Posted by: samfordhistory2013 | April 22, 2014

A TRIBUTE TO MARTHA ANN COX

Martha Ann Cox Miss Homecoming 1960 EN (3)

Martha Ann Cox was a fixture on this campus for many years.  She made a lasting impact on the lives of students and may hold the record for Step Sing attendance and meals eaten in the caf.  One afternoon over coffee at Panera Bread in the fall of 2012, Martha Ann shared some lesser known stories of her time as a student and how those experiences informed her work as an administrator.  The following are Martha Ann’s tidbits of wisdom on education and light-hearted anecdotes:

My theory is that you learn as much out of the classroom as you do in the classroom.  And sometimes you have to manufacture your own learning experiences, which turned out to help me when I came back to Samford to work.” 

Bending the dress code rules on the old East Lake campus:

Martha Ann:  Dr. Alston Dobbins taught English for a long time, very good English teacher, superb Shakespeare teacher.  I had freshmen English and we had it in a house on a side of the campus that had a potbelly stove in the middle of the room.  Several of us, guys and girls, decided that we would wear Bermuda shorts to his classroom.  That was a no-no.  You didn’t wear shorts anywhere.  If you wore shorts you had your raincoat on.  But we decided, 7 or 8 of us, that we would wear Bermuda shorts.  So we go prancing in his classroom, sit in our usual seat.  He comes in, looks around, announces that he believes some of us need to go back to our rooms, and come back to class appropriately dressed.  We didn’t argue.  We got up and ran back to the dorm.  

Swimming in Reid Chapel …

Martha Ann:   And the chapel was an interesting story, when they started to build the chapel they dug three foundations and it rained.  Well, it was a swimming pool . . .Muddy, oh muddy.  We’d bend them [the rules] a little bit [when] we’d go swimming.  But always in our clothes.  Because at that point at camp and stuff in the Baptist Church, boys and girls didn’t go swimming together.  I don’t know that we ever really got in trouble for that.  We had a few talking to’s.  Don’t go swimming in a foundation!”

Relations with Homewood

Martha Ann:  I don’t know exactly.  Now this was while I was still a student.  Yeah, we’d go over there.  When I say we, it was probably twenty or thirty of us would hang out together.  And see we didn’t have cars.  We would walk to Homewood but we would walk through the houses behind the campus until people started putting up fences and then they had dogs.  There’s always been a little rift between Homewood and Samford.  We may not have done our part in helping Samford by walking through their yards.  Although, we never tore up anything.  

Pulling pranks on campus safety…

Martha Ann:  The campus police at that time were from the Pinkerton Detective Agency.  That was a detective agency in downtown Birmingham.  It was a contract service.  So you know what we called them?  The “pinkies.”  They were the brunt of many stories.  They had a little Volkswagen.  Tell me why campus safety had a Volkswagen?  I can’t figure that one out.  But it got painted pink one night.  Another night some of the guys decided that on that main sidewalk, now remember there weren’t any trees . . . coming in, and the pinkies would drive down that sidewalk at a certain time. . . I reckon they were looking for us.  Some of the guys went over to one of the construction sites and got some concrete blocks and built a little church [with] a little window and a little flower sitting in the window.  And we were all [hiding] over in the bushes, somewhere around the library.  So here come the pinkies and they always cut their lights off, and remember there were no trees and no lights on that campus.  Well, they cut their lights off.  They ran into the brick.  Now we did get in trouble.  We had to pay to get that car fixed.  It didn’t cost much to get a little Volkswagen fixed.

Her most embarrassing moment … as homecoming queen

Martha Ann:  There are many things that happened when I was a student.  Probably my most embarrassing moment while I was a student was [with] my roommate, . . . Gail Hiles.  Gail and I were both nominated for Homecoming queen.  Well, that was about the furthest thing from my mind.  I’m the saddle oxford and socks type person.  Now Gail was absolutely beautiful.  So I was chairing the homecoming that year for Student Government and, so I decided that Gail was going to be the homecoming queen.  I just knew she was.  

So we went downtown and rented furs (stoles), and so I got one [for] Gail – [she] was very dark haired and I was red headed.  [I got the] one that would go with the dark hair.  We had a parade and I looked funny because we had a pageant on Friday night and I was in charge of homecoming [so]  I was running around, changing clothes at the last minute.  

I had borrowed a dress, a strapless, waltz length dress from somebody, [but] failed to take my saddle oxfords off and my socks.   No one told me.  So I go walking on the stage.  And of course, everybody is laughing at this point, and I don’t know [why] because I’m very comfortable. Then I realized what it was, so I started trying to get that waltz length dress to cover up my shoes and my socks.  To make matters worse, I won!

So they put this cape on me, and by this time I was beside myself.  I have always had trouble with my eyes and light, and they had spotlights on the end of the runway and I walked off [the runway].  I fell into some students that were sitting on the front row.  It didn’t hurt me because I had on that big robe.  So, they just picked me up and turned me around, set me back up there.  Unbeknownst to me, my parents were there.  I was a bit embarrassed.

