Posted by: lynnhollynhowell | February 26, 2015

The Daniel House: Celebrating Over 30 Years

Samford students outside the Daniel House in 1997 and Samford students in London, Fall 2013. Photographs courtesy of Marlene Rikard and Blakely Lloyd.

Samford students outside the Daniel House in 1997 and Samford students in London, Fall 2013. Photographs courtesy of Marlene Rikard and Blakely Lloyd.

The Daniel House “changed the culture of this university for both students and faculty.” –Dr. Marlene Rikard

Just over thirty years ago, Samford University purchased a Victorian home in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London.  This pivotal real estate transaction, made possible by the Daniel Foundation, provided exponential travel and cultural learning opportunities for generations of students.  Located in the heart of London, the house serves as a window to the world.  Students can walk out the door and explore the gardens at Kensington Palace, attend Evensong at Westminster Abbey or meander through remains of the Parthenon at the British Museum.  During a weekend in London they can take a train to Paris, or a short flight to Morocco, Dublin, or Milan. It’s location allows for an enormous amount of options that serve, in the words of Dr. Stephen Todd, as “a living laboratory – a museum that they get to live in and explore for days and weeks on end, seeing the actual places and architecture, tasting the food, and meeting the people as they walk the ancient paths.”

Originally called Samford’s London Study Centre, the Daniel House opened in 1984. Over the years, Samford professors made it into a home – some with hammers and nails and others with home cooked meals shared in the community kitchen. This 130-year-old Victorian home has been a beloved landmark for the Samford family and the site of fun student memories as well as academic achievements. The first professors to live in the Daniel House braved cold nights with no heat and took on construction projects to make the house livable for students. To commemorate this special anniversary, a few professors who shaped the Daniel House that students know and love shared their personal memories.

Samford's London Study Centre when it was purchased in 1984

Samford’s London Study Centre when it was purchased in 1984

Samford’s longtime theatre director, Harold Hunt, was in the first group of professors to live in the Daniel House.

Harold Hunt: [My wife] Barbara and I were chosen to go and start the program for that first semester . . . Tom [Corts] and [his wife] Marla, and Ben Brown and [his wife] Francis, and [Ben] Harrison and his wife, those three couples [also] went.

He went on to explain that it was not easy to convince students to come to this new place.

Harold Hunt: We like to have never gotten a group of students to go. It was like shaking the trees . . . . They didn’t want to leave Samford. Even for several years, [they would say] “I don’t want to leave my fraternity [or] I don’t want to leave this.” 

When they got there, he explained, there was still more work to be done.

Harold Hunt: We had to walk across a plank to get into the building. It was – I’ll give you my word – chaos . . . . There were people working [but] nothing had been finished . . . this was Monday morning before the students were coming Wednesday . . . . [Once the students arrived] they were constantly having to move from one room to another [because] it [was] still being worked on.

All and all, though, Hunt’s group ended up having a wonderful time.

Harold Hunt: It was a wild semester, but I wouldn’t take anything back . . . and the students felt the same way . . . . It was an interesting group of people, but we loved them all, we really did, and it was just a good experience for us.

L:  The First Group of Samford Students to Study Abroad in London                                                      R:  Dr. and Mrs. Hunt at the Daniel House.

Marlene Rikard, a former History professor, focused on the cultural benefits Samford students receive through their time at the Daniel House.

Marlene Rikard: It’s the most cosmopolitan city in the world. I mean the entire empire has gone to London. It was a way that you could take sheltered students…and introduce them to that wider world and from there they might go on out to other places, other opportunities. And so it was something that Tom Corts did that changed the culture of this university for both students and faculty. Tom was the one who was the inspiration behind it. The Daniel Foundation provided the money, and they wanted to be anonymous. And that’s why it was just called the London Study Center for so long . . . It has become a remarkable program for the university.

As the years progressed, more and more students began to come, and a new batch of professors came with them.  As Karen Joines of the Religion Department explained, the house itself was always a work in progress.

Karen Joines: I did a lot of work. I painted the balusters for the handrail, sanded down the handrail; I hid a lot of the electrical cords with caulk and painted over it. The fire chief [gave me permission to] redo the door [to the] reading room so it would be more attractive . . . . I did some carpentry on that and the door at the very top of the stairs . . . . On occasion, I ran into Dr. Corts with a saw in hand.  

Samford’s faculty made the Victorian house in London into a home away from home where students can enjoy a unique experience of living and learning alongside their peers and professors – under the same roof, at the same breakfast table.  International travel can seem daunting and always out of reach, but the Daniel House makes this an attainable goal for many by providing an accessible platform for students to explore other cultures.  After thirty years, Samford students know they will never be ‘tired of London.’

Original artwork by Kaleigh Warwick, Class of 2014 and Daniel House study abroad participant.

Original artwork by Kaleigh Warwick, Class of 2014 and Daniel House study abroad participant. Prints are available for sale here at this link to the Samford University Alumni Association website.

Adapted from:

Department of Classics International Travel Pamphlet, Dr. Stephen Todd.

Samford University Entre Nous 1985.

The Daniel House in London, Student Handbook, Samford University.

Oral History Interview with Harold Hunt.

Oral History Interview with Karen Joines.

Oral History Interview with Marlene Rikard.

