Sesquicentennial Lecture Series
Auburn University: A Photographic History
Speaker: Jack Simms
Date: October 24, 2006
Auburn University: A Photographic History
Announcer, Dwayne Cox, Head, Special Collections and Archives:
I am going to at this point turn it over to Mary Helen Brown from the Department of Journalism, Acting Chair of the Department of Journalism, but, before I do that, I have to say that I have known the author now for a number of years. He and his confederate Mickey Logue, who is also here, have spent hours and hours in Special Collections researching historical photographs of Auburn—the city and the University. And I know most of you know them and, if you do, you know what great fellows they are and, if you don’t, you’ve really missed something and need to get to know them. I’ll turn it over to Dr. Brown at this point.
Introduction, Mary Helen Brown:
I am Mary Helen Brown from Center, Texas. I always have to say that, and everybody always asks me if that’s the center of Texas. No. I just like everybody to know where I’m from, because part of this—I am watching folks come in—this does remind me of my hometown of Center, Texas. And I’ve noticed that you’re bringing in folding chairs. In my hometown, at the church, that means one of two things. It’s either Easter or you are particularly interested in making sure someone is dead. Those are the two things, so we’re setting a precedent. So, Jack, buddy, you’re in high cotton here.
Jay Lamar asked me to introduce Jack Simms, and I said “Well Jay, how long do I have to introduce him?” She said, “Oh, I don’t know, two, three minutes,” and I said “Jay, I cannot do that. It is impossible to introduce Jack Simms in two to three minutes.” So I am going to do a little hand check. How many of y’all know Jack? [people raise their hands] Good! So I will briefly speak to Jack’s character; (again, I am going back to my home town) more specifically, I am going to speak of Jack as a character.
Now in my home town of Center, Texas, back there in Deep East Texas, one of the highest compliments you can pay somebody is to call him a character unless you immediately follow that with “Well, bless his heart.” But Jack is a true character. He has been a character in my life ever since I arrived here at Auburn, a lucky day twenty-four years ago. I heard stories about Korea, about Olympics; occasionally I’d run into him out at the cemetery playing like he was somebody else. So I knew he was a true character.
But my favorite story about Jack Simms, and I am going to relate this to you, is about Jack as a teacher because Jack is a marvelous teacher. And I am not even sure this story is true, but I had so many people tell me that it ought to be true. I am a Texan so, really, truth doesn’t matter that much. Apparently, before he would teach, Jack would get a hard candy and pop it in his mouth and suck on it a little while before he would teach—to moisten [his] breath. A lot of us do things like that. So Jack had done this, and apparently it had gotten into a little itty bitty piece of hard candy in his mouth. And he was talking to probably Journalism 101. And, partway through the lecture, the little bitty teeny tiny piece of candy flew from his mouth and landed on someone’s cheek, to which Jack is alleged to have said “My tooth!”
So ladies and gentleman, you already know him (all except for, I can think, about three people, y’all share). This is my friend Jack Simms, a true character.
Speaker, Jack Simms:
Well, everybody in the room knows me. I wish I knew as many of you as know me but I don’t. Let’s see, I can call about four or five names now. I am reminded of the guy that I saw in the grocery store the other day, and it was somebody that I knew but I couldn’t remember his name. And he was kind of walking along, you know, [shuffles slowly in place], and I went up to him and I said, “Hey, how are you doing? I am Jack Simms. Good to see you again.” And he said, “Yeah,” and he kind of looked off into space. I said, “You know, I am not too good on names. Would you mind telling me your name?” And he looked at me, and he says, “How soon do you need to know?”
But I do know. I just watched this motley crowd come in here (and I think every would-be historian in Lee County is in this room), but I feel perfectly at ease, because I’m not from Texas, but, when you see my text, you will know that I maybe should be from Texas. I put together a bunch of pictures, and Mickey did an awful lot of the work on compiling them, but he didn’t know I was going to use them for this purpose, but I did. I probably have many too many, so what I am going to do is talk until about five minutes till five in hopes somebody will say, “Hey quit” (Joe, you are responsible, OK?), and [then] I am just going to quit, because I don’t think I am going to get through with everything I have. So let me start.
Lee County, Alabama, was part of Macon County until 1866, and it was owned by the Creek Indian nation into the 1830s. A Methodist minister who had enjoyed the fever-free climate and seen the fertile land and the plentiful supply of clear water urged planter friends in Harris County, Georgia, to come on over to Alabama and homestead in East Alabama. Judge John J. Harper (our founder) did a little investigating and decided he was going to do it. So he took a group and headed out into the wilderness. They included his eight sons and three daughters, as well as other settlers and their children and slaves and livestock, and the forty mile trek ended in a clearing in Alabama, a clearing with no name.