I won Homecoming Queen.  And so the next day at the parade, here I am with this red hair and this very light fur, which should have been dark with red hair.  That’s probably the most embarrassing thing.

Bending the rules for girls under curfew

Martha Ann: . . . girls had to be in by 9:00 o’clock and the guys didn’t have to be in.  Well, the girls would call them to go get them a pizza.  So one night I hear this knock on my window.  And I said, “What you want?”  They said, “Here’s your pizza.”  So I just raised the window up, took the pizza and said, “Thank you,” and put the window down.

The girls in the next room were the ones that had called.  So they came out in the hall and the guys were out there [saying], “Where’s my money, where’s my money?”  Well, I just walked out in the hall, and I said, “Did ya’ll order a pizza?”  

“Yes ma’am.”  

“Well, here it is.”  

Turned around and walked off.  I didn’t say a word to them.  Scared them to death.  

 

Adapted from Oral History Interview with Martha Ann Cox, October 29, 2012.

Posted by: samfordhistory2013 | April 11, 2014

House of Killian

For those of you who still weighing out your options for on campus house next year, the Bull Pup Blog would like to suggest some historical housing options which may be to your liking:

Killian

House of Killian 1943 EN

The House of Killian, ca 1943:

“The most unique and least organized organization on the campus is the noble House of Killian.  A conveniently heated house, a dictatorial Mother Killian, a medley of more or less students make an ordinary rooming house into an extraordinary fraternity.  The medley, perhaps more nearly jam session, is overbalanced by preachers, varying in degrees of piosity.  At the end of school, the only one unpastorizing was Wendell Givens, who was not, however, the least of these.  The organization is relatively simple, having only one officer.  Treasurer Ma Killian collects rigorously and in return bestows all the comforts of home, including maternal advice.”

Inflation Duration Sensation Ration

For the ladies, perhaps one of these 1945 houses will suit you:

Inflation: “The house with the interesting rooms is the home of interesting people.  Friendly and fun-loving, yet coming to school with a purpose, many Inflationites are leaders on the campus and excel in a variety of fields including music, pharmacy, religious education, and journalism.”

Ration: “Lucky are the Ration girls who are nearest the hub of dormitory life – the dining hall, who can sit on their shady lawn and watch softball games and drills, and who have at their command the genial and sympathetic guidance of their “housemother,” Louise McGinty.  Variety of achievements make them indispensable.”

Sensation: “The newest residence hall on the campus, Sensation has created quite a stir with its willingness to participate in many campus activities, its adeptness at all girls’ sports, and its abundance of really good-looking freshmen.  Most of all, Sensation has presented a true challenge to sleepy upperclassman life at Howard.”

Duration: “The home of Woo Hill sunbath devotees, of sun parlor date experts, of music fans who mother their majestic grand piano, and of Hostess, Mrs. J.D. Hamrick, Duration is declared by all its occupants, “The only place to live.”

 

Excerpts from 1943 and 1945 Entre Nous

 

Posted by: samfordhistory2013 | April 3, 2014

East Lake to Paris via Quebec

Harold Hunt's Senior Year paris

With Spring Break behind us, we are all looking forward to summer plans.  What will your summer hold?  Many students find themselves in the same situation as Harold Hunt, 1954 Alumni and Retired Samford Theatre Department Chair.  Just shy of the language credits needed to graduate Howard College in 1954, he and a handful of students set sail for Paris to immerse themselves in the French language, travel Europe by train, and for Hunt himself — to enjoy the last semester of college before being drafted to Korea.  Read below an excerpt from an oral history interview with Hunt as he recounts what was most likely the first semester abroad for Howard College students.

I transferred [to Howard College] . . . so I didn’t start French until my senior year and I had a year to go . . . the option was to stay in East Lake for the summer (you could take a full year in the summer), but several of us, . . . there were seven, maybe eight of us, that decided that it would be a lot nicer to go to Paris rather than East Lake. So we convinced Dean Percy Burns that we would learn more French if we were in Paris and convinced our parents. [Dean Margaret] Sizemore taught French and spent every summer in Paris. So seven of us got on a ship, completely unchaperoned, in Quebec, Canada and sailed to Paris, France. And the girls stayed in a facility [for] American university women, I think it is a national organization and they had a, like a Samford center type of thing in Paris. So the girls stayed there and the guys stayed in a small hotel nearby. We went to class and of course it was all in French. I wasn’t the best French student in the world to begin with, [but] somehow we got where we could kind of get around and we went to class and ran all over Paris.

We planned to travel [around Europe]. I knew that the moment I set foot back on American soil I was going to get drafted so I waited as long as I could. So we mapped out this plan [for the] seven of us.   At that point you could buy first class, second class, or third class tickets (you can imagine what 3rd class was like). But seven of us, with all this luggage, [got] on a train, and I can remember pushing suitcases through windows to get them all [on]. So we traveled and just did this circuit. And gradually, one by one, they would come home and I was left in England by myself for maybe a week or 10 days.  I traveled up into Scotland and did a lot of things. All that sounds like it was a very wealthy kind of thing but it was very cheap to travel.