Posted by: lynnhollynhowell | February 12, 2015

Mysterious Lovers Call

Old Main in 1925

Old Main on the East Lake campus in 1925

While many couples choose Samford’s Reid Chapel for their wedding, not many would think of Samford Hall. Almost every weekend there are weddings in Reid Chapel, but while Howard College was in East Lake, students did not usually wed on campus. But on Valentine’s Day in 1925, a mysterious couple appeared at the administration offices in Old Main on the East Lake campus requesting such a venue. The February 18, 1925 Crimson recounts the story:

Mysterious Lovers Call At Dean’s Office

Cupid Wins as Unknown Couple Weds in Main Building Valentine’s Day

 An event, the likes of which never occurred before in the Administration building during its thirty-eight years came to pass Saturday afternoon at 4:30 o’clock in the Dean’s office. Yes, the very office where hundreds of knowledge-seeking students have enrolled . . . and where innumerable students have discussed and solved their problems of college life; the office that has known naught but formal discourse and cold business, was flooded with romance without warning when a pair of “victims of the season” were joined in happy wedlock inside its walls.

The couple were not connected in any way with the college, however, and gave their names as Miss Mary Alice Hartley and Mr. Thomas Nathaniel Graves. The groom gave his address as 8229 Eighty-Second Street, East Lake. The parents and address of the bride are not known.

Witnesses of the scene stated that the couple came [to] campus…cooing like a pair of turtledoves in springtime. Upon reaching the main building, they immediately entered through the front entrance, made way to the office, and calmly stated that they wished to get married and inquired if they could get a minister to perform the required ceremony, witnesses confirmed.

It being 4:30 o’clock in the afternoon, Professor Burns, the Dean, was not in–Miss Moody and Miss Kendra, student secretaries, being the only ones present. However, after recovering from the unusual request and being convinced that the couple were not applicants for registration, Miss Moody complied and telephoned the Divinity Club for aid.

Responding to the call, several student-preachers made haste to the rescue and found it to be no joke. Accordingly, J.D. Wyatt, ministerial student at Howard–being the oldest of the preachers present–relieved the situation, (leaving out the phrase “to obey,” . . . so witnesses asserted.)

The bride wore a blue coat-suit, trimmed in fur to match.  She appeared to be about 18. The groom was considerably older, probably 30, and wore a business man’s attire.

After appropriate caresses and exercises, the mysterious lovers departed from the Dean’s office chewing their gum nonchalantly. We know neither from whence they cometh, nor whither they goeth.

Adapted from:

The Howard Crimson, February 18, 1925.

Posted by: lynnhollynhowell | January 12, 2015

The Original Nine: Howard College’s First Class

The first students to attend Howard College (originally called Howard English and Classical School) are often called “the original nine.” A quick glance at the handwritten matriculation records housed in Special Collection reveals that only nine boys showed up to school on January 3, 1842. By May 1842, twenty-two additional young men followed suit and Howard ended its first semester with a total enrollment of thirty-one. These original nine became part of the folklore of Samford’s humble beginnings, but many details of their lives were forgotten.  With student ages ranging from 11 to 18, Samuel Sterling Sherman was at first the principal of a preparatory school and not a college president. As we begin a new semester, take a moment to remember this first group of students from January 1842.

First Nine Matriculation Record

The Original Howard English and Classical School Matriculation Record

First in everything, John Thomas Barron was the first to sign up for classes at the newly formed school. Born in 1829 in Marion, Alabama, he lived with his mother, widow Julia Tarrant Barron, who provided funding for both the Howard English and Classical School and Judson College. Due to his high standing in the alphabet, John also became the first graduate of full-fledged Howard College in 1848.  He studied medicine, married Elizabeth Hampton Harrison of Mississippi, and later returned to Marion to became one of the town’s leading physicians. John continued his association with his alma mater, housing a few Howard boys in his own home during the ten-month academic year. After Elizabeth’s death in 1865, John remarried. He and his second wife Fannee had two daughters named Julia and Olive. Unfortunately, John died in 1870 at the age of 41. This was made even more tragic by the death of Fannee only a few years later.  John and Fannee Barron’s daughters lived under the care of their grandmother, Julia, until her death in 1890.

Thomas Booth also finished in Howard College’s first graduating class.  Born in 1827 in South Carolina, Booth’s family moved to Autauga County, Alabama sometime before 1840.  During his time as a student at Howard, he boarded with the Hufford family in Marion.  After graduation, Thomas moved to Union, Louisiana where he worked as a teacher during the 1850s. While there, he boarded with Elias George’s family, also from Perry County. In 1853, Booth married Catharine Heit in Bibb County, Alabama. Drawn to towns named Union, the couple settled in Union, Alabama by 1860, where he would work as a merchant for the remainder of his life. Booth died on August 14, 1869 at the age of 42.

Unlike his two previous classmates, William Alexander “Aleck” Miller did not stay at Howard long enough to obtain a degree. Born in Big Cove, Alabama, Miller lived in Madison, Alabama all his life, with the exception of his time at Howard. After leaving Howard, he returned to Madison and worked as a farmer. In 1852, he married Jane Haden.  Aleck and Jane raised four children, and he passed at the age of 72.

Thomas Adams Cravens was born in 1828, probably in Marion, Alabama. He lived in neighboring Marengo County until he attended college in 1842. After his brief tenure at Howard, Cravens migrated to Yuba, California where he worked as a farmer and married Elizabeth Humes in 1856. The couple had seven children and resided in Santa Barbara, California until he passed away in 1888 at the age of 59.