One of the Judge’s sons had received a deed for land in the area from the US government. And Judge Harper negotiated with the Indians (friendly Indians) and acquired more acreage, and then the Indians moved on west toward Notasulga. Work started immediately on building the community, and, by 1838, there was a school, post office, Methodist and Baptist churches, a log cabin and a few stores but still, no name. Judge Harper’s son Thomas was on his way to Harris County on business and spent the night on the way [at] the Swenson Taylor family farm.
[slide: Lizzie Taylor]
And there he met the Taylors’ fifteen year old daughter Lizzie. And when he described to her the unnamed village, she responded, “Oh, name it ‘Auburn, sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain’.” Let’s get that right, one more time, “sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain.” Not “on the plains,” not “in the plain,” or “over the plain,” and even Auburn University gets that wrong sometimes.
Lizzie had just read the poem “The Loveliest Village” by Oliver Goldsmith, and it starts that way, “sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain,” and that’s how Auburn got its name. The next year, 1839, the legislature approved incorporating Auburn, and that was the year that Thomas Harper, who had been to visit, married Lizzie Taylor. They lived in Auburn in what is now North College Street, about where the University Motor Lodge stands.
Now let me fast forward this to 1850. [speaker turns around: “Just wanted to be sure Lizzie was with me.”] The community had two boarding schools, Slaton Male Academy and the Auburn Masonic Female College. The Alabama Conference of the Methodist Church decided they would build an institution of higher learning somewhere in East Alabama. And Auburn citizens came up with $100,000 in earnest money to get the school. But Greenville, those rich people to the south, they came up with $300,000, and they had the backing of the state Methodist Episcopal Conference, so you kind of have an idea who got the school. A charter was granted to establish Southern University at Greenville. We were pretty sad up in this part of the state, but shortly thereafter, in February, our darkness turned to sunlight when the legislature incorporated East Alabama Male College at Auburn.
[slide: William Jeremiah Sasnett]
This private liberal arts college supported by the Methodist Church opened its doors on October 1, 1859. The President was the Reverend William Jeremiah Sasnett; he was thirty-nine years old. He had six professors, fifty-one members of the Board of Trustees. That must have really been fun—poor old thirty-nine year old guy running it all like that. So the Civil War saved him, because he wasn’t open but two years before they had to close for the Civil War. They had eighty students and a hundred preparatory students, and the students lived in homes of the faculty and homes of the prominent citizens in town. Room and board was $10-12 a month, and fees were $54 dollars a year.
The College had just completed its second year when the Civil War broke out. Virtually all the students, except maybe a couple that just were incapacitated, joined the Confederate Army, and classes were suspended for five years. Now, Sasnett, and maybe they did this out of kindness to him for these fifty-one Trustees, but he did remain on the payroll until his death, and he remained as President until 1865.
[slide: original College Building (“Old Main”)]
The schoolhouse for the students was a brand new four door brick building on the spot where Samford Hall now stands. It was the only building for some years. At first it was the College Building, and then it was the Main Building, and still later it was Old Main. During the summer of 1864, it actually became known in some areas as Texas Hospital, because there were more than 400 wounded Confederate soldiers from Texas brought over from battles in Georgia to be treated here.
[slide: James Ferguson Dowdell]
East Alabama reopened after the war as a financially crippled new college with Dr. James Ferguson Dowdell as the President. His salary was $1,500 which was half of the prewar salary. And a professor’s pay was cut from $2,000 to $1,200, and they later cut [it] again to $800 annually. Dowdell resigned under pressure after four years, and the faculty committee ran East Alabama the next two years before finally recommending that the property be deeded to the state for use as a land-grant college. And, in February of 1872, the school at Auburn became state owned, [the] Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama.
[slide: Isaac Taylor Tichenor]
Isaac Taylor Tichenor: he was a distinguished Baptist minister and former Confederate chaplain. He became the third President, and he directed the transition from liberal arts institution to land-grant college. Tichenor saw the need for providing scientific training in agriculture and engineering. But funds were not available for wide scale improvements, and, during his ten years as President of A&M, the only funds (state money) received was that from a small college endowment. They didn’t get any state funds at all except from this endowment.