Actually, there was a civic club, Kiwanis Club or something in Woodlawn that [gave] us a loan. [It was] a student loan and I think mine was just several hundred dollars that we would agree to pay back; and then my family [contributed].  My father said he had never been to Europe but he had wired money to every major city in Europe.  He said, “I know that as soon as you get drafted you’ll be sent back to Europe” and sure enough I was. That was, as far as I know, the first student travel study.

Adapted from Oral History Interview with Harold Hunt, January 4, 2013.

Posted by: lziemer | March 18, 2014

Samford Food Project Sneak Peek: The Legend of Saganaki

Dr. Todd cooking greek food2

Students in the Oral History class are collecting recipes from the Samford Family, and they need your help!  Students are interviewing Samford faculty, alumni, students, and friends about their favorite food stories and family recipes.  The finished product will feature recipes, interviews, and photographs—like the following from Dr. Randy Todd, Professor and Chair of the Department of Classics at Samford University:

GREEK FETA SAGANAKI

1-lb Feta Cheese

½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Basil and Oregano to taste

Pita

Cover the bottom of an oven-proof dish with half-inch slices of feta cheese; add basil and oregano.  Bake at 350̊ for approximately twenty minutes or until bubbling. Serve warm with fresh pita bread.

_______________________________________________

Randy Todd:    A saganaki… is basically fried cheese, or cheese which is cooked in olive oil.  They used to cook it in a skillet, which was called a sagaks or saganaox, so saganki means “with a frying pan.”  I usually use feta, but if you go to Do Di Yos [Homewood Restaurant]  or Greece, they will use a sweet cheese, a kefalograviera . . .  We discovered it [Saganaki] in, of all places, Italy.  I had taken my family in 2004 for a few days after . . . a semester in London.  From Greece, we took the ferry to Italy. . . .  We were in Rome and Florence, and we were staying in this wonderful old one-story hotel that was just down the street from the Duomo [Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore] in one of the buildings that Michelangelo probably lived in. . . . We got there late one night, and the closest place that was open was a Greek restaurant.  We had just come from Greece.  It was so funny. [My wife] came back with all this Greek food, which was pretty good, but one of the things she brought back was saganaki, and my kids loved it!  So we had to go back and get some every night.  I’ve made thousands and thousands of pounds of it. . . .  I’ve had a lot of Greek classes where that was the turning point too.  But you need feta, and the best olive oil you can buy. . . . Good olive oil is key.

_______________________________________________

As historian John Edgerton once wrote, “Within the South itself, no other form of cultural expression, not even music, is as distinctly characteristic of the region as the spreading of a feast . . . before a gathering of kin and friends.”  No one in the world lives apart from culturally-specific means of preparing, serving, and consuming food.  When we talk about food, we’re talking about culture.  Students are seeking more interviews in which the contemplation of food illuminates a person, a place, and a process—the greatest cultural expression in the South.  Here are a few more food stories:

BUTTER POUND CAKE

Sonya Stanley:  “This is my mom’s butter pound cake recipe.  We made it so many times in the kitchen in the house I grew up in…  In 2000, [my parents] moved… but that kitchen, I can just see us there… It had dark wood on the walls. It was kind of small and the floor was old. It was no kitchen you would see on HGTV…but I always remember being together when we made it.  We talked and cut up and talked about funny things that had happened.  She was just a really fun person to be around.”

Dr. Sonya Stanley is an Associate Professor of Mathematics.

GUMBO

Carolyn Rester:   “I got this recipe from my own mom.  She always made great big pots of this because we lived on an Air Force base and people all over loved Momma’s Gumbo.  It was not for the faint of heart dear. It’s hot! … You know, you can tell people, “This is spicy hot,” or “This is stove hot,” and they just don’t pay attention to us, so you might as well let them get it over with!”

Carolyn Rester is a wife, mother, and grandmother to Samford alumni and students.

SAUSAGE CASSEROLE

Karen Howell:  “I will never forget it . . . the oven got too hot and the glass baking pan that the casserole was in . . . exploded.  We were scraping sausage off the sides of the oven for weeks.  Even though it basically caught fire, the family was begging me to see if I could salvage any of it.  I had to tell them that there was glass in the casserole and that we would just have to eat something else.  Every year, my family reminds me of my casserole explosion.  They always say, “Check it for glass first!” before we eat it.”

Karen Howell graduated from Samford University in  1988.

_______________________________________________

The students are looking for more Samford Faculty, Alumni, Students, Friends, and Family Members to share their recipes and stories.  If you are interested in contributing to the project, please contact Jonathan Bass at sjbass@samford.edu.   The recipes, stories, and photographs will be available in the forthcoming Samford Food Book. . . .

