History of the Apache Belles

In September of 1947, Tyler Junior College President, Dr. Harry E. Jenkins asked Mildred Stringer, the wife of Tyler banker J. Harold Stringer and founder of the Tyler High School Blue Brigade, to form some kind of girls pep squad. Dr. Jenkins wanted TJC, now separate from the Tyler public school system, to have its own organization.

Mrs. Stringer compiled a team of 40 young women and designed what the girls would wear. The first outfit was made of heavy brown twill and fringe and included an Indian head band, moccasins and a gold elastic band around their right ankle that had a copper miniature cowbell attached to it. Some of the members of the first line of the Apache Belles say that is where the name Apache Belles came from which changed in December of 1947 from the original name of Apache Roses. At this point Mrs. Stringer officially joined the group as Director. The members were expected to be polite, well behaved young women- complete with proper posture and manners. During their afternoon practices, the Belles always said “Yes Ma’am” and “No Ma’am.” To assist with choreography, Mrs. Stringer hired Billie Marie Coyle as the dance instructor for the new precision dance team.

The Belles performed on the field next to the high school/ junior college in downtown Tyler on North Bois D’Arc Avenue. Their first performance was on September 27, 1947 at a Tyler Junior College football game.

1948

Mrs. Stringer hired the former Tyler High School head cheerleader Alfred Gilliam – after his completion of military service and graduation from the University of Miami- as a full-time dance instructor for the Belles. He remained with TJC until his retirement in 1984.

Mr. Gilliam and Mrs. Stringer recruited young ladies with beauty and talent, either in music or dance. The Belles began appearing in parades and as hostesses at major TJC civic events.

To help the Belles achieve more polish and poise, Mrs. Stringer took a John Roberts Power course and passed along what she learned to the Belles, instructing them in proper posture, walking, sitting, etc. She also offered tips on dress, make-up and hair styling. Mrs. Stringer also instituted a rule requiring Apache Belles to maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average.

The second line of the Apache Belles were among the first students to walk on the brand new Fifth Street TJC campus and the first to put on the Apache Belle “uniform” of a white hat, a gold overlay, white fringe panties, and a full circle skirt with white boots.

1949

Dr. Edwin E. Fowler was hired as the director of the Apache Band and the relationship of the “Belles and Band” was born. After Cotton Bowl officials saw the Belles and Band perform at a football game against Paris Junior College, they invited them to participate in the Cotton Bowl Halftime set for January 1, 1950.

1950

The Belles and Band perform at their first Cotton Bowl Game January 1, 1950 in Dallas, Texas. After their Cotton Bowl performance, the Belles and Band perform at “East Texas Day” at the Texas State Fair in Dallas, and happened to be on the same program with legendary singer Frank Sinatra.

Apache Belles perform at State Fair in Dallas for East Texas Day and are on the program with famed singer, Frank Sinatra.

1951

The Belles and Band performed at halftime of the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana. A photograph of this performance was published in major newspapers in New Orleans and Louisville, Kentucky. This was the first of six performances at the Sugar Bowl.

The Belles and Band performed at the Colorado Air Force Base and the Sheppard Air Force Base.

1952

The Apache Belles perform in Pasadena, California at the Junior Rose Bowl, and perform at the N.I.R.A. Rodeo in Fort Worth, Texas.

They also appear in a News Reel, which is their first recorded media exposure.

The Belles rub shoulders with their first major political figure as they perform for a week at the Colorado State Fair. General Dwight Eisenhower appeared on the same program with the Belles just before he announced that he would run for President.

Apache Belles perform at N.I.R.A. Rodeo in Fort Worth, Texas

1953

Apache Belles were featured performers at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo, Colorado.

1954

Apache Belles perform at the inaugural ceremony for Texas Governor, Allan Shivers.

The Apache Belles are featured in the Magnolia Oil Company Calendar

The Apache Belles appear in the Paramount Show, “Drilling for Girls in Texas”

1955

Apache Belles perform at Fort Hood, Texas.