[slide: a room of young men operating machinery]
Now state-of-the-art mechanical arts labs and physiology and veterinary science lab …
[slide: lecture room with skeletons of human and several animals including horse and cow]
On the pictures it says 1883 or earlier (pencil on the picture), but I think maybe that’s a little bit too early, so I would say those pictures are probably from about the 1880s, but maybe they are a little earlier than that.
[slide: original Langdon Hall]
This structure is Langdon Hall. It doesn’t look like Langdon Hall, but it was built in 1846 near the intersection of Gay Street and Magnolia Avenue as a chapel for the Auburn Masonic Female College. It was moved to the campus in 1883, and a decade later it was remodeled. The steeple was removed and outside walls were bricked, and columns and a portico were added. Langdon Hall is named after Captain Charles C. Langdon, a Trustee for eighteen years and Alabama Secretary of State from 1885 to 1889.
The Langdon Hall auditorium was for decades the largest in East Alabama, and it was used extensively for meetings of all types: student congregations, lectures, plays, movies, pep rallies, and graduation exercises. The basement served for several years as a student social center and is part of the business offices, I think, now. This is the site of a tremendous segregation debate in the 1850s in which the secessionists, well, they won the battle but this was before the War.
[slide: LeRoy Broun and faculty in front of building]
The next person that comes into view ought to be (it is!) Dr. William LeRoy Broun and his faculty. Succeeding Isaac Tichenor as President in 1882 was Dr. Broun, and he was a classical scholar and physicist with profound knowledge of both math and science. He made many important contributions to Auburn that are just almost legion because there was so much growth during this period. But probably the greatest thing that he did was recruit outstanding faculty. And President Broun is the little character in the front center right here [pointing at Dr. Broun, center of photograph].
And taking in the others, I just want you to listen to these names. Front row is Charles Thach, then General Lane, Otis Smith, and, after President Broun, Patrick Mell, Alexander Bondurant, C. A. Cary. In the middle row is Dr. J. M. Stedman, John [J.] Wilmore, Charles H. Ross, and George Petrie. In the back row is Anthony McKissick, Bennett Battle Ross, and John Wills. Those names are still on a lot of buildings on campus, and he was the one that brought all of them, just about all of them, to Auburn.
Broun was a University of Virginia graduate, he had commanded the Confederate arsenal at Richmond, and he also served on the faculties of the University of Georgia and Vanderbilt before coming to Auburn. He led Auburn to the forefront of the South’s scientific institutions in the 1880s and the 1890s. And he did this by using funds from a state fertilizer tax that was passed to try to help out this little school. And he used funds from the Federal Hatch Act to build an Agricultural Experiment Station in that period.
During Dr. Broun’s twenty years as President, Auburn welcomed fraternities on campus, first in secret and later on openly. They powered electric lights at Langdon Hall, replaced Old Main with a new administrative classroom building after Old Main burned, and it became the first state college in Alabama to admit women students. [It] fielded its first football team in 1892 and established an alumni association, began a student newspaper, published the first yearbook, organized the band, instituted the Wreck Tech Pajama Parade, and persuaded the legislature to officially change the name of A&M to Alabama Polytechnic Institute.
[slide: first A. P. I. football team]
Here is the group that started varsity football in Auburn on February 20, 1892, on a muddy field in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. Our boys beat Georgia 10 to nothing in the first major intercollegiate football game in the Deep South. There is Rufus Dorsey right here on the front row [pointing at front row of picture of football team] and he is third from the left on the front row—he scored our first touchdown. And Jesse Culver is on the second row [pointing at football team photograph]—he scored our second touchdown. And on the back row are Professor George Atkinson, the tall man with a hat, and then Bob “Spooner” Frazier, who was the mascot, and then Coach Petrie. Sometimes when I look at this picture, I see it as the beginning of a religion that is so powerful that, well, it is just so powerful. OK.
[slide: three cadets, in uniform, seated]
Next, these are Cadet Captains [Wilson H.] Newman and [Vassar Lyle] Allen and [Edward Reed] Lloyd, in the mid-1880s—you see the uniforms. This is the genesis, I guess, of Auburn being a military-type school for so many of its years up to [and] after World War II where students had to take ROTC if they were going to go to school here. All three of these students, of course, were outstanding. Newman was a graduate in chemistry and agriculture, and I often wondered about whether he was the son of the man who was running the experiment station. I don’t know whether he was or not, but anyhow he also was a real fine baseball pitcher and played pro ball. But he couldn’t have played college ball for Auburn because we didn’t have an intercollegiate team back then, but he was a great baseball pitcher.