Interviews conducted by Haley Rester and Holly Howell.

Posted by: samfordhistory2013 | March 12, 2014

Liquor, Scantily Clothed Females, and the Word “Damn”

Girls in a car 1924 EN

Howard College girls in car, 1924 Entre Nous

Additional Thoughts on College Morals from L.O. Dawson

A professor of bible and church history at Howard College during the 1920s and 1930s, Dr. L. O. Dawson was known as a purveyor of deep wisdom and home-spun advice.  “Common horse sense,” he often quipped, “will get a boy through college safely, if applied in the right way.”  Lemuel Orah Dawson was born in 1865 in Chambers County, Alabama and attended Howard College (Marion), Southern Seminary (Kentucky), and the University of Berlin (Germany).

As a student at Howard, Dawson attended Siloam Baptist Church under the watchful eye of Rev. A. C. Davidson.  The pastor played a key role in Dawson’s spiritual formation.  “To me he was a man sent from God to touch my life at its most important period,” Dawson later wrote. “In everything he was my ideal. As a pastor and as a man, I have never seen any greater than he. He loved the boys with a genuine shepherd heart, and in return they lavished on him their extravagant affection and youthful enthusiasms. In all those years his influence has been felt in my life, and whatever good I have done, his hand was in it all.”  Davidson’s influence inspired Dawson’s passion for mentoring young men at Howard College in the 1920s and 1930s.  (Please see our September 20, 2013 post on Dawson’s Horse Sense for College Men.)

In a November 1925 column printed in the Birmingham News as well as the Howard Crimson, Dawson tries to dispel the popular misconception that sending your children to college will inevitably lead to corruption of their morals:

We have nowadays much literature on the subject of the college morals.  And the pictures drawn of campus life are dark enough to make any parent hesitate long before sending a son or daughter into such environments.  To begin with, college students are the most interesting people in the world, and anything written about them is sure of readers.  There is sauce enough in the subject to flavor a whole lot of books.   And to add a little pep to spice, and ginger to pep, it is easy to fall into the unusual, the rougher side of the campus story.  The outcome is fearful.  There is little hope for any decent moral  boy or girl once they are in college classes.  So runs the best sellers.

The trouble is the college folks make their own reputations.  The stories you hear old graduates tell are always of their escapades and “scrapes.”  When the freshman goes home after his first year of campus experience he always wants to tell of the tough things that happened to him and to which he happened.  The book writers could not sell a book telling about how good Tommy is at school, but there is an enormous sale for one telling about how bad he is.  College humor, which is often about the freshest and best we have, too frequently centers on the immoral, lackadaisical side of the boys and the girls.  The collections of college humor are mostly made up on points about liquor, scantily clothed females and the word “damn.”  Pick up a college magazine from one of the common newsstands, so often common dirt stands.  What impressions does it make on you as to the solidarity, purpose and general worthwhileness of the college student?

The picture is that of irreverent, dissipated, reveling, sap-headed spendthrifts, idlers and gamblers and jazzers.  The college folks are responsible for this.  They want to be funny, and this is the idea of most of their humorists have of humor.  It would indeed be humorous to deem such humor humorous, but the tragedy is that these college writers present a picture of college life and the people that has well-nigh brought them into the contempt of good people everywhere.  They make their own reputation, and it is untrue to fact.

I have lived in close contact with college boys and girls all my life.  I think I know them better than they know themselves.  Quite sure we may be that there are no perfect folks among them.  I have never seen one with wings so much as sprouting.  I did tell one of them once upon a time that she was an angel, but that was a figure of speech and answered its purpose at the time.  They have faults.  Some of them go to the dogs.  Some were dogs before they came to college and merely went their way, appointed beforehand.

But the great majority of them are wholesome, purposeful, intelligent, sober, industrious and thoroughly worthwhile.  These do not lend themselves to colorful tales.  They are not rare enough to be news.  Books describing their ordinary lives would not sell.  It is hard to make jokes of them or about them.  They do not carry hip pocket flasks.  The description of their lives would not help repeal the prohibition amendment.  The word “damn” somehow does not fit into their scenery, so what is the writer to do but let them alone and use his paint pot on the more spectacular sort?

In the time of Julius Caesar his wife became famous just because she was virtuous.  Now virtuous women are so numerous as to be commonplace.  The good boy and girl are the rule as they are the rule so as they are ruled out of publicity and we form our opinions of college life upon what we hear of the other sort.  It is distressing to parents and hurtful to everybody concerned.

Nevertheless we must educate.  Education is so valuable that we must take the risks of ruin to secure its blessings for our children.  Now there are dangers in college.  I would not minimize one of them.  We must know of their presence to avoid their hurt, but I want to say this for the comfort of all who love our young people and especially to those whose children are in college.  I believe that out of a given number of young people fewer of them go wrong at college than would have gone wrong had the same group remained at home.  Out of a community with say 1,000 young people on its streets or in its homes, more of them will go wrong than would have done so had they had the inspiration of college friends and environments.  You may send your boy to college and from that he may go to hell, but it is not unlikely he would have gone to the same place had he remained at home.