William D. King was the son of Edwin Davis King, a wealthy citizen of Marion, early Howard trustee, and financial supporter of the fledgling Howard College. William King attended Howard in 1842.  In spite his father’s involvement in the school, King did not complete his degree at Howard. In 1848, King married Rebecca Singleton. They went on to have ten children. Records indicate that King enlisted in 1861 and served as a cavalry officer in Captain Lenoir’s Independent Company and Lewis’s Battalion. King received an official pardon by President Andrew Johnson in 1865 for his part in the rebellion against the government of the United States. He lived in Monroe, Alabama, working as a farmer, until his death in 1866.

William D. King Pardon

President Andrew Johnson’s Pardon of William D. King

William Samuel Blassingame along with Barron and Booth, graduated from Howard in 1848. He also earned a Master’s degree from Howard in 1851. In the time between his degrees, Blassingame resided with his sister, Aurelia, and her husband, former Alabama Governor Benjamin Fitzpatrick. In 1853, Blassingame married Martha Clementine Simmons, and the couple had four daughters. William Blassingame returned to his family’s home in Greenville, South Carolina, where he drowned in 1858 at the age of 30.

Blassingame Collage 2

William Blassingame and his Diploma from Howard College (1848)

Samuel Goree, born in Newberry, South Carolina in 1823, relocated with his family to Perry County, Alabama by 1830. After his Howard days, Goree worked as a farmer. He traveled to Walker, Texas in the early 1850s, and married Sarah Wiley in 1852. His new life in Texas was interrupted by the Civil War. Enlisting in the Confederate Army in 1864, he served in the Texas Fourth Infantry. When his six-month enlistment came to an end, Goree reenlisted as a sergeant in Terry’s Cavalry, a regiment well-known for their actions throughout Tennessee and Georgia. Terry’s Cavalry surrendered on April 26, 1865, along with the rest of the Army of Tennessee after the loss at the Battle of Bentonville in North Carolina. After the war, Goree settled permanently in Walker, Texas, with his wife and three children. He died in 1873 at the age of 50.

Texas_Rangers_Company_D_1887

The Texas Rangers

 Thomas Anderson was born in Greene County, Alabama in 1830.  At age eleven on Howard’s opening day, he was the youngest of the original nine. After studying at Howard, he continued to live and work in Greene County, first as a newspaper editor and later as a mill owner. Thomas and his wife Martha had four children. He resided in Greene County until 1906 when he passed away at the age of 76.

Unfortunately, the last of the original nine does not have such a long and happy story. The youngest of four children born to Thomas Oliver and Lucinda Tubb, Thomas A.J. Oliver was born two weeks after his father died in 1825. His mother, Lucinda, remained in Perry County, Alabama, and sent Thomas to Howard in 1842. Tragically, Thomas spent only one year at the school, passing away in 1843 at the age of 18. He was buried in Marion Cemetery with his father. Little is known about the circumstances surrounding Oliver’s death.

These nine young men took a risk and came to Howard English and Classical School on its first day. As the years passed, enrollment numbers increased, and Howard College began to grow in size and reputation, but the first class will always represent Samford’s humble beginnings. The original nine paved the way for future students.  Collectively, they played an integral part in Howard College’s history.

by Lauren Ziemer

Adapted from:

Samford University, Special Collection. Howard College Matriculation Record, 1842.

Ancestry.com

John Thomas Barron-Ancestry Overview

Thomas Booth-Ancestry Overview

William Alexander Miller-Ancestry Overview

Thomas Adams Cravens-Ancestry Overview

William D. King-Ancestry Overview

William Samuel Blassingame-Ancestry Overview

Samuel Goree-Ancestry Overview

Thomas J. Anderson-Ancestry Overview

Thomas A.J. Oliver-Ancestry Overview

1860 United States Federal Census, Walker, Texas.

1860 United States Federal Census, Marion, Alabama.

1860 United States Federal Census, Union, Alabama.

1880 United States Federal Census, Marion, Alabama.

Posted by: lynnhollynhowell | November 21, 2014

The Train to Auburn

Howard College Football Team 1928-29

The Howard College Football Team, 1928

On October 27, 1928, students, faculty, and fans of Howard College traveled to the campus of Auburn University to cheer on the bulldogs in a rivalry football game.  Unlike college football games of today, there was no tailgate, and no caravan of fans with Samford flags waving from their car windows.  In 1928, everyone boarded a train for Opelika, called the “Central of Georgia Special”.  Fans aboard the “Georgia Special” spent the ride talking, telling stories, and chanting for their team.  Although this ride may seem strange by current standards, the train to Auburn rallied Howard College behind the football team and in spirit for their school.  They got to know each other and grew in unity.  Unfortunately, that day, Howard fell to Auburn 25-6. After the game, the fans were not able to stick around, they had to catch the train back home.

On Saturday, the bulldogs will take on Auburn University for the 27th time, and Samford is looking to get its first win against the tigers. Many Samford students, faculty, and alumni are set to attend, and there will be university-sponsored tailgates surrounding Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.  Students and faculty are sure to reminisce, tell stories, and cheer for their team.  Although the mode of transportation may have changed, some things, like the school spirit of Samford University, never will.

Great Crowd Attends Auburn Game Via Special Train And Otherwise

Fine spirit is manifested on trip with freshmen living up to their reputation of greenness.  Railroad officials extend every courtesy possible.