[slide: students, Professor Mell, Mrs. Mell, Dr. Petrie, posed next to a house]
In those days, students lived in private homes, and they ate their meals in private homes. This is a picture of the Mell group from 1890. Professor Mell and his wife are in the back row and also George Petrie, who apparently was eating with them at that time. He may have been rooming there, I don’t know. He might have been in 1890. He hadn’t been here very long. Mell left Auburn to become President of Clemson in 1903.
[slide: cadets in front of marker, Pine Hill Cemetery]
Auburn cadets participated in the service here at the marker: Pine Hill Cemetery on Confederate Memorial Day in 1895. Ninety-eight unknown soldiers (many of those were Texans) are buried nearby.
[slide: John Frederick Duggar]
John Frederick Duggar served as Director of the Agricultural Experimental Station from 1903 to 1921 and Director of the Cooperative Extension Service from 1914 to 1920. He became famous for pioneering research in cotton farming. And of course there is a plaque out there with his name on it beyond Ag Hill for some of his research.
[slide: SAE fraternity]
I mentioned that the fraternities were secret for a while (and they were), and the first social fraternity at Auburn was the SAE fraternity. And it was formed in a cornfield behind Old Main in 1878, and it was pretty hush-hush for a while. And then a year or two later, ATO and Phi Delta Theta chapters were formed. And this shot is the SAE brothers with President William LeRoy Broun in 1897. This is after they had come out of the closet, after the frat ban had been lifted
[slide: football game]
This is Georgia Tech playing football at Auburn, we think, and it was either November 7, 1896 or November 5, 1898 when we played Tech here. First time we beat them 45 to nothing, and the next time we beat them 29-6, and John Heisman was the Auburn coach both years.
[slide: Ag building, with many people standing in front]
This is the Ag building that was the first vet building. It was built in 1893. And [it shows] ag students and a few farmers who were attending a Saturday veterinary science lab conducted by Dr. Charles A. Cary when this was taken in 1898. The first doctorate of veterinary medicine (the first degrees) were awarded in 1909. So veterinary science was taught here a good long while before they started the School of Veterinary Medicine.
[slide: band members in uniform holding instruments]
The first band was formed in 1897, and the man with the mustache, second row third from left (he is the only one with a mustache; he is the only non-cadet in the picture also), that’s Thomas Fullan. And he remained as director until 1906.
[slide: snowy lawn and trees, with Main Building in background)]
This wintery scene was taken by Prof. George Petrie. He used the trees along Main Street to frame this silvery scene of the Main Building in February of 1899. The temperature on Valentine’s Day—if I weren’t with a bunch of historians, I would say this happened on Valentine’s Day, but I don’t know—but on Valentine’s Day, which is February 14, the temperature in Auburn got a little cool: 7 degrees below zero, minus 7—the coldest day on record in Auburn. Of course Main Street (did I mention?) eventually became College Street, and Main Building became Samford Hall in 1929, forty-one years [later] they named it, forty-one years after it was built to replace Old Main.
[slide: class of 1901]
This is the class of 1901, and, in the front row, the tall cadet sixth from left [pointing to front row], is Paul S. Haley who served as a Trustee for fifty-one years. Back here [pointing at back row, far right of picture], that was my boss, that was Holland M. “Howlin’ Mad” Smith, Marine Corps General, and he looks kind of relaxed there, doesn’t he? Now I say that’s who it is—I looked at a lot of pictures, and I came up with an educated guess that that’s “Howlin’ Mad” Smith, and I don’t think anybody around today is going to challenge me on that one. He commanded the Fleet Marine Force for the invasion of Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima in World War II and retired as a full general.
[slide: cadets drilling]
This is cadets drilling on the field due west of Samford Hall where Ross Square is today. And this building in the background is the first gymnasium. It was built in 1893 and replaced in 1914/1915 by the Alumni Gym. The skyline, you see the church steeple over there? [pointing at background of cadet drilling picture] That was the church for blacks that was up on Cox Street about three doors down from West Glenn. And it was still there when we moved to Auburn or something that I think that’s what it was. We moved to Auburn in 1938.
[slide: baseball team]
This is the baseball team of probably 1906 or 1907; although something was written on the back about 1895 or something like that, but it really couldn’t have been. Five of the names of those players are still in evidence on the campus. In the front row we got Prof. Bennett Battle Ross of chemistry, we got Ross Hall. Dean George Petrie, history and graduate school, Petrie Hall. Then there [are] two players from the classes of 1907 (I mean graduated in 1907). In the back row, the second from left is Prof. Arthur St. Charles Dunstan, engineering, Dunstan Hall, and Tom Bragg, chemistry, Bragg Avenue (Tom Bragg is out of uniform), and Dean Clifford Hare next, Cliff Hare stadium (later Jordan Hare Stadium).