Apache Belles perform at the opening of the Republic National Bank in Dallas, Texas.

Apache Belles appear in Family Weekly Magazine on September 4, 1955 and are labeled as the “Prettiest Drill Team in the World.”

1956

The Apache Belles Perform in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida

1960

Apache Belles return to perform at the Junior Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California

1963

Apache Belles perform at the Blue Gray Game December 23-25th in Montgomery, Alabama

1964

Apache Belles perform at the Sugar Bowl held at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Apache Belles perform for the Dallas Cowboys vs. Baltimore Colts Game in Miami Florida and the Orange Bowl, also in Miami Florida

Apache Belles perform at the Blue Gray Game on December 24th in Montgomery Alabama.

Ava Saunders

1966

Apache Belles perform at the opening of the Houston Astrodome in Houston, Texas.

Apache Belles Appear in the Southwestern Belle Telephone Hour, Talent ‘66’

Apache Belles featured in the December 1966 issue of Montgomery Doin’s

Apache Belles appear in IN Magazine- December 11, 1966

1967

Apache Belles perform at the NFL Championship Game at the Cotton Bowl between the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers.

Apache Belles perform at the Dallas Cowboys vs. Baltimore Colts game on September 9, 1967 in Dallas, Texas.

Apache Belles perform for the Washington Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins game in Washington D.C. on October 8, 1967.

Apache Belles, while in Washington D.C. to perform, tour the military service hospitals of Andrews Air Force Base Hospital, Walter Reed Army Hospital, and the Veterans Administration Hospital.

The Apache Belles present a certificate to first lady, Lady Bird Johnson on October 7, 1967 making her an honorary member of the Tyler Junior College Apache Belles.

Apache Belles appear in Southern Living Magazine- January 1967.

Apache Belles appear in VENTURE Magazine – June/ July 1967.

1968

Apache Belles perform at the Baltimore Colts vs. Dallas Cowboys game in Dallas, Texas on September 7, 1968

Apache Belles perform at the Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants game in Yankee Stadium in New York, New York on December 15, 1968.

The Apache Belles travel to Mexico City and Cholula, Mexico to perform at the University de los Americas for a Basketball Tournament. The famed group performed two to three times each evening at the national games plus three parades and performances, at the Central School “Ninos Heroes de Chapultepec” as well as the National Football Soccer game held by the Soccer Association. In total, 12 performances in 3 days.

Apache Belles Appear in Woman’s Day magazine.

1969

Apache Belles perform at the opening of the Houston Astro Baseball season in Houston, Texas

Apache Belles perform at the Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys game in Dallas, Texas on August 23, 1969.

Apache Belles perform at the Baltimore Colts vs. Dallas Cowboys game in Dallas, Texas on September 14, 1969.

Apache Belles appear in the Dallas Times Herald Sunday Magazine- October 26, 1969.

Apache Belles perform at the New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys game in Dallas, Texas on October 27, 1969.

Apache Belles perform at the Dallas Cowboys vs. Los Angeles Rams game at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California on November 23, 1969.

Apache Belles perform at the Cleveland Browns vs. Dallas Cowboys Eastern Conference Championship Game on December 28, 1969 in Dallas, TX.

Apache Belles appear in Texas Realtor Magazine

Apache Belles present astronaut Buzz Aldrin with a certificate on January 12, 1969 pronouncing him and honorary Apache Belle Beau

Apache Belles present astronaut Bob Hope with a certificate on October 9, 1969 pronouncing him and honorary Apache Belle Beau

1970

Apache Belles perform at the Kansas City Chiefs vs. Dallas Cowboys game in Dallas, Texas on September 5, 1970.

Apache Belles perform at the New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys game in Dallas, Texas on September 27, 1970.

Apache Belles appear in Grit Magazine October 4, 1970.