Some one hundred and twenty five Howard students and supporters pulled out aboard the Central of Georgia Special to Auburn on Saturday, October 27…Typical of all Howard crowds, there was much spirit manifested. Very few were able to name all of the topics of conversation or (bull) which made the rounds. Old cronies got together, old friends met new ones, and there was a fine spirit of friendship and closeness throughout the whole trip. Freshmen lived up to their reputation of greenness…there was a constant parade through the train as is always the case. Many were so absorbed in the scenery and other matters that they hardly knew what was happening. Even these awoke from their trance when the band was tooting forth many strains of more or less familiar music. This happened after about one-half the distance had been covered…Every one was feeling good and real pep was exhibited for the first time this year.

Upon arriving in Opelika, we were left stranded by our trusty C. of G…we found ourselves in the loveliest village of the plains…As usual, the band started off the excitement with a parade through the town. Other rooters followed in a long line…As a preliminary to the game, one of the fraternities staged a stunt for an initiation. This sent the crowd into roars of laughter. Both bands played music of the usual nature. Auburn showed a remarkable spirit. Those who went can certainly appreciate what the Auburn Spirit really is. Not to be outdone, the Howard side opened up with all the reserve that they have been holding in all this season, and each supporter yelled as he has never yelled before. All the yells went over in big style. This spirit lasted throughout the game. Two minutes after the kick off, Howard scored and the bunch went wild. It looked too easy. [But] every one knows what a rude awakening we had…ask those who saw it. Auburn opened up with a bang on their touchdown. A great demonstration was given. It was the first score for them this year.

We lost, but we went down fighting…After the final whistle it did not take long for the crowd to scatter. Hasty departures were made. The [train] pulled off from Opelika at 7:00. This time there was still a fine spirit shown. Howard should be proud of its representation. Howard is proud of its team. The return trip was somewhat quiet…Having been beaten in the way we were, we are glad that it was Auburn rather than some of our other rivals. Special thanks should be given for the way we were received and treated…and appreciation should be shown to the Central of Georgia Railroad for the many favors they granted us…They are all right. Record time was made to Birmingham, the time required being only three hours.

Not one who went on this trip is sorry. Except for the defeat, nothing happened to be sorry for. Those who went acted as real Howard students…With only three games remaining, all efforts must be turned to making these a success. Everyone must back the team and must act when called on. Show your spirit and there will be much to show for it later!

Auburn Samford

A more recent look at the Auburn/Samford Rivalry, 2011

Adapted from:

Howard Entre Nous, 1929.

Howard Crimson, October 31, 1928.

http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2011/11/samford_field_goal_cuts_auburn.html

Posted by: lynnhollynhowell | November 14, 2014

Honoring Samford’s Veterans

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(Samford paid tribute to the faculty, staff, and students who served our nation in the armed forces in the dedication of the 1948 Entre Nous.)

Samford has a rich history of military participation. At the outbreak of the American Civil War, Howard College president Henry Talbird and many Howard students left Marion, AL, to organize a regiment of Independent Volunteers in 1861.   Future Howard President Harwell Goodwin Davis, along with many other Howard faculty members, served in WWI, where he was promoted to Major, wounded in action, and received a citation for gallantry. Later during WWII, “The Major,” recognizing the needs of the struggling Howard College, invited the Navy to host a V-12 training unit at Howard’s East Lake campus, which ultimately played a huge role in saving the struggling school. Countless men and women from Samford’s ranks have proudly worn the uniforms of our nation’s armed forces, and many continue to do so today.

Several Crimson articles paid tribute to those who served, like the following article that listed the Howard men (and women) in uniform:

Howard Men are Doing Their Share for Freedom 

Ex-football Stars, Profs, Crimson Editors—They’re Fightin’ All Over the World.

From the Solomons to Suez – from Africa to Australia – and right here in the good ol’ U.S.A., Howard men and women are showing the world how to fight for freedom. They’re everywhere in every phase of the war effort, doing their share and more. Ex-football stars, professors, pharmacists, doctors, chaplains, public relations officers, physical instructors – battling the Japanese in the jungles of New Guinea, dueling the Germans over the African desert, teaching physical fitness to future aviators in Texas. Here are som [sic] typical Howard men who are serving:

  • (jg) Ernest H. Dunlap of the U.S. Navy, wounded in action and awarded the Navy Cross.
  • James Stuart (Coach Jim to you) physical instructor at the Naval Reserve Air Base in Dallas, Texas.
  • Amasa B. Wingham, director of public relations for the Navy in Alabama.
  • Osce M. Bentley, an “All-Southern” drum major and a campus tradition, in the Naval Reserve.
  • Josiah Bancroft, died in service of the U.S. Army Medical Corps.
  • Ensign Olivia Philabert, only Howard girl in uniform. She’s in the WAVES…

– Howard Crimson, December 4, 1942

One Howard student, who preferred to write under the initials H.R.L., put everything in perspective in a touching opinion piece for the Crimson.  For Thanksgiving 1941, he or she reminded fellow Howard students just how much they had to be thankful for because of the bravery of every American soldier:

Alabama’s Hills Are Beautiful With No Machine Guns to Mar the Foliage

Howard’s campus and the mountains around East Lake are in the height of one of their full dress parade. The Beacon Mountains toward the east with its beautiful array of fall colors was a scenic background for the Howard-‘Nooga game last Friday evening. Many times during the game our eyes would wander from the field where boys in red and blue and yellow and black were fighting for possession of the ball and gaze at nature’s colors across the way. To our left was stately Main, standing in all her lofty whiteness against a background of a setting sun.