[slide: Mike Donahue]
And here is Iron Mike, Mike Donahue, the little Irishman. He arrived on campus in 1904 and quickly became among the most popular and the most industrious citizens of Auburn. It didn’t hurt that his football team that year went 5 and 0 against Clemson, Nashville, Georgia Tech, Georgia, and Alabama. In eighteen seasons, Donahue’s teams won ninety-nine games, and some of those seasons they only played four or five games, you know. They won ninety-nine, lost thirty-five, and tied five, and they were undefeated in 1913 and 1914, and they had a streak into 1915 of twenty-three games without a loss (one tie in there, but no losses). And Auburn was the Southern Athletic Association champion in ’13 and ’14, and ’19. And I said he was industrious: in addition to football, Coach Mike coached the baseball and basketball and track teams, served as athletic director and also trainer for all the sports programs, taught freshman mathematics and English, and was a partner for a few years in a clothing store. Wonder what he did in his spare time?
[slide: seven ladies (in hats) and ten cadets in lab]
Ol’ Baldy Petrie, and that’s what the cadets called him and, even when I was growing up here, I heard people mention him as Baldy Petrie. Anyhow, Dean Petrie was pleased when the coeds were admitted to A&M in 1892, and I just wonder how flattered he must have been when these seven ladies showed up in the history lab in their Sunday finery. Could they have sensed the possibility of a photo op?
[slide: Kirk Newell]
Kirk Newell was a person that came through Auburn and just absolutely got lost after he left. I don’t know whether it was World War II or what happened. But he was rediscovered by some writers in Birmingham after a while, and they got him in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, and he got some honors. He was a little guy (he never weighed more than about 145 pounds), he was from Dadeville, but he was an athlete of unbelievable proportion. He certainly would have been an All-American football player in 1913 and maybe in 1912, had he received a fraction of the ink, of the promotion, that other major schools were able to give their players who were their stars.
But of course Auburn has lived with this for a long, long time. The school was Alabama Polytechnic Institute. Now, you think anybody in New York, Chicago, is going to be impressed with something like that? They thought it was probably a girls’ school or something, I don’t know. But it was relatively little known (perhaps had 650 students), located in a little-known Alabama village of perhaps 1,400 citizens, far from the nearest major city.
In those days, the newspaper was a whole lot more powerful than it is today in the selection of stars. And schools in places like Auburn, and places like Starkville and places like other small communities, they did suffer for a long time. Anyway, senior halfback Newell made All- Southern along with five other Auburn players in 1913, when we were also the Southern Athletic Association champions. And Auburn won all of its eight games that year and outscored opponents 224 to 13, which was fairly decent.
[slide: proposed “new” gymnasium]
This slide appears in a magazine in May of 1915, and this is when they were trying to raise funds, Tom Bragg was trying to raise funds, to build a gymnasium. It was going to cost $50,000. Now, you know, $50,000. We didn’t have any graduates. I mean, Auburn in 1913/1914 (we’d been a school for how long?), well nobody graduated the first twenty years hardly to speak of, you know, two or three here and there. But, even when we were graduating a big class, it wasn’t very many, and then they hadn’t been out of school long enough to make any money. But Bragg almost singlehandedly came up with the $50,000 that it took to build this thing.
[slide: actual “new” gymnasium]
That was the proposed gym; it is gone now off the screen but it had wings on it if you noticed. Well, they said they got the $50,000 pledged so they built the building, but the wings disappeared And I just thought “1915—they changed their minds. We do that all the time here.” Think of all the places, locations, we have had, where some study was made and they came up [with a plan] and [said] they are going to do this. And they did maybe one project in that study, and then it kind of disappeared. And ten years later, somebody comes up with [another] idea to do that, and they [get] some other location.
Well, anyhow, that’s what happened, but anyhow I thought it was fantastic that they were even able to do this. And they had basketball and dances mainly in there, but they also had speakers in the gym. It was used from 1915 until 1948 as the Auburn varsity basketball facility.