Apache Belles present President Richard Nixon with a certificate on November 21, 1970 pronouncing him and honorary Apache Belle Beau

Apache Belles perform at the Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins in RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. on November 22, 1970.

Apache Belles present Congressman Ray Roberts with a certificate on December 4, 1970 pronouncing him and honorary Apache Belle Beau

Apache Belles perform at the National Football Conference Playoff between the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions on December 26, 1970 in Dallas, Texas.

1971

Apache Belles perform at the Dallas Cowboys vs. New England Patriots in Dallas, Texas on October 24, 1971

Apache Belles travel to Chicago, Illinois to perform at Soldier Field for the Chicago Bears vs. Dallas Cowboys game on October 31, 1971

Apache Belles perform in Dallas, Texas for the Dallas Cowboys vs. St. Louis Cardinals game on December 18, 1971

Apache Belles appear in Texas Outlook Magazine

1972

Apache Belles perform for Super Bowl VI in Dallas, Texas as the Cowboys played the Miami Dolphins in Tulane Stadium located in New Orleans, Louisiana on January 16, 1972. Click here to watch the highlights.

The Apache Belles were made Honorary Members of HELL ON WHEELS, 2nd Armored Division, and made a picture poster to be used in recruiting stations throughout the nation.

The Apache Belles perform for the Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Jets at Texas Stadium in Dallas on August 26, 1972.

The Apache Belles appear in Time-Picayune Dixie Magazine- New Orleans, LA

Apache Belles appear in Texas Star on October 15, 1972

Apache Belle 1973

1973

The Apache Belles perform at the AFC/ NFC Pro Bowl All Stars Game on January 21, 1973 located in Dallas, Texas at Texas Stadium.

The Apache Belles perform at the Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins in Texas Stadium on September 6, 1973.

The Apache Belles perform at Mile-High Stadium in Denver, Colorado for the Dallas Cowboys vs. the Denver Bronco game on December 2, 1973.

The Apache Belles perform in Dallas, Texas for the Los Angeles Rams vs. Dallas Cowboys game on December 23, 1973.

The Apache Belles return to Mexico to perform for at the University de los Americas once again.

Apache Belles present Governor Gonzalo Bautista O’Ferrill, of Puebla, Mexico with a certificate on February 23, 1973 pronouncing him and honorary Apache Belle Beau

Apache Belles present Mayor Luis Vazquez Lapuente with a certificate on February 23, 1973 pronouncing him and honorary Apache Belle Beau

Apache Belles present actress Sandy Duncan with a certificate on March 9, 1973 pronouncing her and honorary Apache Belle.

1974

Apache Belles perform for the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Dallas Cowboys in Dallas, Texas on September 5, 1974.

Apache Belles perform for the Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins game at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. on November 17, 1974.

1975

Apache Belles perform at the Oakland Raiders vs. Dallas Cowboys game in Dallas, Texas on September 5, 1975.

Apache Belles perform at the Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions game on October 6, 1975 at the Pontiac Metropolitan Stadium and Detroit, Michigan.

1976

Apache Belles perform at the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Dallas Cowboys game on August 28, 1975 in Dallas, Texas.

Apache Belles perform at the Super Dome in New Orleans, Louisiana on September 25, 1976 for the Boston College vs. Tulane University.

Apache Belles perform at the NFL Championship Game on December 18, 1976 in Dallas, Texas.

1977

Apache Belles perform at The Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama on January 8, 1977.

The Apache Belles perform at Baltimore Colts vs. Dallas Cowboys game on August 27, 1977 in Dallas Texas.

1978

Apache Belles are the halftime performers for Super Bowl XII as the Dallas Cowboys take on the Denver Broncos in New Orleans, Louisiana at the Super Dome on January 16, 1978.

1980

The Apache Belles make their first appearance at the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.

Apache Belles perform in January 1980 in Jacksonville, Florida at the Gator Bowl.