Due, perhaps, to the fact that we have had a few frosty nights followed by balmy days, the colors of the leaves are blended with a skill more than human. The roads out of Birmingham are bordered by trees of reds and yellows and browns and appear to have been planned to mix most effectively with the dark green of the pines.

It is not unusual for us to forget to see and enjoy the little things of beauty about us, but when out most inward thoughts and feelings are wrapped up with our personal problems, we find a release when we turn them outward and view the handywork of Mother Nature’s brush.  During this season in which we give thanks for a harvest of blessings, we think of fields beyond these seas that yield little but broken plows and bodies of men. We know not what another Thanksgiving may be like, but whatever the coming days may have in store for us, we hope we may still be alive to give thanks. The hearts of men in other lands may be slow to give thanks this year, but but here where our roads are not filled with fleeing women and children and aged fathers; where our barns and bins and warehouses are stored with the harvest of the year; where we can look at the colors of nature without being afraid that a machine gun lies beneath the foliage, we are thankful–H.L.R.

-Howard Crimson, November 21, 1941.

Happy Veteran’s Day, and thank you.

 

Adapted from:

Howard Entre Nous and Howard Crimson

Posted by: lynnhollynhowell | October 31, 2014

The Haunting of Renfroe Hall

Renfroe Hall

There was spirit lurking in Renfroe Hall–a dark figured man in uniform–haunting the girls of Howard College on Halloween night.  Legend had it that a former student, angry about the introduction of co-education at Howard College in 1913, vowed to haunt every woman that lived on campus. Late one Halloween night in the 1950s, Margaret Sizemore, Dean of Women at Howard College, got a call to save her girls from a ghostly intruder, and, as she explains, she got more than she bargained for…

We had a student named Quinn Kelly from Miami and somebody down there had a special interest in her . . . . The church had sent her up to Howard.  She was just . . . always into something.  Cute as she could be.  Smart as she could be and I just loved her to death.  One Halloween night, I got a call at my home and someone said, “Dean Sizemore, there is a man in Renfroe Hall. We have seen him!” . . . They described his uniform.  Well, that went back to a story that Dean Burns told me.  He was [at Howard] when it became coed, I think in 1913, but he said before it went coed, that the cadets, as they were called, said, “We will not have women on our campus” and one cadet said, “If [a woman] ever lives in Renfroe Hall . . . I’ll come back from my grave and I’ll haunt them.”  Well, I had told that story to my French class and Quinn was in it and I gave her an idea.

Well, [after I got the call] I had gotten my husband up and of course had my children with me in the back seat and we went through that [dorm] and the girls were just panicking . . . even the house mother . . . .  So many had seen him.  We looked in closets, under the beds, we spent almost the rest of the night trying to find him.  Finally we left and said, “There’s no man in here.  Y’all are just having imaginative fits.” 

The next year at Halloween, the same thing happened. Oh, I forgot to tell you, before this happened the first time, a friend down at the Birmingham News called me and said, “We need a story about Halloween . . . Howard College is so old I just know you have a ghost out there.”  I said, “Well . . . every Halloween, we have this ghost of a former cadet who is so upset . . . he haunts the women now.”  I always told them that and they put it in the paper.  Well then . . . the second year the same thing happened . . . .  So my husband and I drove up to the back of Renfroe Hall.  There was a way you could come in from 78th Street, you could come right into the back and we saw this figure coming down the fire escape.  [The dorm] had a metal fire escape . . . and my husband jumped out of the car and ran [up] just as [the figure] got to bottom . . . .  He put his hands out and she ran right into him and said, “Oh Mr. Sizemore, I’m sorry! Don’t hurt me! Don’t hurt me! This is Quinn Kelly!”

Oh dear, I forgot what we did to punish Quinn Kelly, but she really had the campus upset over that and she just thought that was a wonderful, wonderful joke.  She’d found this old costume, this . . . Confederate uniform of some sort . . . with a sword . . . .  I turned her over to Major [Davis].

Quinn Kelley

Quinn Kelley, Howard College Class of 1957, probably contemplating her next prank.

 

Adapted from:

Oral History Interview of Margaret Sizemore by Susan Ray

http://digital.archives.alabama.gov/cdm/ref/collection/photo/id/19665

Posted by: lynnhollynhowell | October 29, 2014

Faces of Marion

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Perceptions of Perry County and the Black Belt have transformed from pinnacles of the Old South to abandoned towns with empty buildings. Today the essence of these communities is lost on travelers who do not go beyond the surface of what they see while passing through. Yet, there is a beauty to these towns that can be discovered through the voices of the people who lived there. Their experiences and stories serve as a window to the past for present generations who wish to see Black Belt towns as they once were. This is accomplished by looking into the storyteller’s eyes and hearing their voice. The Faces of Marion exhibit, funded by the Alabama Humanities Foundation, uses the senses of sight and sound to move beyond generalizations. Divided into categories of place, process and people, this exhibit contains individual stories and photographs collected by Samford University’s Oral History Program, Jonathan Bass, and Caroline Summers.  The photos and audio will be on display in Samford University’s Davis Library beginning Saturday, November 1st.  Lowell Melton and Martha LeCroy are just two examples of the faces, voices, and stories that can be seen and heard during the exhibit.

