Raw Hide

Clara Byrne

7:28-7:30, Shawnee High School, every weekday morning since the early 90s, a song plays about rounding up cattle. Whether you like it or not, everyone here knows it. Rawhide! Originally written as the theme to the 1959 show of the same name, it has become a legendary tradition at Shawnee high school. 

If you ask anyone here, whether it’s their first year or their last, they’ll know at least the melody, or maybe the lyrics as well. Yet, they don’t know why it’s played. I interviewed students of different grades at Shawnee, and all of their answers ended with something along the lines of, “It’s just one of those things.” 

An anonymous junior told me, “I don’t get it, man. It’s the kind of thing that haunts me at night.” 

I can’t begin to tell you how confused I was coming in as a freshman, hearing this strange song not only once, but every morning at the same time. As I continued hearing it, I tried to make out more and more of the lyrics. To my shock, I realized just what it was about. Herding cattle. A very interesting choice for telling the students to hurry to their first class. 

Mr. Ritter, a Shawnee science teacher, and Shawnee alum had some things to say about it. 

“I went to Shawnee in the early ‘90s. So, back then, we were still combined with all of the Tabernacle kids- Seneca wasn’t around yet. Plus, not all of the new additions had been added to the school yet. The hallways we just so packed, we literally felt like we were being herded like cattle.”

I asked him if he remembered when or why it started. 

“Mr. Craig Lubrow. That’s who ran the morning show at the time, which was just over the loudspeakers. He thought it would be funny, trying to make light of the situation. That was the guy who started it, and I guess it just never stopped from there.”

But I couldn’t stop with just that information. So, I went straight to the top and talked to Mr. Campbell. 

“When I started as a principal here, Rawhide was already a thing. I remember standing in the breezeway between C and D hall on one of my first mornings here. As soon as Rawhide came on, it was like- whoosh! Everyone just scattered. They were gone. I was like, what just happened?” he laughs. 

Yet when I asked him about the origins, he gave me a different name. 

“Mr. Ted Steinmetz. He was a chemistry teacher here in the 1990s. He was the guy who did the morning show over the loudspeakers every day. It is kinda funny, the song really is just about rounding up cattle, like cattle driving. We kept it because everyone just knows it. We originally thought about changing the song every year, but it wouldn’t be as recognizable, you know?”

Although who started it may not be clear, what we do know is when and why. And for as long as Mr. Campbell is the principal, it’s not likely to change anytime soon. 

During my research into the song itself, I was not expecting to find anything shocking. But I was sure wrong. Following the hint given by another Renegade Report writer, I found out that the song Rawhide was used by none other than the CIA for torture. This has no way to be confirmed or denied. But if you look up any list of the most commonly used torture songs by the CIA, Rawhide shows up on every list. This may not have anything to do with why it’s played every day here, but it’s surely surprising. 

I began looking into this Shawnee legend not expecting to find much. And yes, there still are quite a few questions that may never be answered- since both Lubrow and Steinmetz have long been retired. But through talking to others here, I learned more than I expected. 

I wish the best of luck to all of the future students who have to hear it every day, and who knows? Someday you may miss it.