–L. O. Dawson, in the Birmingham News

Adapted from Howard Crimson, November 11, 1925

Posted by: samfordhistory2013 | February 28, 2014

Jimmie Lee Jackson

Jimmie_Lee_Jackson

“Jimmie Lee was just a nice person that’s all.”

This month marks the 49th anniversary of the Civil Rights march in Marion, AL.  On February 18, 1965, protestors planned to march from Zion Methodist Church to the Perry County jail, where SCLC member James Orange was imprisoned for running voter registration campaigns in the rural town.  Rumors of a jailbreak led Marion officials to call in Alabama State Troopers.   When marchers left the church, they were viciously beaten by Marion police and state troopers.   This march proved more violent than the one that followed in Selma the next week, but the Marion protest was forgotten by many — no photographs or film evidence of the violence existed to show the drama.   Marion native Jimmie Lee Jackson was beaten by police while he tried to protect his mother and grandfather.  Shot in the stomach by Alabama State Trooper James Fowler, Jackson died from his wounds a week later.

Samford University history students working with the Office of University Historian as part of an ongoing oral history project in Marion, Alabama interviewed Jackson’s second cousin, Emma Peterson, and her husband, Lloyd, who lived in Marion in 1965.  These are their recollections of that violent night so long ago.

On Jimmie:

Lloyd: Jimmie and I was real close.  Well, my wife was Jimmie’s cousin so I guess that’s the way we really connected together. That’s where we would communicate … because of the fact that her parents didn’t like me… Jimmie and I was just always together and that’s the way I would get over to see her was through Jimmie.

Emma: Jimmie Lee was just a nice person that’s all.  He was a nice, quiet person.  It was just him and his sister and his mom and dad.  And his dad had got killed about 2 years before then, so Jimmie was the man of the house.

On the night of the march:

Emma: I don’t think he was really involved in [the Civil Rights Movement]. He was just like me—we would just all go to the meetings. . . I wasn’t there at the meeting… at Zion Methodist Church… I was at work… And he wasn’t even at the meeting; he was at the café down there waiting on his mom and… granddaddy. And he was sitting out there waiting on them to come because he really had the flu… He didn’t feel like being in the crowd.

Lloyd:   During that time I had an uncle that was principal of Marion Baptist Academy; he had had a stroke so I had been out that night to give him a bath and … then after that I went to the meeting.  I pulled up right across from the church and parked.  The so-called State Troopers—which they was people from Marion or somewhere just in State Trooper’s suits….they told me, “If you’ve got a home to go to, you’d better go.”  At that time I was going to ease around the back, go around to the back of the church to tell them about all these people outside.  I started around the back of the church and there’s two men back there.  So I had to go.

When they came out of the church, that’s when the head knocking started…They let out and they were going to march down to the jail and have prayer and that’s when they started.  Reverend Durbine, he was down on his knees praying and they were steady beating his head up with those clubs.  It was rough. Rough.  So then I figured it was time to go.  Wasn’t no use in staying around.  If they hit me, I was going to shoot ‘til I died.  That’s right.

Emma: One thing about it was…you didn’t see a light nowhere.  When I had gotten off work that night this one girl had told me, “Y’all ain’t got no lights over there. They had done arrived.”  I said, “What are you talking about?” So I got in the car and you didn’t see a light nowhere. In the stores, out the stores, in the street, you didn’t see a light nowhere. Completely dark.

Lloyd: That was the general idea.  They wanted to turn the lights out where you didn’t know who they were.  If they had the lights on, you can see who it is, you know.

Emma: So, they tell me, when they came out of church they came out beating heads.  And they [Jimmie Lee’s mother and grandfather] went on down to the café where he was… they beat her, and they beat the granddaddy too.  The granddaddy didn’t live too long after then because they beat him all on the head and everywhere with Billy clubs and stuff.  [Jimmie Lee] was fighting back, but he couldn’t fight them all, so then he got shot.  Then they rushed him to Selma, to Good Samaritan Hospital.

Lloyd: We carried Jimmy Lee’s grandfather and mother to the hospital over in Selma and after that, after they got treated we were going to come back home.  They told us we weren’t going to leave out of Selma and nobody was coming in. . . So shortly after that we learned that Jimmy was over at Good Samaritan Hospital; we were going to go over there and see about him, but they wouldn’t let us leave. . . So here I was, I had a wife and kids at home and I couldn’t get back to them.  It’s not like today, we didn’t have cell phones and what have you.  You’re scared to death.  You don’t know what going to happen.

Emma: [Jimmie Lee] stayed down there almost a week. My pastor went down to see him and he said, “Oh, Jimmy’s doing good; he’ll be home in a couple of days,” but that same night he passed.  We don’t know what happened to him.