Lowell Melton 15

Lowell Melton, the son of a Marion farmer, explains…

First we had mules to plow the land with, break up the land . . . chopped cotton, hoed corn and then we sprayed cotton, and then after a while we got somebody [to spray cotton], but first we did it by hand with all those sacks and stuff.  After a while my father decided to get a tractor to spray it first with a tractor. So we did that until the cotton started growing out or blooming out, or whatever you want to call it. And by the time September comes we had to go out and pick the cotton.  After we did that for about a month then we went to school. There wasn’t no school for us until we finished picking cotton . . .  In the fall after we got our crop together and [we] would go to school from that time until May, and then school would turn out for spring break or whatever you want to call it . . .  Most of the time it’d be October before we got to go to school . . .

And then my dad got sick, so he bought a tractor one day and I used to drive the tractor every day plowing the fields until I joined the army and then from the army I didn’t stay [in] Alabama and went to Detroit in 1963 . . . Well I heard they were hiring people up there in Detroit and so I went up to see for myself.  I got a job working with my cousin in a barbershop for a while.  Then I got a job working at a steel plant for about one year.  Then I got a job working for Chrysler for about three years.  Then I went to California and stayed out there until 1983 when my papa passed away. Then I came home to look after my mother; then she passed away too. 

Martha LeCroy Marion

Martha LeCroy, born in 1923, has lived in Marion, Alabama her whole life. She looks back on her memories of the town:

When you’ve lived in a place for so long . . . it’s home . . . I still cherish the country that I lived in and back then there were so many people who lived in the country it was almost like a town. Saturday – that was the main shopping day for everybody in the vicinity. We would come to town and buy groceries, or if the children needed shoes. We came every Saturday. It was 7 miles to Marion. We had a model T Ford . . .  My daddy was a mechanic and he liked cars.  He loved automobiles.  I guess we were some of the first people that really had a way to travel to Marion because so many had to travel by . . . horses and buggy but not many, just a few people–but they’d have mules and wagons that’d come to town…and buy what they needed for the whole week.

We had a garden. You know the family worked the garden–mostly my mother and father–and when we got old enough we kind of just picked whatever grew like tomatoes and English peas. Oh they were so good . You could eat English peas green then. They were green then and oh they were so green and sweet! We always had meat on weekends, but we had vegetables. My mother cooked a good meal. We always had potatoes on hand, she loved to cook peas and okra, and oh, that’s good stuff, squash. We ate all that kind of food, but in the summer was the only time we had a garden because it was so cold in the winter, you know it would freeze. We used dried peas in the winter, dried beans, and things like that, canned food. My mother canned and corked jars. Everybody did back then.

The stories of Lowell and Martha are proof that every individual, even though he or she may have grown in the same small town, can provide a unique perspective on the town’s history and what it meant to him or her. To see the rest of these individuals and hear their stories, visit the Faces of Marion exhibit in Samford’s Davis Library between November 1st and 14th.

Adapted from:

Oral History Interviews of Lowell Melton and Martha LeCroy

Photography by Jonathan Bass and Caroline Summers

Posted by: lynnhollynhowell | October 10, 2014

Howard College’s ‘Almost Scarlett’

 GWTW Collage

Fiddle-dee-dee! Last weekend, movie theaters around the country held special showings of the Academy Award-winning Gone with the Wind to commemorate the film’s 75th anniversary. In January of 1940, the film debuted in Alabama at Birmingham’s historic Ritz Theatre.  The picture was so popular in Birmingham that it was shown in multiple theaters for over three months, unusual for the time. This movie remains a classic of the American cinema, widely beloved (and reviled) by some.

Howard College had a small part in the phenomenon that became Gone With the Wind. Scarlett O’Hara was the central character in the film (as in Margaret Mitchell’s novel). The iconic role was portrayed by Vivien Leigh, but the British actress was not the first choice for the role. Some sources report the film’s original director, George Cukor, (know for his work with Judy Garland on A Star is Born (1957) and Audrey Hepburn on My Fair Lady among other films) wanted Howard’s own Mary Anderson to play Scarlett.

Co-ed Mary Anderson ’39, known to her friends as “Bebe,” got her big break appearing in the play Excursion at the Birmingham Little Theatre. While touring the South for the right actors to recreate Mitchell’s characters in the film version of Gone With The Wind, Cukor attended the performance at the Little Theatre. Cukor immediately sent Anderson to New York for a screen test. She later reported to Hollywood to play the supporting role of Scarlett’s cousin, Maybelle Merriweather. Following the release of Gone with the Wind, Anderson went on to star in many movies and television shows, including Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Lifeboat.  In 1960, she earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It is not surprising that the class of 1939 named her Howard’s most glamorous girl!

anderson GWTW pic

(Mary “Bebe” Anderson, Howard Entre Nous 1937)

Adapted from:

The Howard Crimson, February 1, 1940.

Howard College Entre Nous, 1937.