[slide: a line of ten students, some in costumes]
The Spades were founded in 1915 in Auburn. [They] were supposed to be the ten most outstanding male students. They were supposed to be the most outstanding males but along the way (and I think I am right on this), I think there were three females. And it may be more than that now, but at one time they had initiated three females into the group. It is a self-perpetuating organization, so if you get a lemon in there (and I know a Spade that thought they had gotten some lemons in there at one time), two or three years go by until they get them weeded out again. But the Spades have done an awful lot of work, and they are always listed in the Glomerata at the very start of the organizations. They list Spades, then they list ODK and some of the others, and Who’s Who.
[slide: photograph of group of students and cars in front of building]
This is a field trip from Comer Hall to Opelika in 1918. And note that some are still wearing their army clothes. I think you can see, yeah, these guys are all in army clothes. [points at the screen]
[slide: aerial photograph, showing two hotel buildings]
This is Thomas Hotel and Jones Hotel in 1920. These were the equivalents of the Heart of Auburn and the Auburn Hotel and Conference Center in this day, 1920s and 30s. They were located on College Street, right next to where the old Tiger Theater used to be and close to two blocks from the depot, so people coming into town to visit normally would stay there.
[slide: Kappa Delta sorority members sitting on porch steps]
The Kappa Delta is the first sorority we had, and it came in 1922. And one of the members was Camille Dowell. She’s in this picture, she’s this one right here [points], third from left. Her daddy was the President; it was Spright Dowell of Auburn so they had the installation in the President’s home. Later in 1922, we got a chapter of the Chi O, and there currently are eighteen sororities. At least there are eighteen sororities listed in the current Glomerata, and seventeen fraternities on campus listed in the Glomerata.
[slide: cows in front of Comer Hall]
Do I see a cow or two in this picture? Bear Bryant got in the doghouse with Auburn people by once referring to Auburn as the “cow college.” He said he got deluged with letters of protest. Well, at least in 1924 [pointing at photograph], who knew? Comer Hall was built as the home of the College of Agriculture in 1910, and, after being gutted by fire, the interior was rebuilt in 1924.
[slide: basketball team]
This team won twenty of twenty-two games in 1927/28 and reached the finals of the Southern Conference tournament. The reason I chose this one was that twins Fob James and Ebb are third and fourth from the left in the front row [pointing at photograph] and manager Elmer Salter is down at that end [pointing at far right of picture]. And in the back row Louie James (he is a brother of the twins and he was mayor of Auburn briefly) is second from the left in the back row. The first men’s team was formed in 1906, and the varsity women’s team was formed in 1915.
[slide: Will Rogers with Mr. Anderson and many people behind them]
Will Rogers: it was reported that when Will visited Auburn in 1928 that 1,000 students and townspeople turned out at the Auburn train station to greet the humorist. That’s a whole lot of people for 1928, but I don’t doubt that it was true because the man was about as popular as anybody ever was in the United States per capita, I guess, at that time. Here he is posing with B. Conn Anderson. Where is B. Conn Anderson’s daughter? Sarah? [looks for her in the audience] Sarah, this is your daddy. B. Conn is in there because he was representing the sponsoring Kiwanis Club. And of course, [there are] the scores of students that hung around him all the time he was here.
Before making his talk at the Alumni Gym, he stopped outside and he passed out dollar bills to students who didn’t have the price of a ticket. And Sarah gave me the other day one of the tickets and they were a dollar and a half. So I don’t know whether Will Rogers gave them a buck or gave them two bucks and said keep the change or gave them two bucks and asked for fifty cents back, I don’t know. Anyway, afterwards (and my wife’s uncle told me this—he was a student at the time), he said that Will, when it was over with, went to a downtown diner and stayed up all night visiting with the students and bought them all hotdogs and coffee, so he was extremely popular in his one stand in Auburn.
[slide: children in front of two swing sets, three adults in background]
This is the API kindergarten on Mell Street, and it was under the direction of Loula Palmer as part of the Home Ec training program. And it was one of, if not the first, it was one of the first kindergartens, legitimate kindergartens, in Alabama, this was 1928. The children here: I am not going to tell you the names of all of them but I am going to try to give you a couple. Extreme left, oh gosh well, too bad, that’s Martin Beck [picture shows only half of the boy]. I was hoping this thing would stretch a little bit and he’d be in there, but Martin Beck still lives here, of course, and his daddy was on the faculty.
And then next to him is Paul Irvin, right here [pointing], and his daddy was on the faculty and Paul was in the Knights and he was in my class in high school. He’s still going strong. Behind the swing is Mary Lee and, in the wagon, that’s her brother Burt Lee. And their father was the Episcopal minister here for years and years. Then holding hands are Betty Grimes Williams (she was on the faculty, she and Bob Williams) and Martha Hayes. That’s one of Preacher Hayes’ daughters, and also in this picture is Bernie Hayes [last boy on right side of picture]. You know, I think this picture was given to me by Martin Beck on purpose, because Martin is a little bit publicity-shy, and he probably knew that he wasn’t going to be in the picture.