They had his funeral in Selma. . . I think the Civil Rights took over, didn’t they? I think they took his body over. So his mom just went along with it. [Dr. Martin Luther King] did a great job at his speech.  He really did.  I’ve forgotten what it was all about since it’s been so long, but everything was nice.

Lloyd: I worked because you were going to get fired anyways if you went.

Jackson’s death rocked the Civil Rights community and served as a catalyst for the march from Selma to Montgomery, which began a week later.  Marion activist Lucy Foster suggested walking in Jimmie Lee’s honor instead of driving through Selma as planned.

Adapted from Oral History Interviews with Emma and Lloyd Peterson, conducted by Lauren Ziemer and Ben Woodall and Weary Feet, Rested Souls by Townsend Davis

oral history interview

Posted by: samfordhistory2013 | February 14, 2014

Step Sing and other Olympic Sports

As Samford students make the final preparations to compete in our time honored tradition of Step Sing this week, athletes in Sochi compete on the world stage in the tradition of the Winter Olympic Games.  In February 1980 these traditions overlapped as well, making for a very memorable Friday night.  As the Cold War dragged on in 1980, tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States manifested themselves in every form of competition – from weaponry to space exploration.  The Winter Olympics of 1980, set in Lake Placid, New York, proved to be no exception.    When the puck hit the ice for the United States v. Soviet Union men’s hockey game on Friday, February 22, 1980, the atmosphere in the packed-out arena was tense. To the crowd’s surprise and delight, the ragtag American team tied the Soviets in the first period, allowed their competition only one point in the second period, then rallied in the final period to put two more in the net, claiming victory, 4-3.

To accommodate both Soviet and American viewers, ABC decided to delay the broadcast of the afternoon game until prime time.  In a world with no instant internet news, most Americans had to huddle around their TV that night to learn the outcome of the fated game. But as the world watched the United States claim victory, Samford students were a bit preoccupied, watching Step Sing, a competition of almost Olympic proportions, in the Wright Center. Jim Barnette, Samford Alum and current faculty member, recalls the spirit of competition that overtook campus during Step Sing:

“It was a big thing because we didn’t have a football team at the time; basketball was it. So it was a big event. As I recall, unlike now. . . there were no boundaries, no strictures as far as the amount of hours people put into it, so people would practice for hours at their health’s expense, you know. . . Intramurals were big too, but in a way, to me, it was an extension of intramurals, because if you’re in the fraternity that lost or the class. . . it was a big to-do, a big deal. Lot of animosity between the team that won and the ones that didn’t. . . It was much more competitive, fiercely competitive- if there’s competitiveness with it now, it pales in comparison to back then.

Despite the fierce competition of Step Sing, everyone rejoiced when news of the US victory reached the Wright Center:

“Phi Mu Alpha, the music fraternity, was always the finale – just before they came out, the news arrived that the US had defeated Russia, or the Soviet Union I should say, in hockey in the ’80 Olympics, which was huge. . .  So they came out and announced that, and the place erupted. I was in the balcony, and I thought, this is gonna cave in, we’re all gonna die, because, literally, people cheered, and I’m not making this up, I’d say ten minutes. People cheered, went wild, ‘U.S.A., U.S.A.’ screaming at the top of their lungs. And it was one of the more memorable things in my four years here. . . And not just the students, like everybody. And so okay, we’ve had this huge, ten minute craziness. Well, then Phi Mu Alpha comes out and does the salute to the armed forces, and it’s 1980: Reagan and national defense and patriotism, the hostages are back and all of that. And when they would begin every branch, you know, people would go crazy. And at the end they sang “America the Beautiful” – they started very, very, very quietly, and then they did this loud, fast crescendo of “AMMEEEEEEERRICA” and they went on singing for another two or three minutes, but you didn’t hear anything – the people just went crazy.  It’s one of the loudest places I’ve ever been, because the pitch over there is pretty precise anyway.  So that was really memorable for Step Sing. And what was fun too, it had nothing to do with competition.  I think that’s why I loved it so much, was that it was not extended intramurals for a moment.”

As Step Sing 2014 draws near, we wish good luck to all the groups competing, but we hope that the spirit of friendly competition of today’s Step Sing doesn’t prevent you from celebrating the things that bind us together as a Samford family.

Step Sing 2014

Adapted from Oral History Interview with Jim Barnette October 18, 2012.

Posted by: samfordhistory2013 | January 30, 2014

The Rush for Chow

chow lines

We all faced some unusual circumstances this past week, but Samford rallied and in the words of new history professor Carlos Aleman, we made new believers in southern hospitality. The Snowpocalypse of 2014 left faculty, staff and commuter students stranded on campus.  Students slept on cots in the gym and chow lines were long.  This is reminiscent of another time in Samford’s history when students endured a much longer displacement on the East Lake campus during World War II.