1982

Apache Belles present President Ronald Reagan with a certificate on October 11, 1982 pronouncing him and honorary Apache Belle Beau

1983

The Apache Belles were invited to Dallas, Texas to meet and perform for President Raegan.

The Apache Belles have been invited to open several rides at Six Flags over Texas in Arlington. This includes the “Texas Shoot Out,” “Judge Roy Scream,” and the most recent, in 1983, “Roaring Rapids.”

The Apache Belles have also made appearances in Austin, Texas at “Tyler Day.” They have performed on the floor of the Senate, prior to their session and also in the rotunda of the capitol. In addition, the Apache Belles have had the opportunity to meet and present roses to several dignitaries and their wives including former Governor and Mrs. Mark White in 1983.

The Apache Belles have participated in two Sister City exchanges. In May of 1983 delegates from Tyler visited Metz, France. Among these delegates were two Apache Belles on request of the Chamber of Commerce. The Apache Belles toured Metz, participated in the “Sister Cities” ribbon cutting ceremony and parade, and met many new people.

1987

While in Washington, D.C. to perform for the Cherry Blossom Festival in 1987, the Apache Belles had the honor of meeting President Jimmy Carter.

1988

The Apache Belles performed on October 29, 1988 at the Dallas Mavericks vs. LA Lakers game.

1989

The Apache Belles perform at the first exhibition game of “The Ballpark in Arlington”- home of the Texas Rangers.

The Apache Belles travel to Nice, France to perform for the Carnival.

Performed for a San Antonio Spurs Game.

1991

Apache Belles perform for President-Elect Bill Clinton on his campaign tour through Tyler, Texas.

1992

Apache Belles performed in the Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington D.C.

1996

Apache Belles Perform in the Houston Thanksgiving Day Parade

1997

The Apache Belles perform for the Houston Oiler’s halftime.

The Apache Belles celebrate their 50th Anniversary.

Apache Belles appear on the cover of Dance and Drill Magazine

1998

Apache Belles appear on an episode of Texas Country Reporter featuring the Apache Belles Uniforms and Costumes made by Lesby Ray of Custom Designs.

2000

In March of 2000, the Apache Belles traveled to Dublin Ireland to perform at the World’s Largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade and also for the Lord Mayor’s Ball that evening. A full news crew from Tyler accompanied the Apache Belles and ran a week long special about the group and their exciting travels over Spring Break, 2001

Performed in “Best in Texas” show at Six Flags Over Texas.

2002

A group of Apache Belles participated in the sister cities program and traveled to China.

2004

The Apache Belles travel to Hawaii and perform at two military bases- Pearl Harbor and Sheffield Air Force Base

2006

The Apache Belles travel to Austria and Germany and perform for the military men and women stationed at Ramstein Air Force Base.

2007

The Apache Belles celebrate their 60th Anniversary.

2009

Mrs. Ruth Flynn celebrates 25 years as Director of the Tyler Junior College Apache Belles and is inducted into the Texas Dance Educator’s of America Hall of Fame.

2010

In October, the Apache Belles receive their first invitation to perform for the Dallas Cattle Baron's Ball.

2011

March- Apache Belles travel to Oahu, Hawaii to perform for U.S. Military stationed at the Marine Base at Kaneohe Bay and conduct a one day Belles Babes workshop for military families as well as performed at the USS Missouri Memorial.

October- Apache Belles return to South Fork Ranch and are showcased at the Dallas Cattle Baron's Ball with performers Dierks Bently, Darius Rucker and Clint Black.

November- The Apache Belles are invited guests of the Houston Holiday Parade and perform for the televised parade stop on Thanksgiving Day broadcast in the Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin areas.

December 24th- the Apache Belles perform the pre-game show for the Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys game at Cowboys Stadium.

2012

January 1, 2012- Apache Belles perform halftime with the Miami Dolphin Cheerleaders for the New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins game at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida

January 2, 2012- Apache Belles are featured performers of the Capital One Bowl broadcast on ESPN between Nebraska and South Carolina.