[slide: downtown Auburn, taken from the middle of a street intersection]
Downtown College Street, perhaps in 1933/34. Somebody will tell me it can’t be [then because of] that automobile [pointing at car in the picture], something or other, you know. That’s always my downfall is that I don’t know about when automobiles are built, what they looked like [in particular] years.
Anyhow that object in the road in the foreground [pointing at object in picture] it was cast iron and it had “STOP” written in red glass reflectors on each side, spelled out “STOP”. I swear I remember that in 1938, and it probably didn’t spell out “STOP” [shrugs]. But it was right in the middle of where College Street went one way and Magnolia the other. And you were supposed to go around it if you were going to make a left turn.
[slide: aerial photo of campus]
This is an aerial of the campus. This is one of my favorite pictures. This is Thach Avenue down here [pointing at bottom/middle of picture], and you can see the President’s Mansion over there in the corner [pointing at middle-right of picture], and then there’s Mary Martin Hall [pointing at middle of picture]. This is the old Alumni Gym with the tennis court there [pointing at middle-bottom of picture], this is the L building over here, the engineering complex [pointing at bottom left of picture], Brown Hall up at the top [pointing at middle, left side of picture] and there is the tower, in front of the tower, this way a little ways [pointing at middle left side of picture], that’s Toomer’s Drugs. The Presbyterian church is up here [pointing at top right of picture] and finally, what’s this? [pointing at far left middle of picture] It’s the post office, our old post office.
[slide: cows in front of barns, silos, other buildings]
This is the Dairy Creamery complex in the late 30s. It’s on the south side of Samford Avenue, just west of the Auburn television station. The silos are gone, but the barns are still there.
[slide: group of people seated in chairs in front of Langdon Hall, woman at piano in front]
Community sing: this is something that we did when I was a kid here. I don’t know when it started, but in the early 30s maybe. And they had community sings in front of Langdon Hall well into World War II, and I think they might have come back and had a few after World War II.
[slide: parked car with speakers on top, in surrounded by listening students]
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed Congress in person and the nation by radio the day after Pearl Harbor, starting with “Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” So the nation again was at war. Everything forever was changed. Auburn students entered the armed forces in great numbers as volunteers and draftees, and our enrollment of 3,640 dropped to 1,710 in 1943.
[slide: big bonfire surrounded by people]
I had a picture I wanted to run of the “Burn the Bulldog” parade or something, and my better half (Mickey Logue) said “Give me a picture with fire in it,” so I found this (or we found this). Anyhow, this bonfire is just beyond the stadium, just to the west of the stadium. It was ignited as a finale to the “Burn the Bulldog” pep rally held on the Thursday before the 1942 Auburn-Georgia football game.
Now, this was a happening in Auburn. The band formed at Langdon Hall and marched to Toomer’s Corner, where the cheerleaders took over. And, when the number of participants became large enough and vocal enough, the band, with the students falling in behind, went down College Street, turned on Thach, and marched down to the point where the debris was for the start of the fire. As the band went (and repeated it as it needed to), it played “Glory, Glory,” “Tiger Rag,” and the Auburn fight song (the Auburn fight song that we don’t use anymore).
That night in the Loveliest Village, there was no doubt that, come Saturday in Columbus, Coach Jack Meagher’s boys were going to “whup up on” Georgia, and they did. They beat the undefeated heavily-favored Rose Bowl-bound Bulldogs, 27 to 13. It was the Coach’s final game at Auburn. The next year, Lieutenant Commander Jack Meagher coached a much-heralded Iowa Pre-Flight [Seahawks] team of all-stars to an unbeaten season.
[slide: soldiers lined up in front of cottages]
We had the Navy here in force. These sailors were billeted in Graves Center cottages and you can see, in the background, you can see the President’s Mansion. They were taking courses to become radio operators. Auburn also turned over the Quadrangle dorms for Army trainees during part of the war, and the girls took over the fraternity houses when the dorms were taken over by the Army. And then we had either the Navy V-5 or V-12 in Auburn Hall and maybe somewhere else at one time on the campus.