In no way are we comparing a snow storm to the devastation of World War II, but Howard College alumni Page Kelley expressed some similar sentiments about the unusual circumstances in the below reprint of a 1945 Crimson editorial he wrote explaining how the war changed Howard.

Howard is by nature a peace-loving institution.  In fact, she is a pacifist.  War is contradictory to all she stands for.  She hates war so intently that she early pledged her support to our nation’s efforts to bring to justice those who were responsible for beginning the war.  She actively entered the war with the coming of the first Navy V-12 unit in February of 1943.

If Rip Van Winkle had been a Howard College student, he wouldn’t have needed twenty years of sleep to make him feel like a complete stranger on his own campus.  Just a five-year doze from 1940 to 1945 would have been sufficient.  Howard is at war, and the war has cast its influence over all phases of campus life.

Howard is proud that she can point to some of these changes and say, “This is Howard at war.”

It is the Navy.  It is the sight of blue ranks of men marching briskly around Berry Field, or standing stiffly at attention as the clear sound of a bugle floats over the campus.  It is a classroom filled with sailors.  It is flag-raising at sunrise.  It is a group of men entering Smith Hall and climbing stairs where “only ladies had trod.”  It is a wreath placed on Tar Baby’s grave at Christmas.  It is a disappointed sailor leaving the post office.  It is the rush for chow.  This is Howard at war.

It is the entire student body assembled in the auditorium on D-Day for prayer.  It is paying tribute to Howard’s heroes and listening to Rod Calhoun’s adventures.  It is being addressed by the C. O. at Thanksgiving.  This is Howard at war.  It is a co-ed seated at her desk before his picture, holding in her hand a telegram which begins – “We regret to inform you…”  She, too, is a part of Howard at war.

Howard IS at war.  And she is proud that she can say, “I have fought the good fight.”  The war may have changed Howard.  It is certain that Howard has helped to change the war. –Page Kelley

Page H. Kelley graduated from Howard in 1945 and went on to become a renown Old Testament scholar and author of several Hebrew textbooks.

Campus 1.13

Posted by: samfordhistory2013 | December 11, 2013

Exams

Woodcut from Jonathan Swift's Battle of the Books

Woodcut from Jonathan Swift’s Battle of the Books

To all those suffering through exams this week:

Take comfort in the words of those who have gone before you.  A Howard College student wrote the following reflection on the anguish of examinations, both real and imagined, for a January 1859 article in the Howard College Magazine.  Our thanks to Dr. Todd in Classics for his help on the translations; this particular student, still very enthusiastic about his newfound knowledge of French and Latin referenced Seneca’s Moral Epistles, Julius Caesar, and the Rubicon.  However, some sentiments do not fully translate so with your post-exam ego SUM, sign up for a Greek or Latin course!

The intermediate examinations have, many of them, just passed like whirlwinds over our heads, and whoever has survived one of these “soul grinders” can form a very correct estimate of the manner in which things are carried on.  Books (our pen smilingly records the fact,) have been horribly mutilated, and have suffered the keen edge of the hasty couteau (French: ‘knife’) till naught remains to tell of a quondam (Latin: ‘former’) text book but its back; and all to subserve the wicked purpose of lazy students.  Any one who has passed through one of these can also appreciate the peculiar defaillance (French: ‘fainting feeling’) with which one enters the endroit (French: ‘place’) upon these occasions when “obstinate questionings of sense and outward things” are propounded for the student’s entertainment (?)

We can testify ourselves from honorable experience, that there is no fun in being bored from two to four hours a day sub judice (Latin: ‘under the judge’) during one of these entertainments, sustaining at the same time an “out side pressure,” equal to the enormous weight of a “prospective fizz.”  But after all, there is not generally as much harm done as is anticipated before entering.  When the smoke of the battle clears away so that we can see ourselves again, we are forcibly struck with the truth of the remark, “Plura sunt quae nos terrent, quam quae premunt et saepius opinione quam re laboramus.” (Latin: “There are more things which mentally terrorize us than which physically oppress us and we suffer more in anticipation than in the experience itself.”)

It is quite amusing, however, to witness the dignified appearance of those who have stood the fiery trial and come out sound.  From the most illustrious Senior down to the shabbiest Freshman you can see the ego SUM distinctly marked on every countenance.  Notice that gentlemanly fellow smoking his “stogy” with an air of nonchalance that would do honor to a Turkish Sultan!  He has stood his last examination, (minus one or two) and feels himself to be “like Caesar’s wife, above suspicion!”  What “crowns of glory,” “fields of happiness,” and “temples of fame” does he behold around the corner of five more months, as he forgets the tight place out of which he has just come, and is transported into the future.  But what deep expression of joy upon that countenance!  He is thinking of home and friends, and imagines he is talking to her under the “kind parental roof.”  Who blames him if he does feel a little all-overish when he holds up these bright prospects in contrast with the fading memories of the past.  He is now tired of college life, and would rather seek a “lodge in some vast wilderness,” “some boundless contiguity of shade,” where he will no longer be “cabin’d,” “crib’d,” “confin’d” but free as air, to blow on whom he listeth; and why should he not?  He has struggled manfully to obtain his independence.  We certainly can have no objection, but hope he will wait until he “gets through,” for we have heard of these “constant quantities” disappearing.  Poor Sophs and Juniors how we pity you!  But if you would be true to yourselves, having already “passed the Rubicon,” you must now dash into the “battle of books,” with a “soul in arms eager for the fray,” and you, too, may soon be raised to the degree of gentlemen of the “first order.”

