Guns Up" gesture to catch on.
"Our first awareness that the hand sign had been accepted was seeing it in practice watching the Raiders on TV," Glenn said.
By the time the next Texas Tech-UT football game came around in October 1971 in Austin, the Dippels watched in delight as the Saddle Tramps and cheerleaders got their guns up throughout the entire game.
Soon after, the Dippels were able to say goodbye to the sea of burnt orange carpets and countertops, but the salute that came out of their brief stint in Austin lives on, both on and off campus and anywhere Red Raiders gather.
"In 1975 we had an opportunity to sell our accounting practice," Roxie said. "This was our ticket out of Austin and we landed in Temple. We are proud and flattered we had a part in Texas Tech's identity."