[slide: five majorettes]
These are API’s first drum majorettes in 1946. Two years later, the ones that were left in school and some others led the marching band as it passed in review at President Truman’s inauguration in Washington DC. Danny Sue Conner, second from left, still lives in Auburn, Danny Sue Gibson Conner, and Joann “Bunny” Bennett, and I don’t know her last name [audience member informs the speaker that the last name is Edgar], Edgar? Edgar. She is extreme right, and she is living in Opelika [audience member corrects the speaker]. Does she live in Auburn now? I stand corrected. That was Mrs. Lipscomb that corrected me, let the record show.
[slide: President Duncan talking to several students]
This is President Duncan visiting with students in Samford Park in 1945. The one in uniform is Lenny Payne, who got pretty much involved before he graduated. I think he might have been in one of those Navy programs and was still in it here at the time. Third from the left is LaHolme McClendon who was the vocalist for the Auburn Collegiates, and Jack Riley, at that time he was Inter-Fraternity, no, he was the Student Government Association Secretary.
[slide: female students dancing in a formation on the lawn in the middle of the Quad lawn]
This is May Day at the Quad in 1944. I thought that was pretty good.
[slide: two men feeding baby goats]
This is Tiny Thompson, top, and A. G. Wiggins (many of you knew A. G.). They are taking care of the kids. They were put on the kiddy patrol on this day, and they were taking care of the kids. This is vet school in 1945, and they were babysitting.
[slide: several cheerleaders doing summersaults]
I mean, the cheerleaders in our day were something else. And we made this slide bigger, I wish it were smaller because there is one more that’s in there.
This is Joy Justice [pointing to left of picture] and this is Bill Cook [pointing to person second from left], the head cheerleader. And that’s Bill Newman [pointing to third person from left], and hiding back there behind Bill Newman is Wiggles Hill, and then Holy Smith also is in there. But they cranked each other up and they’d whoom! And they’d go up and do all kinds of stuff like that.
Freshman Travis Tidwell led the nation in total yardage that year, but the Tigers finished with only with four 1946 victories. And games lost: Auburn scored a total of 19 points while six opponents scored 181. The always upbeat Glomerata had a thing that year [that] said “Wait ’til next year.”
[slide: many people in a restaurant]
This is Markle’s. And of course there’s a bunch of local people in that picture. This is Carroll Keller [pointing at person sitting at front table drinking coffee, right side of picture] who was on the wrestling team, a good wrestler, and he’s the only one I’m going to name because I will miss the rest of them if I try to name them. This is [Lynwood], isn’t it [pointing to person standing behind the counter, left side of picture], behind the sink? Johnny, do you know?
We had Markle’s on Magnolia, and we had Toomer’s on the Corner, and Lipscomb’s down the street, and Wright’s a little beyond Lipscomb’s, and across the street, uh-oh I already left out Benson’s, Benson’s was in there, and across the street we had Bayne’s. We had six drugstores, five of them on College Street between the traffic light and the start of the top of the hill (Wright’s later moved to the bottom of the hill) and then the one around the corner, Markel’s.
This was before we had cars that students could jump into, either their new car or their secondary car that they have here now, you know, either the Rolls Royce or the Cadillac. There weren’t cars, and transportation was a lot more difficult, so these places were a Godsend. And this was also before the invasion of fast food, and a whole lot of us high school kids worked as soda jerks in these places. All of them had soft drinks, milkshakes, donuts, cakes, cookies, stuff like that, and Markel’s had a foot-long hot dog, and Markel’s and Benson’s served a little bit more heavy fare than the others. If you ate at a boarding house, perhaps, or you ate at a fraternity or, if you were a woman, you had to eat at the Quadrangle, this was between-meal stuff and stuff to tide you over when you didn’t want to eat the other fare.
[slide: Hal Herring riding a mule while holding a guitar, two men standing next to him]
Ooh, he’s telling me to stop. OK. Let me do this one.
This is Hal Herring, “Needle Nose,” who went on to play with Cleveland. [pointing at the man on the mule] He was the signal caller for the Cleveland Browns, I think, defensive signal caller for a while, for a year or two. This was A-Club initiation after the 1946 football season, and he was one of the vocalists and he was riding a mule. These other two guys, they were his backup. The one with the stove-pipe hat was Charlie Harper from Tallassee, he was the center, and the other one was Bill Waddell of Elba.
With that I am going to stop, and I think I said at the start, I’d just go ’til now and quit. So I quit, and, if anybody has a question or two, please ask me.
I am sorry that the good stuff is all back here, sorry you missed it, but I will have a showing for a small fee that you can come to sometime later.
[laughter and applause from the audience]