Posted by: lziemer | December 6, 2013

Felix Wood and Burghard Steiner

Photograph courtesy of The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (isjl.org)

Photograph courtesy of The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (isjl.org)

No need to send notes or promises; it will take money to save the college. -The Alabama Baptist May 7, 1896

We all know the sacrificial gifts of Ralph W. Beeson, William W. Wilkerson, Jesse B. Lovelace, and Julia Barron; but have you heard of Felix Wood or Burghard Steiner?  In times of great need, one bet his mortgage, the other his reputation, on the success of Howard College.  During this holiday season, the Bull Pup thought it fitting to tell the stories of Wood and Steiner and their selfless efforts to save Howard College.

When the Howard College trustees decided to move from Marion to Birmingham in 1887, no one imagined the difficulties of relocating a college.  Once the excitement of removal that swept over the Alabama Baptist State Convention dissipated, the reality remained that buildings on the new campus were non-existent.  When promised funds for building adequate facilities did not come, the school opened the fall 1887 session in little more than two unpainted frame buildings found in a forest of second growth pine. In the midst of laying the foundation for what would become Old Main, funds ran so low that the trustees were forced to consider ending the endeavor and selling the property to pay for materials and labor.  Finding it difficult to rally the Baptists in the wake of the move and a severe economic downturn, prospects were bleak. But a Birmingham native intervened.

Felix Wood, a benefactor and member of Ruhama Baptist Church, took a keen interest in the school.  Perhaps Wood adopted concern for Howard in October 1886 when he married Eliza Lee, a relative of board of trustee member and fundraiser J. J. D. Renfroe.  Wood succeeded in his many business endeavors, especially his drug store at Fifty-fifth and Second Avenue South in Birmingham.  When Wood learned of the school’s financial dilemma, he mortgaged all his property to pay off Howard’s debt.  In his book on the history of Birmingham, George M. Cruikshank credits Wood with singlehandedly saving the school and concludes that this selfless act was what “really made it possible for Birmingham to have Howard College.”  After construction resumed on the East Lake campus, Wood served as a trustee and supervised the building of Old Main and a few dormitories.

Unfortunately, Wood’s generous act did not keep Howard out of debt.  In 1890, Old Main was still under construction and attempts to secure funding from Baptists proved futile.  The college turned to the Union Trust Company of Philadelphia for a $40,000 mortgage, offering the East Lake property as collateral.  Despite a generous extension, Howard was unable to make payments and defaulted on the loan in 1896 — much to the embarrassment of the Baptist Convention and Howard College, The Union Trust Company of Philadelphia ran a mortgage sale ad in the Birmingham News.  When the trustees appointed Professor A. D. Smith as President that same year, Smith focused on ending the financial crisis.  In turn, Smith contacted Burghard Steiner for help.  A friend from Howard’s Marion days, Steiner and his brother were immigrants from Bohemia – both of whom found success in the banking business in the small Alabama town of Hamburg.  They later relocated to Birmingham and established the Steiner Bank.  Smith urged Steiner, who was an agent of the Union Trust Company of Philadelphia, to persuade the company to halt the foreclosure with the promise of a significant loan payment within a year.  Steiner contacted Union Trust and personally guaranteed the mortgage payment.  The company agreed and Smith fulfilled his promise to Steiner and paid off the loan in its entirety in 1899.

Thanks to the actions of these men, Howard College survived during those pivotal first years in Birmingham.  The Birmingham Age Herald captured the growing pains that the college experienced in an article on September 24, 1890, “The Howard is a great college. . . It is in baby clothes now, but soon the stately building will have risen, and it will be dressed as becomes a strong and vigorous man.”  In spite of inadequate facilities, Howard’s enrollment continued to increase during those years, but men such as Felix Wood and Burghard Steiner ensured the school’s continued success.

Historian Website 1.13

Adapted from:

A History of Birmingham and its Environs: A narrative Account of their Historical Progress, Their People, and Their Principal Interests by George M. Cruikshank, Lewis Publishing Co; 1920

A Memorial History of the Baptists of Alabama by B. F. Riley, The Judson Press; 1923

Birmingham Age Herald, September 24, 1890

“In the Shadows of Foreclosure: Three Financial Crises that Threatened the Existence of Howard College” by Chriss H. Doss, published in the The Alabama Baptist Historian Vol. 28, no. 1, Jan. 1992

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