Lewiston Evening Journal, August 22, 1964

Hollywood Reporter, April 7, 2014

International Movie Database

Posted by: lynnhollynhowell | September 30, 2014

The Other Patton

Patton

(Howard College Entre Nous, 1947)

In 1942, Harold “Bill” Patton’s student days at Howard College were interrupted by a draft notice. After completing basic training (and his final examinations at Howard), he arrived in the California desert where he served as a water engineer for General George S. Patton’s Third Army. Bill remained stateside in California while General Patton’s regiment invaded North Africa, Sicily, France, and Belgium. Bill Patton was deployed to Europe in 1944 following D-Day, where he rejoined the Third Army. It was here that Patton was captured and seriously injured by German Troops. He survived capture, and received a Purple Heart for his service. He returned to Howard in 1946 to finish a degree in education. Today, Bill gathers each week with a group of veterans at the VA Hospital in Birmingham, to share stories. On a recent afternoon in August, Bill recalled his memories of Howard College and his experience in the war:

College:

Bill: I had to work my way through college [for] 30 cents an hour. I painted Main, [cleaned] the floors [in the] science building, dormitories. During the winter, I had to fire the boiler that kept the campus warm. A big black man did it in the daytime. He and I, in cold weather, would shovel 12 tons of coal to keep the whole campus warm. And I started at 129 pounds and I got this big by shoveling coal, which later on saved my life when three hand grenades went off when I got captured. Not one piece of 52 shrapnel, not one piece, went all the way through my body. They are all still in there except they took one out.

Pearl Harbor:

Bill: I was at Howard College on Sunday afternoon, [a] beautiful Sunday. [I] caught the trolley down to the Alabama Theater, saw the movie, came out. The streets were jammed. The 3rd extra edition newspaper was out…Pearl Harbor was attacked that morning.  That night, my brother quit college and joined the Marines. Everybody was in shock. Well, you quit college. You go fight. I was young enough,…just turned 17, that I spent most of my time studying so I didn’t let it boonboggle my brain much but everybody was in awe…I stayed [at Howard] for 2 years until I got drafted when I turned 18. I lacked 7 days taking my final exams. They gave me a 7 day furlough to go back to Howard and take…exams and then I got up with my outfit in Ft. McPherson, Georgia.

War:

Bill: I was in the army. I got drafted, I didn’t volunteer.  [I served in] the European theater with General George Patton. In fact, after I finished basic training in Mississippi…my first job was to secure all of General Patton’s waterworks in California [and] the desert area. 336,000 square miles. But then General Patton left maneuvers, he went through North Africa and Italy and France and Belgium and I got back with him before I got captured. He would come up to the front and he…[stood] up in his Jeep and his dog and be right there in the front lines. He was awesome…In fact, I named my first son George Patton.

Capture:

Bill: General Patton had his army on our side of the Rhine River. The other two armies were back in Belgium and France. He heard the Russians were gonna be in Berlin in 5 days…[He] woke us up at midnight [to have us] build him a pontoon bridge across the Rhine River…[It was] a quarter-mile across. We had our 40 boats lined up on our side of the Rhine River. Suddenly, 5 machine guns with tracer bullets set grass afire around all the boats and everybody ran behind a big castle but me and my buddy, we stayed with our boat. Suddenly, my sergeant said, “You’re job now is to go over and wipe out 5 machine guns.” He said, “Take a squad of infantrymen.” I was the first boat across…Halfway across the Rhine River, those 5 machine guns zeroed in on my boat. Killed most of [the people in my boat]. The rest of them were crying.  I stood up in the back of the boat with my oar, hit ‘em in the head as far as I could reach. They stopped crying and started paddling. But by the time we got across, all of ‘em were killed but 3 of us. My buddy landed the boat and said, “Patton help me!” and [then] they killed him. I found myself in the water and lost all my equipment. Finally, I crawled out on the little sandy beachhead and immediately a hand grenade came down the embankment. They looked like a soup bowl with a little handle. [It] landed a foot from my left shoulder. I had time to pull my helmet over my head, it went off, two more came in. I was laying there with 52 pieces of shrapnel in me…The next morning…4 Germans with their guns kicked me, rolled me over, and I came to. [I had been] captured…

Survival:

Bill: …When they captured me, we walked 20 kilometers through little German towns. Nothing but old men and women and their kids. They’d hit you with sticks and spit on you…That night, a big German officer interrogated everybody but me. I asked him,…”What are you doing with my buddies?” He said, “You just listen.” He put 9 in a pigpen and shot ‘em and left two of us hurt real bad…One of the other guys was hurt real bad. But that’s when I made a mistake. I had a letter in my pocket and that’s when he found out my name was Patton. So…they put me in a field hospital with five German doctors [who were] cutting arms and legs off [of prisoners] with no anesthesia. [They] stripped me down naked, put me up on the operating table. Next thing I knew, it was the next day, I was bouncing along naked in a one-horse wagon. An old German man [was] taking me to a big hospital where they operated all morning. [He] fixed my broke back where I could play college ball back at Howard. [They] put me on the 5th floor with 2 other POWs. They were skin and bones. They had been there a long time. Their first meal came: potato peelings and water. I didn’t eat for 6 days. But finally, the medics came. In the meantime, the next day after I got captured, General Patton had my engineers build him a bridge in broad daylight. 76 were killed. They got every name in a book. He came across the Rhine River, stopped, urinated in the Rhine River (got a picture of him). He came across, got in his halftracks, came through a little town…

…[He] put a pistol under my pillow. I figured I was liberated. I say I was prisoner of war 2 days but it took 3 more for the medics to get there. Every day the doctors and nurses came and moved the pistol, [then I would] put it back under my pillow. Finally, medics came, flew us into Paris…[they] put me on the operating table. They said, “Patton you’re blowed up worse than anybody we’ve ever had that lived.” [I] layed there for 2 weeks and recuperated. While I was in the hospital, General Patton and General Eisenhower both came to my bed and gave me my purple heart. In fact, I kept the Purple Heart until I came down to the VA one day and lost it. It’s somewhere here in the VA.

Coming Home:

Bill: The streets were jammed, flags were waving from every window. They said, “The war’s over!” May the 8th. They turned our cattle cart around. Put 250 POWs on liberty ships. [It took us] 22 days to get back home. Ran into some icebergs…In those interim 22 days, some of the POWs gained 40 pounds. They had garbage cans full of milkshakes all over the ship. Got to New York City, they stopped traffic, took us right to Grand Central Station, put us on a train to Atlanta, Georgia. Got to Atlanta, hitchhiked back to Chattanooga and had my first party in Chattanooga after I got home. They gave me a 60 day furlough to recuperate and the next morning I got up, hitch-hiked down to Ider and a friend of the family fixed me a lunch, also got me a ride…a log truck to our farm. Got there. Nobody was there. Papa [was] way over in the field so I started towards him and he started towards me…Papa fell down on his knees. But we got together. I hitch hiked and got back and started Howard College in January session of 1946…finished March the 17th, 1948.

 The REAL General Patton and Willie

Adapted from:

Oral History Interview with Howard Patton. Birmingham Veterans Administration, August 2014

Howard College Entre Nous, 1947.

http://wargodpatton.blogspot.com/2011/02/general-patton-and-his-dog-willie.html

Posted by: lynnhollynhowell | September 19, 2014

Rushing Rules: Smokers, Dancers, and Theatre Parties

greek life

Samford goes Greek the next two weeks as fraternity and sorority recruitment begins with record numbers of students participating in rush. The number of Greek students on campus grew steadily over the past few years, including last year’s freshman class that had a little over 50 percent of students join a sorority or fraternity.  This year’s numbers are expected to be even higher.

Typical recruitment events include visiting chapter houses and speaking with members.  There are nights dedicated to philanthropy and learning about social opportunities. Both IFC and Panhellenic Recruitment end with a Pref Night, when the hopeful students visit their final houses one last time.  At the end of the week, the new members receive their bids.  For sorority recruitment, Bid Day, nicknamed “Squeal Day” because sorority girl screams can be heard from all over campus, has become a spectacle that faculty, students, parents, and friends often attend.

Upperclassmen in sororities and fraternities on campus can tell potential new members that recruitment week is about finding a “home away from home” and new “brothers” or “sisters.”  They can proclaim that “Squeal Day” will be the most thrilling day of freshman year.  For those who have never experienced the process, though, rushing can be nerve-wracking and overwhelming.

During the 1920’s, Greek students at Howard College knew that freshmen must maintain a measure of decorum during the recruitment process.  To avoid unnecessary embarrassment, The Howard Crimson staff presented “Rushing Rules” for 1928:

For the benefit of both upperclassmen and freshmen, who may or may not understand the sorority rushing rules that are in vogue at Howard College, we present here the official rules as formulated by the Girls’ PanHellenic Council.

Sorority Rushing Rules

  1. Rush season shall be from the opening of school Sept. 11th to Sept. 30th.
  2. Rush week shall begin Sept. 24th and close at 5:00 PM, Sept. 30th 
  3. $150 shall be allowed for one rush party which may be given by the chapter alone or combined with alumnae. All bills must be submitted at the next Panhellenic meeting.  Penalty:  Rush money for the next season shall be one half that allowed to any other sorority.
  4. Silence Period lasts from 5 o’clock Sunday afternoon until 5 o’clock Monday afternoon. Penalty: Rushing deferred two months.
  5. There shall be no “summer rushing” to be interpreted as talking sororities to the girls in question. Penalty: Rushing deferred two months.
  6. Pan-Hellenic Council forbids girls asking men to rush for them. Penalty:  the sending sorority shall be prohibited from bidding that term.
  7. A pledge is considered a sorority girl. No freshman may spend the night in the home of a sorority girl.
  8. There shall be open rushing but no promises are allowed to be asked for or considered binding if made voluntarily.
  9. Not more than three Dutch parties will be allowed.  By Dutch party, more than six girls may be together, but all expenses must be shared equally. Penalty: Pledging deferred one semester.
  10. No freshman may be invited home to dinner.

 

Fraternity Rushing Rules

  1.  The first week of school known as “Freshman Week” shall be closed to rushing.
  2. The following three weeks shall be open to rush, but no freshman can be pledged before 6 PM Monday night, October 1.
  3. Each fraternity is limited to two socials and a smoker shall be considered as one.
  4. The following events shall be considered socials: Smokers, dances, theatre parties if more than five freshmen are present; formal open house at which refreshments are served; any other kind of party at which more than five freshmen are present.
  5. For any violation of these rules of fraternity shall be required to pledge three days later than other fraternities with full silence and shall not publish the names of pledges until one week late.

 

ADPI 1927

Sigma Nu 1927

 

Adapted from:

The Howard Crimson, September 1928.

The Howard Entre Nous, 1927

The Samford Crimson, September 2011.

http://www.samford.edu

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